Cedar Breaks National Monument: A Pleasant Surprise Hidden Among the Utah Mighty Five

January 27, 2021 /
Cedar Breaks National Monument hiking

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

Cedar Breaks is a pearl hidden in an area with many national parks, you could dare call it a middle ground between the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. If you’re planning a trip to Utah, it might be worth considering, especially if you’re thinking of spending a few days in the area between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.

Where is Cedar Breaks National Monument: Directions and Address

In order to understand how to get to Cedar Breaks National Monument, it is important to take into consideration what time of year you are planning the trip. During the winter months, the main road leading to the visitor center is closed, but it is still possible to visit a small part of the park.

Before you look at all the possibilities to access the area, you should know that the admission to the park costs $ 10 per person that you pay at the entrance of Point Supreme Overlook. If you are in possession of an America the Beautiful Annual Pass, this will allow you to access the park with three other adults.

Visit Cedar Breaks during the Summer

Cedar Breaks National Monument utahDuring the summer months, which generally run from mid-May to mid-October, you can easily reach the visitor center and visit the most spectacular headlands by car on the SR-148. Let’s see what the travel times are for the nearest cities and parks:

  • From Cedar City: 35 minutes
  • From Bryce Canyon: 1 hour 20 min
  • From Zion National Park: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • From Kanab: 1 hour 20 minutes

Visit Cedar Breaks During the Winter

Cedar Breaks National Monument winterSince Cedar Breaks is at an altitude that exceeds 10,000 ft, snowfall is a constant during the winter season. This leads to the closure of some roads and areas within Cedar Breaks. In recent years, SR-148 has been closed from mid-May until the end of November. Unfortunately, due to unpredictable weather conditions there can be no fixed date. The northern section of the park can still be reached via the SR-143 and remains open and accessible throughout the year.

Thanks to this, at least you can reach the North View Overlook. You will have to drive along SR-143 until you reach the intersection with SR-148 and park your car along the stretch of road on SR-148 before it becomes closed for snow, as you can see from this picture taken from the park flyer.

Obviously, in case of heavy snowfall, there can be last-minute changes, so I suggest that you check Cedar Breaks’ official website in order to stay updated. Another important detail is that during the winter all restrooms in the park are closed to the public.

Cedar Breaks Weather

Cedar Breaks national monument weatherAs mentioned, Cedar Breaks is located at a significant altitude, more than 10,000 ft above sea level. This results in very cold winters with heavy snowfall that, as we have seen, lead to road closures and closures of part of the park. During the months of December, January and February, temperatures vary between a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 28.4. In the summer months, it is rare to excessively hot days. In July and August, you can find temperatures as low as 46 and as high as 64 degrees. Therefore, pack suitable clothes so that you are not unprepared.

Hiking Cedar Breaks National Park

Since Cedar Breaks is fairly small, the main things to see are the panoramic promontories (most of which can be reached by car) and the trails. Let’s see what to expect for every season of the year.

Summer

Cedar Breaks National Monument hikingDuring the summer months, you can drive along the entire SR-148, which is a very scenic drive. The best way to visit the park, in my opinion, is to drive along this road stopping at the four overlooks along the way. The most beautiful and important is the Point Supreme Overlook, which is just a short walk from the visitor center. From here you can admire the park in all its majesty. You will behold a real natural amphitheater with red and orange colors with the characteristic hoodoos (or fairy chimneys) that we have come to know very well thanks to Bryce Canyon.

The other overlooks from Point Supreme to the north are:

  • Sunset View Overlook
  • Chessmen Ridge Overlook
  • North View Overlook

Cedar Breaks national monument things to seeIf you have more time to visit the park, you can also consider going on some trails. There are four trails to choose from. Those starting from the visitor center are the following:

  • Sunset Trail: This is the easiest and most accessible trail in the whole park. It is recommended if you don’t have much time to dedicate to the visit but still want get a little bit of exercise. The trail is just over 2 miles round trip from Point Supreme to the Sunset View Overlook.
  • Ramparts Trail: This trail is a bit more demanding than the previous one. Starting at the Point Supreme Overlook, you will pass through Spectra Point and arrive at the Ramparts Overlook. In this case, there will be more than 4 miles to cover that will require at least an hour and a half of walking, not counting the stops to take pictures and to admire the view. The main difficulty of this trail does not lie so much in the distance to cover but in the altitude, without which the route would be easier and less exhausting.

The other two trails are the Alpine Pond Trail (about 2 miles), which starts at the Chessmen Ridge Overlook, and the Rattlesnake Creek Trail, a challenging trail (more than 10 miles one way) located at the northern end of the park.

Cedar Breaks National Monument trailsIf you love observing the starry sky in all its beauty, the summer activity that you would be most interested in is definitely the Summer Star Parties. At sunset, under the guidance of park rangers, you can see the various constellations up close with telescopes. The stargazing parties, which take place at the Point Supreme Overlook, are free of charge and generally last from two to three hours. It goes without saying that you to say you should wear suitable clothes, since at night, even in the summer, it can be quite cold. You can find the dates for guided hikes and Star Parties by consulting the park calendar.

Winter

Cedar Breaks national monument utah During the winter months, the most popular activities are certainly the walks (also led by park rangers) with snowshoes or skis along the open trails of the park. Obviously, it’s a bit complicated to organize for this kind of excursions (especially if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the area) also considering the fact that, with a few exceptions, you probably won’t have the necessary equipment with you and you will be forced to rent it in the nearby towns. However, it is still possible to stargaze, because the Star Parties still take place in the winter.

Some Recommendations

In addition to bringing the appropriate clothing to cope with the very cold weather of this park, something I have already mentioned, you should know that you will have a hard time finding phone service, even along SR 143 and SR 148. In fact, the area is remote and only if you are near the visitor center you will find service, but forget about wifi.

Where to Stay at Cedar Breaks National Park

Unfortunately, there are no hotels in the park, so if you want to stay in a town in the area, you will have to opt for Brian Head, Duck Creek Village or Cedar City. To stay inside the park (only during the summer months), you must either have camping equipment or have rented an RV. You can look for available spaces at Point Supreme Campground at a cost of $24 per night. If you are interested, you can check availability on the official website.

Lodging in Brian Head

  • Best Western Brian Head: Despite being part of a large hotel chain, this hotel still manages to maintain its own identity. The rooms are spacious and tidy. The swimming pool is nice too (it’s an indoor pool, due to the climate).
  • Cedar Breaks Lodge By Diamond Resorts: Here guests will find rooms that seem like apartments. There is also a swimming pool, a sauna and a gym.

All accommodations in Brian Head

Accommodations in Duck Creek Village

  • The Cliff House: A vacation home with stunning views of Strawberry Point just outside of town. It’s about an hour’s drive from the park but it’s definitely a magical place to spend a night or more and explore the area between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

All accommodations in Duck Creek Village

Hotels in Cedar City

  • Abbey Inn Cedar City: This motel is not fancy, but it’s well maintained and is also quite cheap. It’s a real bargain considering the area.
  • Big Yellow Inn: This bed and breakfast is a very special and unique place. If you wish to sleep somewhere that is more original than your typical motel, then this is the place for you.

All accommodations in Cedar City

Filippo Nardelli
Filippo Nardelli

I have a degree in History of North America and have always been fascinated by the United States.

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