Cathedral Gorge State Park lies just over the Nevada border near Cedar City, Utah. It is about an hour and a half drive from Cedar City or St. George, but it is well worth the trip to spend a half day at this fun park. The unique rock formations and slot canyons are amazing.
We drove to Cathedral Gorge from St. George. This was an hour and 45 minutes, but it allowed us to stop at Gunlock State Park and in Veyo for the famous pies. We left about mid-morning and still had plenty of time to visit this gem in Nevada.
Cathedral Gorge has a very small Visitor Center, and is a pretty popular place for campling. Still, when we visited it wasn’t at all busy. We had the place mostly to ourselves even though it was a weekend in early May. However, it was still hot and dry, so we were grateful for our sunscreen and water.
The Visitor Center is actually for all of the Nevada State Parks in the region. We asked a lot of questions about other parks, and we also picked up Junior Ranger booklets for our boys to complete. The booklet is generic to the state parks, but they were able to finish it in Cathedral Gorge. This is also a great time to pay your entrance fee.
When describing Cathedral Gorge, we thought it looked a little like Bryce Canyon, the Badlands, or Goblin Valley. What we liked best, was that it was a great place for the kids to explore. There are three areas, referred to as “caves,” though they aren’t really caves at all, and they are all open to be explored. These areas are long narrow eroded fins, that seems like dozens of short slot canyons venturing back in to the rock. The trails are very narrow, and when you are inside the fins, it is cool and shady, since there is only a tiny ribbon of blue sky above.
The first area is Moon Cave. Just park your car and look for a narrow slot up through the rocky fins. Our kids loved exploring. In fact, they even found a narrow passage that Mom and Dad couldn’t traverse. They ducked through and came out in another slot that had an arch and continued on for quite a while. They were excited to go where we couldn’t. Most of your day will be freely exploring these slots.
Canyon Caves & Cathedral Caves
Just down the road, you will also come to Canyon Caves and Cathedral Caves. Both areas are similar to Moon Cave, and you explore in the exact same way. Cathedral Caves seems to be the largest area for exploring. Our boys never tired of walking through the different slots to see what was at the end.
CCC Tower & Picnic Area
A few other features of the park include the CCC tower, which is made of stone. This is a quick stop near Cathedral Caves to view the old tower. We enjoyed our picnic lunch at the covered picnic tables. It was fun to eat right next to the rocks.
Miller Point Trail
We also decided to do one hike inside of Cathedral Gorge. The Miller Point Trail is a 1.0 mile out and back trail that starts at the CCC Tower picnic area. The trail is flat until the last 1/4 mile and then there are quite a few stairs to climb up to the overlook. When we arrived at the top, we saw that you could just drive around to this overlook if you’d like to skip the hike. But we enjoyed the hike. There were some fun metal bridges and views of the gorges. If you like to hike for the journey, this trail is a good distance for kids, though in the hottest part of a summer day, it would be brutal since there is no shade.
Leave No Trace
One more thing to remember is the delicacy of these natural features. The beautiful slots are created in the soft, porous rock. Because of that, be careful where you climb, and certainly don’t etch, scratch, or deface the state park. Please leave it for others to enjoy.
Please check the Cathedral Gorge website for current conditions and full information.
- Cathedral Gorge is open year round, but visiting in the summer would be very hot. We recommend spring or fall.
- Dogs are allowed on leash inside this park.
- There is a campground, but all sites are first come first served. There are no reservations.
You might also like Valley of Fire State Park which is about an hour south of St. George.