99°F
weather icon Clear

Wildflowers’ colors amp up visit to Cedar Breaks

Cedar Breaks National Monument, located in southern Utah, is a small park most cherished by us desert dwellers for its cool summer temperatures and spectacular views into its deep, hoodoo-filled amphitheater. But during July and August, you’ll find the little park brimming with activities, any one of which, by itself, might be worth the journey.

The park’s annual wildflower festival runs through July 20. Just driving through the park at this time of year you will be surrounded by meadows ablaze with floral color.

But by taking to one of the trails on foot, you can see the flowers individually and start counting the different kinds you see. More than 260 species are found here.

Favorable geography is at the root of this remarkable diversity. The park is on the Markagunt Plateau at an elevation of more than 10,000 feet. This time of year, moist air moves inland from the Pacific and because hot air holds moisture, the air currents retain their moisture while traveling over the hot Mojave Desert. But once they hit the higher, colder plateau, the currents cool and release monsoon rains. Plenty of monsoon rain and the plateau’s fertile sedimentary soils add up to ideal conditions for wildflowers.

During the festival volunteers and wildflower specialists will lead guided walks at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. Children who visit on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. can make crafts, play wildflower bingo and even earn a Wildflower Festival button as a master flower protector in the Daisy Defenders gallery.

The Zion Canyon Field Institute will offer educational workshops related to the festival. One of the most appealing will be Saturday when photographer Michael Plyler will teach the techniques of photographing the park’s stunning wildflower displays. There also will be a workshop in wildflower journaling, where you can learn some of the best ways to record your experiences.

Advance reservations are necessary for both of these workshops; make them through the Zion Canyon Field Institute, 800-635-3959, www.zionpark.org.

Outdoor fun doesn’t end once night falls as Cedar Breaks offers stargazing parties on Saturdays through Aug. 30, with a special midweek party Aug. 12 to view the Perseids meteor shower. All the night sky programs take place at Point Supreme Overlook.

Park staff and astronomy volunteers will be on hand to give you a constellation tour and assist you in viewing the skies with the large telescopes that will be set up for visitors. You are also welcome to bring your own optical equipment.

All star parties during July start at 9:30 p.m. and those in August at 9 p.m. Of course, all star parties depend on having unclouded skies. The cool nights at this high elevation can dip down into the 30s or lower even in summer, so bring a warm jacket, hat and gloves.

The park has a 25-site campground for tents and RVs. Some sites are available by reservation at www.recreation.gov but many are on a first-come, first-served basis. Restrooms and showers are available.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns were recently compiled with new information and photos in “Base Camp Las Vegas” and published by Stephens Press. She is the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Fishers angle for best spot

Anglers covered the shorelines at Veterans’ Memorial Park on Saturday, June 11, as Boulder City hosted the Southern Nevada free fishing day event.

94-year-old still out on the green

Feeling younger than ever, 94-year old Virginia “Birdie” Hurst is an avid golfer who has no plans to slow down.

Catalina evokes visions of romance, nature

For many who grew up in the 1950s or ’60s, the name of Santa Catalina will always evoke the vision of California at its most romantic, thanks to the Four Preps’ influential pop song of the same name. But the actual island has helped city folk enjoy romance, nature and elegant surroundings in their preferred proportions for nearly a century.

Waterfall standout of Grand Staircase-Escalante

While it would take a lifetime to see all the extraordinary wonders of the 1.87-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, even on a short visit you can hike to some of the highlights. One of the standouts, that most people are eager to visit, is Lower Calf Creek Falls.

Orchards highlight visit to Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef National Park in Utah boasts some of the finest rock formations and geologic wonders in the West, including the Waterpocket Fold, a wrinkle in the Earth that extends 100 miles. It is also one of the top choices for visitors to hike; its 150 miles of trails take in slot canyons, natural arches and bridges, waterfalls and petroglyphs.

Desert living heralded in Palm Springs

For outdoor lovers who are looking for a family or multigenerational weekend, Palm Springs, California, will certainly fit the bill. While there are hundreds of wonderful things to do here, three places should top any list for those traveling with people of different ages.

Park features more than namesake Joshua trees

Joshua Tree National Park, California, lies about 185 miles from Boulder City, but the scenic route seems just a hop, skip and jump, for it consists partly of a drive in the remote and visually stunning Mojave National Preserve, along a short section of Route 66 and through the ghost town of Amboy.

Bridge extends welcome to Havasu visitors

Moving one of England’s tourist attractions to the American Southwest sounded far-fetched until somebody did it. Now it has become the second most popular tourist destination in Arizona, only being outdone by the Grand Canyon.

Remains of old outpost ‘preserved’

Fort Piute makes a wonderful day outing to a remote area in the extreme eastern region of the Mojave National Preserve in California. You’ll need to be prepared for this trip, though, as the road is rough; you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle with good off-road tires, a spare and tools to change one.