Located in Capital Reef National Park, the Cathedral Valley District of Capitol Reef National Park is open all year and the perfect spot for the back county explorer seeking to get away from it all.
Vehicles with high ground clearance are recommended and should have no issues navigating the sandy roads. Road conditions can vary greatly depending on recent weather conditions with spring and summer rains leaving the route muddy and impassable. The advantage of this location is the back country travel is light, so for the person seeking seclusion, this is the secluded area in a remote location.
The 60 miles loop trail leaves highway 24 at the River Ford which is about 12 miles easy of the visitor center. The route follows Hartnet Road to the Cathedral Road ( Caineville Wash Road) and returns to Highway 24 near Caineville. The river crossing is passable most of the time, however care should be taken during the rainy months.
During my visit in 2004, we just finished Hole in the Rock Road, and headed east out of Escalante, Utah. We then took the Burr Trail to Notom Road which delivered us to Capital Reef. That afternoon we chased the light up Cathedral Valley Road and stopped at Temple of the Sun for some photographic opportunities. We stayed beyond sun down hoping for some amazing light which did not come that evening and drove trail out in the dark. I was disappointed for the lack of light during the golden hour, but the location is yet another place that I must return just due to the amazing Utah landscapes.