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 OCTOBER 23rd – 31st

10.02.17 Sidney Valley, Hwy U-143, Cedar City, UTHigh Elevation – Alpine

Brian Head, Cedar Breaks and Panguitch Lake

Percent of Change:


Color Report:

With the cold temperatures and the wind the fall leaves in the high elevation are gone. Come back next year (September 1st, 2018) for the new updated report.

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.

And just like that a strong wind will take down the leaves, Mike Saemisch, Brian Head, UTMid Elevation – Sub-Alpine

Parowan Canyon and Cedar Canyon Area

Percent of Change:


Color Report:

The leaves in the mid elevation are past peak, please check back next year (September 1, 2018) for the fall colors next year. Have a great winter and stay warm.

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.

Zion National Park 10-23-17 by Mike SaemischLow Elevation – High Valley

Cedar City and Kolob Canyons Area

Percent of Change:


Color Report:

There are still a few pockets of color in the Cedar City and Parowan areas but the leaves are falling fast. Take this time to visit Zion National Park to see the leaves, just remember there is an entrance fee of $30 per car;*An Interagency Annual Pass or Lifetime Pass is also honored. Also it is still required to ride the shuttle in the main canyon (free with entrance fee), but be sure to drive Hwy U-9 through the tunnel into East Zion, be sure to keep you eye out for the Big Horned Sheep who call this side of the park home! Visitation in Zion National Park is way up so be courteous, take your time and enjoy the view!

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
Past Peak
100% Color Change
Past - Past - Peak

Suggested Drives

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 the heart of Zion Canyon. (From November 1 to March 31st visitors may drive their own vehicles into the main canyon of Zion; however, from April 1 to October 31st access into the Canyon is only by shuttle bus.) 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.

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. Our suggestion 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.

To press leaves, place them between sheets of newspaper and then 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 our 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.