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 22nd – 28th
Brian Head, Cedar Breaks and Panguitch Lake
Percent of Change:
Reports are coming in that we are finally starting to see some color in the high elevations. Mike Saemisch, states that there is about a 5% change along Hwy 143 east of Cedar Breaks National Monument, however, there is barely any change around Bran Head/High Mountain, maybe about 1% change. We are anticipating that if temperatures continue to cool gradually that the colors will only get better. There is some wind and colder weather in the forecast so we will keep a close eye on the changing leaves so continue to check back often.
If you have any images you would like to share from this beautiful season please do. Not only do we LOVE seeing our area through your eyes but you never know your image may just end up in the 2020 Scenic Calendar! Be sure to tag all of your amazing fall color shots from this year so we can see 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.
Parowan Canyon and Cedar Canyon Area
Percent of Change:
The leaves in the mid elevation are still very green, we are expecting that as temperatures cool in the coming weeks you can expect to start seeing color in the mid elevations mid to late September. We will make weekly trips up the mountain to keep you up-to-date and ready for another beautiful year for fall color viewing; so dust off your camera, grab some binoculars for wild life viewing and don’t forget a jacket!
If you have any images from this year we would love to see them if you would like to share…just be sure to tag all those great shots you post on social media #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.
Cedar City and Kolob Canyons Area
Percent of Change:
The low elevation areas of Cedar City and Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, generally won’t start changing until mid October. Of course we will be keeping a close eye on the weather and changing leaves and will make regular updates. So stay tuned and check back often. This is going to be another beautiful fall in southern Utah!
We would love to see all your amazing fall color shots from this year so tag them #VisitCedarCity and #fallcolorreport.
Foliage Color Key
0 – 25% Color Change
26-50% Color Change
75-99% Color Change
100% Color Change
Scenic Byway U-9 through Zion Canyon
- Scenic Byway U-9 passes through the town of Hurricane, veers east at LaVerkin and climbs to the crest of the Hurricane cliffs, winds through the valley of the Virgin River past the foot of Hurricane Mesa, Smithsonian Butte and the Eagle Crags.
- Travelers are then treated to a taste of the local lore in towns such as Virgin, Rockville and Springdale.
- A noted side-trip just past Rockville would be out to the ghost town of Grafton where the famous bicycle scene from the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was filmed.
- Highway U-9 arrives at the south entrance to Zion National Park.
- Stop at the Zion National Park Visitor Center and catch the shuttle to the heart of Zion Canyon. *Metered parking is available in Springdale with free shuttle access to Zion National Park.
- Inside the main canyon, you’ll see towering sandstone cliffs comprising the Court of the Patriarchs, the Great White Throne and Angel’s Landing.
- Not including any stops, the shuttle tour takes about 90 minutes round trip from the visitor center through Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
- Back at your car, you’ll continue east on scenic byway U-9, where you will see the Great Arch of Zion and pass through a long tunnel carved in the massive canyon walls. Completed in 1930, the tunnel doesn’t easily accommodate large, modern vehicles, however, special regulations provide for safe passage, and large vehicles and motor homes are required to pay an escort fee to travel through the tunnel.
- Past the tunnel, U-9 continues and traverses a unique landscape of petrified sand dunes to the park’s east entrance and on to US-89 at Mt. Carmel. *East Zion is where the Big Horned Sheep like to play so keep a look out and keep your camera ready.
Where in Southern Utah should I go to see the fall colors if I arrive in…?
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.
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.
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.