The Cedar Breaks Dazzle Visitors

The early Paiute people called Cedar Breaks the “Circle of Painted Cliffs,” referring to multi-colored stone ridges of this naturally carved amphitheater. Home to curious wildlife and bristlecone pines that have been hanging around since the last millennium, time seems to stand still at Cedar Breaks, and that’s really not a bad thing. Situated about two miles south of the town of Brian Head, this giant amphitheater sits high atop the Markagunt Plateau, over 2,500 feet deep and more than three miles across. The spectacular colors of Cedar Breaks National Monument are formed by an abundance of mineral deposits, making them breathtaking to behold.

The formations in Cedar Breaks consist of ridges, pinnacles and buttresses carved from the steep cliffs by wind and water erosion over more than 30 million years. From the highest point of 10,662 feet to the lowest at 8,100 feet, guests are treated to spectacular views of dense forests of sub-alpine fir, Englemann spruce and quaking aspens, plus fields containing more than 150 species of wildflowers. Bristlecone pine, one of nature’s oldest living trees, grows along the rim of the amphitheater and can be seen in abundance throughout the area.

A six-mile scenic drive leads past four overlooks, each offering a different perspective of the amphitheater. A log cabin constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 still serves as the visitor center.

For those who want to get off the beaten path, two hiking trails near the rim provide an added appreciation of the geology and flora and fauna of Cedar Breaks. The Spectra Point/Ramparts Overlook Trail is a four-mile round-trip hike along the rim, with spectacular views of the amphitheater. The Alpine Pond Nature Trail is a self-guided, double-loop trail through forests and meadows. The lower portion offers excellent views of the Breaks.

For more information, check out the Cedar City & Brian Head Tourism Bureau & Visitor Center.

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