SOUTHERN UTAH – It attracts tourists from across the state and the country; wildflowers are in full bloom at Cedar Breaks National Monument, adding a rainbow of color to the red rocks.
The Wildflower Festival is an annual event when the focus shifts from the southern Utah red rock cliffs to the reds, yellows and blues lining the trails and filling the meadows. For just a few weeks in July, hundreds of wildflowers bloom at the same time. Monument guide Kerry Soltis said it’s a rare phenomenon that comes from the high mountain climate.
“We are a unique sub-alpine habitat up here at the top of 10,000 feet,” Soltis said. “So with a short growing season, all of the wildflowers pretty much bloom at the same time, in one go.”
While it means a short life for the colorful plants, it creates a spectacular view for the hundreds of tourists who come every year just to see them.
“Well, the Columbine is the prettiest, I think,” said Cedar City resident Jim Case. “But they’re all pretty, even the little tiny things.”
“Just the numbers of them,” said St. George resident Manja Midgley. “You may see a few in a garden, but this is absolutely beyond belief.”
This year marks the eighth annual Wildflower Festival, but Soltis said the scene is different every year. That’s because it’s all dependent on the season’s weather, meaning some flowers will fare better than others.
“Things have been pretty dry,” Soltis said. “So I think the rate of the bloom has progressed a little bit faster, and by that I mean the flowers that normally stick around for most of the month, some of them are starting to go to seed already.”
But that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of flowers to see. The Wildflower Festival runs through July 22. A full list of events can be found on the park’s website.