For Southern Nevadans seeking brilliant fall foliage, Southern Utah is often the destination of choice. There you can find a variety of elevations so, depending on when you visit over the next couple of months, you will be able to find an area where the color is at its peak.
Right now the leaves have just started to change in the high elevations. If you can get away this month, head up Utah Route 14, about a half-hour drive east of Cedar City, to the Markagunt Plateau. Home to Cedar Breaks National Monument, Brian Head, Navajo Lake, Panguitch Lake and Duck Creek Village, this is a wonderful destination to drive the network of scenic roads and hopefully take in some dazzling color.
Besides enjoying the foliage while driving around Cedar Breaks National Monument, there are several viewpoints along the main road to gaze into the vast natural amphitheater — three miles wide and 2,000 feet deep. It is full of hoodoos, spires and columns in picturesque hues of red, pink, orange and purple stone and earth.
Even better, though, would be to take a short hike along the Alpine Pond Trail. It’s a good one for seeing the fall colors of the aspens set within the sub-alpine forest of bristlecone pines, fir and Engelmann spruce. The two-mile double-loop trail can be started at either the Chessman Overlook or Alpine Pond trailheads located along Route 148, 1.6 miles and 2.6 miles, respectively, from the main entrance.
If your schedule doesn’t allow you to travel up to the high elevations this month, you can find good color later in the season as the foliage gradually peaks at lower elevations.
The main canyon of Zion National Park is an excellent place to enjoy color, often starting toward the end of October and continuing through early November. The best trail for leaf-peeping is often the Riverside Walk, a two-mile round-trip paved trail that starts at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop. The trail meanders along the North Fork of the Virgin River and is flanked by a variety of deciduous trees such as Fremont cottonwoods, bigtooth maple, velvet ash and box elder.
If you go
What to pack: Weather on the Markagunt Plateau, at around 10,000 feet elevation, can be highly unpredictable this time of year; it could even snow. Dress warmly and pack a warm hat, gloves, and appropriate shoes and socks.
Length of stay: One to two nights in the area.
Plan your visit: For more information on the current fall foliage and planning a visit to the area, contact the Cedar City/Brian Head Tourism Bureau at 435-586-5124 or visitcedarcity.com.