Adventures in the American West: Cathedral Canyon

‘I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.’ – Rosalia de Castro

When I was planning my holiday road trip, I had never heard of Cathedral Canyon. As I scoped various tour companies for Upper Antelope Canyon, Antelope Slot Canyon Tours offered the tour and I figured, why not? I had no idea what to expect and while I did pause with the price ($100), I decided, as I usually do, to live furiously. The only regrets in life are the things you didn’t do and, as I love the region so much, I knew I would not be disappointed. And I wasn’t (shocking, I know, ha)!

Cathedral Canyon was the most unique tour I went on, a large part was I was the only person on the tour! It is only offered twice a day and I chose the afternoon as I was visiting Lower Antelope Canyon that morning. I appreciate that the tour company still honored my reservation, not all will when it is just you. My guide was Nate, an older gentleman, who spent his life on the reservation. I will be completely honest in I wasn’t so sure how it just being me and the guide would go. It had nothing to do with safety but small talk. I can talk to anyone but that does not mean I enjoy small talk. It makes me nervous and I over think things. I am perfectly okay sitting in silence amongst strangers. But Nate was really lovely and we chatted about the area, the landscape, the toll of Covid amongst the Navajo, and the drought. If small talk also makes you uncomfortable, this is not the norm. I was there near Christmas and the tour in the morning was full.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tour but before you decide to explore, there are some key things you should know. It is a more rigorous hike. It is a haul out to the canyon, then about a mile hike. On this hike, you slither under a boulder and climb up a ladder that is not secured to the rock. It is not a difficult hike but things to keep in mind.

The scenery around Cathedral Canyon is stunning, which a lot of rock formations. Most notable is the Four Sisters, Thumb Rock, and Pucket Rock. But the star of the show is the slot canyon itself. You walk in and the walls are quite high but it will get more impressive. You climb under the lodged boulder (the ground was firm due to cold weather so made it much easier versus desert sand) and climbed the ladder. Then the show really begins.

The walls towards Cathedral Hall are upwards of 200 feet high. I am not sure I have ever felt so small in the best way. I told my dad that it must be like walking the bottom of the Grand Canyon without the threat of getting bit by a scorpion. Again, the formations in the Navajo Sandstone were caused by floodwater but holy cow! The scope is like nothing else I experienced on this trip. I am 5’10 and just a speck.

I am so glad that I decided to splurge on this tour. I learned about native flora-who knew rhubarb grew in the Arizona desert- and saw on of the most spectacular places on earth. Well worth slithering on the ground to access.

2 thoughts on “Adventures in the American West: Cathedral Canyon

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