Last year we were in southwestern Utah and drove up in the mountains to visit Cedar Breaks National Monument but it was still snowed in, even in mid-May. So yesterday we drove about 40 miles north to Cedar City where we picked up Rte. 14 heading east into the mountains of Cedar Breaks. By the way, a National Monument is a protected area that is similar to a National Park except that the President can declare an area to be a National Monument without the approval of Congress (but you already knew that, didn’t you).
Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater of eroded rock, stretching across 3 miles, with a depth of over 2,000 feet. The elevation of the rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet in elevation. The rock of the amphitheater is more eroded than, but otherwise similar to formations at Bryce Canyon National Park.
We decided to get a better look at the monument by hiking the Spectra/Ramparts Overlook Trail. This hike is four miles round trip leading to two viewpoints that look back into the canyon.
The views along the trail were spectacular!
As we approached the first viewpoint we found a stand of Bristlecone Pines. The oldest known tree in the monument is over 1,600 years old.
The hike wasn’t that long, but the return uphill presented some challenge due to the altitude (10,100′).
We’re glad we took the time to return to Cedar Breaks in good weather. The views are great from the moment you leave Cedar City and begin climbing Rte. 14. And the hike out to the viewing areas was not long, but a good distance for hiking at this high altitude. The views reminded us of the rim overviews in Bryce Canyon, but without the crowds. But if you’re going to visit Cedar Breaks, be sure to check the weather. At this altitude the snow comes early and stays late!
OK, one more adventure in Zion NP before we move on. More on that later . . .