Photographing Cathedral Valley

Utah Cathedral Valley Turnoff

Added by Nick Oman

  • A desert adventure with vehicle
  • Complete solitude with amazing and unbelievable views
  • Duration: Overnight

First let me preface that a high clearance vehicle is needed for this adventure. Provided that, prepare for a journey into some very remote and beautiful desert in the middle of Capitol Reef National Park.

In total the scenic loop is 57 miles of washboard riddled roads that lead to the spectacular opportunity to watch the sun rise on the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon in Cathedral Valley.

This is an overnighter in order to get in the valley early, so pack accordingly (extra food and water are a good idea). The road starts about 12 miles past the visitor center on the left with a little wooden sign as the only marker so keep your eyes peeled (also lookout for wildlife like rams). About a mile along the dirt road you will be confronted with fording the Fremont River. Don't worry the river bottom has a good base and really, how often do you get a chance to ford a river? After the river crossing get comfortable because it's going to get bumpy for a good couple of hours. Tip: going faster over washboard can actually smooth it out a bit if you are careful.

Once arriving in the valley and getting a good look around, it's time to find a camp. You will need to backtrack about a mile out of the park into BLM land as camping in the park is prohibited. Just keep in mind that the desert is extremely fragile so choose your camp wisely and leave no trace behind. Once you are settled in, be prepared for a dazzling display of stars to photograph if you so choose, but remember you will have to get up early.

Arrive in the valley well before sunrise to set up. Once you have picked out a good vantage point along the roads sit back and watch in amazement. Oh and take a few photos too.

Pack List

  • Teton Sports Mountain Ultra 2 Tent
  • Teton Sports sleeping bag
  • Plenty of food and water
  • Camera
  • Warm clothes
  • Hiking shoes
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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



Camping, Photography

Skill Level:






Easy Parking

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How to Get There

10 months ago

Who would have guessed, solitude on a NP road. You won't see many others out here so definitely be prepared. Avoid this drive if it's going to rain, the river can become unfordable and the clay road sections will become unpassable.

10 months ago

Added by Nick Oman

Outdoor photographer from South Jordan, Utah.

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