Monday, July 21
Today’s goal wasn’t actually to visit somewhere awesome, it was to take my laptop in to get fixed. So let me say now that I love Utah, where “taking the long way home” after a mundane run to the city can so easily encompass awe inspiring scenery.
Instead of turning back south on I15 after a successful trip to Cedar City, I instead strike off east on 14 into the hills.
And climb, and climb, and climb. Signs discourage semis taking this road with 8 degree grades. Bertha has no difficulties, but I think it would be challenging towing Cas. Doable, but challenging. At least there are plenty of turn outs for resting a hot engine, or picture taking in my case.
Soon the pleasant aroma of spruce and fir greets my nose and the temperature has dropped 20 degrees to a pleasant 65. Ahhh, elevation. Then comes the turn off I’m looking for, Cedar Breaks National Monument.
Cedar Breaks sits on the same geological level as Bryce, it’s in the Pink Hills at the top of the Grand Staircase. It’s much smaller though than Bryce, with only six miles of road and six overlooks and turnoffs, and four hiking trails total. It does still have a little campground.
At over 10,000 feet, it’s a cool respite on a hot day. The cost for entry is $4 a person, paid at a little kiosk near the adorable little Visitor’s Center. Having my inaugural pass I don’t pay a dime.
As far as rock formations go, it does share similarities to Bryce, but has less hoodoos. If I’d seen this place first I probably would have been more impressed. In my book it was still well worth the drive and impressive, just not on the same scale. But it does have one great thing going for it, it’s less crowded in the bigger parks. Traffic is less of an issue, there is no pressure to vacate an overlook before you’ve had your fill, and the trails are quiet.
And the wildflowers, wow. There are alpine meadows up here with an outrageous variety of wildflowers this time of year. I could take one picture and catch three different colors in the same shot. In the winter this area apparently gets 15 feet of snow, so the trees and plants need to grow quickly while they have the chance. Cedar Breaks is still open in winter though, for snowshoers, cross country skiiers, and snowmobiles.
With time enough for one hike, I decide on the Alpine Lake trail. It’s a moderate difficulty two mile loop passing through forest and meadow, with glimpses of the orangey pink cliffs in the distance. It feels great to go hiking without immediately breaking into a sweat or having to constantly maneuver around other hikers going slower or coming the other way.
And the lake.
The water is pretty clear so long as nothing stirs up the bottom, but has an almost yellowish cast to it, tannins from the trees that have fallen in perhaps? The whole time I’m there no one else shows up. I sit down on a rock for a minute before continuing to appreciate the view, the peacefulness, and the fresh air. These are the moments that make full-time RVing special for me.
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