Visit Cedar Breaks for Hiking (Scenic Views) in Beautiful Southern Utah

I chose to stay in Enoch Utah, a few miles from Cedar City, based on its proximity to several national parks and state parks. I knew I wanted to hike at Cedar Breaks National Monument. The photos of Cedar Breaks caught my eye when I saw the brochure at the visitor center. Cedar Breaks looks astonishing like Bryce Canyon. But it receives only a few hundred thousand visitors per year compared to Bryce Canyon’s 2.68 million visitors. Cedar Breaks is a perfect day trip from Cedar City – easy access, beautiful scenery, and hiking trails overlooking nature’s wondrous natural amphitheater.

Hiking at 10,000 feet with the extraordinary views of the Cedar Breaks amphitheater make a memorable trip to Utah!

 

 

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

 

Spending five weeks roadtripping around southern Utah is an amazing experience. I’m still happy with my lifestyle choice of working remotely while roaming around on this long-term road trip around the United States and Canada. September 30, 2019 is my 4 year anniversary of nomad life!

I’ll be sharing more of my solo travels in Utah over the next few weeks. For now, I will tell you about visiting Cedar Breaks, one of my favorite places in Utah, so far!

 

Cedar Breaks National Monument entrance sign

Cedar Breaks National Monument entrance sign

 

Getting to Cedar Breaks

The best route to take is via state Hwy 14 for the beautiful scenery along the way through Cedar Canyon and up to the Markagunt Plateau. You can stop at a couple of overlooks or do the Bristlecone Pine hike – only 1 mile out and back – trailhead is located along Hwy 14.

Driving distances to get to Cedar Breaks

  • Salt Lake City to Cedar Breaks – 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Las Vegas to Cedar Breaks – 3 hours 15 minutes
  • St George to Cedar Breaks – 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Zion National Park to Cedar Breaks – 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Cedar City Utah to Cedar Breaks – 30 minutes

The drive from Cedar City along scenic Hwy 14 is beautiful. Driving from Las Vegas you’ll take this route for the last portion to Cedar Breaks. From Salt Lake City it’s not so scenic driving on Interstate 15 but it’s not a boring drive either.

 

Scenic overlook Hwy 14 Utah

I stopped on Hwy 14 to have a look at the view – beautiful landscape

 

Hiking at Cedar Breaks

There are a few trails at Cedar Breaks – not a bunch but they are beautiful and not as crowded as the trails at Bryce Canyon.

Sunset Trail

Sunset Trail is an ADA accessible 2 mile round trip on a paved walkway. This is a good trail if you don’t want to get your feet dirty. It’s a great family friendly trail, great for all ages and abilities. If you need a rest along the way there are park benches to stop and enjoy the scenery.

 

Cedar Breaks landscape similar to Bryce Canyon

The landscape at Cedar Breaks looks similar to Bryce Canyon

 

Alpine Pond Trail

Alpine Pond nature trail is a 2 mile loop trail that takes you through the cedar forest, meadows of beautiful wildflowers, and of course, an alpine pond. If you don’t want to do the full 2 mile hike you can take short cut from the pond back to the trailhead for a 1 mile hike instead.

 

Trail map Spectra Point Rampart Overlook

There is a trail map at the trailhead. Spectra Point is on the same trail as Ramparts Overlook

 

Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook

Spectra Point is a 2 mile out and back trail and Ramparts Overlook is a 4 mile out and back trail. Both trails begin at the same trailhead.

 

Spectra Point Rampart Overlook trailhead sign

Same trailhead for Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook – Spectra is halfway to Ramparts

 

I planned to do the full hike to Ramparts Overlook but I wimped out because it was quite windy, and I enjoyed the hike to Spectra Point a lot – it satisfied my hiking desire.

 

SoloTrips at Spectra Summit Cedar Breaks Utah

I enjoyed the view at Spectra Point overlook

 

September 2019 Fire at Cedar Breaks

When hiking at Cedar Breaks, I noticed smoke and planned to report it to the park ranger. But when I talked with other hikers, they stated it is a known fire and is posted at the visitor center.

It’s called the Chessman Canyon fire and it started by a lightning strike on September 3rd and continues to burn. There are no trail or road closures at the time of this writing.

 

Cedar Breaks fire Sept 2019 - pink circle around smoke

The circle is around the smoke from the Chessman Canyon fire at Cedar Breaks

 

Keep up to date with conditions at Cedar Breaks through the National Park Service website here.

Do not report the fire if you visit Cedar Breaks. Firefighters, three fire engines and a helicopter are on the scene and monitoring the fire. They hope to let it burn out naturally but will intervene if necessary.

 

Bristlecone Pine Tree at Cedar Breaks - over 1,600 years old

This Bristlecone Pine Tree at Cedar Breaks is over 1,600 years old

 

Bristlecone Pine Tree info panel at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah

Bristlecone Pine Tree info panel at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah

 

Things to do at Cedar Breaks in Summer

  • Hiking Trails
  • Scenic Overlooks
  • Sunrises and Sunsets
  • Camping

Scenic Drive and Overlooks at Cedar Breaks

If you are not into hiking, you can still take in the remarkable beauty of Cedar Breaks park. Take the scenic drive through the park and stop at each of the overlooks.

The Cedar Breaks scenic drive is only 5 miles long but includes several scenic overlooks, that you should not miss, or overlook :)

Have a peak at this map of Cedar Breaks so you can familiarize yourself with the layout of the park.

 

Sandstone layers Cedar Breaks southern Utah

You can see all the different color layers of sandstone at Cedar Breaks

 

Point Supreme Overlook

After hiking to Spectra Point, I walked to the Point Supreme Overlook just past the visitors center. A group of schoolchildren gathered around the viewing point and later listened as a park ranger told them about how Cedar Breaks amphitheater was formed.

Continuing my tour of Cedar Breaks I started to walk the Sunset Trail but I’m not so fond of paved trails, plus it runs parallel to the roadway, so I decided to skip it. Was I just being lazy? Maybe so.

I was hungry so I stopped at one of the picnic tables and snarfed down some pork jerky and half a bag of plantain chips. Then I drove to the Sunset Overlook.

 

Sunset Overlook

You can drive to Sunset Overlook instead of walking there from Point Supreme Overlook.

 

Chessman Ridge Overlook

At the south Alpine Pond trailhead take in the views at Chessman Ridge Overlook. This is where the fire started on September 3rd, 2019.

 

North View Overlook

This is the last stop heading north through the park. This was probably the windiest of the overlooks, although Sunset was mighty breezy as well. Enjoy stunning views of the amphitheater and the alpine forest.

 

Cedar Breaks Rampart Trail landscape

Enjoy beautiful views along the Rampart Trail

 

Camping at Cedar Breaks

If you want to enjoy Cedar Breaks for more than a day trip, then you should plan a camping trip to the park. From approximately mid-June through mid-September the campground is open.

$24 per night

$12 per night if you have a National Parks America the Beautiful Senior Pass or Access Pass.

Pay the fee either online or at the self-pay at the entrance.

 

When is the best time to visit Cedar Breaks?

Like most things in life, it depends :)

If you love outdoor winter activities like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or skiing then December through March is your prime time to visit Cedar Breaks.

 

Cedar Breaks park in Utah

Cedar Breaks National Monument is less crowded than Bryce Canyon but just as beautiful

 

Winter Activities at Cedar Breaks

  • Guided snowshoe hikes
  • Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Star parties

And the best part is NO fees are charged in WINTER! If you are traveling Utah on a budget this could be your winter wonderland.

 

Want to camp in Cedar Breaks park?

Then you better plan your trip for around mid-June to mid-September.

Dates for camping at Point Supreme: June 19 to September 12, 2020

Check availability on the NPS website or just show up and try your luck getting one of the 15 first-come first-served campsites at Point Supreme.

Do you want warm weather and sunny days?

Late May through mid-October will be your best bet for warmer sunny days.

Hwy 148 is only open during spring through fall. It closes after the first big snowfall, around mid-November and does not reopen until May. But you can still get to the park from the north side via Hwy 143.

 

Cedar Breaks Utah parking lot

Cedar Breaks Utah parking lot at Ramparts Trail and Spectra Point trailhead

 

Cedar Breaks or Bryce Canyon?

If you only have time to visit either Cedar Breaks or Bryce Canyon National Park – which one should you go to?

That’s a tough call.

And it depends on a few things, such as…

What time of year do you plan to visit?

Bryce is open 24 hours a day year round. Although the visitor center has shorter hours during winter versus summer, it is open throughout the year.

Cedar Breaks is open in winter but the Hwy 148 closes after the first big snowfall, usually in late November. You can still drive to Cedar Breaks in winter months via UT Hwy 143 on the north part of the park. But you must snowshoe, ski, or hike to the overlooks.

  • What do you want to do at the park?
  • What is your budget?
  • Where are you staying?
  • Are you planning on camping?
  • How long do you want to drive to get there?

 

First glimpse of hoodoos Spectra Point hike Utah

Very short time on the hiking trail you will see the first glimps of the hoodoos

 

Convenience is Number One Priority

Go with Bryce National Park if you want the convenience of staying in a hotel onsite or nearby, and a full service restaurant for meals, including wine and beer. Cedar Breaks does not have any hotels or restaurants. The nearest stores, restaurants, and gas stations are just a few miles away in Brian Head.

 

Want to Get Away from the Crowds

If you HATE crowds, then Cedar Breaks is definitely the place for you, compared to Bryce Canyon it is a quiet place with hardly any people. There are fewer hikes at Cedar Breaks, but they are beautiful. You can’t hike down in the canyon like at Bryce where you are surrounded by the hoodoos.

 

Looking for Outdoor Winter Activities

Go with either Cedar Breaks or Bryce for the snowmobiling, skiing, and snowshoeing. But remember at Cedar Breaks Hwy 148 to the park closes after the first major snowfall of the year – usually by the end of November. Access the park from Utah Hwy 143 at the north side of the park in winter.

Enjoy your travels in Utah!

Short Easy Hike to the Magnificent Double Arch

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Visitor Guide Cedar Breaks Utah

Best Tips Visiting Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

2 Replies

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  1. Oh my goodness, we LOVED Cedar Breaks. The people we camped next to told us about it and I’m so happy we went there instead of Bryce. It was during wildflower season too. I felt like I was in a magical land. I also couldn’t believe how cold I was. It was the first week of July (and coming from Phoenix my blood was already pretty thin) so it felt freezing to me! We went from 90 degrees near Zion to 55 at Cedar Breaks. I highly recommend it as well!

    • So glad to know someone else loves Cedar Breaks park! Oh yes the cold is a shock, even driving from Cedar City Utah there was a substancial difference in temperature – the high elevation chill factor :)

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