Exploring Glen Canyon: Cathedral in the Desert

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This wasn’t my first time in Cathedral in the Desert, but it was a totally different experience from the first time.  Cathedral in the Desert is in the Escalante River arm of Lake Powell, Clear Creek Canyon specifically.  It’s one of those places on the lake you just have to see.  It’s easy to get to and easy to find, which makes it even better to visit.


Last year we went pretty late in the year so the water was really low.  This time we went at the end of June so the water was almost at its highest point for the year, which was way higher than the previous year’s peak.  This made getting farther into the canyon a lot easier since we didn’t have to watch the prop as much.  When it was low we had to make sure we didn’t hit any of the walls with the propeller.


This time going in was a lot more exciting.  The water was more emerald and it was glowing in the sun coming through from the canyon above us.  It was crazy how bright it was, I never would have thought it would look like that.  I could have stayed there a lot longer just looking at the water.


With the water this high we didn’t have to climb up the ropes to see more of the canyon.  The picture above is part of what you have to climb up, but it was all underwater so we just hopped out of the boat and wandered into the picture below.  We could have kept going if we climbed up the Moki steps, but we were all a little nervous about getting back down.  The Moki steps are to the left of the little waterfall.  They are little holes carved into the wall to help climb up difficult areas.  You can see them better in the second picture below.


We didn’t spend tons of time here since we had to go down to Dangling Rope before going back, but I would love to go back again and try going up farther.  I’m not sure how far you can go, but I know it’s kind of like this the whole way.  Plus, I’ve always wanted to try using Moki steps.  At least these aren’t too high.


Tips for visiting Cathedral in the Desert:

  • Cathedral in the Desert is in the Escalante River arm at the end of Clear Creek Canyon.  It’s a couple canyons in on the left.
  • Definitely get a map to bring along to help navigate on the lake and consider the Boaters Guide to Lake Powell, too, if you’ll be on it for a few days.
  • Definitely, keep an eye on the prop as you get farther into the canyon.  If the water is low it can be an issue.
  • If you’re renting a houseboat and have jet skis, kayaks, or paddleboards, those are perfect for getting further back into the canyon.
  • Be careful climbing up the ropes and Moki Steps.  Or maybe on the way back down.   Or both.
  • I would recommend going mid-summer when the lake is highest just because it’s easier, but it’s awesome with the water high or low.  Either way, this is a bucket list-must.
  • Definitely, wear sunscreen and bring tons of water.  It’s so hot and the sun will burn you to a crisp.  It happened to me on this trip even though I put lots of sunscreen on.
  • Take time to explore more of the Escalante River Arm.
  • If you’re feeling really adventurous, make a stop at Hole-In-The-Rock and climb up.  I haven’t yet but want to.
  • If you’re flying in, Page or Flagstaff Arizona are the best options.

Need flights?  Check out Skyscanner!  It’s my favorite site for finding cheap flights.

Have you been to Cathedral in the Desert?  How far did you go?  Do you want to go?  What is your favorite thing on Lake Powell?

Explore Cathedral in the Desert on Lake Powell in Utah (1)Explore Cathedral in the Desert on Lake Powell in Utah

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