Cedar Breaks National Monument
Gary Whitton/age fotostock
Centered around a natural amphitheater, where a plateau breaks into a series of mini canyons, this intimate national monument is often compared to Bryce Canyon. Along the ridgelines between the carved canyons, visitors can observe interesting rock formations with whimsical names like Chessman Ridge, Point Supreme, Shooting Star Ridge, and the Bartizan. Hiking options here range from the easy, paved Sunset Trail, which stays above the rim, to the nearly 10-mile Rattlesnake Creek Trail, which drops below the rim and offers the chance to explore in the canyons.
The View from Cedar Breaks National Monument
Most people drive right past Cedar Breaks National Monument and speed toward Zion National Park and Bryce National Park beyond that, but if these two national parks weren’t in southern Utah, Cedar Breaks would get a lot more press. This natural area appears to be an interesting combination of the two, with the red rocks from Zion and some of the hoodoo spires from Bryce. Visitors can’t hike into the basin, but ranger talks at the rim and a few rim hikes provide context for the natural and cultural history of the area. Check out the special ranger-led star parties held during the summer months, and, in the winter when the thoroughfare is closed, strap on cross-country skis and claim the area for yourself. A springtime visit is worthwhile for viewing the wildflowers.