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When I hear ‘cathedral’ images of spires and towers on a 13th-century church come to mind.

Cathedral Gorge State Park is not made of gray stone and stained glass like those European cathedrals might be, but seeing it brings a kind of awe that is certainly religious.

The eroded layers of bentonite clay create a dramatic landscape ideal for hiking, climbing, photography, picnicking, and camping.

Follow our list of things to do in Cathedral Gorge State Park to get the most out of this unreal natural terrain.

Learn at the Cathedral Gorge Visitor Center

The informative entrance to Cathedral Gorge Visitor Center, with educational panels about the park's history and natural features, set against a structural stone wall.

The Cathedral Gorge Visitor Center is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm daily, except for typical winter holidays.

It’s easily accessible, found right off U.S. 93 at the park entrance.

An ideal starting point, the visitor center holds the secrets of the park’s fascinating history.

The land was once the home of the ancient Fremont, Anasazi, and Southern Paiutes. Exactly 100 years ago, Nevada governor, James Scrugham, designated it an area worthy of preservation.

Since then, it has been a local and tourist favorite, visited by people from all over the world.

Snap a photo at the Moon Caves

Close-up of Cathedral Gorge's clay spires and weathered formations in warm hues of pink and orange, revealing the texture and erosion patterns, with a footpath leading through the sparse desert landscape.

The Moon Caves are a bit of a local secret, frequented by high school kids on their days off.

Located southeast of the main campground, slipping between the shelves of clay into an almost hidden opening, you can find some of the most enchanting slot canyons in the park.

The hike is short, but there are plenty of opportunities to climb over (or under) some of the rock formations, turning a walk into an adventure.

Slot canyons are incredible photography spots, as well as a nice break from the Nevada sun.

Hike the 2-mile Miller Point Trail

A serene and expansive view of Cathedral Gorge from above, showcasing the natural clay formations and the winding trails throughout the park, under a soft, overcast sky.

Hiking the Miller Point Trail is one of the best ways to see the park’s otherworldly landscape.

You can access this hike in one of two ways.

The first way is to go to Miller Point itself. If you are driving from Las Vegas to Cathedral Gorge State Park, then you’ll continue past the park’s entrance a few miles, turning once you see the sign for Miller Point.

You can park your car there, head to the gazebo that overlooks the valley, and descend down the stairs to start the trail.

The other way would be to drive into the park and begin the hike from there, reaching the gazebo as a midpoint before heading back down.

A visitor dressed in bright clothing explores the stairway carved into the soft, sedimentary rock of Miller Point in Cathedral Gorge, accentuating the park's scale and beauty.

Either way, you’ll get to see the castle-like clay formations from both the top and bottom of the park.

Wander around the Cathedral Caves

You’ll want to dedicate some time to exploring the Cathedral Caves. This will be one of the first things to do after descending from Miller Point.

Although they are similar to slot canyons, many sections of this part of the park don’t receive any sunlight at all, creating the Cathedral caves.

The cool, orange sand and textured walls make for a fascinating view, but don’t forget to look up! To see the blue sky framed by the ragged clay spires is a sight you won’t forget.

It might amaze you to see how deep into the formations you actually are.

The welcoming wooden sign for Cathedral Gorge State Park, framed by rocks and a clear blue sky, highlighting the park's rugged terrain in the background.

Walk the trail to the Bullionville Cemetery

Bullionville Cemetery is an easy 0.4-mile walk from the visitor’s center.

This is one of the best things to do in Cathedral Gorge State Park if you’re interested in the history of Panaca, the town adjacent to the park.

The graves here are over 150 years old, and many are no longer marked, displaying their age. The Nevada desert can undoubtedly take a toll on its inhabitants.

A plaque describes the cemetery and the deceased people who are buried there.

Visit the C.C.C. Water Tower

An old stone water tower standing alone against a backdrop of Cathedral Gorge's layered cliffs, with a glimpse of the cloudy sky above.

A marker of its time, the C.C.C. Water Tower stands like a guardian to the natural caves and slot canyons.

Built in the 1930s by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, the water tower was once functional but now is simply a building to explore and snap a few pictures of.

It was built alongside the park’s day-use area, which is still utilized by visitors today.

Explore the Juniper Draw Loop

A directional sign at Cathedral Gorge State Park showing the way to Juniper Draw and Miller Point Overlook, with a 4-mile loop trail in a rugged desert landscape.

Just over three and a half miles long, the Juniper Draw Loop is another one of locals’ favorite things to do in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

The loop takes hikers on a fairly flat path that circles around the park, passing through the campground and the caves area parking lot.

Unlike Miller Point Trail, which stays strictly within the rock formation area, Juniper Draw Loop introduces more of the vegetation and other unique landscapes that make Nevada such a natural marvel.

There is little to no shade on this trail. Bring lots of water and some sunscreen to curb the desert sun.

The entrance to Cathedral Gorge State Park, featuring a picnic area with tables, surrounded by the park's signature weathered cliffs and a clear informational sign.

Walk the Nature Loop

I recommend taking the short Nature Loop as a detour from the Juniper Draw Loop Trail.

The Nature Loop is only about half a mile long and leads past the C.C.C. Water Tower. It is also more than feasible to tackle this hike on its own. 

During sunset, when the air is cool, and the pink and orange of the sky paint the bentonite clay, the Nature Loop is a great place to enjoy the beauty of Nevada.

A panoramic view of Cathedral Gorge State Park displaying its intricate geological formations and the sparse vegetation typical of the arid landscape.

Visit the Canyon Caves

A striking view of Cathedral Gorge's unique geological formations, resembling a natural cathedral of spires and columns under a cloudy sky.

The beauty of Cathedral Gorge State Park is that it is one big natural playground. No rocks, ledges, or caves are off-limits. Sometimes you’ll follow a crevice that will turn into a larger slot canyon or a dead end, but that’s the fun of it.

The Canyon Caves are located near the Cathedral Caves and are often found in exactly this way: finding a way into the rock and exploring it. 

These caves are another opportunity to feel whisked away into the cool recesses of the rock.

Spend some time climbing around the caves area as well, but always be sure to watch your step. It can be hard to see the slot canyons and caves from on top.

Camp overnight in the park

There are 22 campsites in the Cathedral Gorge State Park camping area.

Each site has everything you need for a quick and easy camp setup, including a table, a grill, and a shade ramada. If you are bringing an RV, electric hookups are available.

Bathrooms with flush toilets and showers are accessible throughout the entire year.

You do not need to make a reservation beforehand, and the nightly fee is $15. There is an additional charge for the electric hookups.

These campsites are remote, quiet, and an excellent place to spend the night in Nevadan Terrain.

Take in the views on the Eagle Point Trail

A signpost for the Cathedral Slots trail, with an illustration warning of narrow passages, set against the dramatic and towering spires of Cathedral Gorge.

Although the trailhead can be easy to miss, the views you’ll encounter on the Eagle Point Trail aren’t.

From the parking area, be on the lookout for a dirt turnout about 300 yards down the road you followed into the park.

That’s where the Eagle Point Trail starts. The 1.6-mile trail has a slight gain in altitude but can be completed by all kinds of hikers.

If you’re someone who likes to pull out the panorama feature on your camera, this hike should be on your list of things to do in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Stargaze at night and see the constellations

Stargazing in Cathedral Gorge is such a popular activity that groups from Las Vegas put together a Star Party every year to catch a glimpse of the bright constellations in the desert sky.

If anyone ever asks you, “Where is Cathedral Gorge State Park?” You can tell them that it is far enough from Las Vegas to see the stars.

At certain times of the year, the Milky Way is fully visible, a confluent river of celestial bodies arranged for our enjoyment, with or without a telescope.

Whether you’re just spending a day in the park or spending the night, I highly recommend sticking around after the sun goes down.

Enjoy a picnic in the park

A rustic picnic area at Cathedral Gorge, with wooden tables and a shelter, set against a dramatic backdrop of tall, narrow clay formations under a cloudy sky.

When the C.C.C. built the park’s water tower, they also installed a large picnic area.

Unlike the water tower, the picnic area is still in use today, frequented by locals, showing out-of-towners the best things to do in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

The shaded seating has enough space for a large group of people, complete with grills and running water.

Beside the day use area, there is also the gazebo at Miller’s Point, and various other locations throughout the park that make for great picnic spots.

Despite being an out of the way location in Eastern Nevada, it is not hard to find things to do in Cathedral Gorge State Park.

The natural rock formations come together in a beauty that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, with a magnetism that calls for exploration.

Now, you have an expert guide to spending a day in one of Nevada’s oldest state parks.

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