Angel’s Palace Trail, Kodachrome Basin State Park
Way off the beaten path, at the end of a paved road southeast of Bryce Canyon, there’s a small piece of land with such unique color characteristics that in 1948 the National Geographic Society named the area “Kodachrome Flat” after the new color film they were using. Today, Kodachrome Basin State Park offers a network of hiking trails, horseback riding, camping, and wildlife viewing. The Angel’s Palace Trail is the most popular with photographers.
- Trailhead: Across from Oasis Campsite, Kodachrome State Park – Open in Google Maps.
- Length: 1.5 mile loop; 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Difficulty: Easy. A short climb in the beginning then mostly flat. 150 feet elevation gain.
- Usage: Hikers. The state park charges $8 per vehicle.
- Best Time for Photography: Early morning for the best light on the formations to the west.
- Trail Info Current: May 17, 2016
Angel’s Palace Trail Narrative
The Angel’s Palace trailhead is on the east side of Kodachrome State Park road, just north of the Grand Parade Trail and is marked with an interpretive sign with information on the trail. It starts by going through a scenic wash with wildflowers and pinion pine, eventually “opening up” into a small canyon. The trail steadily climbs alongside the canyon wall, soon making a sharp turn and 100′ climb above the canyon and onto the rim.
Once on the rim, you’re presented with all sorts of impressive views, both near and far. You’ll notice you’re inside Kodachrome Basin, surrounded on the north by mountains with interesting strata colors varying from whites, reds, oranges, and turquoise. Bryce Canyon is to the northwest and the bright orange hoodoos stand out above the horizon.
Immediately alongside the trail, you’ll walk past sandstone formations that are changing every day with every drop of water and breath of wind. Yellow and purple wildflowers provide some variations in color against the orange stone.
The Angel’s Palace Trail works itself along the rim and across the mesa. It’s not too difficult to follow with years of foot traffic wearing down the stone, but there are some areas where you’ll have to look for signs. The signs are plentiful and have arrows that shouldn’t confuse anyone. There are some spurs, which are signed, and lead out to viewpoints and other areas on the mesa.
One spur takes you along a narrow finger ridge on the rim. It’s marked with a photographic viewpoint marker, and is not for those who get vertigo easily! You’ll have a few feet on each side of you before dropping over 100′. Walk out to the end and get some views of Bryce.
If you follow the signs, and even taking all of the spurs, you’ll work yourself around a loop and eventually wind up back where you originally came up on the rim. The Angel’s Palace Trail will take you down the same trail into the canyon and back out to Kodachrome State Park Road.
For more information on Kodachrome Basin State Park, visit the official website.
Tips for the Angel’s Palace Trail
- This is a good trail to take a lot of lenses – wide, telephoto, and macro. It’s not long or difficult so the extra weight shouldn’t matter.
- After going through the trail on an overcast day, I think I’d want to camp out across the street and run up to the mesa at various times in the day to get different lighting. You’re surrounded by so much impressive scenery on all sides of Kodachrome Basin that you’ll want to be taking pictures throughout the day! There are plenty of other short trails nearby to check out as well.