Breaks National Monument comprises 6,154 acres, and is
an outstanding geological, scientific, and scenic area.
Called a "Breaks" because of its abrupt, broken,
and deeply eroded canyon, it is a 3.8-mile-long and 2.5-mile-wide
amphitheater containing numerous ridges, cliffs, and spires
eroded some 2,000 feet below the 10,300- to 10,500-foot
elevation of the canyon. Iron and manganese oxide impurities
produce an amazing variety of colors in the limestone
cliffs that constantly change with the angle of the sun's
rays. In the meadows bordering the six-mile-long rim drive,
colorful wildflowers in season provide another resplendent
attraction. Additionally, there are fine stands of bristlecone
pine trees (Pinus aristala), the oldest of which
is more than 1,600 years old.
Located on the Markagunt Plateau, Cedar Breaks can be
reached via Utah Highway 14 from U. S. Highway 89, or
from Interstate 15 at Cedar City. Highway 143 runs to
the area from Parowan and County Road 38 from Panguitch.
About 500,000 people visit Cedar Breaks annually.
When Mormon pioneers settled Parowan on 13 January 1851
they built a wagon road to bring timber from the mountains.
It eventually extended south to Cedar Breaks. However,
the pioneers were somewhat indifferent to the scenery,
for eroded canyons were interruptions to travel. Full
development of the area's tourist potential awaited automobile
roads, campsites, and an organized, concerted promotional
effort. After World War I, road funds became available
under the Shakleford Act. Residents of Iron and Kane Counties
applied for construction of a road from Highway 89 to
Cedar City. Construction of the Cedar-Long Valley Road
began in 1920 and was completed in 1923. A three-mile
spur provided access for visitors to Cedar Breaks.
Meanwhile, in 1919, S.A. Halterman took the first auto
to Cedar Breaks via the old wagon road in Parowan Canyon.
By 1921 improvements to this route allowed Halterman to
begin taking visitors to the Breaks on weekly trips. In
1923 the Union Pacific railroad built a thirty-three-mile-long
branch line to the area from Lund; it reached Cedar City
17 June 1923. Utah Parks, a subsidiary of Union Pacific,
soon built a lodge and cabins at the Breaks. They subsequently
were removed in 1972.
In 1919 a movement began to transfer Cedar Breaks from
the Dixie National Forest to the newly created National
Park Service. Meanwhile, the Forest Service made many
improvements, including the rim road, campgrounds, and
toilet facilities. On 22 August 1933 President Franklin
D. Roosevelt proclaimed Cedar Breaks a national monument,
and it has since been managed by the National Park Service.
Wayne K. Hinton