Exploring Cedar Breaks National Monument: Utah's Self-Drive Gem

Cedar Breaks National Monument | Introduction

Cedar Breaks National Monument, located in the southwestern part of Utah, is a natural reserve that spans 6,155 acres. The area includes a spectacular deep canyon formed by weathering and erosion, stretching up to half a mile deep (geographical amphitheater). The canyon's array of red, orange, coral, rose, and white hues is particularly enchanting at dawn and dusk, recording over 60 million years of geological history. Cedar Breaks National Monument is situated in a high-altitude area, with its highest point reaching 10,350 feet, offering a particularly cool climate in summer. Cedar Breaks is often considered a miniature version of Bryce Canyon, and some believe its brilliant colors even surpass those of Bryce Canyon.

Cedar Breaks National Monument is open year-round, but the best time to visit is May through October, when the roads and facilities are fully open.

Cedar Breaks National Monument | Transportation

The nearest city to Cedar Breaks is Cedar City, which is about fifteen miles away. If departing from Salt Lake City, travel about 250 miles south on I-15 to Parowan, then turn onto UT-143 heading east to directly reach the northern entrance of the national monument. The scenery along the way is also spectacular and enchanting. By driving along the Cedar Breaks Scenic Drive, which connects U-14 and U-143 through scenic routes, one can enjoy the views of Dixie National Forest and Cedar Breaks.

Cedar Breaks is close enough to the Nevada state line, making it also suitable to include in the itinerary when heading to Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

Cedar Breaks National Monument | Attractions

Driving through Cedar Breaks National Monument is very easy and straightforward. Once you enter through the entrance, simply follow Rim Road to its end. This route will take you past the main four viewpoints. If time allows, consider walking along the South Rim Trail at the southern edge or the Alpine Pond Loop Trail in the middle. However, be mindful that due to the higher elevation, walking might be more strenuous. During our visit in autumn, there were also beautiful fall colors along the way.

North View Overlook

The first viewpoint you'll pass on the north side is the North View Overlook, with an elevation of 10,435 feet. From this high vantage point, you can easily overlook the colorful canyon, arches, towers, and pillars.

Chessman Ridge Overlook

The Chessman Ridge extends out with its crest dotted with short hoodoo rocks resembling chess pieces, hence the name Chessman Ridge. This Overlook is the most central and highest viewpoint in Cedar Breaks, reaching up to 10,467 feet, making it also the most spectacular. The view from this overlook is quite expansive. Connected to the overlook is the Alpine Pond Loop Trail, a trail in the middle of the park.

Sunset View Overlook

This viewpoint is connected to the accessible Sunset View Trail. If you go down, it will pass through meadows and forests. The path is lined with spruces and wildflowers.

South Rim Trail

The starting point of the South Rim Trail is already at the southern edge of Cedar Breaks, and by reaching this area, you're also preparing to exit the park. This trail is the park's most significant path, running along the edge of the southern rim. If the entire route is completed, it is considered to be of difficult level, passing by Spectra Point, Ramparts Point, and Bartizan Arch. If you have limited physical stamina, you can also choose to walk just a short segment to reach the first viewpoint.

Further reading

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