Cedar Breaks National Monument

Photo above: Cedar Breaks Lodge, no longer there, but important to other lodges in national parks. See story below for that very reason. Right: View of the sky over Red Rocks at Cedar Breaks National Monument. Source: National Park Service/Rob Whitmore.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Of the Utah parks of nature and wonder, Cedar Breaks is that small gem. Not far from the spectacular and well attended beauty of Zion and Bryce Canyon, this smaller cousin provides a unique glimpse into the red rock canyon architecture that nature built, as well as an amazing spot to ply your winter sports days. Yes, at Cedar Breaks, they turn the main tour road into a snowmobile trail for six months. In summer, there's ranger tours and campground experiences, trails to hike and overlooks to marvel at that architecture cobbled together thousands and thousands of years ago. Treasure it. Watch the world go by from a high elevation or hike down through its depths, if you're able and willing. While Cedar Breaks certainly is not attended like those other parks, you won't be alone. People are starting to discover this gem on their Utah national parks treks. And they, and you, should, too.

  • Cedar Breaks

    This park is not new, signed into existence by Franklin D. Roosevelt by presidential proclamation as a national monument on August 22, 1933 to preserve the special rocks, canyons, and heritage of the Southern Paiute of Cedar Breaks. Along the way, the Utah Parks Company, even before the park designation, would bring tourists here. And Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps would come to build the Visitor Center and other structures. Of course, that's just talking about recent visitors. The Desert Archaic people have been coming for nine thousand years. Europeans since 1868. And the nature that abounds in the rocks and valleys longer than all. Even the trees have history. Some bristlecone pines are said to be 1,600 years old.

    Some quick questions about Cedar Breaks. How large is the amphitheatre? It's approximately three miles wide and two thousand feet deep. Is it still eroding? Yes, but you won't be able to see it during your visit. Pace of erosion, two inches every five years. How much snow falls here? Two hundred and forty-five inches a year.

  • Cedar Breaks National Monument

    Cedar Breaks National Monument Then

    Cedar Breaks Lodge. The small lodge pictured at the top of the page was built even before the park became a national monument by the Utah Parks Company of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1924. It provided hospitality to guests at the national park for decades, until 1970, used as a lure for visitors to use the railroad and visit. The service was provided by many other lodges built by the railroad as well with the Utah Parks Company providing a tour of the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Cedar Breaks. In 1972, the Cedar Breaks Lodge, the smallest of the lodges, was torn down. An uproar arose, enough to save the other lodges.

    Cedar Breaks National Monument Now

    Today, there is no lodge, but there is the historic Visitor Center on the canyon ridge that was built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, plus a campground nearby and all that nature to witness and explore. The Visitor Center is on the National Register of Historic Places and been used for that purpose since its construction.

    If you come in the summer months, there are festivals on Wildflowers and the new Plein Air Art Festival.

    Photo above: Early entrance sign at Cedar Breaks National Monument. Imagine the ride in that truck. Can we say bumpy? Photo courtesy National Park Service.

  • Cedar Breaks National Monument


    1. Head to the Point Supreme Overlook for a ranger talk or walk from mid-June to mid-September. There's usually three talks and one walk per day. Learn about the geology and history of the area from those that really know their stuff.

    2. For those winter hardy folks who love to snowmobile or cross country ski, take advantage of the trails on the five mile auto tour that's transformed into a winter sports track for you each season. For miles you can travel down the snowy path of Utah Highway 148. And all along the way, you'll be in proximity to that large Cedar Breaks canyon to your west.

    3. Stare into a sky so dark and marvel at the stars. There are Star Parties in the campground amphitheatre on Saturday nights during the high season. If you're there then, don't miss it.



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