March 30, 2010

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument is a natural amphitheater canyon, stretching across 3 miles, with a depth of over 2,000 feet. The elevation of the rim is over 10,000 feet above sea level. Cedar Breaks was established in 1933 and is located 21 miles east of Cedar City, Utah. Cedar Breaks is a spectacular world of rainbow hued rock formations millions of years in the making. The eroded rock of the canyon is similar to formations at Bryce Canyon National Park, but has its own distinct look. From its high vantage points, clear vistas extend hundreds of miles featuring lush alpine forests and serene wildflower meadows.

The Cedar Breaks 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. 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 lake, known as Lake Claron about 60 million years ago. It continues to erode at a pace of about 2 inches every 5 years. Indian settlers called it the “Circle of Painted Cliffs” because of the many brilliant colors that the rocks of the eroded canyon contained. The area is another form of badlands-canyons, spires, walls, and cliffs so steep and confusing that the land, while of great aesthetic value, are of little utilitarian worth. Early settlers called them badlands or breaks and created its current name by combining breaks with cedar for the many juniper trees that grow in the area.

Cedar Breaks National Monument contains rock formations known as hoodoos. These are also known as tent rocks, fairy chimneys or earth pyramids. A hoodoo is a tall thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Hoodoos are composed of soft sedimentary rock and are topped by a piece of harder, less easily-eroded stone that protects the column from the elements. Hoodoos have a variable thickness often described as having a “totem pole-shaped body.” Hoodoos range in height from that of an average human being to heights exceeding a 10-story building. Hoodoo shapes are affected by the erosional patterns of alternating hard and softer rock layers. Minerals deposited within different rock types cause hoodoos to have different colors throughout their height.

Cedar Breaks provides many different types of activities. There is a scenic drive along The Cedar Breaks Hwy U-148 that offers beautiful views of the rock formations, meadows, and forests. There are four developed overlooks, and trail heads for two hiking trails located along the scenic drive. The Alpine Pond Trail is an easy two mile route that offers excellent views of the wildflower meadows. Spectra Points/Ramparts Trail leads for one mile to the Spectra Point Overlook. Hikers who are prepared for a slightly more strenuous hike may continue one mile further to the Ramparts Overlook. During the summer months, geology talks and evening campfire programs are offered by the park rangers. Campground sites are also available on a first come, first serve basis from mid June through September.

Cedar Breaks boasts some of the most spectacular wildflowers and fall colors in the nation. Hundreds of thousands of guests visit the park each year. During the winter months, the scenic highway through Cedar Breaks is closed and becomes a groomed trail for snowmobiles, x-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Filed under: Main — admin @ 11:36 pm

March 10, 2010

Ski Brianhead

Brian Head Resort is nestled in the Dixie National Forest in Utah’s “Color Country,” surrounded by majestic views of red-rock spires and warm-hued canyons.  It is in the heart of the Grand Circle of National Parks – which includes Zions, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks – and adjacent to Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Brian Head Resort enjoys the best of both worlds – “the greatest snow on Earth” and clear sunny days.  Being located at the southern end of Utah’s mountains, where winter’s cold and dry arctic air from the north frequently meets the moist air from the Pacific to create abundant light powder with an average annual snowfall of nearly 400 inches.  As Utah’s highest ski resort with a base elevation of 9,600 feet, Brian Head Resort offers reliable snow and an extended season for downhill and cross-country skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding and snowshoeing from mid-November through mid-April.  An efficient snowmaking system assists early-season openings even in a dry fall season.

One of Brian Head Resort’s greatest attributes is its accessibility.  It is Utah’s closest “drive-to” destination getaway for families from the Southwestern desert region including southern Utah, Las Vegas and Southern California.   Brian Head Resort is located just off all-weather Interstate 15, on State Highway 143.  Las Vegas is a quick three-hour drive, and St. George, Utah is just over an hour.  This Alpine retreat is also an easy day’s drive from Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City.  From California’s “Inland Empire,” it takes less time to drive to Brian Head than it takes to drive to Mammoth Mountain.  Even in the heart of winter, excellent interstate highways are virtually free of hazardous conditions and provide easy connections. Brian Head Resort can also be reached by plane.  There are regional airports in Cedar City 28 miles to the southwest, and in St. George 77 miles to the south.  Private airplanes and jets can also use the Parowan airport, 12 miles northwest.

Filed under: Main — admin @ 6:58 pm