monuments in Viniard Field
Last Week's Getaway:
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Georgia, Tennessee

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autumn leaves surround hiking trail
A colorful fall walk along the Alpine Pond Trail is fun for the whole family. (NPS photo)

yellow-bellied marmot
You never know who's watching who—this yellow-bellied marmot found a nice place to “people watch.” (NPS photo)

two people on snowshoes
Snowshoeing is a great way to experience Cedar Breaks. (NPS photo)

sunset at Cedar BreaksHomepage photo: The setting sun casts beautiful colors into the into a half-mile deep geologic amphitheater. (NPS photo)

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Cedar Breaks National Monument

At 10,000 feet above sea level, Cedar Breaks National Monument takes your breath away. Literally. It offers stunning views of a three-mile wide, half-mile deep amphitheater colored with over 50 different hues. Cedar Breaks is a spectacular place to immerse in abundant fall colors and pristine winter activities.

During the fall season, the park is ablaze with brilliant colors of quaking aspens that paint the park in golden yellows, sun-drenched oranges, and blazing reds. Cedar Breaks with its surrounding area has been called one of the top ten places to experience fall colors in the United States. Come experience this annual display by touring the monument's six-mile scenic drive or hiking on one of the many park trails.

Hiking trails include the Spectra Point/Ramparts Overlook Trail, a strenuous four-mile round-trip hike along the amphitheater rim with fantastic views at every turn. The oldest known living tree in the park, a 1,677-year-old bristlecone pine, is found along this trail.

Another wonderful hike, and a favorite of bird watchers, is the Alpine Pond Trail. This two-mile loop trail meanders through forests and meadows, sharing great views of the amphitheater along the way. Halfway around the loop, the natural, spring-fed Alpine Pond is a great spot for viewing fall colors and a variety of wildlife.

Fall colors are not the only things that shine within the park. As night falls, thousands of stars illuminate the night sky. On clear nights, the Milky Way and a variety of constellations can easily be seen from most areas within the park, including scenic overlooks.

The fading of fall colors ushers in a spectacular winter. Snow blankets the landscape and turns the park into a prime cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobile playground. The scenic drive, closed to automobiles from mid-November until mid-May, is groomed as a snowmobile trail. A winter ranger station, housed in a traditional yurt structure and staffed by volunteers on weekends, offers hot beverages and a break from the cold. It also serves as the destination for ranger-led snowshoe walks in January and February.

Weather can change suddenly in the park, and the winter ranger station is the only visitor facility open on winter weekends. Utah State Highway 143 between Parowan and Panguitch, Utah, is kept open all winter, except during and immediately after heavy snowstorms.

Cedar Breaks is a magnificent site to visit in any season, with great activities all year long. For directions and more information, visit our website. Come join in the fun!

By Sonya Smith, media specialist, Cedar Breaks National Monument


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