Through The Lens: Cathedral Gorge State Park
July – August 2014
THROUGH THE LENS CATHEDRAL GORGE STATE PARK
Geological wonder has photographers and adventurers flocking to natural beauty.
BY ERIC CACHINERO
The otherworldly atmosphere of Cathedral Gorge State Park may give visitors the impression that they have stepped foot on—well—another planet. Forged from violent and fiery volcanic activity and wrought by millions of years of erosion, the composition of this photographer’s paradise is as complex as it is captivating. The gorge’s kaleidoscope walls are composed of earthy tones that weave into a natural labyrinth of geological splendor. Cathedral-like spires and dramatic designs in the soft bentonite clay span the scenery, leaving adventurers feeling like they may have just stumbled into another dimension.
The park offers trekkers and shutterbugs a chance to explore their own little slice of Nevada’s unique topography, along with a plethora of pursuits and pastimes. Camping facilities, a picnic area, and miles of steep gorges and slot canyons keep visitors to this distinct Nevada park thirsty for another adventure.
FORGED FROM FIRE
Though established as one of four original Nevada State Parks in 1935, Cathedral Gorge began its legacy much earlier. The landscape is the result of elemental collaboration that molded and modified the area over a span of millions of years.
The Caliente Caldera Complex is responsible for the volcanic eruptions that gave the park its origins. Each eruption deposited layers of ash—sometimes hundreds of feet thick—over the area. Approximately 5 million years after the eruptions ceased, fractures in the bedrock that shaped the mountains and valleys of Nevada created a depression, now known as Meadow Valley. Over time, the depression filled with water, as well as ash and pumice left over from the volcanic activity. Eventually the lake drained, leaving the ash and pumice behind to be exposed to wind and rain, causing more erosion and forming the gorge we see today.
Located off U.S. Highway 93 approximately 170 miles north of Las Vegas, the park can be visited as a day trip for many Nevadans; however, spending a couple of days at the gorge allows for much more exploration. The park sits at 4,800 feet, providing hot daytime temperatures in the summer and cold winters.
The campground offers 22 sites, each equipped with a table, grill, and shade structure. Water and flush restrooms are accessible year-round, and electrical hookups are available. The Regional Visitor Center—located at the entrance to the park—offers interpretive displays and information about eastern Nevada and several state parks.
Whether waiting for that perfect moment to capture the scene or just exploring a special Silver State treasure, Cathedral Gorge State Park caters to all adventurers. After visiting even once, it’s easy to see why the park continues to keep nearly 40,000 visitors each year coming back for more.