Cedar Breaks National Monument

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Circle of Painted Cliffs

The Paiute people named the area “The Place Where the Rocks are Sliding Down All the Time.”  This is a much more descriptive and accurate name than Cedar Breaks.  The trees in the area are junipers, not cedars.  Located north of Zion and west of Bryce Canyon many people are unaware of this national treasure.  We came through in mid October, 2015.

Millions of years ago the area was the bottom of a huge lake, now called Lake Claron. The lake dried, then filled again many times resulting in sediment deposits collecting at the bottom.  Algae that lived in the lake became a glue-like substance which cemented the sediment together.  In time the sediment hardened into rock, which has eroded over time creating the unique valleys and rock sculptures, known as hoodoos.

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Hoodoos

The drive through the park is only six miles long, but they are a dramatic six miles.

The Amphitheater

The Visitor’s Center is a small building which was closed when we visited.  Its located at Point Supreme Overlook, which sits atop a huge natural amphitheater, which is 2,000 feet deep and three miles wide.

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Point Supreme is over 10,000 feet high
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Iron & manganese produce the red and purple colors
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These hoodoos resemble a fortress built into the mountain
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The lake that once covered this area was 250 miles long and 70 miles wide
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A close up of the land beyond the amphitheater.

 

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Autumn colors
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Wind and water erode the rock down to a dream-like landscape
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A far off pic of the mountain
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A little closer view of one of the spires of rock
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The top of this hoodoo looks like a child balanced rocks on top of each other
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In time this wall of rock will erode to nothing
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Here its possible to see more layers of rock

Damage by the Spruce Bark Beetle

Upon entering the park we noticed many of the trees were dead.  A sign near the Visitor’s Center explains this.

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Approximately every 300 years the conditions are right for a huge outbreak of this tiny (size of a grain of rice) insect.  The current outbreak began in 1992 and is winding down now.

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This little “bugger” bores through the bark of the tree and lays eggs
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The destructive offspring of the beetle feeds on the tree which eventually kills it
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Beetle tracks such as these can be seen on the dead trees
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Actual beetle tracks I found on a tree trunk

Sunset View Overlook

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This is the next viewing area on the road
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White Navaho Sandstone seems to flow over the red rock
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Running water causes erosion, it snows approx. 15 feet a year, and thunderstorms are common all summer.
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“Frost wedging” is a term for water which freezes in the cracks of rock, causing expansion which eventually breaks off portions of rock
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Beautiful contrast in colors

Chessman Ridge Overlook

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Along the road overlooking the canyons the elevation remains over 10,000 feet, which you feel in reduced lung capacity
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Trees grow on the east side of this ridge
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The surrounding area blends into these rocks fairly close to the overlook
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The spires on these hoodoos do resemble chessmen
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The area around this little alcove shows what may have been a landslide
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like a wall guarding the city below it

Apart from the “Breaks” the rest of the park is also beautiful

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The road meanders through meadows which will be ablaze with color once the wildflowers bloom in spring
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The aspens were so beautiful when we visited
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Occasionally the aspens are more red than yellow
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The park also has lava fields where aspens have managed to grow through the rock
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A nice campsite in an open area
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Bruce coming to pick me up after I walked up the road to take some photos

We left Cedar Breaks and went into Panguitch for a hamburger.  Then we rode into Bryce Canyon that afternoon, which will be my next journal page.  Cedar Breaks may be small but it is certainly spectacular!