"Cedar Breaks Amphitheater in Summer" by NPS Photo , public domain
Official brochure of Cedar Breaks National Monument (NM) in Utah. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
On the drive from Cedar City to Cedar Breaks National Monument, a cascade of sensory changes begins. At 10 thousand feet, the air cools and becomes crystal clear. It sharpens the reds and whites, purples and pinks of the landscape. The Milky Way and celestial objects beyond our solar system fill the night sky. Meadows blaze urgently with wildflowers. Sleet falls in July. At the spot where the Colorado Plateau abruptly ends and the land breaks away to the west, you’ve crossed a line into the unexpected. A stop here, on the way to betterknown destinations, can stretch into a satisfying day, or days, if you allow it. Golden eagle Brian Head Peak National Monument Utah Peregrine falcon American kestrel Engelmann spruce In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated these 6,155 acres as a national monument. Early visitors arrived by rail or car at Cedar City, then continued by bus on a circuit that included Cedar Breaks National Monument, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion national parks. Common raven Aspen Bristlecone pine White-throated swift Mule deer An inland sea 90 million years ago Lake Claron 60 million years ago Volcanic ash and earthquakes 20 million years ago The Colorado Plateau today As mountains to the west aged, they shed sediments, including sandstone, limestone, and shale. Rivers and streams carried these sediments eastward to a sea that covered much of present- After the sea retreated east, a low-lying area formed and filled with fresh water carried by streams, rivers, and rain that drained from the new mountains to the west. Sediments and minerals, including oxides of iron and manganese, sank to A fault became a conduit for molten rock to rise from deep in the earth, creating lava beds. Volcanoes blanketed the region with ash, creating the Brian Head Formation. For about the last 10 million years, earth- Cedar Breaks, at the western edge of the Colorado Plateau’s Grand Staircase, is higher, cooler, and wetter than points to the east. It supports species that thrive in high-elevation condi- day Utah and northern Arizona. As the sea drained, it exposed rock formations created by compressed layers of sediments. You can see these formations in the canyons near Cedar City. the bottom of Lake Claron, along with organic matter like algae and the remains of shelled creatures. All contributed to the brilliant hues you can see in the canyons of Cedar Breaks (below). quakes continuously lowered the landscape to the west, leaving the park at the highest elevation point of the Grand Staircase. Brian Head Peak 11,307 ft Cedar Breaks Claron Formation Bryce Canyon tions, including coyote mint (below), southern ligusticum, deer, and elk (far left). Outside the park, American Indians continue to gather and hunt these and other species for healing and food. Western tanager North American porcupine Cedar Breaks Brian Head Formation (below) can be seen along the Alpine Pond Trail. Zion Rocky Mountain elk G R A N D S TA I R C A S E Cedar City 5,846 ft Elkweed North American pika Long-tailed weasel Bristlecone pine Southern ligusticum Red fox Violet-green swallow Bristlecone pines are among Earth’s oldest surviving organisms. In a grove at Spectra Point, some trees are over 1,500 years old. Few other tree species will grow at the edge of the breaks, where the soil is poor, water is scarce, and wind is extreme. Little sunflower Clark’s nutcracker Silvery lupine King’s flax Mountain bluebird Yellow-bellied marmot Aspen bluebells Northern flicker Cushion phlox Uinta chipmunk Scarlet paintbrush © ADRIANO ZAMBALDO Black-chinned hummingbird Listen for a high-pitched call and look for neat piles of drying plant stalks—signs that pikas are near. The small, highly social species thrives above 7,500 feet. A decline in their numbers in warming subalpine areas is a climate change indicator. 2,460 ft © LOREN MOONEY Fireweed chamaenerion White-lined sphinx moth Colorado columbine Markagunt penstemon Rufous hummingbird Grand Canyon Hurricane Fault National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior An Abrupt Change Oregon fleabane Broad-tailed hummingbird ILLUSTRATION—NPS / ARLENE BRAITHWAITE; ALL OTHER IMAGES NPS UNLESS OTHERWISE CREDITED Bristlecone pinecones © ELIOT COHEN Wind, rain, and insects pollinate subalpine wildflowers. Native bees on elkweed Utah blue on fireweed Bumblebee on coyote mint Milberts’ tortoiseshell butterfly Crown fritillary butterfly Plan Your Visit to Cedar Breaks Roads, facilities, and services are open daily from late May to mid-October. Scenic Drive Take a 7½-mile road through the highcountry. Protect yourself and wildlife by obeying posted speed limits. Do not drive into meadows, which are easily damaged. Stop only at designated roadside parking areas and overlooks. Overlooks View the massive Cedar Breaks amphitheater from different perspectives at four overlooks along the scenic drive. Stay behind fences and away from the edge, where the rock is loose and crumbly. Do not throw rocks or other objects off the rim. Watch children closely. Avoid exposed areas during thunderstorms. Camping and Picnicking The 25-site campground is open mid-June to mid-September. All of the campsites can be reserved at www.recreation.gov up to six months in advance. The campground has water, restrooms, showers, tables, and fire grills. Daytime temperatures are in the 60s and 70sºF; nighttime lows are in the 30s and 40sºF. The picnic area has a shelter, water, and tables. Fires are permitted only in the campground. Safety and Regulations Your safety is your responsibility. • High altitudes may cause shortness of breath and tiredness—slow down, rest often, and drink plenty of water. • Wear a hat and use sunscreen. • Pets must be leashed and attended; they are prohibited on trails. • Hunting is prohibited inside the park. For firearms and other regulations, check the park website. • Do not feed wildlife. • Do not pick flowers or plants. • Federal laws protect all natural and cultural features; leave them undisturbed. Accessibility We strive to make our facilities, programs, and services accessible to all. To learn more, ask a ranger or visit the park website. More Information Cedar Breaks National Monument 2390 West Hwy. 56, Suite 11 Cedar City, UT 84720-4151 435-986-7120 www.nps.gov/cebr Cedar Breaks National Monument is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs, visit www.nps.gov. Emergencies call 911 first, then contact a park employee. IGPO:20xx—xxx-xxx/xxxxx New in 20xx Printed on recycled paper. Cell service is limited in the park. NPS Ski and Snowshoe See the Stars Roads, facilities, and services are closed mid-October through May because of heavy snow, but it’s possible to pursue winter sports. Visit the park website for more information. An International Dark Sky Park, Cedar Breaks hosts star parties throughout the year to celebrate and share the beauty of the night sky. Visit the park website for scheduled programs and locations. © D.L. ASHLIMAN © NOAH LAY Take the Trails Cedar Breaks offers hiking options for all skill levels. Pets are allowed only on Sunset Trail and must be leashed at all times. Sunset Trail, 2 miles, roundtrip The easy, paved, wheelchair-accessible path passes through the Point Supreme picnic area and campground. It connects the Point Supreme and Sunset View overlooks and offers gentle slopes and many rest areas. Alpine Pond Loop Trail, 2 miles Easy to moderate. The upper trail takes you past meadows of native wildflowers, through spruce-fir-aspen forest, and past ancient deposits of volcanic materials. The lower trail offers excellent views of the “breaks.” South Rim Trail, 5 miles, roundtrip Moderately strenuous, not recommended for those with cardiac or pulmonary problems. The trail follows the plateau rim. It includes steep climbs, spectacular views, and ancient bristlecone pines. Viewpoints along the trail include Spectra Point (1 mile), Ramparts Overlook (2 miles), and the Bartizan (2½ miles). Sunset over Cedar Breaks from the rim. © KEVIN O’CONNOR