The early Paiute people called Cedar Breaks National Monument the “Circle of Painted Cliffs” referring to multicolored 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 subalpine 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.
Where will Cedar Breaks National Monument lead you?
Cedar Breaks offers hiking options for all skill levels. The following trails are rated from easiest at the top to more challenging at the bottom.
*Pets are only allowed on the Sunset Trail and must be on a leash at all times. Learn more.
EASY | 2 MILES | SUMMER-FALL|60 MINUTES
This accessible paved trail runs between the Point Supreme Overlook and Sunset View Overlook. The park picnic area is located at the halfway point of this trail. Built to offer all ages and abilities the opportunity to enjoy a walk in the woods and avoiding steep grades, this trail provides gentle slopes and offers many rest areas.
This is the ONLY trail that pets are allowed to go on, but must be leashed at all times.
EASY | 0.6 MILES | SUMMER-FALL | 30 MINUTES
This trail is unpaved and connects the Point Supreme Campground with the Sunset Trail near Point Supreme. This path is great for viewing birds, park wildlife, and to get away from crowds.
Alpine Pond Nature Trail
MODERATE | 1 MILE or 2 MILES | SUMMER-FALL | LOOP | 1.5 or 2.5 HOURS
This loop trail forms a figure-eight through forest and meadows. There are multiple ways to experience this trial. Starting at the trailhead, you can start on the lower trail for excellent views of the amphitheater of the upper trail for views of meadows of native wildflowers, spruce-fir-aspen forest, and ancient deposits of volcanic material. The lower trail also leads to Alpine Pond, just after the pond, you may choose to take the cut-off connecting to the upper trail to return to the trailhead (one-mile round trip option) or continue on the lower trail till it connects with the upper trail and then returns to the trailhead (two-miles round trip option).
South Rim Trail
MODERATELY STRENUOUS | 5 MILES | SUMMER -FALL | 4 HOURS
The South Rim Trail offers spectacular views in all directions. The Spectra Point Viewpoint is located on the one-mile mark, the Ramparts Viewpoint is located at the two-mile mark, and The Bartzen Viewpoint is located at the 2.5-mile mark. The trail begins at 10,500 ft and follows the rim down to the viewpoints, remember you don’t have to go down, but you must come up!
The Cedar Breaks Hwy U-148 offers beautiful views of 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 (late November to June).
In 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.
In late September, the fall colors surrounding Cedar Breaks really start to shine with a wide range of vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows. USA Today has rated the Cedar Breaks area as one of their “Top 5 Unique Places to See Fall Colors.”
Cross Country Skiing, Snowmobiling, and Snowshoeing
In the winter, Scenic Hwy U-148 through Cedar Breaks is closed to vehicle traffic and becomes a groomed trail for snowmobiles, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. Guided snowshoe treks are offered by park staff in January and February (weather permitting). Additional tours and rentals are available in nearby Brian Head and Cedar City.
Geology programs, guided walks, and evening programs are offered by park rangers throughout the summer visitor season. Evening programs are offered on Fridays, Saturdays, 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.
The Point Supreme Overlook, parking lot, and visitor center will be closed through the 2022 season due to the construction of the new Visitor Center!
Visitor Services are available at the Information Center and Picnic Area. Open daily 9 am – 5 pm.
The entrance fee at Cedar Breaks is $10 per person, 16 years and older, and is good for seven days. Cedar Breaks is open to regular vehicle traffic generally from late May through mid-November, depending upon the snow levels. Call ahead to check road closures.
* Interagency Annual Passes, Senior Passes, & Access Passes are honored at all National Parks, National Monuments, & Federal Recreation Sites.
Distance from Cedar City
21 miles east on Hwy U-14
10,100 to 10,500 feet. Bring a jacket.
The Point Supreme Campground is generally open mid-June through late September. Ten campsites are available for reservation through www.recreation.gov. The remaining 16 sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Highway 148 into Cedar Breaks is generally closed from mid-November to June due to snow conditions. Cedar Breaks can only be accessed in the winter by snowmobile, cross country skiing, or snowshoeing (For rentals and tours check Brian Head). The North View Overlook is accessible year-round and is located along Highway 143, about three miles south of Brian Head.
Comfortable lodging, restaurants, and ski shops are available in Brian Head, located four miles north of Cedar Breaks.
For a Safe Visit
High altitudes may cause shortness of breath and tiredness. Slow down and rest often. Also, remember that everything here-even the tiniest flower-is protected by law and must be left undisturbed. Feeding wildlife, hunting, and carrying firearms is prohibited.
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