Just the sight of Cathedral Valley is enough to make the long drive over rough dirt roads worthwhile. Cathedral Valley is an amazing landscape to experience and it is every bit as wild as it looks. This is a very remote area in Capitol Reef National Park, so only a few people venture here on any given day. What this means is there will be plenty of peace and quiet to be found in this majestic place that erosive forces sculpted over eons of time. The ominous nature of Cathedral Valley will likely inspire feelings of great reverence, especially during the first visit.
This picturesque destination is located in the northeastern end of Capitol Reef National Park, which is not the easiest place to get to from either direction that a visitor comes from. There is a dirt road that goes through the mountains to this spot, but that is truly the long way around. Following the dirt road that goes from Highway 24 through the Caineville Wash is the easier way to go, but a higher than average ground clearance vehicle will be needed for a smooth ride. The Caineville BLM road to Cathedral Valley was featured in a previous article and the details mentioned will help when planning the trip.
Capitol Reef is gigantic upheaval area where the earth's crust formed a long fault line that runs north and south. Because of tremendous pressure, the upheaval raised the buckled ridge line in a way that resembles an ocean reef. Cathedral Valley is just east of the geological reef and the ground in this area is composed of hardened ancient ocean bottom clay and sandstone. Harden clay erodes in a dramatic fashion over time and the result is a gothic looking landscape where gorges are easily formed. The western side of Cathedral Valley literally looks like it belongs in a gothic fantasy painting, so the name of this place certainly is appropriate.
The Temple Of The Moon and the Temple Of The Sun are two landmarks that are easy to spot in Cathedral Valley. These two gigantic red rock outcrops tower over the valley floor and they definitely have an ominous look. A picnic area and campground are located nearby, so doing an extended stay in this surreal landscape is an option. For those who just plan on having an easy going Jeep trail venture, Cathedral Valley is one of the best day trip destinations in Capitol Reef. Be sure to pack a picnic basket and a good camera for the ride, because you will not feel like leaving anytime soon after setting eyes on this beautiful place!
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