Among other beautiful State Parks in Lincoln County lies Cathedral Gorge State Park. Known for its dramatic, carved cliffs and slot canyons, what lies here today are remnants of the Pliocene-era. Officially set aside as State Park turf in 1924, the park became official in 1935 with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Many of the parks picnicking facilities were constructed in the 1930s by the CCC, including the stone water tower, picnic awning, and restrooms. The original picnicking facilities are still in use today, but the stone water tower and stone restrooms are no longer in use.
When visiting the park, the spires and buff-colored cliffs are the result of millions of years of geologic activity. Originally, volcanic activity occurred throughout this region, dispersing layers of ash hundreds of feet deep throughout the area. The source of the ash, the Caliente Caldera Complex, lies south of the modern day park boundaries. After these violent eruptions ceased, a fracture in the bedrock occured, allowing the two sides on either side of this fault to move. This faulting formed what is now known as Meadow Valley. Over time, Meadow Valley filled with water, resulting in a freshwater lake. Over centuries, the lake began to gradually drain and the erosion process continued to occur, exposing ash and pumice left behind from former volcanic activity. Today, you will see formations that occured as a result of the lake drying up. Occasionally as rain storms pass throughout the region, the canyon's walls, made of Bentonite clay, will become very soft and even impressionable. Footprints can even be found throughout the canyon floor!
After the invention of the automobile in the 1920s, this area became extremely popular for hiking, picnicking and open-air plays called "vaudevilles" even took place within the modern day park boundaries. Some modern day activities to partake in at Cathedral Gorge are camping, picnicking, hiking, nature studies, and of course photography. Also, be on the lookout for black-tailed jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits, packrats, kangaroo rats, mice and gophers. Other nocturnal animals, including mule deer, coyotes and kit foxes are know to roam the area in the evening and early morning hours as well!
The campground has 22 sites, each with a table, grill and ramada. Electrical hookups are also available! Water and flushing restrooms with showers are open year-round, and they even offer handicap-accessible sites as well. Several trails are scatted throughout the park grounds, including Miller Point overlook, a scenic overlook of Cathedral Gorge.
The park and visitor center is located 2.5 hours north of Las Vegas on Highway 93.
The annual Park to Park Pedal-an Extreme Nevada road biking competition, starts and finishes at Kershaw-Ryan State park and takes peddlers through the towns of Caliente and Pioche. This scenic route also takes participants through Cathedral Gorge, Echo Canyon and Spring Valley state parks. Three ride lengths are available to suit every rider's preference: 40, 60 and 100 mile options are available with a Dutch Oven Dinner awaiting you at the finish line! For more detail on event-related information, check out Nevada State Parks.