My friend Kristi and her daughter Kaity flew into Las Vegas and we picked them up and immediately headed out for Dixie National Forest in Utah. Several hours later, we set up camp at a rustic National Forest Service campground called Cedar Canyon.
First up on our agenda was visiting Cedar Breaks National Monument. Cedar Breaks is located at 10,000 feet above sea level and consists of a beautiful canyon/amphitheater that is over 1/2 mile deep. I had read that Cedar Breaks was a scaled down version of Bryce Canyon, but without the crowds. It was gorgeous!
Cedar Breaks National Monument is also one of the darkest sky locations in all of North America. Every summer, they host dark sky events, but unfortunately, we were there before they were scheduled (which is not until July).
We hiked the Rim Trail, which was only a few miles long, but it still managed to get our heart rates up, given the fact we came from sea level and the hike started at 10,000 feet. Cedar Breaks is also known for it's bristlecone pine trees, one of which is more than 1,600 years old! We hiked to that tree as well. It's hard to believe that several of those trees were over 1,000 years old.
When we got back to the campground, we met a man who told us about a hiking trail called the Virgin Rim Trail which was located a few miles up the road. The kids wanted to chill out at the campsite, so Kristi and I decided to go check it out. Thank God we did! This trail was so gorgeous, I literally can't stop thinking about it.
|The trail was a bit difficult to find, especially since the trail head sign was knocked over.|
with a floor comprised of acres and acres of blooming bluebells as far as you can see.
Then add a perfectly groomed single track trail flanked by a bunch of other wildflowers
and spectacular rock formations, and you get the idea. The Virgin Rim trail is 32 miles long and runs from Cedar Mountain to Zion National Park. I fully intend to go back in the not too distant future and backpack the entire trail.
We loved this trail so much, we brought the kids back next day to hike it with us.
We even managed to find a spring along the way.
As an interesting aside, when Kristi got home from UT, she also raved about the Virgin Rim Trail--so much so that her husband surprised her with this beautiful painting done by a Utah artist for her birthday.
While we were in Dixie National Forest, we also came across a huge lava flow near Navajo Lake that beckoned for us to explore it. These lava flows run for miles and reportedly are the result of an eruption which took place sometime around 1050 A.D. Nothing like bringing geology to life.
Next up, Bryce Canyon National Park.