Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah (5)

Cedar Breaks National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in the U.S. state of Utah near Cedar City. Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater canyon, stretching across 3 miles (4.8 km), with a depth of over 2,000 feet (610 m). The elevation of the rim of the canyon is over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level.
The eroded rock of the canyon is similar to formations at Bryce Canyon National Park, but has its own distinct look. Because of its elevation, snow often makes it inaccessible to vehicles from October through May. Its canyon-rim visitor center, tiny compared to the visitor centers at nearby and better-known Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, is open only from June through October, although park headquarters at a lower elevation in Zion is open the rest of the year. It is not as popular as some of the other National Parks, but still, several hundred thousand people visit annually.
Wildlife can often be seen, as there are not the crowds of people often found in the larger, better-known parks. Mule deer and porcupines are common, as are rodents and similar animals such as pikas, marmots, red squirrels, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, pocket gophers, and chipmunks. Mountain lions and other larger animals live in the area but are seldom seen. Common birds include the Clark's nutcracker, Violet-green Swallows, and the Common Raven.[1]
A Larkspur wildflower near the rim of Cedar Breaks.The bristlecone pine, a species of tree that lives longer than any other known thing, can also be found in the high country, with some local specimens known to be more than 1600 years old. Subalpine meadows dot the canyon rim in such areas as around Alpine Pond, which is within an easy hike from the road along a clear trail. Aspen, Engelmann Spruce, Subalpine Fir trees, and Limber Pine also grow here.[2]
Spring begins in June at this elevation, when wildflowers cover the canyon rim. Wildflowers bloom all during the short growing season, and visitors can enjoy Scarlet or Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja parvula), Silvery Lupine (Lupinus argenteus), Blue (Colorado) Columbine (Aquilegia caerulea), Cinquefoil, Shootingstar, and wild rose, among others. In the earliest spring, Mountain (Aspen) Bluebell (Mertensia arizonica), spring beauty, Lavender Fleabane, Subalpine Larkspur (Delphinium occidentale), and various Penstemons appear. The summer winds down with goldenrod and Asters.
[edit] History and geology
Hoodoos in Cedar BreaksThe 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 70 by 250 miles (110 km × 400 km) lake, known as Lake Claron about 60 million years ago.[3] It continues to erode at a pace of about 2 inches (50 mm) every 5 years. Atop the plateau, volcanic rock known as rhyolitic tuff covers much of the area, formed during cataclysmic eruptions around 28 million years ago.
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.
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 (often incorrectly called cedars) that grow in the area.
Cedar Breaks National Monument was established in 1933. A small lodge built and operated by the Utah Parks Company once existed near the south end of the monument, but it was razed in 1972.
It includes Cedar Breaks Archeological District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[4]
[edit] Attractions
There are several hiking trails throughout the park, and a campsite near the canyon rim.
[edit] National park proposal
In 2006, Iron County officials considered a proposal for legislation to expand the monument and rename it Cedar Breaks National Park. The new park would include the adjacent Ashdown Gorge Wilderness, some private land and nearby Flanigan Arch.[5]
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Taken: 2009-09-19 11:19:07
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