Cedar Breaks National Monument, UT

Park Map

I got done hiking at Kolob Canyons about 5 pm. I had thought about camping at Cedar Breaks, but my rule for this trip was not to make plans ahead of time (except July 4 weekend, natch!). But when I finished my hike, it was time to find a place to stay. I had the Cedar Breaks phone number and I called and got a ranger. Do you have any available camping spaces? I asked...he put me on hold and called the campground host. There are two, he said. What are my chances of there being one left if I drive in from Kolob Canyons (about an hour's drive)? I asked...he thought there might be a space left and said he'd try to get it held for me, but couldn't absolutely promise. I said no, then thought about it...what's the worst that could happen? Cedar Breaks is 45 minutes from Cedar City, which has motels out the wazoo, it being the home of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. The worst case is that I'd get there, find no room at the inn, and have to come back and get a motel room. I could live with that. I called back. Would you ask the host to reserve a space after all? I'll be right there. Okay! he said, and I left for Cedar Breaks.

Cedar City was just like it had been last year, and then I turned right on the 14, took it up into the mountains, then turned on the 148...and kept playing peek-a-boo with some beautiful red rocks I could see through the trees as I made my way there.

This being a state park, I was prepared for primitive- no showers or flush toilets, perhaps no running water. Was I ever surprised! Utah state parks, unless they're in the middle of nowhere, are LOVELY. They have running water, free showers and very nice amenities. I had a nice time there that night, and fell into conversation with a New Jerseyite named Sal, who sang the praises of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

On the left, my lovely campsite.

On the right, the surrounding area. We were 10,000 feet up, in a lovely meadow dotted with cedar trees. Wow. I had come from well over 100 degrees in Vegas at 10 am to 60 degrees here at 6 pm...

The next morning I woke up at 7:30, got up and had breakfast, got dressed, packed up and drove about a quarter mile to the visitor's center, getting there at 8:30...I thought it would be open at 8. No, it didn't open til 9. So I took a pic of the info about the cedar trees and the elevation sign, and then I got a book and sat in the sunshine on a bench and settled in to read til it opened...also, as is my wont, I talked to the people around there as well. Did you see the marmots? said one guy, they're down at the end of the overlook...so I put my book back in the car and went to see if the usually elusive wildlife would be at all visible to me.

MARMOTS! Adorable round sweet furry MARMOTS!! All over the place!

I loved the two out on the point, watching the light hit the amphitheater, as the rock formation is called.
Here's part of the Amphitheater without those pesky marmots hogging the scenery; it's basically a huge red and white hole in the ground, pretty amazing. I went to the visitor's center once it opened, schmoozed with the ranger, and then took a hike, which led along the edge of the amphitheater going clockwise to two seperate viewpoints along the same trail, a total of two miles.
On the left are Mountain Bluebells, and on the right is a very pretty Markagunt Penstemon (the flowers outside the visitor's center had SIGNS telling what they were! Yippee!)
The trail sign and info for the hike I'm about to take. This made me laugh so hard. Partly because so many parents would need this reminder, and partly from the mental image of a parent carefully watching their child fall off the cliff...
These are Colorado Columbines, and they were AMAZING. The blossoms are about 3 inches across, plus the spikes on the back...wow.
And now for the hike! But first...just ONE MORE warning sign, for the ones who were too stupid to figure it out already... And the warning is not without merit...this is the hiking trail. Yes, above that white line, along the huge dropoff into the Amphitheater. A beautiful stump.
Hood's Phlox A view away from the Amphitheater across Cedar Breaks, and the meadow. That's the road through the park. It was so pretty...and cool, I'm hiking in jeans and two shirts and I was totally comfy til about the last half hour of uphill, when it got hot. This looks like a Mountain Dandelion with a beautiful fat bee on it.
A view across the landscape, with Spectra Point (the first overlook on the trail) on the left.

And then I was walking through woodlands for a while, before I came out on the point.

There were the most amazing bristlecone pines on this hike, they were gorgeous.
Views from Spectra Point.
This is a Monument Plant (aka Elkweed) (and an ant, in the last one!) The flowers were about an inch across. In the first photo, it's growing beside the green bushy thing, they aren't the same plant.

Here's what utahwildflowers.com says about this plant: Yeah! This one gets the 5+ on the coolness scale. Big. Multi-colored. And check this out. It lives for 60-80 years. Flowers once. Then dies. The first 2 years of life are spent as a microscopic speck in the dirt!

I feel kind of honored just to have seen it, truthfully. It was great.

More beautiful weathered wood. The right hand picture looks like a ram's head.
Richardson's Geraniums with wasps.
Very likely a wolf spider. It was about 1 1/2 inches long, including legs. There were a lot of these plants, and they were great- about 2 feet high, leaves growing in a spiral, very pretty. No idea what they are. A beautiful morning!
Now I'm at the end of the trail, on the Ramparts. There was a ranger who had hiked there just before me, who was kind enough to take my picture. The last photo is in the woods, on the way back down the trail.
On the way back I stopped by the stream I had heard when I went by it...there was a little trail that went five feet to it.

Flowers: The pink ones are Parry's Primrose; the white ones are Heartleaf Bittercress. Another stripper name.

The bottom left is the stream where I found those two flowers (and many more) and the right hand one is one of my favorite pics of this whole trip- the sun shining in the running water on the beautiful rocks. I am amazed this came out at all...it looked EXACTLY like this.

Another pic of the mystery plant. I really liked them, wish I knew what they are. Still a beautiful day! That's where I'm going; the trailhead is at the tip of that white rock.
This is probably flowering parsley, and the butterfly is some kind of fritillary, but there are a boatload of them, and the picture is not at the right angle to tell which it is.
The parsley actually had a label in the plants near the visitor's center; it's Southern Ligusticum or Ligusticum porteri...according to Wikipedia, "its common names include osha root, Porter's lovage, Porter's licorice-root, lovage, wild lovage, Porter's wild lovage, loveroot, Porter's ligusticum, bear medicine, bear root, Colorado cough root, Indian root, Indian parsley, wild parsley, mountain ginseng, mountain carrot, nipo, empress of the dark forest, chuchupate, chuchupati, chuchupaste, chuchupatle, guariaca, hierba del cochino or yerba de cochino, raíz del cochino, and washí. Wow. That's a lot of names for one plant...
Another cool tree. I loved the hole through the trunk!
And speaking of beautiful trees... Mountain Dandelion. The leaves near it had me fooled til I realized that's a different plant entirely... This was the wonderful pattern on the outside of a tree that had had some kind of worms under its bark.
Narrow Leaf Paintbrush One more of those green plants with the great leaves in a spiral... and a wonderful plant with some paintbrushes.
Almost back to the visitor's center, I came across a high school group lackadaisically supervised by two grownups...the warning signs came to mind, but not my problem. They were kind enough to take my picture.

And a few more beautiful Mountain Dandelions...and I'm back at the truck. Time for lunch and my next adventure!