Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Kolob Canyons Road: The Highway opened in 1967, offering "Fingers" Access

EXISTING roads are easily taken for granted. But, when they opened is often a key curiosity. Example: When did the Kolob Canyons Road on the west side of Zion National Park open?
This 5-mile scenic highway, that begins just east of I-15, at Exit No. 40, between Cedar City and St. George, was dedicated on Sept. 30, 1967.
Construction on the road began in the spring of 1964 and cost $1.235 million ($9.5 million in 2017 dollars) to build, according to the Iron County Record Newspaper of Sept. 14, 1967.

The highway climbs gradually up Taylor Creek and crosses over Lee Pass as it opens up closeup views of the Kolob “Fingers” in a 30,000-acre area of Zion Park.
The road was originally called the “Taylor Creek Road.” Before the road was built, the area was previously only open to trail travel by horse or hiking.
The highway also offers popular access to hiking trails. The Taylor Creek Trail, is one of these, ending at the Double Arch Alcove.
Still another is the Lee Pass Trailhead that accesses the La Verkin Creek Trail, a strenuous, 11-mile-long path that ends at Kolob Arch, one of the largest rock spans in the world.

                 The view of New Harmony, looking west off the Kolob Canyons Road.

The scenic drive begins at the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center (19 miles southwest of Cedar City), elevation 5,074 feet above sea level. The road climbs about 1,000 feet and ends at a paved parking lot.
The red sandstone and five “finger” canyons are the highlights of the drive. (This is probably the least visited section of Zion National Park.)

Driving the road requires a National Parks Pass or the $30 regular admission to Zion National Park. (Thus, visitors not going elsewhere in Zion Park pay a pretty high price for the vistas, when hopefully one day a lower priced fee for JUST the Kolob Road may be offered?)
The Kolob Canyons Road is open year-round, but snow storms may close the road periodically in winter.
Summer temperatures in the area can be in the 90s. 

Those seeking photographs of the area should be aware that the rising sun in the morning will interfere with the vista pictures. This is ideally a late morning, afternoon or evening photo opportunity area. (However, on weekends the trailhead parking spots fill up fast in the early morning.)

NOTE: "Kolob" is a Mormon scriptural title that refers to the place nearest to the residence of God.

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