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Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

Toronto
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26 posts
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Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

Hey,

I will be at Capital Reef NP at the beginning of August.

I want to see the Cathedral Valley section of the park.

I know that there is a small gravel road leading from the highway through Cathedral Valley and out the other side.

Is this road passible? I will be driving a convertible Mitsubishi Eclipse. The car is fairly low to the ground.

Thanks and let me know if I am able to travel this road.

Regards,

Paul

Salt Lake City, UT
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908 posts
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1. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

The Cathedral Valley drive is actually a loop. The west side of the loop has a river ford, so no dice there for you. I've driven up the east side of the loop as far as the Temples of the Sun and Moon in a VW Jetta. I had to drive carefully, but I made it. However, I would be very reluctant to try it in a lower slung car. Also keep in mind early August is prime thunderstorm season. A downpour can make the road impassable to all vehicles.

Killer Bob will hopefully chime in with more. Conditions on roads such as this are variable and he's been on this one far more recently than I have!

Torrey, Utah
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for Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park
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2. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

I was out there last week, I definitely wouldn't try it in a low clearance car. Although the Caineville Wash section of road has been bladed this spring there are still some rocky sections and you would have to turn around and go back the same way, no way that car could make it over Thousand Lake Mountain.

bob

p.s. this is a first for me, I'm camping in the Uinta Mountains and typing from my tent (OK, so I'm at the KOA in Manila near Flaming Gorge, it's still a first...)

Toronto
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26 posts
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3. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

Hey,

Thanks for the tips on the road access!

So, is there any way to view Cathedral Valley without taking the loop road?

Thanks and let me know.

Regards,

Paul

Torrey, Utah
Destination Expert
for Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park
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70 reviews
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4. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

There really isn't a way to see Cathedral Valley without going on a dirt road, the best you can do is look down on it from several miles and several thousand feet of elevation from the viewpoints on UT72.

I love to take people out to CV in my truck and I know some great places for views but I don't know what my plans are for August yet, could be traveling.

bob

Northern Utah
4 posts
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5. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

About 12 years ago, my wife and I took a "Drawing on the Landscape" workshop from Weber State University which took place at the Cathedral Valley campsite. We loaded up our little '86 Honda Accord with camping gear, water, and another student and headed south. We entered the valley by way of the USFS road from Highway 72 through Fish Lake NF.

It was a beautiful drive in the early Fall. We were riding low due to the extra weight and left a few flakes of paint from the skid-plates on rocks all along the road. We had to stop several times to remove the bigger rocks from the road, but we made it just fine. We passed a 4WD truck coming up the road. They stopped and asked if we were OK. We just smiled and said "sure!" then kept driving. They had some comical looks on their faces to say the least.

The Cathedral Valley campsite is beautiful. It's primitive with only one pit-toilet, fire pits, and picnic tables at each site. There is no water, so pack in your own or you can take a short trip back up to a Fish Lake NF campsite to get some. Gathering firewood in the Park is illegal, so the same applies to firewood.

While we were there, we met some fascinating people from Wisconsin and Germany. They came up from Capitol Reef HQ. One couple we met had pulled a travel trailer up one of the roads from the Park HQ. It was a shorter one with high clearance.

One of the students in the class was an amateur Anthropologist and showed us where someone had sat and chipped arrowheads probably 100+ years ago within 20 feet of our tent. We also drove down to the valley and hiked around the formations. It's an amazing place. I want to go back someday and share it with our kids. That's amazing country down there.

If you are camping in the Capitol Reef campground in Fruita, you can cool off in the stream that runs down the West side of the valley. It saved our lives one July a couple years ago. That's hot country.

Torrey, Utah
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for Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park
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6. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

Sounds like a great trip to CV, did you hike through the trees at the campground to the view of the Cathedrals? I think that is the best view of them that there is.

The dirt road from 72 to the campground was damaged in our snow storm a couple of weeks ago, or at least by the runoff. There are some nice ruts and rocks and somebody left a long trail of oil from one of them. It might get bladed again this year but it's hard to say.

bob

Toronto
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26 posts
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7. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

Hey,

Thanks for the awesome story.

I want to make it to Cathedral Valley and hike around the formations.

I found a video on this website of some people going over the Cathedral Valley road. It looks like an typical small dirt road....but the only section that concerned me was the river crossing.

Can I enter the road from the West side of Captial Reef and then drive to the large formations....hike around them and then drive back down the same road?

This way we can avoid the river crossing and still see the best parts of Catherdal Valley.

How far are the large formations from the west side entrance of Cathedral Valley road?

Thanks and let me know....

BTW - We will be driving in a Convertible Mitsubishi Eclipse....so its a fairly low car.....not super low....but about the height of an average Honda or Mazda....

Paul

Torrey, Utah
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for Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park
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8. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

No, you cannot reasonably get to Cathedral Valley in an Eclipse, it's probably physically possible but the car would be beaten up. I certainly wouldn't try to take my convertible Sebring out there and it has more clearance than an Eclipse. You could rent a Jeep in Torrey and go out there, a Jeep is overkill but at least then you could do the whole loop.

btw, I wouldn't take the loop that involves the ford, take the Caineville Wash out to CV then up and over Thousand Lake Mountain to UT72, a fantastic variety of scenery.

Just in case you doubt my credentials in this matter, I have done the CV/TLM route with variations 5 times in the last 6 weeks, I know what the conditions are out there!

Northern Utah
4 posts
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9. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

Killer_Bob

Our campsite was at the end of the loop, so it was just a short walk through the trees to view the cathedrals. I assume it hasn't changed much since then?

Have you ever visited the old line cabin in the valley? We drove the honda almost to it then walked the rest of the way.

BTW Ginostyle, I agree with Killer. Get your hands on a high-clearance vehicle. We took some crazy chances in our honda, but that was 12 years ago and we had others traveling with us with 4WDs. Don't take desert travel lightly. It may be in a national park, but it's isolated country. Take a lot of water with you and let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back. Rent a 4WD so you can enjoy the experience and not be worried about damaging your car.

Also, the views from UT72 looking East over the desert are breathtaking. What route will you be taking through Utah? If you're looking for a scenic route, try to get Highway 12 in your itinerary. You'll never regret it.

10. Re: Cathedral Valley - Road Access....

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