Rich iron-ore deposits here grabbed Mormon leader Brigham Young's attention, and he ordered a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) mission established. The first ironworks and foundry opened in 1851 and operated for only eight years; problems with the furnace, flooding, and hostility between settlers and Native Americans eventually put out the flame. Residents then turned to ranching and agriculture for their livelihood, and Cedar City thrived thereafter.
Cedar City calls itself "The Festival City." The Southern Utah University campus hosts the city's major event, the Utah Shakespearean Festival, which has been stretching its season longer and longer as its reputation has grown. Though better known for festivals than recreation, the city is well placed for exploring the Brian Head area.