Miller Point

Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

Trip Date: Saturday, November 10th, 2018
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★★(5/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 2 miles roundtrip
Time 1 hour
Terrain Hilly
Best Seasons Spring, Fall, Winter
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

About halfway along the drive from Las Vegas to Great Basin National Park, you'll find this gem of the Nevada State Parks system, Cathedral Gorge State Park -- so named for the unique rock formations evocative of gothic churches. The Miller Point Trail is a short hike through the scenic gorge to the top of the badlands for an amazing top-down view. While you can drive to Miller Point, this is the perfect hike to stretch your legs on a long drive while being introduced to the stunning geology of the park.

At the start of the trail, you'll see an old stone restroom (in the first picture below) originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program that provided jobs during the Great Depression and built much of the nation's park infrastructure. The CCC also built the picnic facilities you passed; the fact that they're still in use despite being over 80 years old is a testament to their sturdy construction. As you continue along the trail, you'll pass some of the grand rock formations the park is known for on your right side, shown in the second picture below.

The remnants of a stone restroom constructed by the Depression Era Civilian Conservation Corps

The remnants of a stone restroom constructed by the Depression Era Civilian Conservation Corps

Rock formations to the right of the trailhead

Rock formations to the right of the trailhead

To the left of the trail, majestic cathedrals of rock rise above the flat scrubland, as pictured below. The trail continues along a dry streambed and then enters the rocky gorge after you stay straight at the intersection with the Juniper Draw Loop Trail. Up until the very end, the trail is mostly flat with a slight uphill slope. You'll finish the ascent to Miller Point on a few sets of stairs -- given the park's elevation of nearly 5000 feet you'll be out of breath at the top!
Cathedral-like rocks in the distance

Cathedral-like rocks in the distance

Once you reach Miller Point, you can enjoy the view of the golden gorge with mountains rising in the distance, as pictured below. Closer to the parking lot, signs will teach you more about the formation of these badlands. Millions of years ago, this valley was a lake, and over time streams deposited soft sediment on its bottom. After the lake dried up, this clay was exposed and wind and rain slowly carved the fantastic shapes you see here. Take a moment to appreciate the scenery before heading back.
The view of the gorge from Miller Point

The view of the gorge from Miller Point

After you finish the hike, the fun doesn't have to end! Walk along the road south of the parking lot to see the CCC-built water tower pictured below.
A stone water tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps

A stone water tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps

Further down the road, you'll reach the Canyon Caves, as shown in the first picture below. Although this rock formation looks just like everything else you've seen in the park, if you walk closer you can find slot canyons to explore! None of them travel very deep, so there's no worry about getting lost. Inside, you'll be surrounded by tight vertical walls with a thin slit of light above, as shown in the second picture below.
The badlands of Canyon Caves from the road

The badlands of Canyon Caves from the road

Inside the narrow passages of Canyon Caves

Inside the narrow passages of Canyon Caves

Cathedral Gorge State Park is just one of the hidden gems of Nevada's interior. Whether you're driving to Great Basin National Park or looking for a new place to hike somewhat close to Las Vegas, climb to Miller Point and explore some slot canyons! Let me know what you think in the comments section below and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

Dogs are allowed on leash. This is short, fun hike for kids especially because of the narrow slot canyons to explore on the side of the trail. Fall, spring, and winter are the best seasons to visit due to the extreme heat of Great Basin summers. The park's location along a major highway makes it an easy stop for road-trippers, but it's far enough away from any major population center that it won't be crowded.

Directions

From Las Vegas, take Interstate 15 north to U.S. Highway 93 heading north. After about 2 and a half hours, you'll reach the entrance to the park in Panaca. Turn left onto the park's main road and continue straight as it turns to dirt. Park where the road ends.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Parking is $5 payable in cash only at the self-service kiosk. Vehicles without the stub displayed will be ticketed. Annual permits are available if you frequently visit Nevada State Parks; visit the Annual Permits webpage for more information. There are pit toilets and picnic tables near this parking area.

External Links

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