The list seems to be going on and on in the Rockies and Sierra this spring: too much snow is complicating openings of national parks for the summer season. One of the latest casualties is Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah, where crews are still trying to open the road.
Situated above 10,000 feet in elevation atop the Colorado Plateau, perhaps it shouldn't be too surprising that snow depths on the connecting highway -- Utah 148 -- have it buried under drifts rising to 15 feet. As a result, park officials say the latest "target date" for opening the monument's visitor facilities is now June 10.
"Extensive work remains to widen the road to allow for two-way traffic, and to open the visitor center parking lot and scenic overlooks,” said Park Superintendent Paul Roelandt. “Although opening for the Memorial Day weekend is very important to us, visitor safety is even more important."
Daphne Sewing, the monument's chief of education and partnerships, says the opening day could arrive sooner than June 10, but for now that's the date officials are aiming for.
“With warmer temperatures forecast for the next several weeks, there is a chance we could open earlier than June 10. I would recommend that visitors call us or check our website, www.nps.gov/cebr, to get the latest update,” she said.
The Point Supreme Campground normally opens by mid-June, but with the unusually high amount of snow, park officials suggest campers call ahead of their visit and check on the status of campsites as well as other visitor facilities.
While winter's heavy snows are delaying the monument's opening, officials say there is a silver lining: It should be a spectacular summer for wildflowers! The bloom usually begins in early July, but it might arrive a bit later this year due to the late snow season, park officials said.
In addition to the wildflower festival and daily ranger programs, the park will be hosting a series of night sky parties throughout the summer, celebrating a “Stories of the Past” festival including the park’s 78th anniversary in August, and a Fall Color Festival in September. In addition, visitors can enjoy “Fee Free Days” on June 21, the first day of summer, and September 24, National Public Lands Day.
Questions regarding the status of the Cedar Breaks Scenic Drive and visitor facilities may be directed to the park’s headquarters office in Cedar City at (435) 586-9451. Once the park opens, visitors can call the visitor center directly at 435-586-0787, ext. 0, to inquire about park events and recreational opportunities.