Growing up on the northwest coast, I have always had a love for hiking and exploring nature. Being outdoors, appreciating nature, and discovering new sights with your own eyes are all things everyone should take time to experience. Now, when I’m looking for destinations to vacation I look search for these elements as well, places where I can experience raw beauty and nature through outdoor activities. Another important aspect of travel is exploring culturally enriching opportunities. History, culture, and art all tell different stories of the past lives that shape current ones. Taking time to soak in the culture and history is is both a wonderful and enlightening, and best experience through travel.
Cedar City is a hidden gem located in southern Utah. It’s filled with some of the most beautiful and spectacular sights and places to visit. Set in America’s scenic backyard of alpine forests and mountain ranges, Cedar City is a great travel destination for families to visit. Home to many festivals, American historical sites, a petroglyph site, numerous hiking trails and activities, visitors of all ages will be delighted by the variety of outdoor activities and cultural aspects available in Cedar City year round.
6 Reasons to Put Cedar City on Your Travel Radar
1. The Small Town Charm of Cedar City
Cedar City is charming mountain town located a few hours south of Salt Lake City, in the very Southwestern corner of Utah. As much as I love city life, sometimes it’s great to get away of from it all and Cedar City is the perfect place. Cedar City’s Historic Downtown District offers visitors the charms of small town life and is filled with quaint shops, a variety of restaurants, antique stores, galleries, a coffee house, and an even old time soda fountain. It’s the perfect place to relax, have a coffee, and unwind by take a afternoon stroll by the historical buildings in the district which include the Old Post Office, the Rock Church and the Union Pacific Railroad Depot.
Founded in 1851 by followers of the Mormon leader Brigham Young, Cedar City was originally coveted for its rich iron deposits. The mining industry continues to flourish here today and you can find several statues and art pieces dedicated to early founders of Cedar City in the Historical Downtown District. The charming city center has many places to connect with locals and fellow travelers alike and makes a great home base for exploring the scenic sights and adventure destinations nearby.
2. Letting Out Your Inner Adventurer at the National Parks
Close to a number of scenic national parks, this Cedar City offers visitors a the perfect starting point for exploring the surrounding areas. Utah’s famous Mighty Five National Parks are just a drive a way from Cedar City with plenty of hiking trails in the area enabling families to go off the grid and connect with nature. Each are beautiful state parks with brilliant red rock and dramatic landscapes. It’s a hiker’s paradise, with spectacular scenery and stunning views of rock formations, hills, ridges and cliffs. Here are a few of the nearby parks sites you should definitely visit while you’re at Cedar City.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is a very unique park in that it includes the largest collection of hoodoos – odd-shaped pillars of rock – in the world. It is marked by a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheatres eroded from the Paunsaugunt Plateau and famous for its colorful limestone and sandstone formations.
It’s a year-round national park: comfortable all summer and snowy hoodoos make for gorgeous cross-country skiing winter to spring. You can bike it, hike it, snowshoe or ride a horse, the choice is yours to explore it in your own way.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument has hiking and biking trails, spectacular rock formations, and even a Wildflower Festival. Visitors will find plateaus and pinnacles and a scenic drive with four distinct overlooks. Trails wind through meadows and ancient forests, and at night the visitor’s center hosts “star gazing” parties. It’s a magical experience seeing up to 7500 stars on a moonless night! That’s triple the amount you can see in most rural areas.
Zion National Park
The canyon that forms Zion was first settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1860s and officially designated as a National Park in 1919. The stunning scenery found here includes waterfalls, emerald pools and sandstone cliffs that are among the highest in the world. The shot above is from Angels Landing in Zion National Park, one of the most famous hikes in the park. There’s no view more dramatic than what you see hanging onto a chain bolted into a cliff. It’s a steep hike but worth the unforgettable views.
Dixie National Forest
Dixie National Forest is Utah’s largest national forest that straddles the divide between the Great Basin and the Colorado River. Located within Dixie National Forest is Navajo Lake, Brian Head, Mammoth Cave and many other well-loved landmarks. In addition to hiking and exploring, Dixie National Forest is also a great place? for fishing, camping, hunting, horseback riding, winter sports and more. Nowhere else can you be skiing in the morning at 10,000 feet and mountain biking in high desert that afternoon. Now wouldn’t that be a family vacation story to tell?
Other National Parks located in Utah include Canyonlands (5 hours), Capitol Reef (3 hours), and Arches (5 hours).
3. Live like the Pioneers
At Cedar City, visitors don’t just get to witness history, they also can learn about it hands-on at the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum. This is great experience for the whole family. At this unique historical park, you’re able to immerse yourself in historical experiences from panning for gold to roping cows and even load a wagon, just like the pioneers. This living museum has a stage coach, log cabin, and sheep shearing shed. The best part is it is very interactive, there are things to see, hear, explore and experience. There’s also an impressive collection of pioneer artifacts and horse-drawn vehicles. Talk about living history!
4. Ski & Snowboard in Winter
Utah is famous for having the the greatest snow on Earth! With an annual snowfall of over 360 inches, powder seekers will not be disappointed. The nearby Brain Head Resort is a laid-back village with genuine western hospitality and a down to earth personality. It’s one of the best kept skiing and snowboarding secrets around with 400 acres of uncrowded slopes for skiing or snowboarding, so for those who love to ski, Cedar City is the place for you.
Brian Head Resort is the highest base elevation in Utah at 9600 feet. The resort has 71 runs and 8 chair lifts, tubing and a zip line, and the lowest lift ticket prices of any full service ski resort in Utah. But Brian Head isn’t just a ski resort, Mother Nature blessed this town with incredible mountain terrain for nearly every type of outdoor activity. Brian Head’s summer season will definitely be a hit with the whole family with a zip line, climbing wall, bungee trampoline, local brews, great food, music, and so much more.
5. Soak up Sun and Music at Summer Festivals
Cedar City, Utah has been referred to as “Festival City, USA” and is host to numerous theater, film, and art festivals throughout the year. They range from free music festivals, downtown parades to touring bike races. One of the more well known festivals is the Utah Shakespeare Festival (photo above), which runs from June through October. It is one of the oldest and largest Shakespeare festivals in North America and offers many opportunities for families to enjoy the show, including the free nightly Greenshow. Other festivals include the Utah Summer Games, and Utah Midsummer Renaissance Faire. Truly a place of rich culture and to creat memories for the whole family..
6. Learn About Ancient Cultures
North of Cedar City lies Parowan Gap, a petroglyph site with ancient manmade rock art that features 90 panels and 1,500 figures, some possibly dating back 5,000 years. A peek into the past, it is believed these historical stone carvings were made by many different generations and cultures over thousands of years. The gap is a three mile long pass between the Parowan and Cedar Valleys and the petroglyphs are believed to be one of the largest concentrated collections in the West. Families can explore the rock face carvings, which include images of human figures, bear claws, and geometric shapes.
Cedar City is a scenic destination that offers an abundance of outdoor activities, and a large variety of choices for families, from scenic exploration to historical and cultural aspects. Whether your family is looking for opportunities to enjoy the scenic beauty of America’s national parks, learn about American history and culture, or try new adventures will find all of this in Cedar City, Utah.
What’s your favorite reason to visit Cedar City?
Let me know in the comments below!
A big thanks to Visit Cedar City for sponsoring this post