Cedar Breaks National Monument
A seemingly alien landscape shaped by sculpted hoodoos and fins painted in different hues of red, orange, yellow, and purple, the oft-overlooked Cedar Breaks National Monument provides a fantasy landscape that rivals its larger neighboring Utah national parks.
Sitting at over 10,000 feet, this natural amphitheater stretches 3 miles (4.8 km) across, with a depth of over 2,000 feet (610 m). These painted cliffs are a result of a combination of an ancient lake, tectonic activity, and erosion.
Its multitude of colors can be contributed to various amounts of trace minerals: Martian reds and orange hues caused by iron oxide and oxidized manganese give the limestone its unique purple hues. The hoodoos – thin spires of protruding rock – have been formed by and continue to be molded by chemical, water, and wind erosions. The Native Americans in the area believed these humanoid-shaped formations were actually people who did bad things and were therefore frozen and trapped in stone.
This fantastical landscape holds not only unique geological history, but holds historical cultural significance as well. The Southern Paiute passed through the area in search of natural resources, and early Mormon settlers herded livestock in the grassy highlands.
Learn more about this unique landscape at nps.gov/cebr.
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Photo credit: Jay Wanta via Share the Experience Photo Contest.