Fall in Love with Cedar City, Parowan & Brian Head

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31 Aug 2021

Fall in Love with Cedar City, Parowan & Brian Head

Gear up, get out, and explore!

Towering aspens in vibrant yellow, crimson, and haloed in orange mingle with dark pines and line the trails in Dixie National Forest. The mountain bike trails bustle with eager riders ready for their next thrill, and local guides gear up for fall activities and weather. Dressed in its fall finest, the area around Cedar City puts on a dazzling show as autumn takes over southern Utah. With a pumpkin spice latte from a local shop in hand and a weekend of adventure ahead, there’s wonder waiting at every bend!  

Fall color views in Sydney Valley along Hwy 143

At 10,000 feet the quiet mountain town of Brian Head is a picturesque fall destination with the hills of the resort bustling with mountain bikers and the forest surrounding it quieted. As the undergrowth turns to rich gold and the aspens change colors there’s something so serene about a venture through Dixie National Forest. Hit the hiking trails in search of ancient Bristlecone Pines on the Twisted Forest Trail. Switch it up and find wildlife, towering pines, vibrant colors, and a surreal alpine pond on the Alpine Pond Trail in Cedar Breaks National Monument. Or gear up for an OHV adventure through the backcountry to discover some local favorite points of interest.  

1) OHV Trail through Dixie National Forest | 2) ‘The Bus’

Prepared with rentals and a map from Utah ATV Rentals in Brian Head, you’ll first wind your way through Brian Head town, buzzing past the residents tucked among the hills on squiggly dirt roads. First point of interest along the way? ‘The Bus’. This local point of interest has so many stories surrounding it. From folktales about a bank robbery getaway to a simple ‘they just needed a place to live’ you’ll hear it all if you ask the locals. The next stop on the OHV tour is the High Mountain Overlook for incredible red rock views looking into Cedar Breaks National Monument across the valley, dappled with color.  

Views along the way to ‘the bus’ and the High Mountain lookout

While you hear Brian Head Resort and immediately think of skiing and Utah champagne powder, the summer and fall activities at the resort are a must! Catch a lift, and one for your bike, to experience the thrills of the downhill trails at the resort mountain bike park. Go with the flow on the Color Flow Trail or test your skills on the Timber Glitter trail. If the mountain bike scene isn’t for you there are plenty of resort activities to enjoy in early fall like a zip-line, bungee trampoline, tubing, and more.

Zip-line activity at Brian Head Resort

The forest around Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument is always beautiful but there’s much more to see within an afternoon and evening if you follow the fall color loop. Starting in the town of Parowan this scenic driving loop begins by following Hwy 143 through Parowan Canyon. With rising formations of grey, red, and classic southern Utah pinks, interspersed by fall foliage and pines along the way, it is a beautiful scenic drive leading to the town of Brian Head.  

Map of area surrounding Cedar City. For the Fall Color Loop, we recommend driving Hwy 143, Hwy 148, and Hwy 14 in a loop.

Once in Brian Head, those driving the fall color loop will continue along Hwy 143, through some twists and turns and an elevation change, to find themselves in Cedar Breaks National Monument. Visitors can stop to check out the trails and sights around the monument and scenic overlooks before continuing along Hwy 148 (the scenic byway through the monument) pausing to find fall color and wildlife along the way.  

Fall views in Parowan Canyon, Hwy 143.

Turning right at the junction of Hwy 148 and Hwy 14 you’ll wind through scenic Cedar Canyon. Keep an eye out for wildlife and livestock, as they’re not the best at heeding traffic laws in fall, and beautiful fall color along the way. The towering aspens that line the roadway mix with the dark and full pine and create a patchwork of color throughout the valleys around us. Scenic overlooks like the Zion Overlook (mile marker 16) offer unique views of nearby natural wonders and a glimpse of the wide-open spaces that surround us. Throughout the canyon, as you weave through the forest, past meadows, and through towering stone walls, keep an eye out for the scrub oak along the road that turns a brilliant scarlet in fall. Adding a perfect pop of color to the canyon.  

Fall colors along Hwy 14. Image by Mike Saemisch.

Once arriving in Cedar City, at the end of the fall color loop, it’s always a good idea to stick around for a bite, browse the local shops, and even catch an evening performance of the Utah Shakespeare Festival.