2009 trip to Grosvenor Arch and Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah

by Chih Kwan Chen, November 10, 2009

Grosvenor Arch and Kodachrome Basin State Park of Utah are located inside Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Those two places have been put on the map by a National Geographic Society organized expedition sponsored by Eastman Kodac Company. Thus the basin is named Kodachrome, the film used to take pictures of the area by the expedition, and the arch named after the president of National Geographic Society and the publisher of National Geographic Magazine. Both the park and the arch are located in the northern section of the national monument. There is a 40 plus mile long dirt road called Cottonwood Canyon road that runs across the national monument from south to north. The southern end of the dir road branches off US-89 between Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona, just a few miles west of the town Big Water. The northern end of the dirt road ends at Route 12 at the town of Cannonville. Our visit to the park and the arch was the day after our visit to White Pocket and South Coyote Butte. We started early in the morning from Page, Arizona. It was temptating to drive through Cottonwood Canyon Road from south up to the arch and then to the park. However, from the south end of Cottonwood Canyon Road to the arch requires a high clearence SUV wherease Nissan Rouge that we rented is only a medium clearance 4-wheel dirve. Furthermore a ranger in Paria Contact Station of BLM advised us not to try Cottonwood Canyon Road from south even with a high clearance 4-wheel drive because the road is so rugged and dangerous. Looks like there is a dispute between the Federal Government and local county so that the local county refuses to maintain those dirt roads in the wilderness area. Thus we drove on US-89, going around Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The portion of US-89 between Page to Kanab runs at east-west direction, and it turns toward north starting from Kanab. We turned into Route 12 East, passed Red Canyon State Park, the juction with Route 63 that goes into Bryce Canyon National Park, Pink Cliffs, Tropic and then Cannonville, a 160 mile drive. Once turns into Cottonwood Canyon Road at Cannonville, there is a BLM Contact Station that provides information about the road condition. The distance from Cannonville to the entrance of Kodachrome park is about 9 miles. That portion of the road is paved. Starting from the entrance to the park, dirt road begins. Grosvenor Arch lies 11 miles further down the dirt road. A medium clearance SUV like the one we rented is OK up to the arch, but ordinary sedans are not recommended for that portion of the dirt road. Beyond the arch, then a high clearance SUV is the must. Since we did not want to drive on the dirt road under a dim light, we visited the arch first and dropped by the park on our way back to Cannonville.

Shortly after entering into the portion of the dirt road, the road crosses over a wash with water, about 1 plus feet deep, and the banks at both sides of the wash are moderately steep. The medium clearance Nissan Rouge had no problem of crossing the wash, but an ordinary sedan may ecounter trouble. Under a heavy rain, the road probably becomes not passable. Beyond the wash the dirt road winds up and down around several cliffs. At those cliffs the dirt road becomes quite rugged but once comes down to valleys, the condition of the road improves markedly. The parking area of the arch is well maintained and has facility. There is a well maintained short concrete trail that leads to the fornt of the great arch. Inside Kodachrome State Park, there are visitor center, and paved road up to the farthest view point. The park is a fee area, but the arch is free to view. Pictures and short comments about the arch and the park are contained in two seperate files, reachable from the following two links:

2009 trip to Grosvenor Arch

2009 trip to Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah