Best time to visit Utah

Cathedral Valley Scenic Drive

Travelling in the gorgeous wilderness, complete remoteness, and inspiring beauty of sandstone and basalt formations, you'll be rewarded with great views and unforgettable emotions

Cathedral Valley Scenic Drive in Utah - Best Time
Photo by

Greg Willis

You'd be surprised to find out that a few decades ago Cathedral Valley was actually unknown and could be accessed only by the most adventurous travellers. Today it has become more popular with visitors but it's still quite hard to get to the place. This breath-taking area features amazing sandstone monoliths and gothic temples, standing out from the rest of flat terrain.

Cathedral Valley is a place for wandering and escaping, you'll never get bored exploring it. Most visitors to Cathedral Valley drive the scenic 92.7 km loop to marvel the best spots and views around. Being quite remote, only primitive, dirty roads lead to this unique place, so you'll need to have a proper high clearance 4WD vehicle to get there. The loop goes clockwise, taking the drivers from the Hartnet Road through the Utah Highway 24 with several side trips, hiking trails, and stunning overlooks.

Cathedral Valley Scenic Drive in Utah - Best Season

The first adventure on the road will be crossing the Fremont River. There is no bridge over the river, so you'll have to go right through the water, but don't worry as the water level rarely goes higher than 30 cm. Don't try to cross the river in periods of high water and always check the water level before you go.

One of the most difficult parts of the road, the Salt Wash, goes next. These are unique volcanic clay-based Bentonite Hills. There are six short hiking trails, which go along the loop—the Lower South Desert Overlook Trail, Lower Cathedral Valley Overlooks Route, Upper South Desert Overlook Trail, Cathedral Valley Overlook Trail, Morrell Cabin Trail, and Cathedrals Trail. At the Lower Cathedral Valley Overlook you can observe the temples of the sun and moon. Rising over 120 m from the valley floor, they are gorgeous Entrada monoliths, especially beautiful in the light of the morning sun. The whole loop drive can take around 6-8 hours, including several short hikes.

Overlook for Cathedral Valley
Overlook for Cathedral Valley

For those, who want to stay longer there is a Cathedral Valley Campground, located in the northwest corner of the park, 45 km from the start of the loop. Camping here is free and provides a great opportunity to enjoy the stars in the black sky over the valley. It's a perfect base for a multi-day trip.

Although the valley is not closed for winter, the territory can't be reached after a snowfall or flood, as the roads become impassable. If you are caught in the valley during the rain or storm, prepare to stay there for a night or even longer, till the roads dry out. Being a remote area, cell phone service is absent here, so go on a trip well prepared and informed. The most secure season is April through October, excluding also the hot and rainy period of July and August. Choose an appropriate season, and always check weather conditions and the water level of the Fremont River before heading out.

Cathedral Valley Scenic Drive Map & Location

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