The wild and rugged land compromising the area where Cedar Breaks lies today was known to 1800 Mormon settlers as "Breaks," due to how difficult it was to travel in the area. In the 1920s Iron and Kane Counties worked together to have a road constructed from Cedar City to Highway 89. A paved road up to Cedar Breaks was also built. President Franklin D. Roosevelt named Cedar Breaks a National Monument on August 22, 1933. The monument is managed today by the National Park Service. In the summer of 2006 parties have worked to have this outstanding monument become a National Park.
Impressive! Cedar Breaks is one of those places that is breath taking. The single amphitheater is filled with shapes and the subtle colors of limestone formations that are incredible. Surrounding the amphitheater are high alpine meadows covered in an array of wildflowers.
Flora and fauna
You would think the place would be filled with Cedar trees, but there is not a one in sight. Instead there are juniper trees that the early settlers mistook for Cedar trees. This is a high elevation monument however and although there are junipers, there are many more aspen and spruce. Due to the spruce beetle however, a live and thriving spruce tree is becoming a rare sight. The fir beetle has been doing some damage on the mountain lately as well. The bristlecone pine and fir trees dots the landscape in many places in the monument. The bristlecone is thought to be the oldest living thing in the world even though the Aspen, according to some scientists, might just be older.
At 10,000 feet the fauna living on the mountain must be hardy. Seen around the monument are deer, squirrels, chipmunks, pika and gophers.
The monument has a cool, alpine climate.
Check road reports before heading to Cedar Breaks in late fall and winter. U-148 closes anywhere from late October and does not usually open again until late May. Cross country skiers and snowmobiles can access the park by skies or snowmobiles.
If traveling on US-89, take Utah 14 west to Utah 148 north to Cedar Breaks National Monument. If traveling north on I-15, take the Cedar City exit and proceed to Utah 14. There will be a signed road to Cedar Breaks. Turn onto Utah 148 and drive 4 miles to Cedar Breaks National Monument. If traveling south on I-15, exit at Parowan, then take Utah 143 east to Cedar Breaks National Monument.
Fees and permits
Entrances fees are valid for seven days, allowing unlimited re-entry for the week. Fees as of 2020 are:
- Free (Age 0-15)
- $10 - per person (16+ Years Old)
- $30 - Cedar Breaks Annual Pass
There are several passes for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot/bike that provide free entry to Cedar Breaks National Monument and all national parks, as well as some national monuments, national wildlife refuges, and national forests:
- The $80 Annual Pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone. Military personnel can obtain a free pass by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID.
- The $80 Senior Pass (valid for the life of the holder) is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over. Applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
- The free Access Pass (valid for the life of the holder) is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
- The free Volunteer Pass is available to individuals who have volunteered 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.
- The free Annual 4th Grade Pass (valid for September-August of the 4th grade school year) allows entry to the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid Outdoors website is required.
The National Park Service offers free admission to all national parks on five days every year:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January); next observance is January 18, 2021
- The first day of National Park Week (third Saturday in April); next observance is April 17, 2021
- The National Park Service Birthday (August 25)
- National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September); next observance is September 26, 2020
- Veterans Day (November 11)
This is a small monument so it's easy to get around. Along U-148 there is a 5 miles drive with pull outs for visitors to view the amphitheater from different angles. Pull-outs include: Spectra Point, Sunset View, Chessmen Ridge and Point Supreme.
- 1 Point Supreme Visitor Center. The Visitor Center at Point Supreme was built in 1937 by a crew from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and is believed to be the only CCC constructed visitor center in the National Park Service that is still in active use today. The visitors center offers views of Cedar Breaks and a wide selection of trip planners, books, maps and more! Restrooms are located at the nearby parking-lot by the fee station.
- 2 Cedar Breaks Amphitheater. The natural amphitheater stretches over 3 miles (4.8 km) and reaches a depth of 2,000 feet (610 m). The rocks of the amphitheater are shale, limestone, and sandstone with brilliant colors created by iron and manganese deposits. The canyon continues to erode at a rate of approximately 2 inches (51 mm) every five years.
- Alpine Pond Trail. A great family hike through the forest to a nice pond.
- Spectra Point & Wasatch Ramparts Trail. A moderate trail to a nice view of the amphitheater.
- Cedar Breaks Bottoms. A seldom done trail that begins in Dixie National Forest and ends down at the hoodoos seen from the rim of Cedar Breaks National Monument.
- Twisted Forest Trail. A nice meander through the bristlecones.
- Ashdown Gorge - Rattlesnake Creek. An impressive hike. It starts as a meander down hill through the bristlecone with views of the Cedar Breaks Amphitheater and ends in the gorge near Cedar City.
There is a nice book store in the rustic visitor center.
Drinks are not sold inside the monument. Nearby Communities where drinks are sold include Duck Creek, Mount Carmel Junction and Cedar City.
Additional campgrounds can be found in the Dixie National Forest.
- 1 Point Supreme Campground. 25 sites. 10 sites can be reserved in advance, 15 sites are first-come, first-served. Point Supreme Campground is a lesser known site, and surrounded by meadows of wildflowers in the summer! It also is unique in that it sits at 10,000 feet elevation, making it a more comfortable place to camp during the hotter summer months. Sites accommodate both tents and RVs. Camping is available from mid-June to mid-September. Note that the campground opening and closing dates may be vary & are subject to favorable weather. $24 per night (2020 rates).
Dixie National Forest and Ashdown Gorge Wildneress surround the monument and lend a vast backcountry area to the monument.
When hiking in the backcountry always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Avoid hiking rainy days if hiking Ashdown Gorge or any other slot canyon.
- Zion National Park is a popular Utah National Park. Many that come to visit Zion take the quick jaunt over to visit Cedar Breaks.
Nearby towns and communities: