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Cathedral Gorge State Park (Best Trails & Camping)

Cathedral Gorge State Park is a hidden gem in southeastern Nevada. The main draw to the park is the cathedral-like spires that line the canyon walls. There are a variety of easy trails and viewpoints to enjoy the park.

These unique rock formations in the park look similar to a European Cathedral, therefore getting the name Cathedral Gorge.

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How Was Cathedral Gorge State Park Formed

the cathedral-like spires at cathedral gorge
The cathedral-like spires on Juniper Draw Trail

You might be wondering how the heck these unique cathedral-like spires were formed. About 1 million years ago, Meadow Valley was filled with freshwater forming a lake, due to a much more humid climate. Sand, clay, and volcanic ash was then washed down into the lake from the nearby mountains.

Over many years, the climate in the area has changed into a dry and less humid environment. Therefore, the water has evaporated and/or drained away into the Colorado River Drainage System. 

When the formations were exposed, rain and wind began to erode the soft bentonite clay layers into these cathedral-like spires.

How To Get To Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park is often overlooked because it’s not that easy to get to. All airports are quite a drive from this epic landscape. 

  • Cedar City to Cathedral Gorge: 1hr & 23 min
  • St. George to Cathedral Gorge: 1hr & 47 min
  • Las Vegas to Cathedral Gorge: 2 hrs & 35 min
  • Salt Lake City to Cathedral Gorge: 4hrs & 54 min
  • Flagstaff to Cathedral Gorge: 6 hrs & 5min
  • Reno to Cathedral Gorge: 6hrs & 53 min

If your in the Vegas area, don’t miss our other favorite parks: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park.

Or if your in the St. George area, don’t miss out on Snow Canyon State Park.

Best Time To Visit Cathedral Gorge State Park

Nevada experiences hot summers, so the best time to visit Cathedral Gorge State Park is in spring and fall. The least busiest time is during winter. 

Temperature Range During Each Season

  • Spring Season ranges from mid 50’s- mid 70’s Fahrenheit (12-23 Celsius)
  • Summer Season range from mid 80’s – mid 90’s Fahrenheit (29-35 Celsius)
  • Fall Season ranges from mid 50’s – low 80’s Fahrenheit (26 – 12 Celsius)
  • Winter Season is in the low 40’s Fahrenheit (4-7 Celsius)

Miller Point Overlook & Trail

view from Miller Point Overlook
View From Miller Point Overlook

Miller Point is probably the most popular stop in Cathedral Gorge State Park. Luckily there is an easy stop at the Miller Point Overlook for people not looking to go on a hike. You can drive and park right at the lookout.

Or you can get deeper and go on a hike on Miller Point Trail. 

The Miller Point Hike is an easy .5 mile hike with 111 ft elevation change. There are stairs leading you into the canyon floor. 

Photography Tip: For the best lighting, Miller Point is best captured at sunrise. 

Narrow Slot Canyons

a girl in the Moon Caves at Cathedral Gorge State Park
Moon Caves at Cathedral Gorge State Park

Another awesome stop at Cathedral Gorge State Park are the various caves that are formed into narrow slot canyons. Rain continues to carve these cave-like formations into larger and deeper slot canyons every year.

Many of the caves stretch for hundreds of feet and extend into side canyons and crevasses. They are not really like caves ‘per se’ but rather narrow slots where only occasionally a roof forms overhead.

There are three different “cave” locations right next to each other to explore. 

Upward view of Moon Caves at Cathedral Gorge State Park

Moon Caves: 

Moon caves is the first stop when coming from the park entrance. 

Canyon Caves: 

Canyon Caves is probably the least busy and a little harder to find because there is no sign.

Cathedral Caves: 

Cathedral Caves are located at the main parking lot. These are the most popular caves to explore. 

a girl walking through the Slot Canyons at Cathdral Gorge State Park

If you want to hit all three, I’d suggest starting with Moon Caves, move onto Canyon Caves, and then head to the main parking area.

We did find the caves to feel a little repetitive. While each is very cool and unique in their own way, they start to feel similar.

Consider doing one of the other hikes in the area, (listed below) and finish with Cathedral Caves. 

Civilian Conservation Corps Water Tower 

sunset view of the Civilian Conservation Corps Water Tower at Cathedral Gorge State Park

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) created the first camping area within the park. There was a water tower, stone restroom facilities, and picnic area.

You can still see the water tower standing today, but only remnants of the stone rest rooms facility. The picnic area is still in use today. 

The water tower is hard to miss as you drive to the main day-use parking area. 

Juniper Draw Trail 

the start of Juniper Draw Trail in Cathedral Gorge State Park
Juniper Draw Trail

3 miles roundtrip

The Juniper Draw Trail is a 3 mile loop through the park. This is the longest hike in the park, if you are looking for more mileage.

This hike is in the Meadow Valley and takes you along the canyon walls with the cathedral-like rock formations. It’s a nice scenic hike that brings you farther into the northern reaches of the valley. 

Nature Loop

.5 miles roundtrip

The nature loop is a short ½ mile loop that has informational signs to teach hikers about the local plant life. These trails will also lead you to and from the campground.

Eagle Point Trail

view from the rim of Eagle Point Trail in Cathedral Gorge State Park
Eagle Point Trail

1 mile roundtrip

The Eagle Point trail is an easy 1 mile trail that parallels the rim. 

There is a small nature loop at the start of the hike with informational signs to teach hikers about local plants.  You can cut that section out and just do an out and back, but it doesn’t really add much extra time. 

This trail offers beautiful views over the canyon wall to a grand view of the valley floor. Plus there is a unique perspective of the top down view of the cathedral rock spirals. The final stop is at Eagle Point with panoramic views of the entire park.

Personally this was our favorite hike in the park. And with a few benches, this is a great stop at sunset.

Bullionville Cemetery

a grave at the Bullionville Cemetery
Bullionville Cemetery

.4 miles roundtrip

The Bullionville Cemetery is a short .4 mile hike starting from the visitor center. The cemetery dates back to the late 1800’s to early 1900’s during the early mining era.

Where To Stay Near Cathedral Gorge State Park

Overflow lot at Cathedral Gorge State Park Campground
Overflow lot at Cathedral Gorge State Park Campground

Cathedral Gorge State Park Campground:

There is a campground located inside the park boundaries. There are 22 sites that have electrical hookups. No sites can be reserved in advance and work on a first come, first-served basis. 

Each site comes with a picnic table, grill, fire ring, and shade ramada. There are flush toilets and hot showers available year round. 

The cost is $15.00 per night for Nevada residents ($20.00 per night for out-of-state residents). There is an additional $10 charge for using the utility hook ups. There are pay stations at the campground.

Additionally, there are overflow lots where people can also camp. These spots don’t have electric hookups, so would be best for tent campers and rigs with solar power.

The cost is the same, but you can avoid the $10 electrical hookup fee. (And we think the views from the overflow camping is even better).

There is a dump station and water fill up on Cathedral Gorge State Park Road on your way back to the Visitor Center. There is also cell sevice in the park, or WiFi you can pay for if you need to connect. 

Hotels Near Cathedral Gorge State Park

There are a few hotels nearby Cathedral Gorge State Park in the nearby towns, Pioche and Panaca.

  • Swallow Cove – A quaint bed & breakfast in the town of Panaca
  • Pine Tree Inn – Another small bed & breakfast in Panaca
  • Overland Hotel & Saloon – Small 2-star hotel boutique hotel in Pioche
  • Mother Lode Motel – Quite historic hotel in Pioche
  • Hutchings Motel – Budget Hotel in Pioche

Vacation Rentals Near Cathedral Gorge State Park

Or there are a few great vacation rentals in the nearby towns. Personally, these places seem to be nicer than the hotels listed above. 

Nearby Attractions to Cathedral Gorge State Park

Great Basin National Park: Jake with backpacking pack on
Great Basin National Park

Echo Canyon (26 min drive)

Echo Canyon is best known for the 65-acre reservoir which can be great for boating, fishing, and swimming. There are also great hiking opportunities and the occasional sighting of wildlife. 

Spring Valley State Park (34 min drive)

Spring Valley is a Nevada State Park that was created by volcanic activity. The area is covered in beautiful light-gray, pink and white rock formations. Additionally, the 59-acre Eagle Valley Reservoir is great for boating, hiking, fishing, and swimming. Another popular attraction is to tour the historic ranches built in the late 1800s.

Kershaw-Ryan State Park (23 min drive)

Kershaw-Ryan State Park is a natural oasis just south of Cathedral Gorge State Park. This park is encapsulated between 700 foot walls and natural springs bringing life to local plantlife, including grapevines and fruit trees. Popular activities in the area are hiking, biking, and spotting wildlife. 

Great Basin National Park (2hr 22 min drive)

Great Basin National Park is a bit of a further drive north in Nevada, but it is still worth the trek. This area is one of the craziest scenes as it starts in the Great Basin desert and climbs into the beautiful mountain range. From the National Parks boundary the elevation climbs from 6,825 ft to 13,065 ft (2080 m to 3982 m). 

The park is best known for the towering Wheeler Peak and Ancient Bristlecone Pine Groves.

Takeaway | Cathedral Gorge State Park

a girl looking up on a unique cathedral rock at cathedral gorge state park

Cathedral Gorge State Park is such a unique natural wonder in the state of Nevada. Plus it has one of the most beautiful campgrounds with epic views of the cathedral rock formations.

This park can easily be done in just a day or you can take it a bit slower and split it into two days. 

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girl hiking on miller point trail during dusk with words overlay saying Best Hikes in Cathedral Gorge State Park
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cathedral-like spires on juniper draw trail with words overlay cathedral gorge state park the ultimate visitors guide