Cedar City, Utah
Utah's Iron County
Cedar City, Utah the largest community in south-central Utah's Iron County, is located on Hwy 14 just off I-15. It is 250 miles south of Salt Lake City and 170 miles north of Las Vegas.
Located at the edge of the Markagunt Plateau and at the mouth of Coal Creek in a semi-arid part of the state, it is surrounded by 10,000-foot mountains to the east and a vast desert area to the west. The city is a gateway to a number of nearby national and state parks and to Brian Head Resort, 30 miles northeast.
Cedar City's economy is based on tourism, agriculture, mining and Southern Utah State University with an enrollment of 4,500 students. The university is home to the annual Utah Shakespearean Festival, which provides economic and cultural infusion to the area. Cedar City has become known as the "Festival City."
Population / Elevation
- 21,400 people / 5,840 feet above sea level
Weather / Climate
Located in a transition zone between desert and mountain environments, more than a mile above sea level Cedar City, Utah has a cool, dry climate with average summer time high temperatures of about 90 degrees F, and average winter time lows of about 17 degrees F. This makes Cedar City an ideal climate for both summer and winter outdoor recreation.
|Cedar City, Utah - Monthly Climate Normals|
Settlement of Cedar City, Utah began in November 1851 when a group of 35 English, Welsh and Scottish miners who were Mormon converts from Parowan, 20 miles to the north, arrived to establish an iron works. The actual settlement site on the north bank of Coal Creek had been selected a week earlier by George A. Smith and a committee.
Small cottonwood log houses were built fort-style at the western base of the hill, the crest of which now supports the microwave television and other electronic communications equipment serving the Cedar City area. The settlement was given the name of Fort Cedar because of the abundance of trees which were called "cedar" trees, although they are junipers.
As the log houses were completed, families were brought from Parowan. In the meantime, wagon boxes served as a temporary fort. Later, a site for the fort was selected nearer the proposed blast furnace, at the present city park.
A new and larger site was selected on the south bank of the stream adjoining the old site to the southwest. This was partially occupied in the early months of 1853 by those who wanted to move and by new arrivals. With the outbreak of hostilities with the Indians in July 1853 (the Walker Indian War), a forced evacuation of the entire fort was made in two days to the new site.
The northeast part of the new area, which was a half-mile square, was enclosed within a wall, leaving some of the lots on the west and south outside the wall. It was completed in January 1854. Interstate Highway 15 now bisects this old town site.
Two years later, in June 1855, another site closer to the blast furnace and out of the flood plain of Coal Creek, was surveyed and occupied at the suggestion of Brigham Young. This is the present site of Cedar City.
Beginning with the demise of the iron works in 1858, the town's economy became agrarian in nature, although iron mining continued through World War II and into the 1980s. The coming of the railroad to Cedar City in 1923 exposed Utah's national parks to the world of tourism, and Cedar City was promoted as the "Gateway to the Parks." Tourism is now the primary commerce of Cedar City.
- June: Paiute Indian Restoration Gathering; Utah Summer Games.
- July: American Folk Ballet Summer Festival; Renaissance Faire.
- August: Utah Shakespearean Festival.
- December: Utah Winter Fest.
Cedar City, Utah is a convenient base for exploring the Markagunt Plateau. In summer, the plateau offers good hiking, biking, horseback riding and fishing in beautiful, natural settings. In winter, Brian Head Ski Resort,30 miles northeast, offers the best downhill skiing in southern Utah, as well as good cross-country skiing. Cedar City also provides convenient access to Zion National Park, 20 miles south, and Bryce Canyon National Park 85 miles east. In late summer, Cedar City becomes a destination for its renowned Utah Shakespearean Festival.
Take a Jeep Tour Sit back and enjoy the ride with a scenic and thrilling Jeep ride through the landscapes of Brian Head. Climb to Brian Head peak at 11,307 feet and then travel through miles of Aspen corridors and ancient Bristlecone Pines.
Red Rock Cross-country Skiing Miles of Utah Red Rock landscape, blanketed the entire winter season by winter-white snow at Brian Head, make the 27 miles of cross-country skiing easily some of the most scenic you will find anywhere in the world!
Try the Small Town Culinary Treats A candle-lit dinner at the Summit Dining Room, a mouth-watering mountain burger at the Bump and Grind, a huge helping of Pasta at the Edge and, of course, a slice of Brianberry pie at the Mt. View Café.
Catch a Glimpse of Heaven Trying to describe the images one can see when looking across the Cedar Breaks National Monument is next to impossible, with colors, shapes and landscapes that are near heaven in design.
Ski and Snowboard at Utah's Highest Alpine Resort The Brian Head Resort offers everything from a perfect family getaway to a thrilling adventure for the group. With two mountains, 53 trails and over 425 inches of Utah's Greatest Snow on Earth blanketing Brian Head annually, skiers and snowboarders alike will find themselves skipping lunch just to fit in one more run.
Try a High-Altitude Massage at the Cedar Breaks Spa - Step back to a simpler time as therapists shape you to physical and mental renewal. A deep-healing massage will clear your body, and at 9,600 feet, the fresh mountain air will soothe your spirit and heighten your senses.
Drop over One Vertical Mile on a Bike Known worldwide for offering some of the nation's best mountain bike terrain, only at Brian Head will you find 160 miles of trails, cool summer temperatures, daily shuttles, mountain peaks and desert red rock.
Take the Family Snow Tubing - Like a water slide park on snow, Brian Head Resort's Snow Tube Park will take you to the top so you can go right back down. The Snow Tube Park offers an alternative to on-snow play and is made even better with the ride to the top just as fun.
Shakespeare in the Mountains - The Utah Shakespearean Festival, just outside of Brian Head in Cedar City, UT, brings a collection of world-class actors performing some of time's most renowned plays. Most playgoers choose to spend the day at the Festival, and then spend their evenings in the cool mountain air of Brian Head. The Utah Shakespearean Festival begins in June and runs until mid-October.
There are resorts, hotels and motels in Cedar City with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. Click Here. (Rates, availability and reservation online)
Camping & RV Parks
There are numerous camping opportunities throughout the area, including Dixie National Forest, BLM areas, state and national parks. For a complete list contact:
Cedar City Chamber of Commerce
585 N. Main Street
Cedar City, Utah 84720
Cities & Towns
- Beaver, Utah: 51 miles north.
- Cove Fort, Utah: 73 miles north.
- Kanab, Utah: 81 miles southeast.
- Parowan, Utah: 20 miles north.
- Springdale, Utah: 64 miles southeast.
- Salt Lake City, Utah: 247 miles north.
- St . George, Utah: 53 miles south.
Parks & Monuments
- Cedar Breaks National Monument: 24 miles east.
- Bryce Canyon National Park: 85 miles east.
- Kodachrome Basin State Park: 105 miles east
- Fremont Indian State Park/Museum: 90 miles northeast.
- Iron Mission State Park: 5 miles north.
- Zion National Park: 17 miles south.
Recreation & Wilderness Areas
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: 100 miles east.
- Dixie National Forest: 10 miles east.
- Fishlake National Forest: 50 miles north.
- Duck Creek Recreation Area : 50 miles north.
- Navajo Lake Recreation Area: 20 miles east.
Historic & Points of Interest
- Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery: 435-586-5432
- Brian Head Resort: 435-677-2035
- Utah Shakespearean Festival: 435-586-7878
- Thermo Hot Springs & Casting of the Lots: 30 miles northwest.
- Kanarraville Rest Area: 15 miles south
Related DesertUSA Pages
- How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Survival Tool
- 26 Tips for Surviving in the Desert
- Death by GPS
- 7 Smartphone Apps to Improve Your Camping Experience
- Maps Parks and More
- Desert Survival Skills
- How to Keep Ice Cold in the Desert
- Desert Rocks, Minerals & Geology Index
- Preparing an Emergency Survival Kit
- Get the Best Hotel and Motel Rates
Share this page on Facebook:
DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)