OP Home > Columns > Favorite Places > Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Columns



Sunday, August 1, 2004

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah


Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Location
Cedar Breaks National Monument covers 6,100 acres and lies 23 miles east of Cedar City in southern Utah. At more than 2,000 feet deep, the spectacularly colored Cedar Breaks amphitheater is laced with delicately eroded spires, fins, hoodoos and natural arches, the by-product of millions of years of sedimentation and erosion. The canyon's rim soars at more than 10,000 feet in elevation and is forested with spruce, subalpine fir and quaking aspen. Scattered between the trees are broad meadows that come aglow with summer wildflowers. The monument's higher elevation provides ideal growing conditions for bristlecone pines, found on the rim of the amphitheater. Foul weather and drifting snow will effectively close the park's main road (Highway 148) anytime between October and early December, with all visitor services remaining closed from mid-October through late May. During the open season, don't miss the Visitor Center, found near the park's main entrance.

Weather
With the monument's higher elevation, expect summertime highs to be on the cooler side; the upper 50s and 60s are common. Nighttime lows can be chilly, from the 30s to lower 50s. Summer cold spells can bring subfreezing temperatures and snow at any time, so be prepared. During July and August, brief but violent lightning storms are frequent; don't get caught on the exposed overlooks. Winter visitors who plan on skiing or snowshoeing into the park should be prepared for extreme winter conditions. Plentiful snow and frigid temperatures are the norm.

Photo Experience
Upon arrival, you'll be drawn to the canyon's rim. Four overlooks along the park's main road provide many photo ops; a sturdy tripod is a must. If you're lucky enough to visit the park after a rainstorm, the already richly hued limestone, shale and sandstone amphitheater will be even more saturated with color.

Carry a longer lens (200mm to 300mm), as small mammals, including pikas, ground squirrels and yellow-bellied marmots, are found in rim-side rock piles. The patient will be rewarded with curious animals poking their heads from rock crevices and hollowed-out logs.

Hike the Spectra Point Trail to a grove of bristlecone pines, where the gnarled trees present you with many wide-angle and close-up challenges. One of these ancient trees has been keeping watch for more than 1,600 years. From your vantage point, you'll be able to keep your eye on the main part of the canyon and the golden light that bathes it at sunset.

The rolling meadows fill with wildflowers in summer and offer a breathtaking scene. During a good year, you'll find them densely covered with lupine, scarlet paintbrush, columbine and sunflowers. Compose sweeping landscapes or close-ups of individual flowers amidst the spruce and fir at the meadows' edge.

Best Times
Although beautiful photographs can be found at other times, plan your visit around the wildflower bloom—July and August. Call ahead to check the progress of the meadows, as the flowers will peak at different times each year. However, many wildflowers can be found during the shoulder months, and the wildlife is consistent throughout the season.

Contact: Cedar Breaks National Monument, (435) 586-9451, www.nps.gov/cebr/.

Essential Gear...

Traveling by car can be a fun adventure, especially when you plan your route ahead of time. Microsoft's Streets & Trips 2004 takes the guesswork out of travel by including up-to-date urban and rural maps, as well as regular updates from the Web on road construction delays. It also can calculate mileage and fuel stops so you're not caught off-guard. List Price: $39.95. Contact: Microsoft, (800) 426-9400, www.microsoft.com.


0 Comments

Add Comment

 

Popular OP Articles

  • Super Charged!Super Charged!
    There’s no substitute for megapixels. We look at the highest-pixel-count cameras, both medium-format and full-frame models, of all time. More »
  • Digital MythbustingDigital Mythbusting
    We bust some of the most common myths that digital photographers take into the field to help you get your best images More »
  • Lighten Up!Lighten Up!
    How to choose and use light-hiking equipment and philosophy to make your photography forays more enjoyable, comfortable and productive More »