Cathedral Gorge State Park is located just a few miles south of Pioche, Nevada on U.S. Highway 93 between Las Vegas and Ely. This end of the Great Basin Desert is as picturesque as can be and there are several popular destinations in this area. The Great Basin National Park, Pioche Ghost Town, Echo Canyon State Park, Mt Wilson and the Extraterrestrial Highway are all nearby, so there is plenty to see and do in this neck of the woods!
Cathedral Gorge State Park offers picnic areas, hiking trails, camping and one of the weirdest landscapes in the west. Because of the midway location between Ely and Las Vegas, this State Park is a perfect spot for taking a break from the road. The most popular short hike is the Miller Point Trail, which is one half mile long and it goes through the entire length of the majestic Cathedral Gorge.
There will never a dull moment in this place, especially if a summer monsoon storm brings some rain. The first time that I visited this park, a heavy monsoon storm had just dumped buckets and it was still drizzling when I set out on the Miller Point Trail. The natives do not refer this type of ground surface as slick rock for no reason at all, because when water is added the ground surface at Cathedral Gorge becomes as slick as ice. I was actually wearing non-slip shoes that day and I was still losing traction all over the slick rock surface in this gorge. When I got to the steep uphill climb to the staircase that goes up to Miller Point, I simply could not get enough traction to traverse the last few hundred feet. With every two steps uphill, I slid five feet backwards downhill on the slick rock surface! The staircase was so close, yet so far and the first attempt on the Miller Point Trail ended in utter futility.
What I did not know during the first visit is that Miller Point is accessible by car. The Miller Point Overlook offers plenty of parking and it is set up like a picnic area. There is a gazebo that offers some shade, so this is a comfortable place to take in the scenery. The panoramic views from up top stretch over and beyond Cathedral Gorge to the mountains on the horizon. The untamed Great Basin Desert landscape is intriguing to see, especially when everything is green during the monsoon season. The unobstructed overview of Cathedral Gorge is nothing less than amazing and this gorge seems to have a completely different character when viewed from above.
A steel staircase that is imbedded in the hard bedrock surface goes downhill to the Miller Point Trail, so it is easy to get to. Getting back up to the top is easy too, as long as the ground surface is dry. On a rainy day, the wet slick rock surface can literally make it impossible to climb up to the first step on the staircase, as I previously found out. For this reason, it may be best to not head for the bottom of the ravine if the skies are gray!
The Miller Point Overlook is a fee area, just like the rest of Cathedral Gorge State Park. For this reason, it is best to plan on taking the time to explore more of what this unique Nevada State Park has to offer. The Cathedral Gorge landscape is so strange and surreal that it looks like it belongs on a distant planet, so be prepared to be totally amazed!
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