For a visual treat away from the crowds that flock through the main entrance to Zion National Park, pay a visit to the Kolob Canyons section of the park. Though less well known, it features spectacular cliffs, steep canyons, mesas and interesting rock formations. The five mile scenic drive has a number of pulloffs with great views, capped by the incomparable panorama seen at the final viewpoint.
Hiking and other activities
Stop at the visitor center at the entrance to the scenic drive for an overview of the recreational activities that may be enjoyed in the area. Hiking is popular; several trails accessible from the scenic drive lead to park features and/or scenic views. Picnicking in the presence of the soaring mountains of the Kolob Canyons is a treat. The only outdoors-oriented convenience missing is a campground; however, backpackers do have the option of camping in the backcountry.
The mountains and the canyons
Almost from the moment you begin the scenic drive, towering mountains loom before you. The Kolob Canyons viewpoint has a map with names for many prominent features. See if you can identify Horse Ranch Mountain, Beatty Point, Nagunt Mesa, Timber Top Mountain and Shuntavi Butte. At the overlook, I managed to take a photo showing the map with the very features it names in the background.
Although the area is charming at any time of day in any season, there is a special look to the mountains in the late afternoon sun. Whenever you visit, leave enough time to let the mood of this special place sink in.