|Kolob Canyons and Cedar Break National Monument
- Part 10 of 11 of 2010 Tour of SW USA
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Direction to Kolob Canyons in Zion National Park
The Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park is located just off Interstate Highway I-15 at exit 40 in
southwestern Utah, USA. It is 2 miles east of I-15. It is in the northwest part of Zion National Park. From
Interstate 15, Use exit 40. After exiting the I-15, turn eastward and follow the paved road a short distance to
the visitor center. Then take the 5-mile scenic Kolob Canyons Road to tour Kolob Canyons.
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Kolob Canyons
Map: Click here to see Park Viewer of Kolob Canyons
More Park Maps of Kolob Canyons are available at the following websites:
Direction to Cedar Break National Monument:
Location: Cedar Break National Monument sits high at 10,200 feet of elevation up in the heavy pine forests of
the Markagunt Plateau, located in southwestern Utah, USA, and is 22 miles east of Cedar City,
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Cedar Break National Monument
Directions to Cedar Break National Monument:
South Entrance: From Cedar City (on Interstate Highway 15) take scenic Utah Highway 14 to go east for 18
miles and climb about 5,000 feet toward the high plateau through lovely Cedar Canyon. (This is one of the
most scenic side roads in Utah, this road reveals splendid views of Cedar Breaks from below). Then turn left
into Utah Highway 148 and go north for 4 miles to reach the South Entrance. (Highway 148 may be closed
even in early June if there are still too much snow on the ground blocking this road.)
North Entrance: From Interstate Highway I-15, exit at Parowan, then take Utah Highway 143 east and climb
about 5,000 feet to reach the North Entrance of Cedar Breaks National Monument.
Maps of local area of Cedar Break National Monument are available at the following website:
The sheer red rock wall rises 1500 feet here.
These fantastic canyons seen along this 5-mile scenic drive are called “Finger Canyons” because there are
five of them, each several miles in length and pointing to the west. The fingers are tall, orange colored rock
formations with narrow canyons between them. These five Finger Canyons can be seen more clearly on the
Google map for Kolob Canyons area with Satellite View as shown at the following website:
or on MapQuest map with Aerial Map for Kolob Canyons area at the following website:
The viewers of the Google Satellite Map or MapQuest Aerial Map may need to zoom in or zoom out slightly to
see all five Finger Canyons on the map.
With such satellite view or aerial view, these five "Finger Canyons" appear to have been carved by some
gigantic hand into the edge of the Kolob Terrace.
The North View Overlook enabled us to see only a portion of the giant amphitheaters of hoodoos in Cedar
Break National Monument. Due to the snow closing of the 5-mile Scenic Rim Drive (i.e. Highway 148), we
were not able to reach other overlooks and hiking trails, such as Point Supreme, Point Spectra, Rampart
Viewpoint, Chessmen Ridge Overlook, Sunset View, etc.
Each of the park's lookouts provides a different angle to view spectacular, brilliant sandstone pinnacles
featured in the 3-mile wide and 2,500-foot-deep amphitheater. Different angle may provide optimal dramatic
view at different time of the day relative to the angle of sun light, such as sunrise or sunset.
However, sample photos of views from these additional overlooks, vista points and hiking trails can be seen at
the following websites:
According to Mormon scripture, the word "Kolob" means "the star nearest to the residence of God".
In addition to the magnificent red rock cliffs, the surface of the five-mile scenic drive, of the parking lots for
scenic overlooks and the roadside pebbles in Kolob Canyons are also in red color.
Spectacular views of majestic soaring cliffs of red Navajo sandstone of Finger Canyons in Kolob Canyons in
Zion National Park in Utah, USA. We toured Kolob Canyons on June 1, 2010. We drove from Las Vegas,
Nevada, arrived in late morning and spent the mid-day touring Kolob Canyons.
The five-mile scenic drive starts at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center at the entrance and climbs steeply into a
spectacular canyon area with sheer cliffs of red rocks of the Kolob Canyons. The scenic drive ends at a
turn-about known as the Timber Creek Overlook which features an absolutely breathtaking view of the Kolob
Terrace. The road ascends 1100 feet in 5 miles with moderately steep grades and many curves. Along the
route there are several pullouts that mark points of interest with interpretive signs. Touring this 5-mile winding
scenic drive felt like 10 times its distance as every turn or 100-feet unveils a stunning new vista to admire. It
is breathtaking, raw and unpolished mountains and canyons where striking orange-red cliffs contrast sharply
against the blue sky and green valleys, showing nature in all its splendor.
After we finished touring Kolob Canyons in the afternoon of June 1, 2010, we intended to tour Cedar Break
National Monument by driving north on Interstate Highway 15 to Cedar City, then turn east on Utah Highway 14
for 18 miles, then turn north on Cedar Breaks Scenic Drive 148 to try to reach Cedar Break National
Monument through the South Entrance. However, we were surprised to find that Cedar Breaks Scenic Drive
148 was closed due to deep snow and mud on the ground! Cedar Break National Monument is at elevation
above 10,000 feet and still has deep snow on the ground even on the summer day of June 1. It is almost 2
miles above sea level. So, we had to re-track back to Cedar City and asked for information. According to local
people, the snow drifts can be 4 to 8 feet on the winding and hilly Highway 148.
Next morning on June 2, 2010, we drove further north on Interstate Highway 15 to Parowan, then turn south on
Utah Highway 143 to enter the North Entrance of Cedar Break National Monument. Fortunately, Utah Highway
143 was open, but we could reach only one observation point, the North View Overlook, other overlooks were
not reachable because of snow closure of Scenic Drive 148 around the rim of the natural amphitheater of
Cedar Break National Monument.
There were still a lot of snow on Highway 143 on June 2, 2010 when we arrived. The summit elevation of
Highway 143 is 10,420 feet near the North Entrance of Cedar Break National Monument. Visitors have to
breath deeply up here, because the air is thin at such high elevation.
After reading Parts 1 to 9 of my reports on our 2010 tour of southwest USA, some friends asked me about
why I toured those desert areas during the hot summer days in June? Why not tour these places during Spring
or Autumn seasons when the weather is not so hot? Well, in spring season, Cedar Break National Monument
is totally closed due to deep snow at such high elevation. The total annual snowfall is about 400 inches at
Cedar Break National Monument.
Similarly, the road to the North Rim of Grand Canyon is not open until after May 15 because of snow at such
high elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet in North Rim of Grand Canyon.
In 2008, we were touring Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park in late August and early
September. However, on September 1, 2008 (still in the summer season), it was snowing heavily mixed with
hailstones in Yellowstone National Park at elevation of 8,000 feet or more. We had to cut short of our tour and
left on September 1, 2008.
Yes, if we skip high elevation locations such as Cedar Break National Monument and the North Rim of Grand
Canyon, we could tour other remaining parts of southwest USA at lower elevation in the Spring or Autumn
seasons when the weather is not so hot.
Very colorful towering hoodoos at the bottom of the giant natural amphitheater in Cedar Break National
Monument as viewed from the North View Overlook. It is very much a concentrated version of Bryce Canyon
National Park. Cedar Break National Monument is a 3-mile wide, 2,500-foot deep massive natural
amphitheater of wonderfully colored and eroded rock walls, fins, spires, columns and ridges of sandstone.
After we finished touring Cedar Break National Monument and were driving east on Highway 143 to go to
Bryce Canyon National Park, we were surprised to see a huge area of ancient lava beds on both sides of
Highway 143 not too far from Cedar Break National Monument as shown on these two photos. After I came
home, I opened the Google map and clicked on Satellite view, indeed there are vary large areas of black
colored lava beds just couple miles east of Cedar Break National Monument.
Ski Chairlift of Brian Head Ski Resort area about 2 miles north of Cedar Break National Monument along
Highway 143. The quaint resort town of Brian Head also features an array of vacation rental condominiums, in
addition to Lodge at Brian Head and the plush Cedar Breaks Lodge. The chairlift takes visitors to the top of
Brian Head peak with fantastic sweeping view.
The Scenic Highways 14 and 143 coming up to Cedar Break National Monument are very hilly, winding with
lovely beautiful views. They are parts of the allure, every turn you take unveils a stunning new vista as shown in
We also saw such outstanding colorful cliffs of hoodoos as shown in these three photos along Highway 14
even before we reach the junction of Highway 14 and Cedar Break Scenic Drive 148.
Colorful cliffs along Highway 14 going up to Cedar Break National Monument.
Similar to those in Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Break is a natural amphitheater at a plateau’s edge,
where erosion is gradually carving back the edge, exposing the rock layers and shaping them into fantastic
colored hoodoos and edges. Iron and manganese oxide impurities in the stone produce an amazing variety
of brilliant colors in the limestone cliffs that constantly change with the angle of the sun's rays.
Spectacular view of the natural amphitheater of colorful hoodoos of Cedar Break National Monument with
lots of snow as icing!.
Zion National Park has three sections: (1) Zion Canyon which is the most popular main section, (2) Kolob
Terrace, and (3) Kolob Canyons. Sections (1) and (2) in southern parts of Zion National Park are accessed
through Utah Highway 9 at the southern border. The photos and associated commentaries for Sections (1)
and (2) are on my Travelogue web page at:
The Section (3) of Kolob Canyons is in northwest part of Zion and is accessed through Interstate Highway I-
15 along the west border. In our previous trip in 2003, we toured all three sections of Zion National Park.
After we finished Sections (1) and (2), we arrived at Section (3) of Kolob Canyon in late afternoon. The
pictures of Kolob Canyons in late afternoon in 2003 are shown in the following two pictures. The colors of
these red sandstone cliffs vary with the angle and the color of sun light. It is seen that the red content of the
colors of these red cliffs in late afternoon taken in 2003 are slightly more intense than those shown above
taken in mid-day of June 1, 2010. If they were taken at sunset time, these red colors probably would be even
more intense and brilliant, similar to what we saw at sunset time in Monument Valley and in Arches National
Shuntavi Butte of Kolob Canyons. The names of these peaks of Finger Canyons can be seen on a panoramic
photo at the following website:
In our 2010 trip, we toured only Kolob Canyons but skipped Sections (1) and (2) of Zion National Park
because there are major road construction work on Highway 9 from June 1 through October 28, 2010 that
causes substantial delay and traffic jam on Highway 9 for accessing southern sections of Zion National Park.
Similar to Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Break National Monument at such high elevation can get
about 250 days of freezing temperatures out of the year. The water gets in the cracks of sandstones
during the day, freezes at night and expands. This repeated process of thaw-freeze-expand adds to the
erosion of the rim of the high plateau into the giant natural amphitheater of hoodoos, ridges and spires in
various hues of red, purple and gold, that led native American Indians to call it the Circle of Painted Cliffs.
This giant natural amphitheater of hoodoos gets its name of "Cedar Break" from early Utah settlers. It is
called a "Break" because of its abrupt, broken, and deeply eroded canyons that were interruptions to travel,
especially by wagon train of pioneers, on the old wagon road. In other words, it is a "badland" for traveling of
Both Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Break National Monument are on the Pink Cliffs (i.e., Claron
Formation) which is at the top step/layer of the Grand Staircase that starts at the bottom of the Grand
Part 11 of 11 entitled "Valley of Fire and Virgin River Gorge - Part 11 of 11 of 2010 Tour of fantastic
Southwest USA" is on my web page at:
A picture of me (Sing Lin) at North View Overlook - This photo by May Lee
Our 10-Day 2010 Tour Route of Southwest USA is a large loop starting and ending in Las Vegas in Nevada,
USA. The sequence of fantastic Point-Of-Interest (POIs) on this large loop is:
Las Vegas in Nevada --------> Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park in Utah ---------> Cedar Break National
Monument in Utah --------> Red Canyon State Park in Utah --------> Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
--------> Scenic Byway 12 through beautiful Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument in Utah --------> Scenic
Burr Trail and southern Part of Capital Reef National Park in Utah --------> Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
--------> Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah --------> Canyonland National Park in Utah ---------> Arches
National Park in Utah --------> Goosenecks State Park in Utah --------> Monument Valley in Arizona -------->
Antelope Canyons in Arizona --------> Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge over Colorado River in Arizona -------->
Horseshoe Bend of Colorado River in Arizona ---------> Navajo Bridge over Colorado River in Arizona
Scenic Highway 89-ALT from east to west along beautiful Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona
--------> Grand Canyon - North Rim in Arizona --------> Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada --------->
Hemenway Park in Boulder City in Nevada ---------> Las Vegas in Nevada.
How I use information age technologies to enhance my enjoyment greatly of sightseeing large driving tour loop
of thousands of miles and of one to two weeks in duration covering many Points of Interest is described on
my web page at: