Cedar Breaks National Monument – Wild Skies & Summer Storms

July 2019 – Cedar Breaks National Monument is a stunning landscape of red rock pinnacles and hoodoos in any kind of weather, but when clouds form and rain starts to fall in the distance, it is truly breathtaking.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Summer Storms

Cedar Breaks National Monument is spectacular when summer storms sweep through

As storm clouds began to gather, we made our way out to the main overlook at Point Supreme. What a fabulous drama in the sky was unfolding! Black clouds were dumping torrential rain in the far distance, but our little spot at the overlook remained dry for the moment.

Storm clouds at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Storm clouds with rain in the distance at Cedar Breaks National Monument

Rain at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

What a spectacular sight!

Once in a while the sun peeked out from behind the storm clouds, casting shafts of light across the red rocks. Then the clouds would close ranks around the sun once again, sealing off all but a thin ray from the heavens.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah storm clouds-min

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Light shafts Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

A shaft of light broke through

As we set ourselves up to take pics, a gal scurrying back towards her car laughed as she ran by. “This kind of weather is when the photographers come out and when everyone else leaves!” Sure enough, we were soon alone at the overlook as the storm clouds rushed to surround us.

Even Buddy wasn’t so sure about the wisdom of being here in this kind of weather. He took shelter in Mark’s arms and advised him of the best techniques for taking photos of the incoming storm.

Photography at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Mark sets up a shot as Buddy looks on

Wild skies Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Wild skies

Shafts of light at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Heavenly light.

Finally, the rain hit us with full force, and we bolted back to the truck. The downpour as we drove through the woods was a deluge!

Pouring rain in the woods in Utah-min

The rain came down in buckets

Even though most mornings were sunny, storm clouds returned to Cedar Breaks with punctual regularity every afternoon. It didn’t always rain, but the bright blue skies of early morning were filled with puffy clouds by noon and were buried under heavy dark clouds filled with heavy raindrops by afternoon.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah clouds parting-min

The sky was slightly more tame after the deluge.

Cedar Breaks National Monument colors-min

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Visiting the overlooks at the golden hour late in the afternoon, we watched the red rocks take on a brilliant glow. The sun pierced the clouds and bathed Cedar Breaks in a rich orange light.

Golden hour storm clouds Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The colors were incredibly rich at the golden hour before sunset

Chessmen Overlook Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

One of the “chess men” at Chessmen Overlook

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Golden Hour-min

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Red rocks Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Golden Hour-min

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One evening, as we walked out onto Point Supreme overlook at sunset, we found a group of tourists huddled along the fence watching the show. One brave person was even standing on a fence post!

Standing at Point Supreme overlook Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

At sunset a small crowd formed along the fence — and on top of it!

We explored the other overlooks too: Sunset View, Chessmen Ridge and the North View. Each one offered a unique view of unusual shapes and colors.

Colorful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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Beautiful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah pink orange and white cliffs-min

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Inner light Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah pink orange and white cliffs-min

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Pink and orange Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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Because the road along Cedar Breaks National Monument is a fairly busy highway, we took our truck on each visit. The Polaris RZR side-by-side wasn’t getting much use at all. One day when we called Buddy over to get in the truck, he ran over to the RZR instead and sat next to it, as if to say, “Why can’t we take the RZR this time?”

Puppy wants a Polaris RZR ride-min

Buddy wanted to take the RZR instead of the truck!

We did get out into the woods a bit wih the RZR, and Buddy was our little trail scout, as he always loves to be.

Puppy runs down a dirt road in the woods-min

He got his wish and had fun running through the woods

Cedar Breaks and the surrounding area lies at 10,000 feet elevation. That is, it lies 4,000 feet higher than the peak of famous Mt. Washington in New Hampshire!

Being so high, it is cold and is prone to all kinds of crazy weather. As I mentioned in our last post, we’d seen patches of snow in our wanderings, even during the last few days of July, right in the middle of a heatwave that had engulfed the whole country!

One day while we were out exploring we turned a corner and found a particularly enormous patch of snow.

Snow in Utah in mid-summer-min

A big patch of winter snow that’s still left at the end of July

Snow in late July in Utah-min

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Buddy loves snow, so we decided to let him play in it for a while.

Puppy plays in Utah mid-summer snow-min

A happy little puppy in a big field of snow!

Oh my, was he in heaven once he figured out what he was standing on! He went wild, running in crazy circles, throwing up snow and ice all around him as he took hairpin turns at top speed and dove into the show head first. He galloped at full speed in sheer joy.

Puppy plays in the snow-min

“Weeeeeee!!!”

Galloping through summer snow-min

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Diving into summer snow-min

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Puppy plays in the summer snow-min

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Puppy plays in the summer snow-min

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After he had gleefully burned off enough energy for all three of us, we finally told him it was time to go. He was soooo disappointed.

He stood by the edge of the snow and forlornly watched us walking away, making no move to follow. He could have happily stayed at his private summer snow park for a few hours more!

Puppy love the summer snow in Utah-min

“Do we have to go??!!”

Not far away from the patch of snow we found some beautiful wildflowers in full bloom. The bees were busy gathering pollen in the bell shaped flowers, and despite the nearby snow, the flowers reminded us that it was indeed summertime, even here in Utah’s higher elevations.

Columbine wildflower-min

Columbine

Bee in wildflower-min

Busy bee

Indian paintbrush wildflowers in the Utah woods-min

Indian Paintbrush

Most of southern Utah is in the 4,000 to 7,500 foot range of elevation and is quite warm or even blazingly hot in mid-summer. But for those who love blustery weather and snow, there’s a bit of that waiting for you atop the plateau at Cedar Breaks National Monument.

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14 thoughts on “Cedar Breaks National Monument – Wild Skies & Summer Storms

    • Buddy will be two in mid-September. He was left off at the Animal Rescue League in Phoenix when he was 12 weeks old and afflicted with parvo virus just before Christmas of 2017. So, we’re guessing he was born in mid-September of 2017… We tell his tale at this link.

  1. Emily,
    What a beautiful mix of colors and climate. Hard to imagine there’s snow anywhere to be found when much of the country’s been suffering through a heatwave. Buddy certainly seems like he made the most of the white stuff. 😉
    Bob

    • Buddy just loves that white stuff, Bob, even when it ices up between his toes!! This is a gorgeous part of the country, but chilly. I’m wondering if that snow will even be gone before the next snow flies!!!!

  2. Great pictures! I love the Buddy shots. I think he really was asking, “Do we have to go…really?” The colors you guys captured in the rock formations is amazing, but I agree with Janie, Buddy does steal the show. Great shootiin’ partners!
    Jeff

    • Thank you, Jeff!! Buddy was in his element in that snow, that’s for sure!! He’s very expressive and seems to understand a lot of what we say to him. Today I asked him if he wanted to go do something exciting (he was lying on the couch looking bored), and he sat right up at full attention, all ears. Then I said, “We have to go in the truck.” He snorted and laid his chin back down on the couch and looked away. Too funny!!! He came around in the end, though, and was eager to go once we started putting our shoes on, etc. He’s a great companion in every way!

  3. Awesomely gorgeous photos! Love the “heavenly light” pic. Here in the east, we don’t have the expansive views you have in the west. There is nothing like seeing a storm roll through on the great western plains. That’s a heck of a photography playground you have there! And, obviously, a fantastic dog park, too. That little Buddy of yours is just charming.

  4. Grateful for a break amidst the northeast heat to see where you’ve been. Yeah, I agree that Buddy certainly has his own ‘GPS’ for discovery fun spots like the summer snow images. Its good to see you enjoying nature’s bounty. Your images are well-worth the visit. 🌲☁ 💙

    • Thank you for being a part of our travels for so long, Susan. We always hope that we can bring a ray of sunshine (or beautiful snow or stormy clouds) to our readers — we both relied on such “postcards” from other travelers before we could travel this way ourselves — and we’re fortunate that Buddy has a great nose for finding fun places!

  5. ….Mother Nature really gave you “the full works” – and superlative photography captured all her fireworks ! Lovely floral finale…..

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