There is so much to see and do in and around Brian Head. Zion National park for example has a unique array of plants and animals that will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures. See our list below for the best attractions found in Brian Head and surrounding areas.
Zion National Park, Springdale, UT 84767
Follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion's unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures
Get trail and campsite descriptions and conditions, and find out how to obtain a backpacking permit in Zion.
The Pa'rus Trail and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive are accessible to bicycles. The shuttles have bike racks.
Zion is home to 207 species of birds. Bird checklists are available at the visitor centers.
Zion has three campgrounds. Watchman Campground takes reservations from March through late November.
Learn about canyoneering in Zion and how to obtain a permit.
Find out about climbing in Zion and how to obtain a permit for overnight bivouacs.
Zion offers many trails ranging from short "leg-stretcher" walks to strenuous adventures.
Guided trips are available March through October. Call
1-435-679-8665 or visit www.canyonrides.com
Explore the wilderness and solitude of the northwest corner of Zion National Park. Kolob Canyons has something special for everyone to experience.
Learn about what to expect and how to prepare for hiking The Narrows.
Find out about boating in the Virgin River. Permits are issued when the flow rate is over 150 CFS.
Learn about bringing your stock animals into Zion. Stock animals permitted are horses, mules, and burros.
Find out about obtaining a permit and hiking The Subway.
Hwy 63, Bryce Canyon, UT 84764
There is no place quite like Bryce Canyon. Hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) can be found on every continent, but here is the archetypal "hoodoo-iferous" terrain. Descriptions fail. Cave without a roof? Forest of stone? Even photographs strain credulity. When you visit maybe you'll come up with a better name. In the meantime "Bryce" will have to suffice.
Ranger snowshoeing "China Wall Basin" of Fairyland Loop Trail NPS photo by Jan Stock
Bryce Canyon is even more beautiful in the wintertime! For the casual visitor, it might be thrilling enough to hop in and out of the warm car at the various overlooks to see the striking contrast of white snow, red rock, and blue sky. However, for the more adventurous winter recreationists, many opportunities beckon. BEFORE setting out on one of the adventures described below, stop at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center to get up-to-date weather and safety information.
One of the best times during winter to visit Bryce Canyon is during the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival. This annual event is held over President's Day Weekend, February 14-17, 2014.
2014 Winter Festival Schedule
Snowshow Hikes: Friday - Monday 9:30 a.m., reservations required.*
Solar Astronomy: Saturday - Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 1 p.m., Visitor Center (weather permitting).
Geology Talks: Friday - Monday 1:00 p.m., Sunset Point (or Visitor Center if inclement weather).
Snowshoe Planet Walk: Saturday and Sunday 2:00 p.m., reservations required.*
Full Moon Snowshoe Hike: Friday only, time & location TBA, weather permitting, reservations required.*
Friday Astronomy: Evening Program 7:30 p.m., Visitor Center, telescopes follow (weather permitting).
Saturday Astronomy: Evening Program 7:00 p.m., Visitor Center, telescopes follow, (weather permitting).
*Snowshoe Hikes can only accomodate a limited number of participants. Pre-registration may be made up to 2 days in advance by calling 435-834-4747. Reservations for the Ranger-led Full Moon Snowshoe Hike on Friday, February 14 are FULL! We do NOT maintain a waiting list for this activity. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Fairyland Road and the Paria Point Roads are intentionally left unplowed in winter so as to provide a skiable/snowshoeable surface when snowpack is minimal.
After winter storms, the road to the southern, and higher elevation overlooks, may be be closed for several hours or even overnight while snowplows work to reopen that half of the park. However, the roads and parking lots which provide access to the four most scenic overlooks (Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset and Sunrise Points) are plowed immediately after winter storms.
Snow is ONLY cleared from the sidewalks at the overlooks. Therefore, All hiking trails are CLOSED TO THOSE WHO wear tennis shoes, dress shoes, etc. Water-proof hiking boots or snowboots are essential if you plan to hike. Additional traction devices (see below) are necessary to traverse the most popular trails.
HARD TRAIL CLOSURES:
Due to the danger of falling rocks, the upper portion of the Wall Street Slot Canyon (on the western half of the Navajo Loop) is routinely closed in winter. The Peekaboo Loop Connector Trail, that descends from Bryce Point, is often closed due to snow/mud avalanche/slide potential.
Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, etc. off of the Bryce Canyon Rim into the canyon is illegal due to the highly dangerous nature of such activities and the damage to the resource they can cause. The annual 200 daily freeze-thaw cycles that form our unique hoodoos also make steep sections of the canyon susceptible to avalanches and even the more dangerous and unpredictable mud-snow slides! Though we've never had a fatality from such an event, visitors who ignored this warning and became victims of mud-snow slides, have been injured and badly traumatized by the experience. Avoid these hazards by staying on designated trails and NOT skiing (or sliding) off of the canyon rim!
Shoe traction device for icy trails
After a big snowfall most of the park's day-hiking trails require snowshoes. However, after a few days of melt, and with continued use, the trails become so well packed and icy that snowshoes are often more of a liability. For much of the winter the most popular trails are so icy that steep sections cannot be safely traversed without some sort of additional traction device for your hiking shoes or boots. While mountaineering crampons work fine, they are heavier and much more expensive than the traction devices pictured at left. The Bryce Canyon Natural History Association's bookstore at the Visitor Center sells such devices for the discounted price of $27.
Snowshoeing is allowed throughout the park. Though snowshoes make it possible to travel through deep powdery snow, snowshoeing is still a highly strenuous activity. "Most people can snowshoe about as far as they can swim!" jokes Park Ranger Kevin Poe. "Especially if you haven't been taught good technique!" adds Park Ranger and Snowshoe Instructor Jim Jakicic.
NOTE: Ranger-led snowshoe hikes are suspended until further notice due to lack of snow (effective 01/27/2014). We will again offer snowshoe hikes when/if snow conditions permit. Alternative guided activities may be offered, inquire at the Visitor Center.
Snowshoes are available for FREE for those joining Bryce Canyon's Snowshoe Rangers (when snow depth and staffing are sufficient) Thursday, Friday, and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. for 1-mile, 2 hr. guided snowshoe hikes. Registration is required as group size is limited and hikes are subject to cancellation - please inquire about hikes and registration at the Visitor Center. Designed for beginner snowshoers, but also enjoyed by experts, these outings help you learn or refine your snowshoe technique, while also teaching winter ecology and other winter survival skills. Our High-tech snowshoes, made by MSR, come in all sizes but are only provided for participants of ranger guided snowshoe activities. Sign up at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center or make a reservation by calling 435-834-4747. Attendance is free. NOTE: you must provide your own waterproof hiking boots, or ideally snowboots , to keep your feet warm and dry. Those with only tennis shoes, dress shoes, etc. will not be allowed to participate.
For visitors wishing to snowshoe at Bryce Canyon, but do not own their own or cannot participate in one of our guided hikes, snowshoes are available for rent outside the park in Bryce Canyon City.
Ranger Guided Full Moon Snowshoe Hikes
From November through March (when snow depth exceeds 12") we offer full moon snowshoe hikes. Snowshoes and poles are provided but you must provide your own snow-boot or waterproof hiking boots. (Click here for more info and moon hike schedule)
Another great way to explore Bryce Canyon is on cross-country skis. Though it is illegal to ski off of the rim into the canyon , you can enjoy a variety of routes above the rim. These include the rim trail between Bryce Point and Fairyland Point; Bristlecone Loop; Paria Ski Loop; and the unplowed Paria View and Fairyland Point roads.
On rare occasions when the snow depth allows, you can ski into the bottom of the Bryce Amphitheater from the outskirts of the town of Tropic. Another nearby favorite that allows for skiing among hoodoos, is the Red Canyon Bike Path. Also outside of the park, Bryce Canyon City maintains many miles of groomed ski trails. If you don't have your own skis, cross-country skis as well as snowshoe equipment can be rented in Bryce Canyon City.
Bryce Canyon's backcountry is difficult anytime of year but it is especially challenging in the winter. Concerns are not limited to just deep snow and sub-zero temperatures, more importantly following the trail can be extremely challenging when covered in deep snow. Losing the trail makes it difficult to find the key routes back up to the rim and the Rainbow Point Road. For this and other reasons (open fires are prohibited, access road may be closed for several days after a big storm, etc.) winter backcountry permits are issued to only the most experienced and well prepared adventurers. Ski and/or snowshoe equipment is highly recommended. Click here for more information about backcountry camping.
Although sledding is allowed above the canyon rim (sledding off of the canyon rim being strictly prohibited), there are very few suitable places within the boundaries of Bryce Canyon National Park to enjoy sledding. Local residents prefer to do their sledding in nearby Red Canyon.
Yes! Even in the winter time we offer Astronomy Programs! Join us every Saturday and additional holiday weekends from November - March for winter astronomy. Cold and dry air (sometimes as low as -30 F!) makes fabulous stargazing at Bryce Canyon - the last grand sanctuary of natural darkness.
Highway 148, Cedar City, UT 84720
Discover one of America's most special parks: look down into a half-mile deep geologic amphitheater; wander among timeless bristlecone pines; stand in lush meadows of wildflowers; ponder crystal-clear night skies; and experience the richness of the subalpine forest.
Cedar Breaks National Monument U.S. National Park Service Department of the Interior Snowshoe walks are free of charge and snowshoes are provided. Begining January 11, guided snowshoe walks occur on Saturdays in January and February, weather permitting. This year's route is a two-mile round trip with a break at the Winter Ranger Station. Registration is required. Call 435-586-9451 ext. 4425 to make a reservation. Meet at the Iron County Visitor Center, 581 North Main Street, Cedar City 9:30 AM or meet at Brian Head Town Hall at 10:15 AM. Expect to be back in Cedar City by mid-afternoon.
You're Invited to a Party! As darkness falls on Cedar Breaks National Monument, a different kind of light illuminates the night sky. That light, which comes from objects out in space transforms the night from a place of darkness into a place of wonder.
To celebrate and share the beauty of our dark night skies, Cedar Breaks hosts a series of star parties throughout the summer season. Each star party is conducted by park staff and astronomy volunteers at Point Supreme. Once the light fades, the party kicks off with a laser light tour of the constellations, followed by star viewing through several telescopes. Observe swirling nebulae, twinkling star clusters, neighborly planets, and distant galaxies. Learn about everything from constellation mythology to the structure of the universe, all in one night! Click to here to see star party dates for summer 2014.
Star parties are free of charge and are two hours in duration. Telescopes will be provided for viewing, although visitors who own their own telescopes are invited to bring them along. Please dress warmly for the cool night air at this high elevation!
Star parties will be held every Saturday evening beginning in July and extending through Labor Day weekend. Additional star parties are scheduled for full moons and meteor showers. Please note that start times will change as the season progresses.
Star parties may be canceled due to inclement weather: for more information call the visitor center at 435-586-0787 ex. 4031 (during the summer season only).
Experience the Perseid Meteor Shower!
The dark skies of Cedar Breaks are the perfect place to see one of the most fantastic light shows of the year- the Perseid meteor shower. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a comet's orbit. As comets travel around the sun, they leave trails of dust particles behind. When these particles come in contact with the Earth's atmosphere, friction causes them to burn up into bright streaks across the sky. Perseid meteors are so named because they appear to radiate outwards from the Perseus constellation. The shower peaks after midnight on the night of August 12 th , when as many as 40 meteors per hour can be seen. Bring a lounge chair, a blanket, and a hot drink and enjoy the show!
Darkness- A Forgotten Resource
Due to its high elevation and remote location, Cedar Breaks has one of the darkest night skies in the country. However, this often overlooked natural resource is in danger of being completely lost as increased light pollution from nearby cities obscures the stars. Instead of a deep black expanse punctuated by the brilliant pinpoints of stars and the iridescent glow of the Milky Way, light pollution reduces the night sky to a faintly orange haze.
Light pollution has become so prevalent in urban areas that it's becoming difficult to remember what the night sky is supposed to look like. For example, after a 1994 earthquake knocked the power out in Los Angeles, emergency centers received numerous calls from anxious residents regarding a strange, silvery cloud in the sky. They didn't realize they were looking at their own galaxy. National Parks and Monuments are one of the few remaining places where the wonders of the night sky can still be seen. In fact, two-thirds of the people in the United States will never see the Milky Way unless they travel to remote places like National Parks.
Click here for more information about the ecological and human health effects of light pollution.
Amazing Annular Eclipse
The annular eclipse on May 20, 2012, boasted a huge crowd at Cedar Breaks, with over 600 people viewing the eclipse from inside the monument, and thousands more flocking to the nearby town of Kanarraville. Kanarraville was located directly along the path of total annularity, where the moon's shadow across the sun formed a perfectly round circle. While Cedar Breaks was not on the exact line of annularity, spectators were nonetheless treated to an dramatic view of the entire eclipse from its start at 6:30pm to its finish just before sunset. The next complete eclipse to be visible over North America won't occur until August 21, 2017.
The June 5th transit of Venus. The planet is visible as the small black circle near the top of the Sun's disc.
On June 5, 2012, Cedar Breaks was treated to another spectacular solar event: the transit of Venus. Visitors to the monument were treated with views through a solar telescope of the planet crossing in front of the sun's disc. This event was the second of a pair of transits, with the first being in 2004. The next pair of Venus transits won't occur for another 105 years, making this truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Upcoming Events click here
Road Access during Winter
Utah Highway 148, the main road through Cedar Breaks, is closed during the winter due to high snowfall.
The Utah Department of Transportation provides the most up-to-date information on road conditions at their website .View Larger Map Southern Utah Area Map GPS coordinates of visitor center parking lot: 37.612127, -112.837309
Traveling south on I-15:
Traveling north on I-15:
Traveling south on U.S. Highway 89:
Traveling north on U.S. Highway 89:
From Bryce Canyon National Park: (60 miles)
Alternate route: Travel south on U.S. Highway 89 and take Utah Highway 14 West. Continue west for 23 miles. Turn right onto Utah Highway 148 and continue 4 miles to Cedar Breaks National Monument. (72 miles)
From Zion National Park, Springdale: (79 miles)
From Zion National Park, Kolob Canyons: (45 miles)
To view other maps click here .
Summer Season: Late May - mid-October
Snow begins accumulating in substantial amounts anywhere from late October to early December and typically remains through late May and early June. Always plan and prepare alternate routes in case of inclement weather. Winter recreational activities begin once there is sufficient snow depth for cross-country ski, snowshoe, and snowmobile trails.
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.Southwest Utah's National Parks and Monuments
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.
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.
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.
Known as Monument Peak until 1890, at 11,307 feet, Brian Head Peak is the highpoint of Iron County, Utah. The mountain lies on the west rim of the Markagunt Plateau, and is located within the Dixie National Forest.
Although a good dirt road can be followed nearly all the way to the wide, flat summit, the mountain also hosts a number of trails, most of them intended for mountain bike enthusiasts.
Native Americans once crafted arrowheads out of the rocks found on and around the mountain's summit.
Located east of Cedar City, Utah, Brian Head the peak, as well as Brian Head the town, are popular ski destinations in the winter. For that reason, Brian Head Peak sees visitors all year round.
Total cream puffs wanting to take a run at the peak in winter can even ride the highest ski lift (10,920 feet) on the mountain to within a few hundred feet of the top. Talk about easy!
In the summer and fall, bird watchers also enjoy looking for bald eagles, peregrines and prairie falcons, to name a few, from the mountain's summit gazebo , a wood and stone structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1935-1937.
Summit views are expansive, including vistas into the neighboring states of Arizona and Nevada.
Other area attractions include the impressive Cedar Breaks National Monument, a Bryce-esque spot certainly deserving of a stop-by.
Although there are a number of ways, I'll describe the way I got there.
Exit I-15 in Parowan, Utah and head east on highway 143, following prominent signage up the paved road into the mountains to Brian Head (the town).
Passing through town and by the ski area, continue toward Cedar Breaks National Monument. As you do, you'll note Brian Head Peak above and to the left (east/southeast - it's the one with the ski runs on it).
Following signage (and the road) on the south side of town, you'll soon encounter a gravel road (the Brian Head Vista Road) that will take you to the summit area in 3 miles or so.
Alternately, you can leave I-15 at Cedar City, Utah and head east on highway 14 for fifteen miles to highway 148.
Turning left, pass through Cedar Breaks National Monument (worth a visit, anyway), then turn left onto highway 143.
A short way (about a mile) later, hang a right onto the Brian Head Vista Road.
From the end of the Brian Head Vista Road, you can walk a few hundred feet to the gazebo-like summit structure. The actual highpoint is just beyond it.
You can reach the summit of Brian Head Peak from just about any direction with very little effort, but here's what I did:
Follow the Brian Head Vista Road for about 2 miles or so from the paved highway to the sharpish hairpin bend in the road. At this point, you'll be at about 11,000 feet, and a bit northeast of the peak.
Park somewhere around here.
Look for a trail that parallels the road above it, heading south/southwest.
Following the trail for awhile, you'll likely get a little bored and realize that you might as well just cross-country it straight up to the top.
Doing that, you'll be at the summit (or somewhere near it) in no time.
The total effort involves something like 2 miles (that's roundtrip) and 400 feet of gain.
They say this is about the easiest county highpoint in Utah. I'm not in a position to argue.
Brian Head Peak can be hiked and climbed year round.
There are a number of campgrounds in the Brian Head area. They are not hard to find.
One of the area campgrounds, the Cedar Breaks National Monument Campground , is only a few minutes' drive from the mountain.
Directions to and information on the Cedar Breaks campground and other campgrounds in the area can be found here.