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Winter Closes Roads At Dinosaur, Cedar Breaks National Monuments In Utah/Colorado


Snowfalls are leading to road closures in both Dinosaur and Cedar Breaks national monuments. The top photo, of the Harpers Corner Road in Dinosaur, was taken December 18. The bottom photo is of the yurt that serves as the visitor contact station at Cedar Breaks. NPS photos.

Recent snow storms have led to the closure of some roads at both Dinosaur National Monument and Cedar Breaks National Monument for the rest of the winter.

"The arrival of the first snowfall means that winter has arrived at Dinosaur National Monument, and visitors' access to some areas of the monument may be limited," said Dinsoaur Superintendent Mary Risser.

On the Utah side of the monument, staff will continue to maintain the roads around the Quarry Visitor Center and Exhibit Hall to provide visitor access to the buildings. The Cub Creek Road is plowed to the turn off for the Chew Ranch, but the last three miles out to Josie's Cabin are not maintained and may be impassable if significant snowfall is received.

On the Colorado side, the Harpers Corner Road will be kept open to the Echo Park Road turnoff until December 31 so that hunters may access nearby lands outside the monument. On January 1, the road will close at Plug Hat Butte, which is five miles from US Hwy 40. Once the road closes to vehicular traffic for the winter, portions of the Harpers Corner Drive will be open to snowmobiling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing if snow conditions permit.

Other roads such as the Yampa Bench Road, Island Park Road, and the road to Gates of Lodore are not maintained and travel on them is not advised during the winter.

Snow storms often catch many visitors off guard and unprepared. Road maintenance may be very limited during storms or on weekends. It is critical that drivers be prepared for inclement weather before heading out to the monument during the winter.

As you recreate in Dinosaur National Monument this winter, please ensure someone knows where you are going and when you are expected to return. Spending two nights in your truck stuck in a winter storm until families or your employer wonders where you are can be a life-threatening situation. Be prepared with appropriate clothing and supplies for any unexpected incidents. Blue jeans and tennis shoes without a jacket are not the best clothing for walking three to four miles to get assistance if you become stuck in two feet of snow.

Winter is a wonderful time to visit Dinosaur National Monument. Days are cold, but often sunny. Solitude is readily available. Wildlife, like deer, elk and bighorn sheep, may be seen along the rivers. Please be alert for animals crossing the roads particularly at dawn and dusk. Remember that Dinosaur's weather is unpredictable and can change rapidly. Visitors should always be prepared for a range of conditions and check the current forecast before heading out.

Across the state of Utah, the section of Utah 148 through Cedar Breaks National Monument that connects Utah 14 and 143 has been closed for the winter.

"We have reached that time of year when expected heavy snow accumulation and constant drifting of snow across the road have made it unsafe to keep the road open," said Superintendent Paul Roelandt.

The stretch of Utah 143 through the monument that connects Panguitch with Brian Head and Parowan is expected to remain open through the winter, barring major snowfalls that could take a while to clear.

While the road into the park is closed, Cedar Breaks still is open for hardy skiers or snowshoers. As in past winters, a yurt will serve as a visitor center of sorts. It is located in the northern part of Cedar Breaks and is staffed on weekends by volunteers between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., conditions allowing.

When there's enough snow, trails for crossing-country skiers and snowshoers will be marked from the north park boundary along the north rim of the breaks, and along the Alpine Pond Trail. Guided snowshoe walks will be offerd every Saturday in January and February.

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