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Travel: Give Cedar Breaks a little love

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Give Cedar Breaks a little love

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If Bryce and Zion had a love child, it would look like Cedar Breaks National Monument. Located only 56 miles to the west of Bryce — and an even shorter drive north out of Zion’s Kolob Canyon area — Cedar Breaks is significantly smaller and much less crowded than more popular attractions in southern Utah, but it’s no less spectacular. With its stark and colorful rock formations rising out of a natural amphitheater, it resembles both Bryce and Zion in a way. In fact, it’s almost possible to believe that two of Utah’s most famous parks once spent the night here together, just to leave their illegitimate child behind, overshadowed by the expansiveness of Utah’s noteworthy landscape.

Cedar Breaks National Monument may not be the shining star on the map — but that’s exactly why you should visit. One-on-one contact with park rangers, isolated hiking trails and plentiful guided walks with small groups are the norm. “We often get people who say they want to get away from crowds,” says Daphne Sewing, chief of education and partnership at Cedar Breaks. “They want to walk on trails without seeing other people, and they can do that here.”

At more than 10,000 feet in elevation, Cedar Breaks is literally breathtaking. The wildflower season, which begins in June and usually ends in late August, is worth the trip alone. “The meadows explode with colors,” Sewing says. This year, June 7-22 marks the seventh annual Wildflower Festival, which features guided walks and workshops by wildflower specialists and volunteers.

Beyond the flowers, there’s a five-mile scenic drive with several pull-off spots. “Take advantage of all the overlooks because each one has a different view of the amphitheater,” Sewing points out. In the winter, the scenic drive is closed and it is groomed for skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Three simple hikes and one strenuous trail allow active visitors to stretch their legs. An insider tip: Don’t forget the mosquito repellent.

If you can, spend the night in the park’s campground, but before you close your eyes, take in the surroundings. Cool, fresh air. Ear-humming silence. Brilliant stargazing against a thick, dark sky. Is it any wonder Bryce and Zion met here for their rendezvous? — JoAnna Haugen

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Cheat sheet: Take I-15 north out of Las Vegas. In Utah, take exit 75 onto UT-143 S to Cedar Breaks National Monument. If you choose not to camp at Cedar Breaks, stay at a bed and breakfast in Cedar City. Dining highlights in the city include Pizza Factory (131 South Main Street) and Pastry Pub (86 West Center Street).


White Rock Loop

If you can’t decide whether to celebrate spring in the desert or in the woods, why not do both on White Rock Loop in Red Rock? Popular among trail runners, this six-mile circle is also enjoyed by non-masochists. White Rock’s shady north side features tree-lined trails and verdant views, while the south crosses open desert and passes a goldfish pond and a pictograph site. Beats spring cleaning any day. — Alan Gegax

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Interior dialogue

Dwell on Design

You got them blues. You got them West Elm Pottery Barn IKEA Target blues. You’re tired of living in a frigid genuflection to catalog furniture, and you want to take a crack at redesigning your home with some personality and style — but where to start?

Put down that Restoration Hardware catalog and point your car west. The Dwell on Design conference is your mecca. The lifestyle design magazine’s annual design bash features presentations, how-to demonstrations, pro talks and vendors that are sure to provide inspiration. Want something a bit more up close and personal? Sign up for the conference’s popular home tour, which takes you on a whirl through area domiciles of every flavor. Dwell on Design takes place June 22-24 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Information:

— Andrew Kiraly