Exploring the Kolob Terrace
Driving up Kolob Terrace Road across Cave Valley you might notice the Tabernacle Dome, Cave Knoll and Spendlove Knoll but you might not notice a number of other small sets of rocks and cliffs to the north of Lambs Knoll. They look inconsequential and they are not an official part of Zion National Park. In front of them and the road is a stretch of State lands administered by the SITLA. SITLA answers to no one and seems to have an open hostility towards public lands. The people over there go out of their way to avoid transferring any land holdings into the public domain through trade or purchase, even when it would benefit the public interest. Instead they cater developers, the wealthy and extractive industries who can simply request a piece of land be sold to them and see if it comes up at a very hastily announced auction. These announcements often come with such short notice that competition for the tracts of land is severely limited. In Washington County, the SITLA headquarters literally shares walls with a major vacation home development company.
In the fall of 2016 one such auction transferred 200 acres of SITLA land bordering Zion into private ownership. That means the now private landowner can do whatever he wants with part of the iconic landscape, including building a sprawling eyesore hotel, a fenced off private home, or if desired, simply blowing up the rock formations.
I’d never really considered exploring that part of the Kolob Terrace myself, but I’ve seen too many times how these things turn out, so as soon as I heard the land was going to auction I went out there to visit what I had previously thought was BLM land.
Imagine my surprise when those obscure little knolls happened to be a beautiful collection of stone pillars marking the very edge of the Kolob Terrace. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m glad I went while it was still open.