|Typically Open:||Year Round|
|Highest Elevation:||6900 feet|
|Duration:||About 5 hours|
|Shape of Trail:||Loop|
|Best Direction to Travel:||N/A|
|Nearest Town w/ Services:||Torrey|
|Official Road Name:||Hartnet Road/Cathedral Road/0082|
|Management Agency:||National Parks Service/Bureau of Land Management|
|District:||Capital Reef National Park/Henry Mountain Field Office|
Cathedral Valley Scenic Backway takes you into the heart of the "Cathedral District", a land filled with natural wonder. A title like that is something you think you should be hearing in Paris, but instead, you are right next to Capitol Reef National Park, a wonder in its own right. With prominent natural landmarks named Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Moon, and Jericho Wall you always question if the beauty is overhyped. It is not. For the off-road crowd, this trail is a must do simply for the visual stimulation factor. Cathedral Valley Loop presents no challenging obstacles, but mile after mile of a colossal panorama is the journey's reward.
Dirt and/or rocky road. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 5" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 5" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 6" inches. Good tire placement likely. Can be steep, but with good traction.Read more about our rating system
There is ample space here to air down as well as various spots to camp. Follow the more defined road east where it turns north to the river.
Enter the river and travel upstream a short distance to the large crossing area on the other side. The river is usually just a foot deep, but in times of rain it can flood very quickly. The bottom is smooth and hard. After crossing the river, you start up onto the North Blue Flats, a wide open space between the South Desert and the Caineville Reef in Capitol Reef National Park.
Continue straight to keep going or stop to examine the well-preserved water well drilling equipment with evidence of its handy work.
Continue straight after coming through the Salt Wash and the unique volcanic clay-based Bentonite Hills. Bentonite is very easy to drive on when it's dry. However, when it is wet, it becomes very slick and nearly impossible to drive on.
Continue straight. Intersection with 0826 where 0826 simply loops back up to the road you are on further up the trail.
Follow the main road west. The intersection of 0146 where 0146 cuts back across to the eastern side of the Cathedral Valley Loop.
Turn west for the Lower Desert Valley Overlook with views of Jailhouse Rock.
Take time, on foot, to follow the washed out road down towards the valley floor. All the views here are amazing and worth taking the 45 minutes to an hour to explore.
Just off the main trail, this overlook gives you different views as you continue along the trail.
Here get views of the famed Temple of the Moon, Sun, and Stars. There is a 1-mile, steep descending hike down the monoliths here as well.
Follow Hartnet Road north. Hartnet Junction immediately follows, where the Cathedral Valley Loop turns right. If you continue straight at this junction you will be on Polk Creek Road which takes you to Forsyth Reservoir, Mill Meadow Reservoir, and eventually Fish Lake, all part of the Fishlake National Forest.
If you are not camping, stay on Harnet Road. To camp turn north. Staying at one of the six sites here is free and available on a first come, first served basis. There is a vault toilet and all of the spaces were of good size with picnic table and fire ring. On the east side of the camping area are excellent viewing areas of the valley below to the east. Shortly after the campground, you will descend a wide shelf road down into Cathedral Valley.
Continue straight. Throughout much of the 20th century, cattle rancher Lesley Morrell owned much of the real estate in this area. Today the cabin is part of the Capitol Reef National Park. This is a .5 mile out and back hike.
Continue straight as you take in the Cathedral District.
Continue straight. If you turned north here, you could reach I-70 in 27 miles, with many other options along the way.
Continue straight to keep going, or turn southeast/right for the Gypsum Sinkhole.
The Gypsum Sinkhole is an occurrence formed by the reverse of the process that created Glass Mountain. Here groundwater is dissolving a buried gypsum plug. The area left behind has collapsed under the weight of overlying rock layers. The sinkhole is up to 200' deep.
Continue straight at the intersection of 8212 where 8212 dead-ends.
Continue straight to follow the main trail, or turn west to explore the Temples and Glass Mountain.
Deep erosion has carved Cathedral Valley's free-standing monoliths, or temples, out of the soft reddish-orange Entrada Sandstone, which was originally deposited as sandy mud on a tidal flat. Some of the cathedrals are capped by thin, hard beds of a greenish gray marine sandstone, the Curtis Formation.
The scenery of the Entrada Sandstone temples of Cathedral Valley is complemented by evidence of other geologic processes at work.
The flowing and dissolving of gypsum, a soluble mineral, created Glass Mountain and the Gypsum Sinkhole. Glass Mountain is an exposed plug of gypsum.
Continue straight at 8211 where 8211 eventually dead ends.
Continue straight as you leave Cathedral Valley.
Continue straight. Willow Seep is a spring that almost always has water flowing.
Continue straight as you come out of the wash area.
Continue straight across Caineville Wash. Turning onto 0090 will take you into Factory Butte and one could drive all the way to Goblin Valley.
Back to pavement. Go west for Capitol Reef National Park or Torrey.
Starting Point: Capital Reef National Park Visitors Center, Utah
There is camping with a vault toilet at waypoint 12, Cathedral Valley Campground. Staying at one of the six sites here is free and available on a first come, first served basis. There is a vault toilet and all of the spaces were of good size with picnic table and fire ring. On the east side of the camping area are excellent viewing areas of the valley below to the east.