Exploring Zion's Kolob

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Jan 4, 2014
After a couple weeks of "recuperation" from my summer employment I was going stir crazy from inactivity. One can only bake so much for the family after all!

The Kolob section of Zion has been a neglected area of the park for me. I'd been in one of the finger canyons and driven the viewpoint road many times but had never found the thought of going down and then up the Lee's Pass trail to visit Kolob Arch in a day very appealing. So backpacking to the area was the only option to get me back there. Lo and behold, I could reserve what looked like an awesome campsite for the very next weekend!

The morning was gorgeous as I set out from Lee's Pass. Light was hitting the canyon walls "glancingly" and the trees were all backlit the whole way down. Given another week, maybe two, the fall colors will be at peak along the trail but there was enough yellow to oo and ah at the whole way down.

Starting out with nice light

I like that the yellow was spotlighted perfectly for a picture.

If it weren't for the backlighting I think the fall colors wouldn't have stuck out much this morning. They'll be better in a week.


While the parking lot was full at Lee's Pass it wasn't until I hit La Verkin Creek that I hit the hordes. Ok not hordes but still many more people than I like in "wilderness" areas. I guess I've been spoiled in the Bighorns. It wasn't bad though and I quickly blazed past most everyone to my campsite just beyond the Hop Valley trail junction.

La Verkin Creek scenery
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After setting up camp and discovering it was only 1330 I decided to switch up my plans and head up to Beartrap Falls that afternoon instead of the next morning. Walking up La Verkin Creek beyond the arch was far more "wildernessy" and reminded me of a mix between the upper reaches of the Narrows with the tall walls of lower Orderville. Funny how all the Zion canyons are like a family.

Upper La Verkin Creek Scenery
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Reaching Beartrap Canyon

Beartrap Canyon Scenery
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Beartrap Falls
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And back to camp
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After a pleasant night of waking up way too much to roll over I set out to visit Kolob Arch, hopefully without the mid day hordes. Sure enough I had it to myself.

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After getting my fill of Kolob Arch I walked up Waterfall/Icebox Canyon a ways. I heard there was an impressive waterfall somewhere up there and wondered if I could get there. I'm not sure how people get to the waterfall because I met a pretty nasty rockfall with no comfortable way around. Even after taking an uncomfortable way around one layer of boulders I met another that was worse. So I stopped that adventure a little short. It was still pretty though. Tall, shear walls and pretty cascades. Who can complain?

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Back to camp I went and packed up. A stiff wind picked up and I was joyous my camp didn't have to sit under the massive Cottonwood any longer (bad experience with how suddenly branches can crumble upon valuables.) And off up the Hop Valley Trail I went!

Hop Valley is a nice alternative to Lee's Pass. It has two killer hills yes, but the scenery is far nicer in my opinion. The flat valley with the towering walls and meandering creek are very pleasant.

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All in all, good times seem to always be had in Zion.

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Nice pics! I attempted to hike LaVerkin Creek/Bear Trap Falls/Kolob Arch in September last year but monsoon rain made it a washout. I reluctantly turned back soon after reaching LaVerkin Creek - I was soaked through and the prospect of a wet night out wasn't too appealing. I'm glad I did turn back, I spent that night in Hurricane and it was torrential almost all night! It woulda been no fun out in that.

I'll get back one day and try again...
Great write up. I love that area. My wife and I have camped in there the day after Thanksgiving. And, by the way, you are spoiled. Zion always has 'hordes' of people. The Bighorns have ruined you. Or given you a better sense of what wilderness is all about. Either way, your view is unique and I wish I had that problem.

I have hiked to beartrap a few times and never been disappointed. I agree that the trail is the best after you leave the main section. There is supposed to be a lake a couple of miles further but I haven't made it there yet. Your pictures are amazing!
Did a spring hike there a number of years ago. Was unable to get across La Verkin creek - just too high. Shared a campsite near the arch with another group and headed out the next morning. Nice pictures.
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