Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge, Nevada
Cathedral Gorge
Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge is a long, narrow valley cut into the soft bentonite clay of the Panaca Formation (sediments and gravel that built up over time on the bottom of a large freshwater lake that covered much of this area about 1 million years ago). Erosion has left many dramatic cave-like formations and cathedral-like spires in this canyon. Hiking trails run everywhere through the canyon, allowing those who are interested to easily explore some of these fantastic creations.

The bentonite clay erodes so quickly that it's hard for vegetation to take root close to the escarpment. However, once you get away from that clay, yucca, sagebrush, juniper, greasewood and saltbush flourish. Because of the wide variations in temperature, most cactus doesn't do well at all. For wildlife, you'll mostly find small mammals: cottontails, jackrabbits, coyotes, kit foxes, gophers, skunks and mice. A few mule deer also use the area for winter range and summer can bring in a few Great Basin rattlesnakes.

There are 22 developed campsites available on a first come, first served basis. Each campsite has a shade ramada with picnic table and fire grill. Running water, restrooms and showers are nearby. The picnic area has 3 picnic tables, each covered by a large shade ramada. The park's shaded picnic areas and campgrounds are open year-round.

Cathedral Gorge State Park and Visitor Center is comprised of 1,608 acres located just west of US 93, 2 miles north of Panaca, 1 mile north of the intersection of US 93 and State Route 319. Just north of the park entrance on US 93, the Miller Point Overlook gives you an excellent view into the scenic canyon with its' buff-colored spires and cliffs. While precipitation varies all through the year, summer sees regular thunderstorm activity.

Entry fees: $$7 per vehicle per day for non-Nevada residents, $5 per vehicle per day for Nevada residents. Camping: $17 per site per night for non-Nevada residents, $15 per site per night for Nevada residents. Group Picnic Shelter: $15 + normal per vehicle fees. Group Camping Sites: $15 + normal per vehicle fees.

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Top photo of Cathedral Gorge copyright © MojaveNC. Creative Commons 2.5 License.
Smaller photo of Cathedral Gorge State Park courtesy of Nevada State Parks
Area map courtesy of National Geographic Topo!
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