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 14th – 21st

10-04-19 Sydney Valley, mile marker 24 on National Scenic Byway HWY 143 - Dixie National Forest
10-04-19 Sydney Valley, Cedar Mountain

High Elevation – Alpine

Brian Head, Cedar Breaks and Panguitch Lake

Percent of Change:


Color Report:

With freezing temperatures the leaves in the high elevation are gone.  If you have any images from this strange but beautiful fall color season we would love to see them, if you use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…) be sure to tag us so we can see them #VisitCedarCity and #fallcolorreport or you can share them via email at tourism.group@ironcounty.net.

Thank you for spending another beautiful fall season with us in the high elevations, be sure to check out the leaves in the mid and low elevations and don’t forget to come back September 1, 2020 for next seasons Fall Color Report!

*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.

Woods Ranch Recreation Area, Hwy 14, 12 miles east of Cedar City, UT
10-12-19 Woods Ranch, Hwy U-14

Mid Elevation – Sub-Alpine

Parowan Canyon and Cedar Canyon Area

Percent of Change:


Color Report:

Kolob Reservoir Road/Right Hand Canyon, east of Cedar City, UT
10-12-19 Kolob Reservoir Rd/Right Hand Canyon

With Record lows and freezing temperatures the leaves in the mid-elevation are now gone. You may find a few patches of color but they will not last much longer. Thank you for another wonderful fall, 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 (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) #VisitCedarCity and #fallcolorreport. Or via email at tourism.group@ironcounty.net.

*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.

10-14-19 Kolob Canyons - Zion National Park pc: Mike Saemisch
10-14-19 Kolob Canyons pc: Mike Saemisch

Low Elevation – High Valley

Cedar City and Kolob Canyons Area

Percent of Change:


Color Report:

Kolob Canyons glitters with beautiful stands of yellow aspens in the bottom of the canyon and plenty of vibrant oranges and reds sprinkled throughout the area. The deep yellow rabbit brush is in full bloom and really adds to the beauty of fall! The leaves are also changing in the Main Canyon of Zion National Park and don’t miss the drive through Hwy U-9 past the tunnel into east Zion, watch for the big horned sheep who call this side of the canyon home! Be sure to take a camera and a jacket especially in the late afternoons when temperatures tend to cool off quickly.10-10-19 - Kolob Canyons - pc Mike Saemisch

We anticipate that the colors in the lower elevations will only get better in the coming weeks so be sure to keep you camera handy and a sharp eye for the beauty of fall. 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
Past Peak
100% Color Change
Area Fall Color Map showing that High and Mid elevations are Past Peak and Low elevation is Moderate

Suggested Drives

Kolob Finger Scenic Byway / North Zion National Park

One of my favorite drives; whether looking for fall colors, a Sunday drive or to catch the sunset and the stars! At this time of year, the orange shades of the valley’s scrub oak and golden hues of the rabbit brush make an interesting contrast to the broad scenery.  Since Kolob is a part of Zion National Park there is a $35 entrance fee payable at the Visitor Center at the Canyon entrance and is good for 7 days and includes entrance into Zion National Park Main Canyon.

  • About 18 miles south of Cedar City, just off 1-15 at Exit #40, is the well-traveled Kolob Fingers Scenic Byway. This paved highway climbs through several switchbacks to unfold the spectacular Kolob “finger canyons”. These rugged and steep rock formations are colored in vibrant shades of red.
  • The road features many pull-out areas with magnificent overlooks and geologic information. The road ends five miles in at the Timbercreek Overlook where there is a nice picnic area and short walking trail.
  • A great hiking trail to see the beautiful fall colors is Taylor Creek.  This five mile hike follows the middle fork of Taylor Creek past two homestead cabins to the beautiful Double Arch Alcove.
  • Once you have soaked in the scenery, simply return to I-15 the way you came.


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.