Mick Jaggar, Bono, Elton John and Carlos Santa in their own right are bigger than life, but while your visiting Brian Head, you might want to plan a little extra time to see some of our "Rock Stars". People come from all over the world to see these performers live at "The Greatest Earth on Show". Our stars are part of the longest running show in history, and it has been showing daily for the past several million years. You don't want to miss it. The shows change with the seasons, promising our visitors a unique experience each visit.
Mother Nature has jammed packed so much scenic beauty and incredible adventure into our relatively small area we make other destinations jealous.
Within 200 miles, southern Utah offers three national parks, three national scenic monuments and one national recreation area. The parks are then linked by equally stunning scenic byways that guarantee your senses won't get bored traveling point to point. Whether you choose to visit just one or two, or to take a "Grand Circle" swing through them all, your trip is certain to be unforgettable!
Each one of southern Utah's national parks is uniquely different and full of surprises. Bryce Canyon is like being in a fairyland. Hike, snowshoe or go on a trail ride through weathered limestone spires that are out of this world. Zion National Park is southern Utah's crown jewel. Featuring towering cliffs, narrow canyons, hanging gardens and hiking trails that are real cliff hangers. Kolob Canyons is Zion's little secret. Find peace and solitude, exceptional backcountry hiking and the world's largest freestanding arch. Grand Canyon North is rustic and considerably less crowded than the south rim with some of the most photographic views ever seen.
The real hidden gems of southern Utah are the national scenic monuments and recreation areas. Equally stunning as their park counterparts but far less crowded. Cedar Breaks-Lush wildflower meadows and outstanding autumn color USA Today rated the area as one of their top five places to see fall colors. Grand Staircase A true adventure that's rugged and isolated. Slot canyons, ancient Anasazi ruins, and incredible vistas. Lake Powell/ Rainbow Bridge-The second largest reservoir in the United States with more shoreline than the Pacific coast, the world largest natural bridge, and the Glen Canyon Dam.
In and around the national parks there are plenty of places to get a bite to eat, nicely appointed accommodations and several guides and outfitters too make sure you make the most of your trip.
For convenience sake, you may want to choose a central location, like Cedar City, Parowan or Brian Head to be your national park hub. These unique tourist towns are centrally located to all the parks and you only need to unpack once.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Cedar Breaks resembles a miniature Bryce Canyon. Some visitors say its brilliant colors even surpass Bryce. The Indians called Cedar Breaks the "Circle of Painted Cliffs." Situated at an elevation of 10,000 feet, Cedar Breaks is shaped like a giant coliseum dropping 2,000 feet to its floor. Millions of years of uplift and erosion have carved this huge amphitheater. Deep inside the coliseum are stone spires, columns, arches, pinnacles, and intricate canyons in varying shades of red, yellow and purple. The bristlecone pine, one of the world's oldest trees, grows in the area and can be found along the Spectra Point Trail. The Dixie National Forest surrounds Cedar Breaks providing lush alpine meadows clustered with ponderosa pines and quaking aspens. During the summer months, the wildflower display is spectacular. Recreational activities at Cedar Breaks include sightseeing, photography, hiking, nature study, picnicking and camping. Two mile/3.2 kilometer trails, the Alpine Pond trail and the Spectra Point Trail, are accessible from the road. The trails are easy walks but can be strenuous for the elderly, persons with respiratory problems and those who are not in good physical condition because of the park's high elevation (10,000 feet/3048 meters). The monument is a premier cross-country skiing and snowmobiling destination in the winter with access from Brian Head Resort.
The monument is 23 miles east of Cedar City and three miles south of Brian Head Resort. Entrance fees are $3 per individual. Cedar Breaks National Monument is open from late May to mid-October. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the visitor center, open mid-June to mid-September, and learn how to visit the monument with minimum impact to the fragile desert environment. Services and roads are usually closed for the winter, due to heavy snow.
However, just because Highway 148, the road that links Cedar Breaks to Brian Head, closes temporarily, doesn't mean Cedar Breaks National Monument is closed. The Winter Warming Yurt at Cedar Breaks serves as a winter ranger station, education center and welcomes cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers to stop in, sit by the fire and sip a bit of hot cocoa.
Because of the high elevation, summer daytime temperatures are cool, 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit/15.5-21 degrees Celsius. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are common.
Snow Canyon State Park
Red Navajo sandstone, capped by an overlay of black lava rock, makes photography, hiking, biking and camping in Snow Canyon State Park a double treat. Early spring and fall use of the park is especially appealing due to southern Utah's moderate winter climate. Two recent volcanic cones are found near the head of the canyon.
This strikingly colorful canyon is 11 miles northwest of St. George. Facilities include a 35-unit campground, modern rest rooms, hot showers, electric hookups, sewage disposal station, a covered group-use pavilion and overflow campground.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Visitors will wonder at the shifting arcs of crescent-shaped dunes and sift the fine, salmon-colored grains at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The Park encompasses 3,730 acres of southern Utah's color country. The park itself is breathtaking, with coral-colored dunes, surrounded by red sandstone cliffs, blue skies, and deep emerald forests. This is a photographer's paradise.
The sweeping expanse of dunes is a massive playground for hiking, off-highway vehicle riding, or just playing in the sand. Off-road enthusiasts will find 1,000 acres of play area, and hundreds of miles of trails in the nearby vicinity.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a wonderful respite for those touring the Grand Circle or heading to southern Utah for a vacation. While the park is central to many other recreation areas, the park itself is an incredible destination.
Park facilities include a 22-unit campground, modern restrooms, hot showers, sewage disposal station, a boardwalk, overlook trails, and a nature trail. The park is 12 miles southwest of U.S. Hwy 89 near Kanab.
From the Native Americans who traveled the canyons, to people like J.W. Humphry who constructed the tunnels, Red Canyon on the Dixie National Forest has fascinated people for centuries. Unique vermilion-colored rock formation and stands of Ponderosa pines make the canyon exceptionally scenic. Take time to discover all that Red Canyon has to offer.
The first stop when touring Highway 12 is the Scenic Byway Information Kiosk located at the mouth of Red Canyon. This information pavilion provides an overview of the entire byway and highlights significant features.
The Red Canyon Visitor Center, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, has information on hiking, camping, picnicking, and sightseeing. A U.S. Forest Service campground is across the road from the visitor center.