If you’re planning to make a Mighty Five road trip in southern Utah, then Cedar City should be on your itinerary. Not only is it close to the Mighty Five of Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks, it has plenty of its own amazing landscapes and activities.
This story was created in partnership with Visit Cedar City.
Morning: Go For a Hike Among the Wildflowers
Cedar Breaks National Monument is Cedar City’s pride and joy. Just 30 minutes outside of town, the geological amphitheater has miles of hiking trails and incredible views all around. During the month of July, wildflowers begin to bloom alongside the trails, adding another dimension of beauty to your experience. In the summertime, the mountains offer a cool relief from the heat. We suggest trying to be there for sunrise, then going for a hike on the Ramparts Overlook Trail. Stop by Bristlecone Coffee for your caffeine and bagel fix on the way.
Afternoon: You Thought You Weren’t a Theater Person?!
You may feel like you’re only surrounded by national parks and red rocks, but Cedar City is an oasis for anyone who loves live performances, art shows, local brews, and fancy wine. Speaking of local brew, you deserve an adult beverage after your hike! Check out Policy Kings Brewery, then walk over to the Pastry Pub to pick up a great sandwich to go. Since you’re just across the street from Cedar City’s art and theater scene, we recommend strolling over to the Utah Shakespeare Festival grounds, the perfect place for a picnic.
The Utah Shakespeare Festival was founded in 1961. In 1962, the Festival attracted about 3,000 visitors. Today, it’s grown to nearly 100,000. Visitors can book a show in advance or stop by the box office on the spur of the moment to see what’s available.
Next door to the Festival is the Southern Utah Museum of Art, which is free! SUMA features regional artists, student artists, and distinguished artists from all over. We know you like national parks, so don’t miss the amazing landscapes featured here!
Evening: Stroll Downtown District & See a Show
What’s great about Cedar City’s Downtown District is that it’s all walkable. When you start feeling hungry, head over to Centro Woodfired Pizzeria. Directly across from there is I/G Winery & Tasting Room. Enjoy the warm ambience by the fireplace or soak up the sunshine on their patio. If you didn’t get tickets for a show at the Festival, they offer The Greenshow on their lawn every night—a free, lighthearted, and fun play for the whole family.
Morning: Pioneers & Petroglyphs
After breakfast, get ready to dive deep into the history of Cedar City, Iron County, and southwest Utah! Frontier Homestead State Park allows visitors to relive the pioneer days through hands-on activities like stepping inside a horse-drawn wagon, touring an old home and schoolhouse, crawling into Native American dwellings, and even panning for gold.
Next, drive out of town to go further into local history at Parowan Gap. This site is known to be one of the most concentrated collections of petroglyphs in the West, plus, it’s very accessible! Park and walk right over to incredible galleries of Native American rock carvings.
Afternoon: Take the Lift Up, Ride the Bike Down
Time to get the adrenaline pumping! Head back up into the mountains, this time to Brian Head Resort. Typically a ski resort, Brian Head remains a place for family fun in the summertime (open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays). The ski hill is transformed into a downhill bike park in warm months. The ski lift brings riders and bikes to the top so they can enjoy the long ride down. Additional activities include ziplining, disc golfing, archery, bungee trampoline jumping, scenic lift rides, and tubing.
Evening: Sunsets and Stargazing
Enjoy the mountains as long as you can—stay in Brian Head for dinner after your ride! Drive just 10 minutes back to Cedar Breaks National Monument to witness the sunset turn all of the spires into a fierce, glowing red. After all of that, if you’re still awake, settle in for some out-of-this-world stargazing. Cedar Breaks is designated as an International Dark Sky Park and was voted in 2016 as the “Best National Park Night Experience.” Throughout the summer, the park even hosts “star parties” with rangers and volunteer astronomers.
As if there isn’t enough adventure in Cedar City, hit the road and move on to the next of the mighty five national parks on your road trip itinerary. Cedar City will be the breath of fresh air that offers fewer crowds, intriguing nightlife, and the “small town America” feeling.