Sunday, June 7, 2015

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah



After leaving Great Basin National Park we quickly entered Utah and drove southeast on State Route 21, which seemed to us even more lonely than Hwy 50 across Nevada. There is a 75 mile stretch with no services, only an occasional ranch, and very little traffic. We did see a couple of cyclists along the way. It was a beautiful drive, crossing several summits.

We were on our way to Cedar City, where Jim had an appointment with a dermatologist, and our mail was being sent to the post office. Although we’ve been to southern Utah several times we haven’t been to Cedar City, and since we’ve been on a national park binge I wanted to visit nearby Cedar Breaks and the Kolob Canyon section of Zion.

I planned for us to stay at a Passport America RV park in Kanarraville, about 12 miles south of Cedar City, and decided to call ahead just to be sure we could get a site. To my surprise there was nothing available since they had a scout troop coming in, so I researched, made other calls and found an RV park run by the Indian Peaks Band of Paiutes a few miles closer to Cedar City and about a half mile from I-80. 

Indian Peaks RV Park is a bit quirky but the managers are very nice and the showers are excellent. Full hookups for $25/night but the sewer is too far for us to reach without moving the rig, which isn’t a problem for us, and all the sites are very sloped. There are only a few other rigs here so it’s been quiet except for some road noise.


Unfortunately the weather has been a bit unstable since we arrived, with frequent thunderstorms popping up, so we haven’t yet been able to hike in some of the canyons we were hoping to. After Jim’s appointment on Friday, where he had several lesions frozen off (the curse of the fair-skinned), we did a little shopping and had lunch at Centro Woodfired Pizzeria. The pizza was excellent, and although the beer selection was not very extensive we shared a bottle of Wasatch Devastator Double Bock, pretty darned good for Utah beer.

Yesterday more thunderstorms were in the forecast but we decided to chance it and drive up to Cedar Breaks National Monument, 23 miles from downtown Cedar City. The temperature dropped to 45 degrees by the time we reached the park at over 10,000’ with snow/sleet falling as we got out of the car at the visitor center and trailhead parking lot.

Cedar Breaks National Monument consists of a 3 mile, over 2,000’ deep amphitheater eroded into the west side of the Markagunt Plateau, similar to Bryce Canyon National Park, although much smaller and much less visited.


There are only a few trails within the national monument, so we decided to take the four mile round trip trail along the rim to the Spectra Point and Ramparts overlooks, hoping any thunderstorms stayed away. Although a smaller area, the scenery here is no less dramatic than Bryce.

P1010240 (Large)

We didn’t get very far before we encountered mud and snow that made walking a little tricky in places. It wasn’t long before Jim went down on his butt, getting mud on the camera, but at least not dunking it in a deep puddle this time.


We thought about turning back but saw some people coming up who said this was the last bad section, and from there on the trail was dry, so we gave it a try and made it through without any more mishaps.


Spectra Point Overlook.




Since we couldn’t get to the Bristlecone pines in Great Basin it was nice to see them here, although the oldest is only estimated to be around 1,600 years.


Kanarraville, UTCedar Breaks NM

After Spectra Point the trail descends on switchbacks to the Rampart overlook where we were much closer to the formations.



The weather cooperated for our hike but just as we got back to the car it started snowing again. We drove through the campground to check it out but saw only one site we would fit into. We did see a couple of smaller RVs and a group of tent campers. Too cold for us to stay up there, anyway, but a great place for a day trip.




  1. Have to put that on our list for the next time we pass thru Utah. We are heading North tot he Washatch Mts. and then into Idaho. Snow Canyon near St. George is a nice park for a hike. We stayed at a State Park in Hurricane when visiting Zion this time. Have also stayed right at the gate in the past. UTAH is such a wonderful place.

  2. There you go again, adding to my "gotta visit" list!

  3. always nice when fellow hikers let you know about the trail conditions ahead

  4. We spent a couple of days in the Cedar Breaks campground 8 years ago and really enjoyed it. Your pictures far surpass ours, however.

  5. LOL at "only 1600 years old". Cedar Breaks is one of my favorites. We spent some time there and stayed in their campground and really loved it. Your pictures show how beautifully gorgeous it is. The place really grows on you the longer you stay. I was reluctant to leave and would love to go back but the 17% grade we took down out of the park is still the most harrowing ride I've had in Winnona. Well not IN Winnona but following her because of the grade. She did great but I almost had a heart attack. Thanks for taking me back.

  6. We've been to Cedar City a few times and you can probably guess why...they have a Starbucks:) We finally got to hike Cedar Break NM last fall. We arrived mid Oct to find that the park itself was open but everything else was closed up tight. When you don't open til mid June usually and close at the beginning of Oct there isn't much time to see this park. So glad you got visit and get in a hike. While smaller than Bryce, we still found it very interesting with lots of formations to discover. The bristlecones were very cool. You were great troopers hiking through the snow:) So sorry to see Jim's little muddy butt, but glad the camera was all right:) Boy, it is cold up there!!!

  7. Too bad it wasn't as warm as your photos look :)

  8. Metamorphosis Lisa has left a new comment on your post "Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah":

    It's funny that we can say a tree is ONLY 1600 years old!

    When we visited Cedar Breaks in Oct 2012 there was so much snow and icy conditions we couldn't even do the hike you did! We stayed in Kanarraville, probably at the park you were considering, and though it was quiet, the sites were very close together. Amazingly, people winter there!

    We did a great bike ride up at Navajo Lake. If you are still around that area you could take a look at my post back in October 2012.

  9. Love that opening shot - just gorgeous! Glad the views were so spectacular after the mud and snow to get there :-))

  10. Cedar Breaks is a well kept secret in the NPs. A sweet place but at that elevation a very short summer. I love the Hwy 14 drive. Did stay in their campground once because couldn't find a good boondock on the Dixie NF. Navajo Lake is also nice.
    See ya' at the North Rim.

  11. Haven't been to Utah in a few years. Would sure like to go again....


  12. Beaut! Jim got poop on his pants. And the other shots are gorgeous, too!

    1. I really am LOL. That is the first thing I told Gayle when I saw the picture. I suggested we use it as a depends commercial.


  13. I'm looking forward to this park, but since it'll be September before we get to it, I hope we beat the cold weather. Beautiful pictures. Great color!

  14. We have got to schedule some quality time in Utah! I don't think I have ever seen a bad photo of those red rocks. Is Jim wanting a new camera? He seems determined to destroy this one! ;)

  15. You certainly take the time to find some gems. We have driven through that area numerous times, usually on a mission to get to Yellowstone. Might have to slow down and smell the roses

  16. We had a car with Utah plates in front of us today and I've been thinking of Utah a lot lately but we probably won't get there this year or next year. Watch out though in 2017 and you might have to remove me with a crowbar!