Cedar Breaks – The Crown Jewel of The Grand Staircase
All communities along Scenic Byway 143 offer easy access to Cedar Breaks National Monument. From Panguitch this attraction is a 45-minute drive. Often called a mini Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks was formed by millions of years of wind and water erosion and geologic uplift, resulting in the massive, multi-colored hoodoos and arches that fill the 2,000-foot deep natural amphitheater. The limestone Claron formations, also known as the Pink Cliffs, are particularly stunning, displaying an array of pink, orange, red and purple hues. Cedar Breaks National Monument is surrounded by the Dixie National Forest, which provides a lush alpine backdrop of ponderosa pines, quaking aspens and wildflower meadows to the scenic canyon.
Visitors flock to Cedar Breaks National Monument for the incredible scenery and year-round outdoor recreation. Popular activities include sightseeing, hiking, biking, nature watching, and photography. At an elevation of 10,000 feet, visitors can expect a mild summer climate, with temperatures averaging around a crisp 65 degrees. The high elevation also means winter generally brings lots of snowfall, so it’s a great time to take advantage of cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Cedar Breaks National Monument is accessible from nearby Brian Head ski resort, three miles north, via Scenic Byway 148. The scenic highway winds through Cedar Breaks National Monument, showcasing the best of Color Country.
Plan to spend at least a half day exploring the trails and scenic overlooks along the 5-mile road through the park. Bristlecone pine, one of the oldest tree species in the world, can be found along both the Alpine Pond Trail and the Spectra Point Trail. The trails are generally considered easy and are about a mile each way, but take the high altitude and thin air into consideration. Be prepared for afternoon rain showers, too.
Overlooks near the visitor center are Point Supreme, Spectra Point, and Ramparts Trail. One mile north Sunset View overlooks the edge of the Markagunt Plateau. The next stop, Chessman Ridge Overlook, is also the trail-head to Alpine Pond Trail. The final overlook in Cedar Breaks National Monument is the North View.
Scenic Byway 148 is closed from November through May, but snowmobile and cross-country enthusiasts love this snow-filled area. The park is officially open from mid-May through mid-October, and a ‘Winter Warming Yurt’ at the Alpine Pond trail-head welcomes winter visitors with a volunteer ranger staff and hot chocolate.