Cedar Breaks National Monument

The early Paiute people called Cedar Breaks National Monument the “Circle of Painted Cliffs” referring to multi colored stone ridges of this naturally carved amphitheater. Home to curious wildlife and Bristlecone pines that have been hanging around since the last millennium, time seems to stand still at Cedar Breaks and that’s really not a bad thing. Situated about two miles south of the town of Brian Head this giant amphitheater sits high atop the Markagunt Plateau, over 2,500 feet deep and more than three miles across. The spectacular colors of Cedar Breaks National Monument are formed by an abundance of mineral deposits making it breathtaking to behold.

The formations in Cedar Breaks consist of ridges, pinnacles and buttresses carved from the steep cliffs by wind and water erosion over more than 30 million years. From the highest point of 10,662 feet to the lowest at 8,100 feet, guests are treated to spectacular views of dense forests of sub-alpine fir, Engleman spruce and quaking aspens, plus fields containing more than 150 species of wildflowers. Bristlecone pine, one of nature’s oldest living trees, grows along the rim of the amphitheater and can be seen in abundance throughout the area.

A six-mile scenic drive leads past four overlooks, each offering a different perspective of the amphitheater. A log cabin constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 still serves as the visitors’ center.

For those who want to get off the beaten path, two hiking trails near the rim provide an added appreciation of the geology and flora and fauna of Cedar Breaks National Monument. The Spectra Point/Ramparts Overlook Trail is a four-mile round-trip hike along the rim, with spectacular views of the amphitheater. The Alpine Pond Nature Trail is a self-guided, double-loop trail through forests and meadows. The lower portion offers excellent views of the Breaks.

Must See & Do in Cedar Breaks National Monument

Hiking

The Alpine Pond Trail is a moderate two mile route offering excellent views of the wildflower meadows. Spectra Point/Ramparts Trail leads for one mile to the Spectra Point Overlook. Hikers who are prepared for a slightly more strenuous stretch on this trail may continue one mile further to the Ramparts Overlook.

Alpine Pond Trail
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A high-country trail. Distance is two-mile double-loop through forest and meadows. The lower trail offers excellent views of the “breaks.” The upper trail passes meadows of native wildflowers, through spruce-fir-aspen forest, and past ancient deposits of volcanic materials. Located half-way through the loop is the natural, spring-fed Alpine pond. A trail guide is available at the trail head and Visitor Center for $1.00. For a shorter trail, take the cut-off at the pond to make the hike a one-mile loop trail.

Spectra Point / Ramparts Overlook Trail
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A high-country trail. Distance is four miles round trip along the plateau rim passes a stand of ancient bristlecone pines at Spectra Point and ends at a viewpoint overlooking the Cedar Breaks amphitheater. At 10,500 feet, this hike is moderately strenuous and is not recommended for persons with cardiac or pulmonary health problems. If you hike to Spectra Point Overlook the trip is only a two-mile round-trip.

Campground Trail
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This trail starts at the Visitor Center and ends at the Campground. Distance is a one-mile round trip. This trail is a short walk with views of the amphitheater along half of the trail. This is the ONLY trail that pets are allowed to go on, but must be leashed at all times.

Rattlesnake Creek Trail
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Located just outside the park’s north entrance, part of the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area. This rugged trail drops 2,500 feet in four miles where it intersects with Ashdown Creek. Hikers can then follow the creek upstream into the canyons of Cedar Breaks, or follow the creek down through the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area, dropping an additional 1,000 feet over five miles to the lower trailhead at the 7-mile marker on Utah Highway 14 east of Cedar City. Trail markers are poor or non-existent in places, so hikers should be versed in map reading. Topographic maps of the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area are available for purchase in the visitor center. Be prepared to do some wading. Hikers should be advised to check the weather prior to trip in case of flash floods within the gorge.

*Almost all the trails into the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area travel through private property at some point. Please respect the landholders and follow all the guidelines outlined by Leave No Trace.

For more information and additional trails look in the Cedar Breaks National Monument newspaper publication “Breaking News”.

Scenic Drive

The Cedar Breaks Hwy U-148 offers beautiful view of the rock formations, meadows, and forests. Four developed overlooks, and trailheads for two hiking trails, are located along the scenic drive. You can connect to Hwy U-148 via National Scenic Byway Hwy U-143 from Brian Head / Panguitch or by Scenic Byway Hwy U-14. *This Scenic drive is closed in the winter.

Wildflowers and Fall colors

July and August, the meadows surrounding Cedar Breaks are full of wildflowers. Take a camera and wear good sturdy hiking shoes to discover the beauty of the alpine flowers (be sure to stay on designated trails). A wildflower checklist can be obtained at the visitor center. Late September, the fall colors surrounding Cedar Breaks really start to shine. Recently, USA Today rated the Cedar Breaks area as one of their “Top 5 Unique Places to See Fall Colors”. Check out our updated fall color report online at www.VisitCedarCity.com starting the first week of September.

Star Gazing

To celebrate and share the beauty of the dark night skies, Cedar Breaks will be hosting a series of “Star Parties.”  Star Parties will be held at the Point Supreme Overlook on Saturday nights beginning July through Labor Day weekend. A constellation tour and telescope viewing through several large telescopes will be facilitated by park staff and astronomy volunteers.  A night hike will be offered on full moon nights in addition to the regular Star Party activities.  Visitors who have their own telescopes are invited to bring them to the Star Party.  Call 435-586-9451 ext. 4420 or visit our website at www.nps.gov/cebr for more detailed dates and information. *These events are dependent upon good weather.

Cross Country Skiing, Snowmobiling,and Snowshoeing

In winter, Scenic Hwy U-148 through Cedar Breaks is closed to become a groomed trail for snowmobiles, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Guided snowshoe treks are offered by park staff each Saturday in January and February. Additional tours and rentals are available in nearby Brian Head and Cedar City.

Ranger Activities

Geology talks, guided walks and evening campfire programs are offered by park ranger throughout the summer visitor season. Evening campfire programs are offered on Fridays and Sundays from July through Labor Day weekend.

Schedules for these activities are available at the Cedar Breaks National Monument Fee Station and Visitor Center and online at www.nps.gov/cebr.

Home to curious wildlife and ancient Bristlecone pines, time seems to stand still at Cedar Breaks National Monument and that’s really not a bad thing. #VisitCedarCity