Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah

After visiting the Orderville Mine Rock Shop, Tom and I headed to Cedar Breaks National Monument.  After spending a week with temperatures over 100, we were looking forward to the average July temperature at Cedar Breaks of 63.

Cedar Breaks National Monument is a natural amphitheater filled with heavily eroded rock spires and hoodoos.  The monument sits at 10,000 feet elevation and is covered with snow from October through May.  The day we visited in July, the temperature was around 68 and the sky was blue.  Beautiful!

Cedar Breaks National Monument hosts a wildflower festival during three weeks in July when the wildflowers are at their peak.  We arrived during the last week of the festival and there were still plenty of lovely blooms.  After picking up a wildflower checklist from a volunteer outside, we headed into the very small Visitors Center.  No museum – just a gift shop staffed by a ranger.  The highlight of the Visitors Center is a window overlooking the amphitheater.

Rydberg’s Penstemon
Southern Ligusticum
Aspen Bluebells
Rocky Mountain Goldenrod
Scarlet Paintbrush with hummingbird
Pacific Aster
Colorado Columbine

Cedar Breaks discourages visitors from hiking down into the amphitheater.  All of the trails skirt the rim of the bowl.  We checked out the Point Supreme Overlook and then walked the Ramparts Trail to Spectra Point.  Each overlook gives a different viewpoint into the amphitheater.  Every view is spectacular and the longer you look, the more formations you notice.

We had a picnic lunch at Chessmen Ridge Overlook.  We planned to hike the Alpine Pond Trail but the monsoon thunderstorms were rolling in so we took a final look at Cedar Breaks from the North View Overlook.

Chessman’s Ridge
Northview Overlook
Cedar Breaks from Brian Head Peak
Summit of Brian Head Peak

After leaving Cedar Breaks we drove up Brian Head Peak.  The Peak is at an elevation of 11,300 feet and receives an average of 356 inches of snow a year!  Cedar Breaks and Brian Head Peak have an annual rain/snowfall of 30 inches a year, one of the reasons for the gorgeous wildflowers.  We walked to the summit just in time to watch a thunderstorm bearing down on the mountain so we didn’t stay long.

As we drove down the mountain, we drove through Brian Head Resort.  The small town is at 9,800 feet elevation and is the second highest elevation of any town in the United States.  Leadville, Colorado, is the highest.  Brian Head Resort has fewer than 100 residents.  A fire in 2017 burned more than 100 square miles of forest around Brian Head and destroyed more than half the homes in the town.

Tom and I didn’t stay long at Cedar Breaks National Monument but we certainly enjoyed the views while we were there.  We also enjoyed the drive on the top of the plateau which cooled and refreshed us.