There are so many gorgeous state parks around us that sometimes we get a little blase about their beauty. So, as we are driving, we have discussions like “do you want to stop?” “Eh, we’ve seen canyons before. How is this one different?” But we had two good reasons to stop at Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada. First, the reviews all said it was really different. And second, we needed a break driving home from Ely.
Cathedral Gorge State Park promised spectacular formations, a flat trail along the gorge floor, great views, and no Navajo sandstone. We were not disappointed that we stopped there. In fact, we spent longer and hiked farther than we planned because it was so interesting.
Instead of all the Navajo sandstone we enjoy in southern Utah and the Arizona Strip, Cathedral Gorge is made up of a soft clay called bentonite. Bentonite erodes easily, so the exposed bentonite columns are whimsical and unusual. I can see where the gorge gets its name. It reminded me of the cathedrals I saw in Europe with carvings of the saints surrounding gothic spires.
As with most state parks, you can follow the trail or climb and explore wherever you want. We walked up the gorge, climbing into towering fumaroles, and peeking through arches. We had so much fun looking at everything that I agreed to climb up to the Miller Overlook on the gorge rim to view the formations from a distance. Fabulous!
Entrance to Cathedral Gorge is $5, payable at a couple of different pay stations in the park. The park had a very nice campground but it is currently closed due to a flash flood. I imagine it will be open again before too long. They are used to flash floods around here.
If you are driving along US 93 in Nevada, take a little time to explore Cathedral Gorge State Park. You will be glad you stopped.