The spectacular Cathedral Valley section of Capitol Reef National Park is open all year. Vehicles with good ground clearance, even those without four wheel drive, can usually negotiate the roads without difficulty. However, road conditions can vary greatly depending on recent weather conditions. Spring and summer rains and winter snows can leave the roads muddy, washed out, and impassable to the best four wheel drive vehicle, so check at the visitor center for current road and weather conditions before visiting Cathedral Valley.
Foot and vehicle travel in the Cathedral Valley area is light, so be prepared for the unexpected. If you have problems, help may not arrive for hours or even days, depending on the time of year. Carry plenty of water, food, gas, adequate clothing, a shovel, and emergency supplies. Cool/cold temperatures will accompany sudden storms or an unexpected night out in the backcountry. Daytime temperatures in the summer may reach the upper 90s and winter highs may stay below freezing, so dress accordingly.
Most visitors to Cathedral Valley drive the 60 mile loop: start at the River Ford (11.7 miles east of the visitor center on Hwy 24), follow the Hartnet Road to the Caineville Wash Road and return back to Hwy 24 just west of Caineville (18.6 miles east of the visitor center.)
The River Ford is passable at most times of the year, except during spring runoff or following a thunderstorm, when the river may be in flood. The ford has a hard packed, rocky bottom and water levels are normally a foot or less deep. The access road to the River Ford crosses private land. The gate on Hwy 24 may be closed, but is not locked. Please close the gate after you drive through, and honor the posted no trespassing signs along the road near the ford by not parking off road or camping in the vicinity.
9 mi Bentonite Hills
14 mi Lower South Desert Overlook Spur Road
27 mi Upper South Desert Overlook Spur Road
27.5 mi Junction of the Hartnet/Polk Creek/Caineville Wash Roads
30 mi Upper Cathedral Valley
33 mi Junction of Caineville Wash and Baker Ranch Roads
33.1 mi Gypsum Sinkhole Spur Road
42.5 mi Lower Cathedral Valley Spur Road (Temples of the Sun & Moon, Glass Mountain)
60 mi Hwy 24 at Caineville Wash Road