Zion National Park
Motorist speeding down I-15 in southern Utah have no hint what’s in store if they take Exit 40. The spectacular Kolob Canyon in the northwest section of Zion National Park lies just minutes from the busy Interstate. After checking in at the Visitor Center (fee required) motorist follow a five-mile scenic drive ascending over 1000 feet in elevation to Timber Creek Overlook. Hikers find numerous trailheads for adventures into the narrow valleys of finger canyons.
Rounding a curve within the first mile the view of massive red Navajo Sandstone cliffs is simply a hint of things to come.
Frequent turnouts, many with interpretive signs, provide a place to ponder nature’s wonders or photograph the stunning scenery. Although the return is on the same road views appear different coming from the other direction.
Horse Ranch Mountain, the park’s highest peak, is found in this section of the park. Depending on the source Kolob Arch is either the longest or second longest freestanding arch in the world. Kolob Arch can be reached from the trailhead at Lee’s Pass (about 2/3 of the way up the scenic road). The hike is 7 miles, one-way, following LaVerkin Creek into the Kolob Wilderness.
Kolob comes from Mormon scripture meaning “residence closest to heaven”. Who would have guessed it was so close to I-15’s Exit 40?