Desert spires: SUU Outdoors Cathedral Gorge trip

Nine Southern Utah University students led by two student guides trekked out 83 miles west into the Nevadan desert on Saturday, Oct. 30 to experience a land forged from tens of millions of years of geological activity—the place known today as Cathedral Gorge State Park.

An hour and a half drive away from Cedar City and a little past the Arizona/Utah border, Cathedral Gorge hosts some truly unique geology that one can get lost in for hours upon hours.

The students took off early that morning as a part of the SUU Outdoor Adventure Trip program that allows students to explore the great outdoors of southern Utah in either paid or free adventures.

The students piled into a van and were off to see what the desert had in store at 8 a.m. The trip consisted of a hike through the park’s main section where students explored the park’s narrow slot canyons, trails and river beds.

The cathedral-like spires, reminiscent of those seen in Bryce Canyon, scatter across the park and create a natural labyrinth-like structure that can only be seen to be appreciated. It’s the park’s main attraction.

The park has multiple trails, such as the longest trail being the 4-mile Juniper Draw Loop which takes visitors around the area of the park. There is also the mile-long Miller Point Trail that bleeds into the Eagle Point Trail.

The SUU students hiked on the Juniper Draw Loop, taking breaks along the way to sneak into the mysterious slot canyons and explore around the crevices of the natural geography.

Visitors are allowed to explore the park and into the slot canyons with relative freedom. However, the park asks visitors to adhere to the seven Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly policies.

After the students were done exploring, they took a quick detour into the local town, Caliente Nevada, for lunch at a local restaurant named the Side Track Restaurant.

The students that came on the trip had a variety of backgrounds with five of the nine students being a part of the International Program at SUU.

The international students were from different countries such as the Czech Republic, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

“The landscape is pretty different than Europe,” said German exchange student Chiara Klevenc. “I want to explore, I want to see everything and it’s really cool to meet new people as well.”

Many of the international students use these trips as a way of truly experiencing what the outdoors has to offer in their home away from home.

There are not many trips left in the semester with SUU Outdoors. More information about how to get involved can be found on their website or at the SUU Outdoors basecamp located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.

Nature is full of sights that can only be experienced in person to truly appreciate the value of the location. Cathedral George is one place that truly stands out, both in its rock formation and natural mystery behind each corner.

Story and Photos by: Skyler Jones