Cathedral Gorge is a fun place to explore. Erosion has created a fun little playground in this remote area of Nevada, creating layered spires, knobby hills and narrow slot canyons that meander back into the rocks. It is impossible not to explore and will offer plenty of interesting photo opportunities.
As so often is the case, Cathedral Gorge is not technically a gorge. Reminiscent of Badlands National Park in South Dakota in its style of beauty, it is a small park,
and you’ll likely need to spend only an hour or two to have your experience.
The area around here used to be an ancient lake many years ago. Once it dried up, the silt in the bottom began to erode, creating the landscape we see today.
While not formed like most slot canyons, the canyons in Cathedral Gorge are similar to experience. The soft siltstone has eroded into dozens of narrow passages with walls as high as fifty feet. It is a lot of fun to explore, and for the most part, able to be so by any age child. My kids were very young (2,4,6,8) the first time we visited and they had a ball.
Years ago, they used to perform Shakespearian plays here with backstage being in the slot canyons.
Have a Careful Adventure
While the risks here are limited, the soft stone is still quite rough and will draw blood very quick if you scrape your skin against it. Also, while it is pretty easy to climb up on the fun-shapes in the hills, there are a couple of spots hidden high up in the rocks where there are some deep drops into slots that could cause some real injury. I wouldn’t recommend having younger kids walk the tops of the formations unescorted. The slots themselves were safe enough in my experience.
It is very hot here in the summer – if you visit that time of year, you can expect temperatures well above 90° Fahrenheit. It rarely rains here, but if it has recently, the park becomes very muddy and would be hard to explore.
Nearby Pioche has a bit of history you can explore if you are a history buff or like geology. It was a mining town during the 1800s and was known as one of the most violent in all the wild west. Local lore says 72 men were killed in gunfights before the first natural death occurred here. The town had a population of 10,000 at that time, but now has only 1/10 of that.
Location and Services
Cathedral Gorge is located in the eastern side of Nevada – there is not much in the area around near Cathedral Gorge. The two small towns of Pioche and Panaca have a few options for food or lodging, but not much. More than likely, you’ll want to see Cathedral Gorge on your way to or from somewhere else.
Nevada isn’t just for gambling or those hunting for Area 51. See some natural areas worth visiting here.
Cathedral Gorge is similar to experience to slot canyons. Read about the slot canyons I have visited here.
The United States is blessed with an abundance of scenic areas to experience. For a list by of great places to visit by state, with useful advice, go here.
Here are some hi-res pictures of the park to give you an idea of what you will experience at the park.