Cedar Breaks National Monument may be one of Utah’s best national park secrets. While it’s close to Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, it really doesn’t get the foot or vehicle traffic the other two get. It also can be cooler in the summer since all of its hiking trails start at or above 10,000 feet in elevation.
Look down into a half-mile deep geologic amphitheater, wander among timeless bristlecone pines, stand in lush meadows of wildflowers, ponder crystal-clear night skies and experience the richness of the subalpine forest in Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah.
Hiking in Cedar Breaks National Monument
Hiking in Cedar Breaks National Monument is a unique experience because you can experience desert and forested scenery. Many of the hikes here are rated easy or moderate, making it accessible to a range of abilities and ages. All hikes at Cedar Breaks National Monument start at 10,000 feet or above. This means you may feel more winded since there is less oxygen in the air at 10,000 feet. It also means it will feel cooler than hikes elsewhere that sit at lower elevations.
If you’re looking for an easy and accessible trail, Sunset Trail is the way to go. It’s just two miles long, and it is a paved trail the entire way. In addition, it’s the only trail in the monument where you can bring your dog. The trail connects Point Supreme Overlook with Sunset View Overlook. There’s a picnic area at the halfway point, so you can pack your lunch and enjoy it along the way.
For a longer and moderately strenuous hike, do the South Rim Trail. It starts at 10,500 feet, following the rim as it passes a number of overlooks as you descend. Spectra Point Viewpoint is one mil in while you’ll reach Ramparts Viewpoint after two miles. The Bartzen Viewpoint is 2.5 miles in.
If you’re interested in guided hikes, rangers often offer guided walks and hikes. In March, rangers often offer guided snowshoe walks. You can stop in the visitor center or go to the Cedar Breaks National Monument website to see what is being offered.
Dark Night Skies Bring Out the Stars
To celebrate and share the beauty of its dark night skies, Cedar Breaks hosts a series of star parties throughout the summer season. Each star party is conducted by park staff and astronomy volunteers at Point Supreme. Once the light fades, the party kicks off with a laser light tour of the constellations, followed by star viewing through several telescopes. Observe swirling nebulae, twinkling star clusters, neighborly planets, and distant galaxies.
Star parties will be held every Saturday evening beginning in July and extending through Labor Day weekend unless there are COVID restrictions. Additional star parties are scheduled for full moons and meteor showers. Please note that start times will change as the season progresses.
Star parties may be canceled due to inclement weather or COVID restrictions. For more information call the visitor center at 435-586-0787 ex. 4031 (during the summer season only).
Cedar Breaks is Worth Visiting for Its Wildflowers
Every summer Cedar Breaks is treated to a spectacular display of wildflowers. Early bloomers such as cushion phlox, kittentails, and aspen bluebells emerge in late June. Displays peak in mid-July as countless other wildflowers bloom: scarlet paintbrushes, Colorado columbines, little sunflowers, elkweeds, and many more fill the forests and meadows with color.
In non-COVID years, Cedar Breaks celebrates this colorful show with an annual Wildflower Festival. Join a specialist on a guided hike and learn all about the different wildflowers. Guided hikes are offered twice daily and meet at the Visitor Center. You can also pick up a common wildflower checklist or a “What’s In Bloom” handout and go on a self-guided walk.