Camp and see the Temple of the Sun in Cathedral Valley

3 miles  - Loop Trail

Added by Greg Harlow

Camp in the backcountry of Southern Utah amongst the massive sandstone monoliths.

Cathedral Valley is a scenic backcountry area in Capitol Reef National Park. It is a remote, stark desert, characterized by amazingly beautiful sandstone monoliths that some say resemble cathedrals. Many of the valleys structures have interesting, highly descriptive names: Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Moon, The Walls of Jericho, amongst others.

The long dirt road out to Temple of the Sun along Cathedral Valley Road is a barren, rocky, 60 mile loop that requires a high clearance vehicle. Don’t expect to go more than 15 mph the entire time. The solitude can be a bit frightening, a flat tire may leave you stranded for a quite awhile. I don’t recommend going alone. 

Those two nights, I was the only human being within 50 miles in all directions. I didn’t see another soul for 3 days while exploring Cathedral Valley. By far, the most remote location I have visited, which I found utterly fascinating. It felt as though I was transported to another time. No signs of civilization whatsoever. Completely alone in the elements.

Next to the massive Temple of the Sun, is the smaller Temple of the Moon. I planned my trip around the lunar cycle, hoping shoot photographs of the Temple of the Moon, under a full moon.  

I camped under the stars on BLM land less than a mile from Temple of the Sun, listened to the coyotes, watched herds of antelope, and rock climbed spires. It felt as though I was discovering unexplored land. The silence is deafening and the crickets seem louder than ever. The coyotes could have been 20 miles away howling at the moon, but they sounded like they were right next to me. 

You can't actually camp next to Temple of Sun and Temple of the Moon, but less than a mile from monoliths, you leave the National Park of Capitol Reef and enter BLM land, which you can camp for up to 14 days and anywhere you would like. Included is a map of the BLM land surrounding the Temple of the Sun and Moon along Cathedral Valley Road. 

Nearby the Temple of the Moon, the Glass Mountain is a geologic formation consisting of large selenite crystals forming a mound or plug 15 feet high. Selenite is known for, and used for its healing powers. A hike to the Glass Mountain is roughly a mile, and there are no trails whatsoever, so explore to your hearts content. 

Read More




Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Amazing spot

Great spot to camp! Although we found out that we weren’t supposed to camp there afterwards

Stay Nearby

Lyman, Utah

Elkhorn Campground

Overview Elkhorn Campground is located 20 miles northeast of Loa, Utah, on the scenic Thousand Lake Mountain at an elevation of approximately 9300 feet. Visitors enjoy exploring local trails on foo...

Teasdale, Utah

Fruita Campground

Overview Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a ge...

Torrey, Utah

Capitol Reef Np Group Campsite

Overview Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a ge...

Bicknell, Utah

Sunglow Campground

Overview Sunglow Campground is located in a scenic red rock box canyon just 2 miles from Bicknell, Utah. Visitors enjoy exploring local trails and day-tripping to Capitol Reef National Park.Recreat...

Nearby Adventures

  • Drive the Cathedral Valley Loop

    These set of roads are classified as 4x4 high clearance vehical roads. Not to mention this part of the park is remote and only about 10% of visitors access it. To get to Cathedral Valley, we were recommended to drive a “loop” by the park ranger, t...

    60 miles

  • Explore the Temple of the Sun & Moon and Glass Mountain

    The temple of the sun and moon are accessed from Cathedral Rd. in Capitol Reef National Park, the road is a 4x4 high clearance vehical road. Upon arriving at the Temples which are called “monoliths”, the giant rocks protrude from the earth, and ar...

  • Hike Lower Cathedral Valley Overlook

    Now most of the pictures you see from Capitol Reef are from cathedral valley. But not many take the time to get above the most photographed area of the park. Off of Hartnet Road, at mile 17.6 you will find a small dirt parking lot for the trailhea...

    2 miles 150 ft gain

  • Hike Capitol Reef's Sulphur Creek

    This is a loop hike that either requires a shuttle or 3 mile walk along highway 24. The starting trailhead is the Chimney Rock Trailhead which has limited parking. The ending trailhead is the Capitol Reef National Park Visitors Center. We only had...

    6 miles