Cathedral Valley – Torrey

Torrey, UT

The weather in central Utah over the weekend had rain in the forecast every day, making any hiking out of the question.  So on Friday we invited Steve and Mona Liza to join us for a Jeep ride out to Cathedral Valley.  We drove east on UT-24 eleven miles from the visitor center in Capitol Reef NP.  There we turned north on a well-maintained dirt road called Caneville Wash Road, which soon turns into Cathedral Road.

Cathedral Road

Colorful rocks were visible in every direction despite the overcast day.

After 15 miles on Cathedral Road we turned left and drove one mile to visit Glass Mountain.  Glass Mountain is not really a mountain, it is a  geologic formation consisting of large gypsum crystals forming a mound or plug 15 feet high. Gypsum was deposited as sea water evaporated 165 million years ago and then buried under other sediments. The gypsum migrated upwards through fractures in the sediments forming layers and, very rarely, domes like the Glass Mountain.

Glass Mountain

A young climber at the summit

Mona Liza, Steve, and John

A large crystal

Not far from Glass Mountain are two large rock formations, the Temple of Sun and the Temple of the Moon.   The two monoliths are composed of the earthy, buff-pink Entrada Sandstone.

The Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon behind Glass Mountain

The Temple of the Sun

The Temple of the Moon

We continued west on Cathedral Road while enjoying more beautiful views all around us.

About nine miles further down the road we came to the Gypsum Sinkhole.  The Gypsum Sinkhole is an occurrence formed by the reverse of the process that created Glass Mountain. Here groundwater is dissolving a buried gypsum plug. The cavity left behind has collapsed under the weight of overlying rock layers. This collapse has created a large sinkhole nearly 50 feet in diameter and 200 feet deep.

John, Steve, and Mona Liza at the edge of the sinkhole

About five miles further west we came to our final destination, the Morrell Line Cabin.  There is no parking area for this site but there is room for one vehicle in a pull-off on the right side of the road.  Then it is a short hike up a path to the cabin.

John, Steve, and Mona Liza head to the cabin

A lonely young cowboy rests after a long day herding cattle

Inside the little cabin is a table that still has many items remaining from the time it was used by cowboys.

Remains of the pole corral

As we left the cabin some dark clouds began to approach from over the mountains to the west.  Then the wind kicked up creating some dust clouds that cut down on our visibility as we drove east back toward the highway.

But the rain held off until we returned to the highway.  We arrived back at the RV park with no weather problems, a perfect ending to a great day.

Later that evening we met friends, Larry and Annette, for dinner at The Saddlery Cowboy Bar, a very nice restaurant and bar here in Torrey.  Larry and Annette lived full-time in a motorhome for many years before settling down in Torrey.  They were the source of inspiration for us to buy a motorhome ourselves and go on the road.  This is the third time we have been in Torrey and enjoy meeting with them when we are in the area.

Annette and Larry next to a local friend at the Cowboy Bar

The weather forecast for the next few days calls for clear skies and warm temperatures.  So the nimble hiker is dusting off her hiking books and planning some new adventures.  More on that later . . .

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16 Responses to Cathedral Valley – Torrey

  1. Debbie L says:

    What a fun day! We’ve had our share of rain, so depressing! I couldn’t keep up with your posts, but we’re now on the road and see sunshine-our long lost friend.
    Lots of hiking ahead for us….😀

  2. We missed Cathedral Valley when we visited, but love the whole area, just another good reason to go back.

  3. Sue says:

    Pam, did you resist taking a piece of that gypsum for your “collection”, I know I would have trouble with that….. I think you better tell that cowboy to put his dishes in the sink when he’s done and not leave them all over the table. What will people think?

  4. Larry says:

    As I look at all of the green surrounding me here in East Tennessee, it’s hard to believe we are in the same country.

  5. pmbweaver says:

    We have never visited Capitol Reef NP. It is as beautiful as the other NPs in Utah. What fun to see the sights with good friends.
    That cowboy sure is dressed funny for herding cattle. Must be the new cowboy look. It just might catch on.

  6. Laurel says:

    What a fun day, despite the gray skies and threat of rain. Of course, friends make everything better. 🙂 That crystal is AMAZING. Love the photo of the lonely young cowboy….although he does need some training in housekeeping….

  7. debbiemc14 says:

    I’m surprised there is any of that crystal left to see. Nice to have a road trip when the weather is bad. We’ve been in southern CO for a month now and most of that has been cold and rainy/snowy. Starting tomorrow and for the rest of the week it’s supposed to be sunny and 70. We’ll see! I am so ready for some hiking, even with this stupid sinus issue I’m having. I wish we had the time to take that drive when we were there. I guess next time, right?

  8. Les & Jill Taylor says:

    We read your account of the trip to Cathedral Valley as we are planning a full-day, guided, backcountry jeep with a local (Torrey) outfitter during our Sep, 2016 eastern Grand Circle trip. As retired seniors (65-75 yrs. of age) with some physical/medical limitations, we would be interested in learning about walks/hikes in both GSENM and Capitol Reef NP that you might recommend for us to consider.
    We have enjoyed reading about your recent travels as Moab (Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse Point SP and Arches NP are also on our itinerary.

    • placestheygo says:

      Les and Jill, I resent my previous email to the address you attached to this comment. Please check and see if you received it.

      • placestheygo says:

        I just got a message saying the email couldn’t be delivered must be a problem with the address. Here is what I sent:
        Thanks for checking us out, Les and Jill!

        You certainly have an ambitious plan for 14 days. Not sure you can get all the parks in with all the driving that is required. Unless you have done some research, I would forget Grand Staircase. This park is HUGE and covers thousands of acres. Almost all of it is accessed on 4×4 roads. But if you are going to be near Page, you could visit the Paria Townsite with any vehicle (It is probably the most beautiful colors we have ever seen), as well as, the Toadstools ( about 2 1/2 miles round trip with a little climbing). Canyonlands is also huge and divided into three parks. The best park for your journey would be Island in the Sky section. It is near Dead Horse State Park. You could drive down to the Observation Point for tremendous views. On the way out is the short 1 mile loop to see the Mesa Arch which is photographed for everything. Quite beautiful and easy to see. The Needles Section for Canyonlands requires about an hours drive and the hiking is all difficult. But there is a viewpoint not too far from Moab. Dead Horse SP has a rim trail that can be as short as you want or up to 7 miles. There are several places to park and walk the rim. Arches NP is the easiest for non-hikers. Almost all the arches can be viewed from the car and walked to in under a 1/2 mile. There are great back roads in most of the parks but a high clearance 4×4 is recommended. Each park brochure and newspaper lists the major hikes by level of difficulty. You can get this same information on each park’s website and check out the hikes.

        If you read any of our blogs, we don’t spend much time on easy hikes. Our short hikes are usually short because we have major scrambling and climbing.

        If you put in any park or feature into our search box, it will get you to some posts from there. You can then look at the top of the post to go backwards or forward for more posts. We have been to southern Utah three times and usually stay two months. So we have lots and lots of blog post.

        Hope this helped a little.

  9. montanaclarks says:

    The weather isn’t being very cooperative is it! Here’s hoping you have several sunny hiking days in a row!

  10. Glass mountain is so cool! Love the sparkling glass peaking out of the dirt!

  11. Jodee Gravel says:

    Love the two temples. Fascinating to see the matching sun and moon and the matching mountain and sink hole. When the cowboy finishes with those dishes he really needs to get that fence fixed! That’s a very impressive friend hanging out (up) in the bar!

  12. LuAnn says:

    Glass Mountain is fascinating! You two find the coolest places to explore.

  13. And I thought that young cowboy cleaned up his mess after we left.
    It was a great day despite a grey day, but being with great friends who knows how to show us the coolest stuff in remote places made all the difference.

  14. Pingback: Hitting the Trails at Capitol Reef NP – Part 2 | The Lowe's RV adventures

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