Camp and see the Temple of the Sun in Cathedral Valley

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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. 

Pack List

  • Extra Gasoline
  • Spare Tire
  • Camping Gear
  • Backpacking Gear
  • Camera Gear
  • GPS Satellite Phone
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RT Distance 3 Miles
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography
Skill Level Advanced
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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