Cathedral Valley Loop

Torrey, Utah (Wayne County)

Last Updated: 08/22/2020
4.7 / 5 ( 11 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 64.6 miles
Highest Elevation: 6900 feet
Duration: About 5 hours
Shape of Trail: Loop
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Torrey
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
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Cathedral Valley Loop
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.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Cathedral Valley Loop

Route Information

Technical Rating:
(EASY )

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Waypoints

1. Fremont River/West Trailhead (0 mi)
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.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 38.274762, -111.089598

Starting Point: Capital Reef National Park Visitors Center, Utah

Travel 11.7 miles east from the Capital Reef National Park Visitors Center on State Route 24. The trailhead will start at mile marker 91 labeled as Hartnet Road.

Camping

Designated

Trail Reviews (13)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Newbie in a 2020 Gand Cherokee Overland fully stock. Still Learning. A GREAT day with moderate temps, little wind and slight overcast. Great views and well worth the time. Probably a "no brainer" in anything more adapted for off-trail use. We (Me, Sandee & our German Shepherd) took about 6 hours on the clockwise route with much of it for hikes and photos. We stopped at and visited all of the stops on the map except the campground (12) and Morrell Cabin (13). We also took time for the longer hikes at locations 8, 9, 10. The only time we used 4W Low was to control down hill speed and minimize brake use for the decent down to the valley after Morrell Cabin. The course starting after the river crossing through the bottom of the drop to the valley after the campground alternated between rocky/bumpy and packed dirt with some minor washboarding. Outside of the rocky areas we could get up to 30 MPH in some places. The worst place was the first part of the entrance to the Upper Valley Overlook (10). I think that perhaps it was the rockiest/bumpiest part of the course. After getting to the bottom of the valley things got a little bit interesting with several sections of soft, deep sand. A few were relatively short but a few of them were between 20 & 50 yards long. These were the first, significant stretches of sand I've ever encountered but the Jeep in standard drive configuration with traction control handled them OK. The concern I had was if I was going to hit hard rock surfaces at the end of each stretch of sand. That did not happen. After departing the Temples & Sinkhole road the road became less sandy and shortly after we passed Willow Seep we got back into more sections of moderately rocky/bumpy conditions but nothing too tough to knock your teeth out.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Did this trail in a Jeep Rubicon. No problems. The most difficult parts were deep, deep sand for short runs.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Started on the western side with crossing of the Fremont river. It was about a foot deep but no problem for a high clearance vehicle. RN up to Waypoint 6 and took a right at the optional road that runs 5 miles to the other leg of the Cathedral Valley loop. That was a fun spur that was more challenging than the main road yet still easy. When we reached the other side we headed west for a few miles and visited the amazing Temple of the Sun and Moon and Glass mountain. Then we headed east and exited at the Caineville wash area. Took about 3 hours and was a great start to the day!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran a lot faster than I thought it would, very little washboard. Took us 4 hours with a lunch break, helping a guy with a flat tire and checking out all the viewpoints. Deep sand between Temple of the Sun and UT-24 made it a challenge for a few motorcyclists we saw. Well worth the trip.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We took this route as one of many on our 5 day overland trip through Utah. Trail is open as of now and in pretty good shape. The scenery is amazing and well worth the trip. The road is a bit washboarded but not bad. A few of the washes on side trails will test your approach and departure angles especially on the way to Temple of the Sun. Highly recommend if you are in the area!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
3 other rigs plus myself drove this route as part of a 10-day overlanding adventure through the Utah Badlands (Croton Rd, Left Hand Collet Cyn., Hole-in-rock, Mount Hillers, Cathedral Valley, Cottonwood Cyn, North Rim Grand Canyon) The road through Cathedral Valley was freshly graded and the water crossings were barely running. Very little washboard this time of the year - which was very nice. The river crossing at the beginning of the road was normal, with no risk involved to our moderately lifted jeeps & truck. We camped at Cathedral Valley Campground which is a perfect little campground. The views from some of the campsites are amazing! Although not technical in any way, Cathedral Valley is a "must-see" when in this area. Absolutely stunning views.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We Did this loop as part of a trip from goblin valley to cathedral valley, this is a great trip and outlined well here, the drill equipment and spring are really cool to see, the history of this area is amazing . The glass mountain is a must see.. The western leg is more open and a smoother road where the eastern side a little rougher but in my opinion has the better scenery

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Stunning road. Ran this in a brand new 2017 Mazda CX-5 (with paper plates still), which was probably dumb, but there was nothing in the road that was too challenging. A little rain during the day made some of the wash exits more exciting, but mostly, it is just a gorgeous loop with truly unique sites. We also drove the Polk Road up and over to the highway on the way home. I would add that if you do that portion, watch for mud. Some of the Polk Road can get quite muddy on the switchbacks, causing a little heartburn if your vehicle is not a true offroader or has highway tires (such as a Mazda family crossover).

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun, easy loop. Go from west to east so you start with the river crossing. Pretty uneventful, but gorgeous.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Super awesome loop. We ran it reverse of the instructions given here, and it was beautiful, We did it in Subaru Foresters, and it was completely within their abilities. Amazing views. The wheeling itself is not intense, but the scenery is amazing.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Made the loop in my Ford Expedition 4x4. The river ford was simple with about 12” of water that day. The bottom was firm and my grip was never in question even with highway style tires. The early scenery at the Bentonite Hills was otherworldly, the middle section was a little underwhelming considering the expectations I had built up in my head, but that all changed as I took the shelf road down into the actual valley. The monoliths blew me away. The Glass Mountain was an amazingly cool stop. I set up for a sunset shot at Temple of the Sun and got some great colors off of the surrounding rocks. I finished the trail in the dark but guided by the biggest, brightest full moon I have ever seen. Overall, great trail that can be done with many vehicles in the right weather. The variety of wonders will shock you. Spend all day out here and enjoy! Saw only 1 Jeep all afternoon.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I had always heard of this trail and have driven past the trailheads a few times on my to Capitol Reef National Park but never had a chance to run it. I ran it reverse here of how the guide is shown, and it was a truly beautiful trail! I was a little disappointed as to how well maintained the road was, since I was looking for a little more off-road adventure. The guide was perfect though! Thank you.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Cathedral Valley is stunning. Even though this trail has no thrills on the road, the scenery is breathtaking. Absolutely a must do if you are visiting Utah

Questions & Answers (4)

Q: Can I do this loop in an all wheel drive like a RAV-4 without any problem. Plan late October so no rain. Mostly worried about the river ford. Thanks
–Frank (10/12/2018)
–Todd (10/16/2018)
Q: Is there BLM land boondock camping along this trail?
–Teresa (03/07/2018)
–TJ Bosworth (03/13/2018)
Q: I don't think you mean " Go east for Capitol Reef National Park or Torrey " which is how you end your excellent write-up. Shouldn't "east" be changed to "west"?
–Joe Blow (06/12/2017)
–TJ Bosworth (06/12/2017)
Q: Do you know where Hartnett Road leads to on your waypoint 11? Is it worth the time?
–Tom Culver (01/16/2017)
–TJ Bosworth (01/17/2017)

Writer Information

TJ Bosworth

Mapping Crew - Utah

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, he's only been off-roading since he was 16 but fell in love immediately. He attended college in Denver for Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management and wheeled in Colorado for 4 years, but ended up moving back home to Salt Lake City. He currently works in an off-road shop and spends his free time doing anything he can to stay busy, which is usually working on his jeep or playing music. Outside of off-roading, he is an avid whitewater rafter and outdoor cook. Camping at least every other weekend in any season is a normal year. The further from civilization, the better. Bring on the memories!
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