Cedar Breaks National Monument and the Dixie National Forest

 

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How could this not change the way you look at the world.  The Point Supreme Outlook at 10,350 feet in elevation is staggering-Cedar Breaks National Monument-this is one of the many viewing areas around the amphitheater. Three miles across and more than 2000′ straight down…it leaves you overwhelmed as you stand there in awe.

The rocks of the eroded canyon contain iron and manganese in various combinations, providing brilliant colors that led Indians to call it the Circle of Painted Cliffs. Iron oxides provide the reds, oranges and yellows, while manganese oxides provide shades of purple. Early settlers called them badlands or breaks and created its current name by combining breaks with cedar for the many juniper trees (often incorrectly called cedars) that grow in the area. A short drive around provides you with views of all sides of this amphitheater…Mike declined a hike on the rim trail, those 2000′ drop-offs and absolutely no guard rails were not for him:)..I wandered down the path a bit to check it out and declared yes, we will have to come back, stay in the campground here and explore some more. I think I heard him groan. He can’t wait until we get to the prairies…flat…no heights:) Ha!

The astounding views from Chessman’s outlook are compounded by looking East at the alpine meadows, snow still clinging to the slopes, ponds and small creeks and wildflowers just starting to bloom, and it was chilly, a refreshing reminder of the elevation. Further down Highway 14 Navajo Lake appears, the result of a lava flow damming the canyon. So, you have the red rocks then you come across a massive lava flow, the landscape is ever changing!

We had a message from a couple of Baja friends the day before down in Cedar City, Pat and Greg who just happened to be up in the forest, and they invited us to come look at a campsite near them. Funny how small the world can be at times. We enjoyed lunch with them in Duck Creek Village and then they took us to where they were staying at a cousin’s cabin and showed us a beautiful spot to camp! We tried to get a refund in Cedar City but to no avail so that spot in the woods by the creek will have to wait for our return trip! So wonderful to meet up with friends far from home and to learn about new and beautiful places to explore! Thank you Greg and Pat!

After our day trip to Cedar Breaks we opted for a somewhat closer jaunt the following day. I’d read about the Kanarraville Falls and the beautiful slot canyon they were located in, and it was going to be a no-drop-off day as well;) I was worried how crowded it would be, being a Saturday but this was our only day left so off we went 15 miles south of Cedar City. Kanarraville reminded us of the small burg Stanleyville near our old house in Ontario, Canada. A few streets and houses, an abandoned gas pump and old garage, picket fences and siding. The entrance to the Canyon and Falls is on the Eastern part of the village walking past the town’s water tank. It seems the parking had  become so crazy they formed a pay lot to keep people off of others lawns and driveways. We managed to snag a parking spot as several others left..it was crazy busy.

It is a fair hike up the hills to get to the canyon. There were a ton of very grumbling and crying kids being led down. I wouldn’t call it a family hike unless you are planning on carrying your kids a great deal of the way. I did notice a substantial increase in the family unit here in Utah compared to California where you may see a kid or two, these were 5 and 6 kid families 🙂 It was hot and uphill for a good part of the trail which is easy to follow. The path was lined with flowers and butterflies but like so many of the hikers we have encountered it seemed to be just a mission to get up there and back…a marathon of sorts…stop…smell the flowers…look at the lizards and butterflies.

At a certain point you have to make a choice and try to follow a path up and around the creek in many places or just slug it out walking in the creek. I can see why their warning for broken ankles and legs is posted…tread carefully! We did a mix of the two until there was no path just creek. Just before we arrived at the Slot Canyon there was a lull in the traffic, it was wonderful…no people! To be honest there were way too many folks here for my taste. If I return again it will be mid-week, with school in and early in the morning, it felt like a city sidewalk at times sans concrete, but the bustle was there.

When we reached the waterfall the crowds seemed to come out of nowhere..yikes…dozens of people trying to climb up the ladder and then taking turns climbing down. I set up the tripod to take a shot and ended up using my ND8 filter, a dark filter. It allows you to do longer exposures and I’d read about ghosting people out so it was worth a try. People came and went past us as I took the three minute exposure. Hoping for the best I took a few more and we turned around. The crowds were too much…did I mention I don’t like crowds? Mike has his heights thing and I hate crowds…lemmings, all of them;) Between the boom boxes and screeching it felt Mother Nature was being assailed by humanity in this small space, the mindless prattle of people in such a space of beauty…I missed the sounds of silence.

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The ghosts of Kanarraville Falls;)

Overall, I did enjoy the experience but would go back only on certain days and early to avoid the crowds. I would venture to suggest the same to anyone wanting to see this magical spot:)

Heading out of Cedar City we will move further East across Utah along the US I-70 and all that red red rock to a spot I have dreamed of seeing. Dead Horse Point State Park. I’d seen pictures of this canyon overlooking the Colorado and it was on my “must see, have to see” list! So stay tuned and we’ll be back with more of Utah and her spectacular landscapes!

Saludos mis amigos:)

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