Cedar Breaks National Monument is a spectacular southwestern travel destination that is a must to see and experience. The rim of the Cedar Breaks is over 10,000 feet above sea level. At this elevation, the sky is crystal clear and visibility is nearly unlimited. The vivid colors of the cedar red rock outcrops, tall hoodoos, green forests, cobalt blue skies and snow capped mountains create a truly unforgettably beautiful panoramic view!
Cedar Breaks is often compared to Bryce Canyon. Both of these monuments are natural geologic amphitheater shaped canyons. Both sites were formed by frost erosion forces and there are thousands of hoodoos. The difference is that Cedar Breaks faces the setting sun, while most of Bryce Canyon faces east. The light from the setting sun has a way of intensifying the orangish red color of the Cedar Breaks landscape. As a result, many folks say that the color of Cedar Breaks is far more vivid than Bryce Canyon during sunset hours.
As one can see in the photo slide show, Cedar Breaks is a photographer's paradise. When I got home from Cedar Breaks, I immediately posted a few pictures of this place on Twitter and Facebook for friends to see. Apparently a few people that work for Utah Tourism and State Park organizations noticed the pictures too and they left some nice comments. The Utah Tourism agencies shared the photos on their own social networks. This made me feel good because the photos really did turn out nice.
I visited Cedar Breaks in late May and there was still plenty of snow on the ground at that high elevation. In fact, a storm front passed through and the cold strong winds were howling up through the Cedar Breaks Canyon. The wind was icy cold and the light misty rain occasionally turned into snow flurries. Standing on a rim of a tall canyon and trying not to shiver and shake from the cold while aiming a camera is no easy task.
Fortunately the storm passed by in a short time. The long rays of light from the setting sun started lighting up Cedar Breaks and the view grew more dramatic with each passing moment. The contrasting shapes of the cedar red color sandstone and shadows created a unique visual effect. At that time of day, the lower sections of Cedar Breaks literally look like splintered fragments of exploding red cedar. I just stood there and stared at the spectacular view while saying "wow!"
I was chatting with a National Park Ranger at the fee station and I asked a few questions about Cedar Breaks. If I recall correctly, the ranger stated that he is a Chippewa Tribe member. He started talking about some of the local Paiute Tribal lore concerning Cedar Breaks. Apparently the Paiute claim that those who do bad things in real life are condemned to an eternity of living as a statuesque hoodoo on the walls of the Cedar Breaks Canyon in the spirit world afterlife.
When thinking of the tribal lore, every hoodoo starts looking like a human statue. Before long, one realizes that there are thousands of these odd looking animated hoodoos in this sacred Native American place. Some of the hoodoos look scary, but fortunately there enough funny looking ones to keep viewers from getting creepy feelings!
Cedar Breaks is only a couple hour drive from Las Vegas. Utah State Road 14 heads east from I-15 in Cedar City to the crest of Cedar Mountain. The access road to Cedar Breaks and the Brian Head Ski Resort area is well marked.
One look at the Cedar Breaks National Monument photos is all it takes to get the inspiration to make the trip happen. No other place on earth looks like Cedar Breaks, especially during the hours before sunset. All I can say is pack a picnic basket, bring a good camera, load up the car and go! Like the State Motto says, "Utah is life elevated!"
*Cedar Breaks is a big place, so I ended up with an abundant amount of great photos. I decided to divide the photos into 2 separate albums, so the pictures would be easier for readers to access. A second article about Cedar Breaks that features views from the other scenic overlooks at the park will be published in a day or two!