, a quiet, colorful and scenic collection of red cliffs and narrow canyons with none of the overcrowding problems that affect the main valley 20 miles to the southeast. To drive between the two sections takes over an hour, which is one reason why most tourists miss this little-known northern area, and stick to the frequently travelled east west route, part of the 'Grand Circle' of the Southwest through Las Vegas, Zion, Bryce Canyon and beyond.
The Kolob Canyons have their own interstate exit at mile 40, where there is a small visitor center and a 5 mile scenic drive that initially follows a valley alongside Taylor Creek
, a pleasant stream that flows year-round. One of two maintained trails follows the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek
and leads to Double Arch Alcove
, a large overhang in the canyon walls, extravagantly colored by streaks of mineral-laden water, and sheltering hanging gardens of wildflowers.
Two miles further along the scenic drive, the road curves around another side canyon, formed by the South Fork of Taylor Creek
- a particularly beautiful gorge with sheer red cliffs towering above green trees and bushes on the valley floor, through which a small stream flows. Everyone driving past seems to stop and take a photograph, but few venture up into the canyon. There is an official trail but a faint path follows close to the stream, and this makes for a very peaceful walk lasting a couple of hours.
A Grand Viewpoint
The other official path in the Kolob Canyons is the La Verkin Creek Trail
- this curves around a mountain to Kolob Arch
, one of the largest in the world. It is reached only after a 14 mile trek, so some people will need to camp for at one night en route. Another branch of the trail connects with the Kolob Reservoir Road
. The scenic drive ends at an elevated parking area facing the huge cliffs at the edge of the Upper Kolob Plateau - a particularly impressive sight, especially at sunset.