Cathedral Gorge State Park is one of the most unique, and often overlooked jewels of the state of Nevada. Sitting in the mountainous desert along the eastern edge of the state, the area was once the bottom of a freshwater lake. Over time, volcanoes, earthquakes, water and erosion interacted with varying layers of rock, sediment, silt and clay to form a landscape of spired slot canyons devoid of any type of vegetation, that surround a wide flat basin.
Through different areas of the park, it is possible to explore caves and narrow washes wide enough for a single person to pass through and to walk the ridges along the tops of the cliffs to panoramic vistas of the region.
Having become one of Nevada's first four state parks in 1935, today Cathedral Gorge offers a small car-accessible campground, two group sites, as well as an assortment of trails.
The Nature Trail and Bullionville Cemetery Trail are both under a mile and explore two different facets of the park - the desert landscape marked by informational signs, and a small cemetery from the area's mining days, respectively.
Those looking to explore the uniqueness of the landscape can take on the slightly more difficult hikes of the Juniper Draw Loop that explores the basin of the park, along with some of the cliffs and slot canyons, or the incredibly scenic Miller Point Trail that follows a canyon bottom before climbing the spired rocks to a viewpoint that overlooks the park.
Finally, the Eagle Point Overlook offers a short flat trail to a panoramic vista for those who would prefer to avoid the more technical Miller Point Trail.
Desert fauna abound here, including cottontail and black-tailed jackrabbits and several types of snakes, or the nocturnal animals such as kangaroo rats, kit foxes coyotes and mule deer.
Some active and no-longer active projects of the Civilian Conservation Corps line the park paths, including a water tower, bathrooms and covered picnic facilities originally constructed in the 1930s.
Upon entering the park, the recently-renovated visitor center offers a gift shop, bathrooms and water, and helpful rangers.
Make sure to fill up water at the visitor center or campground before venturing off to the trails as there is no water and very little shade throughout the park. There are no major grocery stores located anywhere nearby, so come stocked up on food and necessities.
Cathedral Gorge State Park is a unique experience, and combined with its off-the-beaten-path location, it means that visitors can experience a scenic and beautiful area in the absence of large crowds.