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Southern Utah Part 4: Cedar Breaks National Monument

We spent a few days in Cedar City in order to see Cedar Breaks National Monument.  It is sometimes called a mini-Bryce Canyon.  We had read there was a good trail to hike and some terrific views.  We also heard there are very few people there 🙂  Cedar Breaks is about 30 minutes east of Cedar City through some wonderful canyons and mountains.  It is basically a smaller version of Bryce Canyon, with the same styles of rock, hoodoos and landscape, at a little higher elevation.

We visited twice, once for a short afternoon exploration and walk and the second targeted to hike along the rim on the Ramparts Trail.  We also were looking forward to much cooler temperatures along with sunny skies.

The drive to Cedar Break was a surprise to us.  As the road climbs in elevation, the trees start to populate the canyons and mountain.  This time of year, fall foliage was coming into color.  It really was magnificent.  By the time we got to the elevation of the Cedar Breaks rim, the entire forest was ablaze with the yellow of aspens and fall.

We spent some time at a couple overlooks and explored what there is to see.  It was a little hazy in the afternoon, but the views were still amazing.  It was our first look at the red rock sandstone hoodoo formations.

Some of the rim is closed due to erosion, but the main trail we wanted to hike, Ramparts Trail, is still open. It is a 3-mile hike to two spectacular viewpoints.  It was cold that morning up on the rim, about 39 degrees.  So we bundled up in layers and headed out.

The trail walks in and out of the rim-top forest and along the rim.  The hike takes you to two look-outs.  The first is called Spectra Point.  It is down from the rim a bit and out on a point that juts out into the canyon with amazing views.  There is a big split rail fence and nice observation views.

The entire area is famous for its Bristlecone Pine trees.  They are a kind of scraggly looking pine tree that can live to be hundreds of years old.  As one part dies, it diverts energy to new growth.  As a result, they look like they are half-dead, but really, they are adapting to the climate and longevity.

The second overlook is at Ramparts Point, thus the name.  It is down a gradual decent of about 900 feet over a mile and a half.  The trail really is RIGHT on the edge of the canyon, then suddenly you are back in the forest.

When we got to Ramparts Point, I am sure the views were tremendous.   Only we didn’t really go out to see them.  The viewpoint is undeveloped and leads you right onto the edge and a giant drop-off.  Needless to say, Jennifer was not excited about either of us going out to the edge to look.  We did find a nice place for lunch there though.

The climb back up was not as bad as we thought.  The elevation is almost 10,000 feet so besides the ascent, we figured the elevation would get us.  But we had just eaten, so we had energy, we were drinking good water, and we took quite a few picture breaks.  All in all, pretty mundane back up. It was a good hike and we were glad we went.

We spent some time on the mountain enjoying the changing aspen and the fall colors.  Jennifer even found a road with a great view and a river that crossed the gravel road and really was the road.

What a contrast! Up a highway along a forested river canyon, then up to higher elevations with fall aspen colors, to the red rock hoodoos of Cedar Breaks.  It really is a mini-Bryce Canyon with none of the crowds.

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