Fall Color Report

As the weather starts to cool, the area around Cedar City prepares to put on a dramatic show. With a backdrop of striking red rocks and southern Utah’s national parks, Cedar City provides an unmatched destination for fall foliage viewing.

Scenic Southern Utah and Cedar City are one of the “Eight Great and Unusual Fall Foliage Destinations”
NBC Today Show

Report For SEPTEMBER 16th – 22nd

High Elevation – Alpine

Brian Head, Cedar Breaks and Panguitch Lake

Percent of Change:

MODERATE

Color Report:

The colors in the high elevation are changing but there is still lots of green that will change in the next couple of weeks. Expert leaf peeper Maria Twitchell reported that there are some really pretty pops of color here and there around Brian Head and some along Hwy 143. As the weather continues to cool the colors will only get better!

We would love to see all your amazing fall color shots from this year so tag them #VisitCedarCity and #fallcolorreport.

*Caution* Please be mindful of livestock that may be on the roadway, they are currently migrating to winter grazing areas. Slowdown and if they are on the roadway stop and wait for them to pass. This gives you the perfect chance to take a picture because all those fluffy white sheep look great among the changing forest.

Mid Elevation – Sub-Alpine

Parowan Canyon and Cedar Canyon Area

Percent of Change:

LOW

Color Report:

The oaks in the Mid Elevation are starting to show their beautiful oranges and reds there are also a few golden yellow sprinkled throughout. As the weather continues to cool more colors will appear so keep checking in for updates. Some for the scrub oaks along Kolob Reservoir Rd / Right Hand Canyon are starting to show their beautiful red hues and will only become more spectacular in the coming weeks.

We would love to see all your amazing fall color shots from this year so tag them #VisitCedarCity and #fallcolorreport.

*Caution* Please be mindful of livestock that may be on the roadway, they are currently migrating to winter grazing areas. Slowdown and if they are on the roadway stop and wait for them to pass. This gives you the perfect chance to take a picture and be sure to tag us so we can see too.

Low Elevation – High Valley

Cedar City and Kolob Canyons Area

Percent of Change:

LOW

Color Report:

The colors in the Low Elevation usually don’t start until late September. However, I have seen a few yellowing trees in the cooler areas along the river and this is right on schedule. Please continue to check in because the report is updated regularly so as soon as there is any sign of color I will be sure to let you know.

We would love to see all your amazing fall color shots from this year so tag them #VisitCedarCity and #fallcolorreport.

Foliage Color Key

Low
0 – 25% Color Change
Moderate
26-50% Color Change
Peak
75-99% Color Change
Past Peak
100% Color Change
Fall Colors Map - High Elevation moderate

Suggested Drives

Utah’s Patchwork Parkway; Hwy U-143 & U-148 – Parowan, Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument

This scenic drive is always beautiful no matter what time of year you drive it:

  • Begin in Parowan (I-15 Exit #75 or #78) and from Main Street turn east on Center Street, which becomes the National Scenic Byway, Utah’s Patchwork Parkway, Hwy U-143. Hwy U-143 climbs past the colorful Vermillion Cliffs through Parowan Canyon, to the forested heights of nearly 10,000 Feet. The maple and oak trees that line this highway make this an incredible autumn drive later in the season.
  • About five miles up Hwy 143 is the Yankee Meadow Road turn-off. This is a nice side trip on a good gravel road. The Yankee Meadow road leads from the pinion juniper forest past the Vermillion Castle picnic area, through some incredible red rock formations and canyons to the alpine reservoir of Yankee Meadow. Here you can fish or just wonder around the lake for a pleasant morning in the pines and aspens. Return to Hwy U-143 the same way you came in.
  • Continuing south on Hwy U-143, the road will wind through some intricate chimney-shaped formations and the scar from the Brain Head Fire (June 2017) are visible, keep your eye out for the rebirth of a forest as new vegetation appears. The route then will climb a 13% grade to Brian Head Ski and summer area. Here, you’ll find some great activities to enjoy including hiking, mountain biking, ATV tours, tubing hill, zip line and scenic chairlift rides (Friday, Saturday and Sunday only).
  • Continuing south on Hwy U-143, about two miles past Brian Head, is the Brian Head Peak Rd, another nice side trip. This good gravel road travels for about 4 four miles to the heights of 11,000 ft. There’s an incredible view that stretches into Nevada to the west and into Cedar Breaks to the south. Return to Hwy U-143 the same way you came in.
  • Continuing on Hwy U-143 is Cedar Breaks National Monument. Cedar Breaks is a large, natural limestone amphitheater about three miles wide and 2,500 feet deep. The walls are eroded in carved spires and dazzling rock formations. Small stands of Bristlecone Pines, the world’s oldest living tree species, grow along the rim. Stop at the Visitor Center to see the incredible view and hike the two mile Spectra Point Trail.
  • The highway through Cedar Breaks continues south and then connects with Hwy U-14. From here you either turn west and head into Cedar City or turn east to explore the Navajo Lake and Duck Creek areas.

Where in Southern Utah should I go to see the fall colors if I arrive in…?

Early September

This is the very early stage of the fall foliage season. You may be able to see some color near Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Mid September

Southern Utah’s high elevation areas are traditionally experiencing 30% to 50% color change at this time. We suggest you visit the Cedar Breaks National Monument area.

Late September through Early October:

This is typically the best time to see the leaves in Southern Utah. The leaves around Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument should be at peak and the Duck Creek, Navajo Lake and Panguitch Lake should also be near peak. A great fall color trip is what’s known as the “Fall Color Loop.” The Fall Color Loop begins in Parowan, where you start up Hwy 143 though Parowan Canyon go past Brian Head and turn east towards Panguitch Lake, then head south on Mammoth Creek Rd. to Hwy 14, turn west on Hwy 14 go past Duck Creek Village, Navajo Lake, Zion Overlook, then down Cedar Canyon into Cedar City.

Mid October

The colors in the high elevation generally are past peak at this time, however, there should be some great colors along Hwy 14 from Cedar City to the Zion Overlook. Parowan Canyon, along Hwy 143 should still have some great fall colors.

Late October through Mid November

Zion National Park offers the best fall color viewing at this time.

*Please note that this information does not imply any guarantee in respect to the current conditions of the fall foliage. This information is based upon average conditions over the last ten years.

Why Do The Colors Change?

Springtime and Plenty of Chlorophyll

Each spring, budding leaves contain green, red, orange and yellow pigments. Throughout the summer, the green is dominant due to chlorophyll production.

Day Length, Rainfall and Sugar

Many factors influence autumn coloration and the most important being day Length, followed by rainfall, sugar accumulation in the leaves, wind, and prolonged periods of cool, bright, sunny autumn weather without a killing frost. The brighter the light is during this period, the greater the production of these pigments in the leaves.

Cool Autumn Days

When the days of autumn are sunny and cool, and the nights are chilly but not freezing, the brightest colorations usually develop. This is when the production of chlorophyll, which is created by sunlight during photosynthesis, slows down. As sunlight hours decrease, the green starts to disappear and the other pigments; red, orange, yellow, scarlet and purple come alive.

Getting Ready for Winter

Meanwhile the tree produces a waxy substance to protect itself from the elements once a leaf separates from the branch. That’s why leaves can withstand strong wind and rain during the summer, but come down so easily during a fall rainstorm. The key is to get a picture of your favorite tree when you see it-don’t wait!

Easy tips for taking great fall color photos

Use a tripod

Put the camera on a tripod and if you don’t have a remote shutter release use the timer on your camera so that you are not touching the camera and possibly causing camera movement when the shutter snaps.

Choose the time of day

Early and late in the day are the best times to photograph outside. At these times of day, the light is diffused and gives a rich golden colorcast to the scene. If it is an overcast day, anytime is good for taking colorful fall photos because the clouds diffuse or soften the light which enhances the colors of the trees.

Include foreground objects

Objects in the foreground of a landscape give the image more depth. Include a tree branch, tree, person or large rock in the foreground to give the image a feeling of actually “being there.”

Shoot at different angles

Study the light and decide at what direction you want to photograph the scene. The image can have different effects depending on the angle of the light. Try avoiding direct frontal lighting.

Shoot from different positions

Get on the ground and shoot the subject from a low position. Try lying on your back and shooting up through the trees with the blue sky as the background.

Shoot at different zoom levels

Shoot the same subject at wide angle, medium telephoto and extreme telephoto if possible. Don’t forget about trying some close-ups as well. If you are using a digital point and shoot, put it in macro mode and get close for some dramatic, eye-popping effects.

Look for reflections in water

Reflections of colorful fall trees in the water can have a very dramatic effect. In the early morning or early evening there is usually less chance of wind. The still water from the lack of wind causes sharper, more colorful reflections.

Enjoy the time

Getting out in the country on a beautiful morning or evening is a great feeling. Enjoy the time, have fun and take a lot of photos.

How Do I Preserve Leaves?

There are different ways to preserve leaves; the first, and our favorite, is to make a solution of one-third glycerin and two parts boiling water. Place the stems in the solution while it’s still hot. Keep the leaves in the solution over night. Remove and dry the next day.

The second way to preserve is to press leaves. Place the leaves between sheets of newspaper and under something heavy like a stack of books. You can also press leaves with a warm iron, but first place the leaves between tissue or wax paper. The color will last longer if you keep leaves out of direct sunlight and away from the air.

Share your Fall Color Photos

The area around Cedar City is famous for fall colors and we want to see the view through your eyes! Capture your favorite shot of scenic southern Utah, then tag us at @VisitCedarCity or #FallColorReport + #VisitCedarCity on Instagram. We will be featuring our favorites on Instagram and Facebook.

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