cedar breaks national monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument

National Park Service Site: 77 of 417

Cedar Breaks is like Bryce Canyon’s bonus content—just in case you thought the Grand Staircase’s greatest hits were contained in the national parks, this place will pop out to surprise you. A gorgeous stretch of amphitheater, with rust and cream rock, towering hoodoos, ancient bristlecone pines and some of the clearest night skies we’ve seen, this park had us all in high spirits. It’s also, literally, HIGH—10,000 feet above sea level. They sell oxygen tanks at the store in town and hiking here is not for the faint of heart (seriously—don’t hike here if your heart is faint!)

We actually came here in June for my birthday and the whole area was covered in wildflowers—it was so beautiful. This time, the aspens were already turning yellow, which made the drive to the monument just as stunning as the amphitheater itself.

Unlike at Bryce, the amphitheater floor is very difficult to access. You can hike in from the adjacent national forest, but there are no trails or easy access points from the rim. Because the sandstone is so fragile, the NPS has chosen to keep the trails up at the rim to protect the hoodoos and formations. We didn’t actually do any hiking; we visited the visitor’s center, walked along the rim a bit, did jr. ranger books, and nearly blew away at a few of the viewpoints. There’s definitely recreating to be done here, but for us it was all about the views. It was also about cooling off! When southern Utah is boiling hot, Cedar Breaks is super pleasant thanks to its elevation, making it the perfect place for St. Georgians and Cedar City-ites to cool off.

If you get a chance to come here, don’t miss it! Especially in May and June for wildflowers or September for foliage—though we’re biased because those are the only times we’ve been there ;). We’d love to come in winter, too, to see the hoodoos under snow and do some skiing at nearby Brian Head. Utah is really just the best; it’s a little ridiculous how much good stuff this state got.

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