Visiting Cedar Breaks, UT

Hurricane, UT

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).

Heading up to Cedar Breaks

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.

Spectra Viewpoint on the left – Ramparts Viewpoint on the right

Heading out to the viewpoints

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.

Beauty and the Beast

Checking out the bristlecones


We wondered how old this trunk could be

The hike wasn’t that long, but the return uphill presented some challenge due to the altitude (10,100′).

Spectra Point

Lunch with a view

Enjoying the view!

You have to grow where you’re planted!

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 . . .



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12 Responses to Visiting Cedar Breaks, UT

  1. No John, I did not know the difference between NP and NM, thanks I learned something new tonight 🙂
    Another spectacular hike from the daredevil hiker duo. Those are great formations and colors! The photo of the beauty and the beast is the Best!

  2. Laurel says:

    That looks so much like Bryce Canyon! And with a bit of Great Basin thrown in with the bristlecone pines. What a gorgeous hike in perfect weather—those cobalt skies happen only in the southwest. (I say the more National Monuments, the better!)

  3. Erin says:

    Fabulous … so much beauty … so much color. And the character in those trees is great.

  4. pmbweaver says:

    Great header!
    I just love the colors of the rock!
    When I saw Pam with the beast, I was wondering the same thing about how old that beast must me. If we could only age so gracefully.
    Fabulous day for a fantastic hike! Glad you are enjoying that gorgeous part of our country.

  5. Gay says:

    I am really enjoying your visit in Zion and surrounding area…we are planning a stop there next April. Now I am a bit concerned we might not see everything because of the weather. Such decisions!
    Your hikes have been absolutely beautiful. I am longing for the day Joe finishes his chemo and regains her strength and energy….we so miss the outdoors up close and personal!

  6. The day we were there we could only go about a quarter mile towards Spectra Point due to snow and slippery ice! Nice to see a little more, thanks to you!

  7. Jodee Gravel says:

    O M G ! You had me with the new header!! That one really captures the blog title 🙂 What a perfect hike – and more bristle cones are a great bonus. Love the shot of Pam enjoying the view. And what a view! I had to go back and look at all the photos a couple more times 🙂

  8. Sue says:

    I agree with Jodee, the pictures warrant a second viewing – just spectacular. Its always good to see you two enjoying yourselves but I have a question for you….a challenge really. I want to know how many miles you’ve hiked since you began this life on the road. We’ll all be waiting for the answer. Sue

  9. LuAnn says:

    As I was looking at your photos I too was reminded of our time in Bryce. I don’t think I will have to look anywhere but your blog when we venture to Zion. Thanks! 🙂

  10. Ingrid says:

    Now I really can’t wait to revisit Cedar Breaks NM. It’s been twenty years and with two little kids in tow, we were limited in our explorations. Let our planning commence LOL. Thanks for the post – we’ll be using it as a reference tool 🙂

  11. Wow! Beautiful! I would love this hike!

  12. Holly Ritger says:

    Wow, what beautiful country and photos! I have enjoyed going through them at least twice : ) We haven’t been to Cedar Breaks since the 70s and I only have a couple photos from my old film camera.

    I, along with LuAnn, eagerly await your total miles hiked since you started this adventure. You guys are amazing!!

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