Cedar Breaks National Monument is without a doubt one of the most unusual and spectacular places in the natural world. It's non-commercial beauty is an absolute gem, however it lies near three world renowned national parks; Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. The fact that the monument has not been commercialized further enhances its beauty and appeal. Over 600,000 people make it to the Monument each year, yet its visitation pales compared with the three powerhouses of the Southwest. When temperatures soar at these and other nearby parks it's time to migrate to the mountains for a reprieve from the heat. Cedar Breaks sits at nearly 11,000 feet, offering summer temperatures no higher than 80 degrees in the day and nights getting down to a chilly 40 degrees. If you can go early or late in the season when there is a sprinkling of snow in the amphitheater, the views are all the more spectacular. The high altitude forest of Cedar Mountain is a haven of flora dominated by tall fir, pine, some dwindling spruce and of course the lanky Quaking Aspen. It's interesting that this tree competes with the Bristlecone Pine, also common on the mountain, for title of world's oldest living organism. Mixed among the trees, on the soft lit forest floor, is an odd selection of mushrooms and other fungi. Away from the shadows of towering leafage, in the sunlit meadows, there is such a mélange of flowers that each year a wildflower festival is held celebrating the diverse show of colors on the mountain. Drive along the 5 mile scenic route at the Monument, stopping at each pull-out, and experience humbling views of glowing hoodoos in the great amphitheater. Top off your day by hiking to Spectra Point, continuing on the same path to the end of the Ramparts Trail.
Ramparts Trail at a Glance Photo Album:Ramparts Photos Trail Maps:Ramparts Map Day Hike: Yes Distance: 1.75 miles round-trip to Spectra Point or continue to the end of the Ramparts Trail for a total round-trip mileage of 3.2 miles. Average Hiking Time: Plan on 45 minutes to get to Spectra Point, then another 45 minutes to the end of the Ramparts Trail, so you need 3 hours to do the entire route. Equipment: Be sure to take plenty of water, energy snacks, a hat, sun protection and comfortable closed toe, hiking shoes. Difficulty: The Monument rates this trail as moderately strenuous and it is 10,000 feet above sea level and includes a lot of elevation changes, but it is on an established and maintained trail with traffic so we would rate this one as moderate since it's compared with a larger variety of hikes than just those at Cedar Breaks. This is a good hike for the entire family, but there are drop-offs, so watch children carefully. Sun Exposure: You will be in the sun most of the hike, but even in the summer the temperature rarely exceed 80 degrees. This is a wonderful place to escape the summer heat. Trail Usage: Heavy Trail Conditions: Well maintained, dirt path. Trailhead: From SR-14 on Cedar Mountain, turn onto SR-148 and drive 3.6 miles, then pull into the parking area. The Spectra Point- Ramparts Trail can be accessed either directly on the west side of the parking lot, or immediately from the Visitor Center. This rustic building was constructed in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps ( CCC). Consider taking a moment to go inside and look around. Ranger talks and walks are posted there as well as campfire and star programs. A five-mile rim drive provides easy access to four view points, Sunset View, Point Supreme, Chessman Ridge and North View, each with a different perspective of t he pinnacles, spires and windows that make up the three-mile span of the amphitheater. Trailend: Same as trailhead Trail Access: Unless it's summer, check the road conditions before heading to the Monument. SR-148 is not plowed after the first large snowfall, which often occurs as early as October then the road usually reopens in May. During road closure, the Monument remains open to cross country skiers and snowmobiles. Snowmobiles are limited to the roads.
Elevation: The ascent is 125 feet to the water towers, then the trail descends 240 feet to Spectra Point. From there to the end of the Ramparts Trail it is another descent of 335 feet. The total elevation change from trailhead to trailend is 700 feet. Best Season: It's best to plan a visit to the Monument in the summer or early fall before winter storms force the road to close. The best time of day to see the amphitheater is sunrise and sunset.
Off the Beaten Path: No, these are two of the only three park advertised trails at Cedar Breaks, so they do get a lot of foot traffic. Bristlecone: The ancient Bristlecone Pine at the end of the Ramparts Trail at Cedar Breaks are breathtaking with views of the hoodoos in the distance.
Directions to Cedar Breaks
U-148 Closure Dates. U-148 to Cedar Breaks closes in the winter due to snow depth.
From Las Vegas: Take I-15 north to Cedar City. Take U-14 east from Cedar City to U-148 and turn left to Cedar Breaks. From Arizona: Take US-89 north through Mount Carmel Junction and turn west on U-14. Turn right at U-148 to Cedar Breaks. From Salt Lake City: Take I-15 south, exit at Parowan. Take U-143 to Cedar Breaks. From Mount Carmel Junction: Take US-89 north to U-14. Follow U-14 to U-148 and Cedar Breaks.
Wildflowers are seen along the trail and in many of the areas of Cedar Breaks National Monument, as well as in the surrounding Dixie National Forest.
Lodging and services are available on the gorgeous east side of Zion National Park, where guests are close to Zion National Park (12 miles), Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles), Cedar Breaks National Monument (45 miles), Coral Pink Sand Dunes (12 miles), and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (85 miles). It's where city traffic is absent and the skies are bright and clean.
Spectra Point - From the fenced viewpoint locate the trailhead sign for the Spectra Point Trail. Follow the mountain path for .8 miles as it skirts the rim to the southwest. There is a meadow to your left with evergreen trees mixed among a multitude of wildflowers. For those that love the simple beauty of flowers, Cedar Breaks is the place to go. One of the parks floral show stoppers is the delicate Colorado Columbine which can be seen along this trail. Views to the right of the path will steal your attention as millions of years of erosion unfold, showcasing spires in all sorts of peculiar sizes and shapes. The hoodoos are seen in various hues ranging from fiery orange to tangerine and even the lightest of pinks. The array of colors crammed into the large bowl delightfully contrast with the clear blue sky. Head up the hill toward the water tank, then immediately the route begins a steeper descent to Spectra Point, where a 270 degree view reveals a fantasy-land of geological formations including a few natural windows. See if you can find the oldest tree at Cedar Breaks. It is over 1,600 years old and it is found along this trail.
Ramparts Trail - There is an option at this point to turn around and retrace the .8 miles just hiked to arrive at Spectra Point or continue to the end of the Ramparts Trail, making the total hike about a 3 mile round-trip. If you choose to continue, follow the beaten path to the west, a little less than a mile, as it descends 330 feet. There are many new perspectives of the magnificent amphitheater below, and another amazing viewpoint at the end of the trail. The dirt path periodically skirts the rim as it descends the hillside through the ever more present Bristlecone pine trees. The ancient beauties at the end of the trail delight the senses along with a fresh view of the expansive chasm below filled with rugged rock sculptures rising from the pink sand. Return the same way you came.
Utah's Dixie National Forest: Cedar Mountain
Cedar Breaks National Monument is surrounded by Utah's Dixie National Forest. From Mt. Carmel Junction, drive north on US-89 to the junction with SR-14. SR-14 is known as Cedar Mountain which is the scenic byway to travel to Cedar Breaks. Once on Cedar Mountain, travel through the beautiful forest, and then turn at the signed highway to Cedar Breaks - SR-148.
It's 22 miles from Mt. Carmel Junction to boundary of Dixie National Forest and 45 miles to Cedar Breaks.
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It's a better site than the NPS's anyway."
Written by the authors of the book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park
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