Kolob Arch, one of the largest freestanding arches in the world, is a stunning natural formation located in the less-visited Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park in Utah. The hike to Kolob Arch traverses the park’s less-visited backcountry, so it is a nice respite from the sometimes very busy area of Zion Canyon, the main part of the park. We hiked the La Verkin Creek Trail from the Lee Pass trailhead to see the arch in April 2024.

sign for Lee Pass trailhead
Trailhead sign for Lee Pass trailhead

Kolob Canyons Area of Zion National Park

Zion National Park has three entrances, which is not something we initially realized when doing this hike. The main (south) entrance is by Springdale. There is also an east entrance along Highway 9, and a third entrance for Kolob Canyons in the northwest section of the park.

For this hike, enter at the Kolob Canyons entrance. It is located about 40 miles southwest of the main Zion Park entrance by Springdale.

La Verkin Creek Trail going toward red cliffs in kolob canyons
La Verkin Creek Trail

Kolob Canyons Description

Kolob Canyons is a 45,000-acre section of Zion National Park in the park’s northwest corner. Unlike the main Zion Canyon, which is more accessible and crowded, Kolob Canyons offers a remote and serene experience with narrower, deeper canyons and towering red cliffs.

red cliffs in kolob canyons
Kolob Canyons cliffs

At a higher elevation, it features cooler temperatures and different flora and fauna, providing a more isolated and intimate encounter with Zion’s natural beauty.

Meaning of “Kolob”

Mormon pioneers settled in the region in the mid-19th century. They named the area “Kolob” after a star or heavenly body mentioned in the Book of Abraham, part of the LDS scripture. The name reflects the settlers’ awe of the landscape’s beauty.

snow on red cliffs in kolob canyons
Beautiful scenery along La Verkin Creek Trail

Access to Kolob Canyons

Unlike the main Zion Canyon area of the park, you are allowed to drive your car into the Kolob Canyons area.

There is a Kolob Canyons Visitor Center where you can pay your fee to enter the park and obtain additional information. It is staffed with park rangers.

kolob canyons visitor center
Kolob Canyons Visitor Center

The Kolob Canyons Road is 5 miles long and covers the length of this part of Zion.

This scenic drive provides stunning views of the deep red canyons and towering cliffs, as well as access to several trailheads and viewpoints.

kolob canyons overlook sign
Overlook in Kolob Canyons

Lee Pass Trailhead Hike Details

The hike to Kolob Arch follows the La Verkin Creek Trail from the Lee Pass Trailhead on Kolob Canyons Road.

lee pass trailhead and elevation sign
Lee Pass Trailhead sign

There are sign along Kolob Canyons Road that point to the Lees Pass trailhead and parking is available at several small lots along the road.

sign pointing to La Verkin Creek Trail with red cliffs and snow
Kolob Canyons trail sign

It is 14-15 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of about 1,040 feet.

The trail is mostly flat, except for about the first mile. The beginning of the hike which is downhill (and uphill on the way back)!

wood steps down La Verkin Creek Trail
Steps down La Verkin Creek Trail

It should take about 6-8 hours to complete, depending on your pace and how much time you spend at the Kolob Arch.

La Verkin Creek Trail
Flat area of La Verkin Creek Trail

Zion Wilderness Area

The Kolob Canyons are designated as Wilderness Areas. This hike goes through the Wilderness Area.

entering zion wilderness sign
Entering Zion Wilderness sign

A Wilderness Area is a protected region where the land remains in its natural state, free from significant human development. They are managed to conserve natural and cultural resources, wildlife habitats, and ecological integrity.

Only hikers and horse riders can access Wilderness Areas. Bikes and motorized transportation are not allowed.

Terrain along La Verkin Creek Trail

lee pass trailhead information sign
Lee Pass Trailhead terrain sign

The La Verkin Creek Trail starts at the Lee Pass Trailhead and gradually descends into the Kolob Canyons. This first part of the trail is downhill.

It eventually lands in the valley of the narrow box canyon, which has red sandstone cliff walls that are over 2,000 feet tall. These provide amazing views the entire length of the trail.

La Verkin Creek Trail
Flat trail through canyon

The trail winds through juniper and pine forests, open meadows, and alongside La Verkin Creek.

roots out of pine tree
Interesting tree roots

You’ll pass through riparian zones with cottonwoods and box elders, and navigate more rugged sections as you approach the Kolob Arch spur trail.

stream crossing along La Verkin Creek Trail
Stream in Kolob Canyons

Rivers along La Verkin Creek Trail

You will hike along two different rivers on this trail. These are the Timber Creek and La Verkin River.

red rocks in a stream in kolob canyon along La Verkin Creek Trail
Red rocks in stream in Kolob Canyons

We crossed several rivers crossings on the trail. I counted over 20. All were easy to do without getting our feet wet.

stream through kolob canyons
One of many stream crossings

Kolob Arch

Kolob Arch is one of the largest natural arches in the world. It is approximately 287 feet in length and is considered to be one of the world’s longest freestanding arches.

kolob arch
Kolob Arch

It is the second longest natural arch in the United States. Only Landscape Arch in Arches National Park is longer, at about 300 feet in length.

To be honest, the arch itself is somewhat anticlimactic. We were not terribly impressed with the arch, but the hike to see it was pretty!

(For a more impressive arch along a pretty canyon trail in Moab, check out the Morning Glory Arch!)

stream along La Verkin Creek Trail
Small stream in Kolob Canyons

Kolob Arch Spur Trail

At about the 6.5 mile mark, you will come to the Kolob Arch spur trail, which is only about 1/2 mile long. There is a sign that points to the spur trail.

kolob arch spur trail sign
Kolob Arch spur trail sign

The spur trail is a little more challenging than the main trail, as you will need to scramble over some rocks.

This part of the hike follows a freezing cold stream to the left of the trail. We thought it would be a good idea to cool off our feet in the stream, but it was freezing in April when we visited!

Seeing the Arch

Kolob Arch can be a little difficult to see if you don’t know where to look. It is located on the left-hand side of the Kolob Arch spur trail, across the river from the side that the trail is on.

Once you come to the sign below, look up high to your left. Some other hikers left some notes on this sign to show you where to look.

further travel not recommended sign
Look up at this sign to see Kolob Arch

The arch is located high up in the cliffs, so you will need to look up to find it.

If you see this white streak on a cliff about the trail, look just to the left of it and you will see the arch.

white streak from runoff on red cliffs
Arch is to the left of this white streak on the red sandstone cliffs

Once you’ve seen the Kolob Arch, return back along the spur trail to the main trail and retrace your steps. From here it is about 6 miles to the Lee Pass trailhead.

lee pass 6 miles sign
Sign for Lee Pass

Permits for La Verkin Creek Trail

You do not need a permit to hike the trail. However, if you want to camp, a permit is required. There are several established campsites along the trail.

To get a back country permit to camp in Kolob Canyons, you have to go to the Springdale entrance of the park, so plan your trip accordingly.

red cliff walls along La Verkin Creek Trail
Jagged cliffs in Kolob Canyons along La Verkin Creek Trail

Warnings and Considerations


Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes. They are prevalent in this area.

We didn’t see any, luckily. The only wildlife we saw were some mule deer, who weren’t terribly bothered by us.

mule deer in kolob canyons
Mule deer along La Verkin Creek Trail


The mosquitoes can be really bad, given the amount of water in the area. Bring bug spray.


Watch where you step if you go off the trail. There are a lot of cacti in this area, including small cacti that can be difficult to see.

cacti plants along La Verkin Creek Trail
Cacti along La Verkin Creek Trail

As well as several beautiful big cacti along the trail that are hard to miss.

Large cactus plant near red cliff walls
Large cactus along La Verkin Creek Trail

Sun Protection and Water

Most of this hike is in the sun. Make sure you bring lots of water and sun protection.

We thought we were well prepared, but almost ran out of water at the end of the hike. Bring more than you think you will need.

When we hiked this trail, there was a sign at the beginning reminding hikers to bring enough water.

hike smart sign
Hike smart sign at Lee Pass trailhead


If it has rained recently or there is snow melt, the trail could get very muddy. This is sticky wet clay, which is not easy to walk through.

Even though the trail was mostly dry when we hiked, there were areas where we could see where the rain had recently run off. These were very muddy, giving us a taste for what the mud could be like.

wet runoff in red clay
Muddy runoff

Last Mile of La Verkin Creek Trail is Uphill

The last mile or so is completely uphill. Take that into consideration, as we were pretty tired after already hiking 14 miles.

Make sure you leave enough time to finish hiking the trail before dark.

There’s a picnic table at the Lee Pass trailhead where you can have a snack before or after hiking the trail.

picnic table overlooking red cliffs at kolob canyons
Picnic table at Lee Pass trailhead

No Dogs

Dogs are not allowed on the trail.

Getting There

Google Map of the Lee Pass Trailhead


To reach the Lee Pass Trailhead of La Verkin Creek Trail:

  • Enter Zion National Park from the Kolob Canyons entrance, located off Interstate 15.
  • Stop at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center to present an Interagency Park Pass or pay the Zion National Park entrance fee.
  • Take Kolob Canyons Road for about 4 miles to the trailhead parking area at Lee Pass. There are signs for Lee Pass.

The Kolob Canyons Road may be closed during winter months due to snow or ice.

Road workers had stopped traffic to bust large boulders that had rolled onto the road when we were there in the spring.

road workers holding a stop sign
Workers on Kolob Canyons Road

Follow this link to check on the current conditions.

Final Thoughts

We loved this part of Zion National Park. When we visited in April, the main Zion Canyon area was packed with people. It was a little too crowded for my taste. (We hiked up to Scout Lookout which was not as crowded as other trails in the main Zion area, as the hike is considered to be difficult.)

On the other hand, Kolob Canyons was quiet and peaceful and we almost had the whole place to ourselves. We only saw a few other hikers.