While the big five -- Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion -- get most of the attention in Utah, Cedar Breaks National Monument is certainly no slouch. With Methuselah trees and a colorful amphitheater that would embarrass Crayola, Cedar Breaks should be on your itinerary.
Just north of Zion and to the west of Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks long has attracted visitors. In fact, archaeologists say Desert Archaic people would regularly visit some 9,000 years ago to "hunt and to collect chert on the lower slopes of Brian Head Peak."
More recently, of course, folks have been traveling regularly to the monument in the mountains above Cedar City since at least 1921, when “Minnie’s Mansion” was built in an area now encompassed by monument's northern end. "The mansion offered dining, lodging, and dancing to area residents," notes the Park Service. "Old timers recall that people came from as far away as Nevada to attend Utah Pioneer Day celebrations on July 24."
Alas, Minnie’s Mansion didn't stay in business too long, as the summer seasons at 10,000 feet were too short for the owners to make a profit. But in 1924 another lodge arrived, this one built on the south rim of Cedar Breaks by the Union Parks Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad that was trying to attract passengers by developing a “loop tour” starting in Cedar City and connecting Zion, Bryce, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Cedar Breaks, according to Park Service historians.
(Unfortunately, in 1972 the lodge was deemed uneconomical to keep and it was razed.)
The monument was added to the National Park System on August 22, 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the establishment legislation. To mark the monument's 77th birthday this August 22, festivities will start August 21 with programs that focus on some of these past moments in Cedar Breaks history. On both days rangers will lead walks along the Spectra Point Trail (at 10 a.m.) and offer talks on geology and history from the Point Supreme Overlook (at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.).
Among the activities will be a showing this Saturday of the 1941 version of My Friend Flicka, parts of which were filmed in the area, and star-gazing. The film is scheduled to be shown at the visitor center at 6:30 p.m., followed by a ranger program in the park amphitheater at 8:30 p.m., and then the star party.