For the Nature Lover: Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada

This spot in Nevada is a must-see.

Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada
Erosion carved a bentonite lake bed into an uneven mass of rock spires.

Panaca, Nevada

The buff-colored, roughly hewn spires reaching heavenward from the Meadow Valley inspired the name of this state park.

The gorge is part of the Panaca Formation, created when the freshwater lake that had covered the land receded and erosion carved the montmorillonite clay into jagged pillars, gullies, and caves.

Nomadic tribes of Fremont, Anasazi, and Southern Paiute passed through from 10,000 B.C., hunting and gathering plants. Mormons founded the town of Panaca in 1864 after discovering water. Nearby Bullionville sprang up in 1869 when silver ore was found. In the 1920s open-air plays were performed against the other-worldly backdrop.

At an elevation of 4,800 feet, the park is home to a great variety of wildlife—like coyote, gophers, roadrunners, blackbirds, and nonpoisonous lizards and snakes. In the summer, however, the Great Basin rattlesnake stops for a visit.

At the north end, where the park tapers sharply, Miller Point provides a panoramic view and can be reached by a road just north of the information center. In some places, watching nature take over abandoned homes is the most beautiful sight.

Open year-round. Admission charged.

(775) 728-4460

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest