Monday, April 25, 2016

Cathedral Gorge State Park

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Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge State Park in Panaca, NV is a hidden gem in the heart of the Great Basin Desert. The Great Basin Desert is the largest US desert, which covers an arid expanse of about 190,000 square miles and is bordered by the Sierra Nevada Range to the West, and Rocky Mountains to the East. At the South East corner of Nevada sits Cathedral Gorge State Park, which exposes erosion that has carved unique patterns in the soft bentonite clay. 
The clay has formed what look like large sandcastles or cathedrals, crumbling as you step upon them. Among these cathedrals are small slot canyons and caves. These slot canyons aren't the typical slot canyon, as they are only 1-30 ft in length, and don't exit on another side. Two overlooks, Miller and Eagle Point offer excellent views of the canyon. With close to 2,000 acres of park area, there is endless exploring for kids, dogs, families, and photographers. Most people visit Cathedral Gorge State Park to camp, do photography, and hike the 6 miles of trails the park has to offer. 

Can I bring my dog? 
Yes, dogs are allowed and must be leashed. However, we talked to the ranger about dogs on trails and they said as long as no one was around we could have them off leash.

Is this a good park for kids?
Yes! There is a lot of exploring, and nothing dangerous to be aware of.

When is the best time to visit/camp here?
Spring and Fall are the best, when the temperatures aren't too hot.

Is it better to camp or do a day trip here?
Depends on where you are coming from and how much of the park you'd like to see. Since we drove from Salt Lake, it made sense to camp.

What do I need to know about camping here?
The single camp/RV sites are first come, first serve. The two group sites must be reserved by calling 775.728.4460. There are 22 sites, which can accommodate RVs up to 40 ft in length. Each site has a water spout, picnic table, fire ring, pavilion for shade, and grill. Electric hookups are available for RVs for an extra $10/night. Water flush restrooms and showers are open year round. The showers near the single sites are free; the showers near the group site uses quarters. Dogs must be leased at all times in the camp sites.

What are all the fees?
Day use is $7-12/day with a $2 discount to NV residents. These fees vary by park and cover the basic entrance to the park.
Group campsite is $17 night per car PLUS a one time $15 reservation fee.
Single campsites are $17/night
RV sites are $27/night with hookups
RV Dump Station is $6
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
 Official entrance sign.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
 Our nice group camp site. We initially weren't planning on camping at this spot, but since all the other single sites were taken, we didn't have a choice. It ended up working out really well since we had 5 people and 6 dogs. The dogs had a little more freedom to wander here, rather than being tied up the whole time at a regular site next to RVs. Since we were away from the main campground, we didn't have to listened to RV generators or people. There was a group of loud kids, and we were thankful to have our own secluded spot.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
 Group site fire pit.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
 Photo of one of the single/RV sites.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
  Photo of one of the single/RV sites.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
 Amiptheater
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
 The pay-for shower. The free shower is located in the main restroom building.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
 The first night we just went simple on our meals, and I made a Mountain House meal. These are so convenient and tasty!
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park
 Hanging out by the fire. You can purchase firewood at the fee station, but I recommend bringing your own in case the park is out.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Dutch Oven Lasagna
 We made Dutch Oven Lasagna for dinner. This is my favorite meal to make while car camping - it's hot, filling, so tasty, easy to make, and can feed a crowd. To make it, just use your favorite lasagna recipe, using the Oven Ready Lasagna noodles. Line the dutch oven with non-stick foil first, then layer as you normally would for lasagna. Use heated coals/briquettes underneath and on top of the dutch oven, and cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. 
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Dutch Oven Chocolate Cake
 We also made Chocolate Lovers Delight in a separate dutch oven.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Dutch Oven Lasagna
 Charlie enjoys protecting the tent and looking at his surroundings.

Cathedral Caves
Our first area we checked out was the Cathedral Caves and CCC Day Use/Picnic Area. The CCC built this water tower in the 1930s, but is no longer in use.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Cathedral Caves

Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Cathedral Caves
 Charlie enjoys the "caves". Keep in mind that there not actually caves here, just canyons resembling slot canyons.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Cathedral Caves
 Looking up from the end of one of the "caves".
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Cathedral Caves
 Exploring the outside portion of Cathedral Caves.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Cathedral Caves
 Exploring with friends!
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Cathedral Caves
 Chase strikes a pose!

Juniper Draw Trail
This trail is a 4 mile loop that lets you explore more of the "cathedrals". It starts behind the main restroom building, and ends back at the campground. We didn't see anyone else on this trail, so it was nice to let the dogs off leash for awhile. All trails in Cathedral Gorge are fully exposed to the sun and there's no water anywhere. Be sure to bring at least 3 liters of water on your hike. I brought 2 liters and ran out quickly and it wasn't even that hot (maybe 65F).
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Juniper Draw Trail Guide
 Start of the trail.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Juniper Draw Trail Guide
 The trail mostly follows the wash.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Juniper Draw Trail Guide
 Group shot in front of the bigger cathedrals.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Juniper Draw Trail Guide
 You will arrive at the first trail split. Keep right for the Juniper Draw Trail, to continue making a loop. If you want to hike up to the ridge, head left. We did the Ridge trail the 2nd day, and we didn't think it was that spectacular.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Juniper Draw Trail Guide
 Pano shot along the trail.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Juniper Draw Trail Guide
 Follow the wash and large brown trail markers. It makes sense that they don't use cairns on this trail, since flash floods occur often.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Juniper Draw Trail Guide
 Making a loop back along the East side of the loop.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Juniper Draw Trail Guide
 Along the Juniper Draw Trail, you can explore the cathedrals at any time. This may make your hike seem longer if you do a lot of exploring.

Miller Point Overlook Trail
If you hike along the Juniper Draw Trail clockwise, you will come to the intersection for the Miller Point Overlook trail.
 You can drive up to the top, then work your way down, but I highly recommend you take this detour by hiking it. This will make you hike North again, towards the overlook. From the Juniper Draw Trail split, it's only 1/4 mile to the overlook.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Miller Point Overlook
 Walking in the wash. The canyon walls seemed tallest here.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Miller Point Overlook
 I really liked this part of the trail - it was really pretty!
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Miller Point Overlook
 Cross a bridge, then hike up these steps.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Miller Point Overlook
 My favorite photo from our trip here. More steps leading up to Miller Point Overlook.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Miller Point Overlook
 Group shot using my new RIF6 Tripod!
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Miller Point Overlook
 Me & Charlie at Miller Point Overlook.

Eagle Point Overlook Trail
Eagle Point is another fantastic overlook of the state park. We continued hiking from Miller Point Overlook, and had to walk down the paved road to the trail. It was only maybe 200 yards to the TH. Again, you can drive up to this spot, park, then get out and walk, but we like to hike everywhere. This trail is only 1/2 mile to the overlook.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Eagle Point Overlook
 Eagle Point Trail entrance
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Eagle Point Overlook
 Halfway to the overlook, you will have fantastic views of the park and the Juniper Draw Trail.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Eagle Point Overlook
 The Eagle Point trail crosses a narrow ridge.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Eagle Point Overlook
 Jumping at Eagle Point!
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Eagle Point Overlook
 Group shot at Eagle Point Overlook.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Eagle Point Overlook
 We made our way back to camp, and the dogs were super tired! Charlie rested on his ChuckIt! Travel Dog Bed. If I don't bring this while camping, Charlie will NOT lay down outside or in the tent. I swear this bed is one of the best $20 I have ever spent on him. It creates a nice padding and designated space for him to lay on, its machine washable, rolls up into a stuff sack, and is affordable.

Moon & Canyon Caves
These two areas are next to each other, and offer more exploring of the slot canyons. You can hike to them from the campground or just drive to them. If you are into photography, the best time to take photos at Cathedral Gorge State Park is the afternoon and late evening - most of the caves are west facing, so when the sun hits them, the lighting is really amazing.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Moon Caves
 Sunset at Moon Caves.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Moon Caves
 Evening light on the cathedrals.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Moon Caves
 Charlie explores more slot canyons.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Moon Caves
 At the end of the slot canyon.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Moon Caves
 Moon Caves area at sunset.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Moon Caves
 Canyon Caves at sunset.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Canyon Caves
 Near Canyon Caves.
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Canyon Caves
 We aren't really yoga girls, but we thought we'd give it a try. Of course I am the one falling over!
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Canyon Caves
Charlie and I enjoyed our time here!
Cathedral Gorge State Park Trails Map


Have you been here before? If so, leave a comment below!
Hiking and Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada
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6 comments:

  1. What an awesome place! Thanks for sharing another super area:) I love all the sandcastle formations and slotty areas. I appreciate the photos of the RV sites:)

    Question...we are heading to northern Utah for late May. We trying to decide on where to stay. Is hiking better in the Provo area or Ogden? We stayed in Park City earlier so aren't heading there. Thanks!

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  2. Do you guys have an email or facebook? It would be easier to communicate details through that. -Alicia

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    1. I'm sorry, Alicia, for not getting back to check for an answer. I would think to do it at the strangest times. My email is wrightp183@gmail.com I am also on FB but it is so hard to find people with common names. I'll see if I can find you. Anyway, we decided on Provo. We made the decision right after I wrote and asked you. Any good ideas for Provo would be great. We will be there over Memorial Day. Not the best time to hike I'm sure. Thanks for your help:)

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  3. Thanks for all photo of the awesome sandcastle, cant wait to visit this place, always loves the nature :)

    Regards

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  4. What a wonderful write up about our park! Thanks for sharing this little known piece of Nevada.

    Dawn, Nevada Park Ranger

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