St. George’s summers often make one contemplate ways to stay cool. When the triple digits of June, July and August settle in, you hate to just plop the kids in front of video games or the television, but the heat outside can make any trip away from the cool comfort of air conditioning seem impossible. Heading for the pool, the lake or the splash pad sometimes feels like the only option for getting them out of the house.
One of the fantastic benefits of living in Southern Utah, however, is the dramatic differences in elevation that surround us. When it’s 108 degrees in St. George or Hurricane, hopping in the car and taking an hour-long drive north can provide wonderful relief from the heat.
With the events scheduled at Cedar Breaks over the next couple of weeks, there’s no better time to get the kids out of the house and get their blood circulating again.
Late June and early July are the prime time to go see the wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument and from July 2 through July 17 the Annual Wildflower Festival makes for a perfect excuse to leave the stifling heat of St. George behind and head for the mountains where the high temps are comfortably in the 80s.
Park rangers will be on hand leading guided tours everyday at 10 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. throughout the festival’s run. On the weekends, family friendly games and activities will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you miss the guided tours, fear not. The monument has a free app available in both the iTunes and Google Play stores that’ll turn your smartphone into a fountain of wildflower information. You can enter a few descriptive terms regarding just about every flower at Cedar Breaks and the app will tell you all about the plant.
Cedar Breaks is also hosting a summer star party this Saturday, July 2 from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Gazing through telescopes and soaking in the beauty of the night sky seems perfect way to cap off a day of enjoying the beauty of the wildflowers and the geological formations of Cedar Breaks.
The following week, from July 11 through July 16, the Cedar Break National Monument Arts Afire plein air art event will also be taking place up at Cedar Breaks, at the Giant Steps Lodge at Brian Head Resort and at the new Southern Utah Museum of Art in Cedar City. Artists will be on hand at Point Supreme at Cedar Breaks and at Brian Head painting landscapes as they sit in the “open air” surrounded by the beauty of the lands they are attempting to portray at a variety of times during the week. They’ll be available to answer questions about their art work and visitors will be able to watch art in the process of creation. For information about the plein air art event, visit the NPS’s Cedar Breaks website at https://www.nps.gov/cebr/planyourvisit/cedar-breaks-national-monument-plein-air-art-event.htm
There are also geology talks, naturalist strolls, junior ranger programs and other programs being offered all summer long at the national monument.
If your kids can handle driving for a few hours in the car on a hot summer’s day, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better way to get out of the heat than taking a drive to Cedar Breaks.
The best part is, the only charge for all those activities is your entrance fee to the park. If you’ve already got your National Park Service Interagency Pass (for $80 you can get into Zion, Bryce, Cedar Breaks, Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Pipe Springs and whole lot of other national park service sites — the pass is well worth the price) Cedar Breaks will only cost you the gas to get there and back. For information, visit the National Park Service’s Cedar Breaks website at https://www.nps.gov/cebr/index.htm
If you’re willing to spend a little extra for a fun day atop the mountain, there’s a lot to do at Brian Head Resort before or after you stop to check out the wildflowers at Cedar Breaks. Of course there’s the thrill of riding a mountain bike down a ski run but there’s also a climbing wall, zip line, avalanche tubing, bungee trampoline, a family adventure trail, an archery course and an 18-hole disc golf course, all of which could keep the kids busy for hours. Most of the activities are offered at the Giant Steps Lodge on the weekends, Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For information and for pricing visit https://www.brianhead.com/Pricing
While the costs of these activities will set you back a bit, Brian Head does offer summer season passes and heading up there for a handful of get away from the heat weekends could quickly make the passes well worth the price of admission.
Whether you make a day of it and enjoy the activities at Brian Head or just head up to take a hike and photograph the wildflowers at Cedar Breaks, the cooler temperatures at 10,000 feet make the journey worth every drop of gas.
Follow reporter Jud Burkett on Twitter and Instagram @judburkett. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 435-674-6262.