Distance: 1.7 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Easy, but some route-finding possible
Best time of year: Fall, Winter, Spring
Last hiked: 2016 May
The Angel’s Palace Trail is a short and sweet hike, showing off some outstanding views in Kodachrome Basin State Park. The trail is mostly easy-going and makes great use of slickrock at its higher points. This gives it a bit of an edge in terms of a southern Utah experience over other trails in the park.
Begin on the other side of the road from the parking area where you’ll quickly enter into a small canyon. The canyon’s sandstone walls are a few dozen feet high and are eroded into all kinds of unique and bizarre shapes. At the back of the canyon, you’ll make a bit of a steep ascent up onto the mesa above. From on top of here, you have outstanding views of the Entrada formation that surrounds the basin. As you weave in and out of sandstone slickrock and bulbous eroded shapes, the high cliffs are never far behind.
You’re guided along the trail from one optional narrow viewpoint to another. It’s through here that optional spur trails thin out to the width of the trail itself with cliffs on either side dropping down to the basin floor below. As mentioned, they’re optional, so those with a fear of heights can skip them. Those without a fear of heights though are treated to some great uninterrupted vistas of the surrounding landscapes and the park’s interesting features.
As you wind around toward the back of the mesa, you’ll notice that each viewpoint, though close to the last, is still able to offer a unique vantage point you couldn’t get otherwise. Sometimes it’s the sandstone fins jutting out of the ground below. Other times it’s the white cliffs sculpted into waves that point out from the main body of rock. Each one has a special view for those willing to look.
The last viewpoint winds up being a dead-end, where you’ll need to backtrack a bit toward the last carsonite sign. The trail is easily missed, but ascends up the slickrock where you should be able to see the next carsonite sign above. The trail then makes a gradual turn around the mesa to close out the loop and head back down to the trailhead.
From Cannonville, Utah, head south on Cottonwood Canyon Road for roughly 7 miles. Turn left at the entrance into Kodachrome Basin State Park. The trailhead is signed along the main road just shy of 2 miles north from the junction.