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Friday, August 12, 2011

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Cute Little Visitor Center--surrounded by Snow
Cedar Breaks National Monument (north of Zion) is not far from Cedar City, Utah.  This park had only been opened for a few days before we visited there on June 20,  due to the heavy snow this past winter.  We took Scenic Road 14 in order to get there.  It was a beautiful day --and we (me especially since I LOVE snow) were thrilled to get there to find LOTS of snow still on the ground.

The Amphitheater
The ranger told us that there was so much snow up there this past winter that they quit counting it after about 400 inches.... Mercy Me!!!!!!  We went UP UP UP to over 10,000 feet above sea level in order to get there.  Just GORGEOUS---and quite cool up there for June!  (Wish I were there NOW! ha)

At Point Supreme,  10,350'
Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater canyon,  stretching across 3 miles, with a depth of over 2,000 feet.  The eroded rock of the canyon is similar to formations at Bryce Canyon, but has its own distinct look.  Because of its elevation,  vehicles cannot get there between October through May, due to the snow accumulations.

We were lucky to be there on a cool, crisp day!
The national monument area is the headwaters of Mammoth Creek,  a tributary of the Sevier River.  The amphitheater,   located near the west end of the Colorado Plateau,  covers the west side of the Markagunt Plateau,  the same plateau that forms parts of Zion National Park.


I love this picture showing the snow, that blue sky and the beautiful trees.
Uplift and erosion formed the canyon over millions of years,  raising and then wearing away the shale, limestone, and sandstone that was deposited at the bottom of an ancient 70 by 250 mile lake,  known as Lake Claron about 60 million years ago.   It continues to erode at a pace of about 2 inches every 5 years.  On top of the plateau,  volcanic rock covers much of the area, formed during cataclysmic eruptions around 28 million years ago.

Notice all of the snow along the cliffs
The rocks of the eroded canyon contain iron and manganese in various combinations,  providing brilliant colors that led Indians to call it the "Circle of Painted Cliffs".  Iron oxides provide the reds, oranges and yellows,  while manganese oxides provide shades of purple.

Chessman Ridge Overlook, 10, 460'
The area is another form of badlands--canyons, spires, walls and cliffs so steep that the land,   while of great aesthetic value, is of little utilitarian worth.  Early settlers called them badlands  (breaks) and created its current name by combining breaks with cedar for the many juniper trees (often incorrectly called cedars) that grow in the area.

Taken at Sunset View;  Wouldn't it be marvelous to be there to see the sunset?  Wow!!!
Cedar Breaks National Monument was established in 1933.  If you ever get to the Bryce and Zion area,  take time to visit Cedar Breaks.  You will truly enjoy it!!!!

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Betsy