As I start my southerly migration down through Utah this fall, my intentions are to visit some new places I have not been before…places I read about and wanted to see, but the timing or logistics has just never lined up. Two such places are in close proximity to Kanarraville. I check the Passport America website to find there is an RV Park right in the heart of Kanarraville…little else…no restaurants, no grocery stores, but right there in the center of the tiny town is the Red Ledge RV Park.
I call the Red Ledge to see if they have availability, and Kevin, the friendly camp host tells me they are sold out when I want to arrive. This comes as a bit of a shock that they have no space approaching the off season mid week. But it’s been two straight days of hellacious wind, so Kevin says they had a lot of big rigs come in wanting off the road. I ask about dry camping, and he tells me sure, I can stay in the storage area. It’s nice and quiet back there, and less crowded than the park itself.
Driving down I-15, the highway is flanked on both sides by tall, “red ledge” bluffs that are bound to reveal secrets through eons of erosion. One such place is on my list to visit, the anomaly of Cedar Breaks National Monument, a giant geological coral-colored concave carved out of the side of the mountain. I ask Kevin about road conditions. He tells me it’s been unseasonably warm, so I should be okay, but “Don’t wait too long to visit. They close that road at the first snowfall.”
I need some provisions, namely breakfast, so I swing through Cedar City on my way, just 15 miles from Red Ledge RV Park. I stop at the French Spot Cafe which is nothing more than a tiny shack in a parking lot. I mention this only because a visit to the French Spot Café should be a mandatory stop on any visit to Cedar Breaks NM! It’s always a good sign when you approach the window of a French café, and the two people inside are speaking French! BEST pastry tarts I have tasted since???
The drive from Cedar City up to Cedar Breaks National Monument is beautiful. Steep canyon walls bracket the winding narrow road, offering up close and personal views with the sculptured sandstone and limestone until you make the turn and the view opens up to reveal the “amphitheater” up the hill. It looks like a carved castle with pinnacles, parapets, and turrets precariously perched on the edge.
The Visitor Center is closed at this time of year…not just closed, but boarded up. They must get quite a bit of snowfall at this 10,000 ft + elevation, as even the kiosks and pit toilets have been fortified. The Tracker is the only car in the parking lot. Looks like another off season score, as I have the monument all to myself.
The most popular hikes are the Spectra and Ramparts trails, four miles round trip. These trails and overlooks were built by the CCC, Civilian Conservation Group in the mid 30’s, for which they were paid $30 a month, $25 of which was sent back to their families. The trail follows the rim, offering incredible views. It’s just an absolutely gorgeous day…cold and crisp but no wind, plenty of sun, and some dramatic cloud formations in the distance.
The first half to Spectra Point is gorgeous. The trail follows right along the ledge, offering a full “spectra” of views down 2,000 ft into the amphitheater. An added bonus, there is a group of Bristlecone Pines at the end of the Spectra Point trail. There really are no “cedars” at Cedar Breaks…they are junipers.
I continue on to the end of the Ramparts Trail, but unlike the Spectra Trail which goes along the rim, there are no views down into the amphitheater. The Ramparts Trail descends down a series of switchbacks through the juniper and pine forest. The views at the end of the trail are interesting, as one is closer to the formations at the lower elevation. However, unless you are wanting a workout of the uphill climb out, most of the beauty of “The Red Ledge” can be appreciated from the vista at the Spectra Point.