Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks
The natural amphitheater of Cedar Breaks
plunges to a depth of more than 2,000 feet.

The Paiutes called the natural amphitheater of Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah un-cap-I-cun-ump, or "circle of painted cliffs," for the colorful spires and columns of rock carved into the mountain.

Shaped like a huge coliseum, the amphitheater plunges more than 2,000 feet, scooping away green alpine meadows. Millions of years of uplift and weathering carved this huge bowl into the western edge of the 10,400-foot-high Markagunt Plateau. Various shades of red, purple, and yellow are ribboned through the limestone, the result of iron and manganese in the rock.

When the first Utah settlers saw the amphitheater, they named it Cedar Breaks -- "breaks" to describe the badlands, and "cedar" for the trees, which were actually junipers.

The main route to the monument's scenic attractions is a five-mile road through the high country of Cedar Breaks. The road offers panoramic views of fantastic stone formations, fir and alpine forests, and rolling meadows. In the spring, the meadows rival the colorful rocks, as larkspur, lupine, penstemon, columbine, Indian paintbrush, and other wildflowers bloom.

Gnarled and weather-beaten bristlecone pines grow in the most forsaken spots, where the wind is fierce, the soil thin, and water scarce. Bristlecone pines are some of the oldest living things on earth; one Cedar Breaks specimen has survived for 1,600 years.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Information

Address: 18 miles east of Cedar City on Utah Highway 14, then 4 miles north on Utah Highway 148
Telephone: 435/586-9451
Hours of Operation: Open daily from early June to mid-October, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Admission: $4

Learn about these other national monuments:

­Agate Fossil Beds National MonumentColorado National MonumentGeorge Washington Birthplace National MonumentNatural Bridges National MonumentScotts Bluff National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National MonumentDevils Postpile National Monument George Washington Carver National MonumentOcmulgee National MonumentSunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument and PreserveDinosaur National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentOregon Caves National MonumentTimpanogos Cave National Monument
Booker T. Washington National MonumentEffigy Mounds National MonumentGrand Portage National MonumentOrgan Pipe Cactus National MonumentTonto National Monument
Buck Island Reef National MonumentEl Malpais National MonumentHohokam Pima National MonumentPetroglyph National MonumentTuzigoot National Monument
Cape Krusenstern National Monument El Morro National MonumentHomestead National MonumentPinnacles National MonumentWalnut Canyon National Monument
Capulin Volcano National MonumentFlorissant Fossil Beds National MonumentHovenweep National MonumentPipe Spring National MonumentWupatki National Monument
Casa Grande Ruins National MonumentFort Frederica National MonumentJewel Cave National MonumentPipestone National Monument
Castle Clinton National MonumentFort Matanzas National MonumentJohn Day Fossil Beds National MonumentPoverty Point National Monument
Cedar Breaks National MonumentFort Stanwix National MonumentLava Beds National MonumentRainbow Bridge National Monument
Chiricahua National MonumentFossil Butte National MonumentMontezuma Castle National MonumentRussell Cave National Monument

To learn more about national national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit: ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.