North of Las Vegas in the Great Basin of Nevada there is a hidden treasure just along the highway. Wind, water, snow, and ice have carved away volcanic layers of ash to form crumbling yet fairly stable pillars of clay. Devoid of vegetation, these spires reach up from Meadow Valley making an odd myriad of slot canyons. Explore the Moon Caves of Cathedral Gorge State Park for an exceptionally unique hiking experience.
Here are 3 great hikes to get you better acquainted with Cathedral Gorge’s “giant sandcastles”:
From the parking lot of the trailhead, there’s a lovely pagoda overlooking the gorge below. Miller’s Point is an awesome overlook displaying the clay hoodoos of Cathedral Gorge dramatically. Follow the multiple staircases down into the canyon and walk along an arroyo. This 2-mile round trip out-and-back hike is the way to see these spires in all stages of erosion. Some have collapsed completely into huge piles. Click here for a map.
This easy 1.5-mile little loop & spur is the perfect way to see the Cathedral’s spires from the mesa above. Meander across the rocky, flat terrain to enjoy the desert vegetation and wildlife while glimpsing the canyon’s beauty and remarkable geology from the rim. Get your camera ready for the many photo opportunities along the way. Click here for a map.
Cathedral, Canyon, & Moon Caves
While not technically a trail in Cathedral Gorge, these caves are the highlight of this park. There is no established route. Simply park and walk in among the spires. There’s no worry of getting lost. The slot canyons (“caves”) don’t go very far and they all dead end shortly. Feel the wonderfully cool breeze while looking up at the endless variation created in the clay hoodoos. Far above the bright blue sky contrasts sharply with the soil walls. Click here for a map.
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- The hikes here are exposed and hot. Wear desert attire and sunscreen. Bring plenty of water.
- The campground has great facilities, including showers.