Sunset View overlook gives you a spectacular view directly over the Amphitheater portion of Cedar Breaks National Monument. The overlook is right next to the parking lot so there is no hike involved to get there, so it is definitely worth a stop when you are driving Scenic Drive.
This is the description that the Cedar Breaks pamphlet gives about the Amphitheater:
Nothing is subtle about the great natural rock amphitheater of Cedar Breaks and its gigantic spectacle of extraordinary form wrapped in bold, brilliant colors… The Cedar Breaks Amphitheater is the result of many of the same forces that created other great Southwestern landscapes, including the Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon, and the Bryce Amphitheater. it is, however, unique in its own right as an amazing product of geological forces.
Shaped like a huge coliseum, the amphitheater is over 2,000 feet deep and over three miles in diameter. Millions of years of deposition, uplift, and erosion carved this huge bowl in the steep, west-facing side of the 10,000-foot-high Markagunt Plateau. Stone spires stand like statues in a gallery along side columns, arches and canyons. These intricate formations are the result of persistent erosion by rain, ice and wind…
To get the best overall view of Cedar Breaks National Monument, Chessman Ridge Overlook is the place to go. The overlook is directly in the center of the two main areas of the monument. To the left is the Amphitheater:
and to the right is Cedar Breaks:
There is a very short walk from the parking lot to the overlook which is wheelchair accessible. The overlook gives a wonderful perspective of the entire park where you can step back and see the vastness, or focus in on specific points to see the intricate details of the weathered rocks. A poem from the Cedar Breaks national Monument newsletter does a nice job summing everything up:
Clinging to the clouds at 10.350 feet
Cracks and crevasses, hoodoos and arches
Exposed limestone structures from the ancient amphitheater.
Elegant and profuse, wildflowers appear in July
Brushing the sub-alpine meadows in a rainbow of colors.
Bristle Cone Pine, twisted, stunted, ancient trees
Remain standing in drought and flood for over 1,600 years.
Raptors, ravens, California Condors soar and play on warm updrafts.
Nighttime approaches, campfires flicker, Rangers tell stories.
Night sky deepens, dark, vast. The stars appear.
Millions of stars, billions of stars, stars no longer hidden by city lights.
Monuments all. The great masterpieces of nature.
This is CEdar BReaks National Monument! — Park Ranger Teri Saa
One of the things that I always find fascinating is the wide range of the unexpected I find when I go to a National Park. On my first visit to Cedar Breaks National Monument, I learned that there is actually a National Parks Yurt:
This was the sign on the Yurt’s door:
What: Warming hut and resting spot for winter visitors (cross country skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers). Wood stove, hot drinks, park information available. No restroom facilities. Cross-country ski and snowshoe trail marked on upper Alpine Pond trail, starting at yurt; 2 mile round trip to Chessmen overlook.
When: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays from December 1 to about April 15, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, but only when highway 143 is open above (south of) Brian Head.
Who: Hosted by volunteers for Cedar Breaks National Monument.
Warning: Severe weather conditions possible, which may cause highway 143 to be closed without warning. Check weather forecast and plan accordingly.
The inside, although sparse, I’m sure is a welcome sanctuary from the cold for cross-country skiers and snowshoers:
I may just have to take up snowshoeing to give the National Parks’ yurt a try…has anyone taken advantage of the yurt and, if so, what are your impressions of it?