We woke up and had our Best Western continental breakfast, then left Tonopah for Cathedral Gorge State Park. We were excited, because today’s drive would take us on the Extraterrestrial Highway.
The drive through the desert was as expected. Miles and miles of nothing and a sign that read “163 Miles until next gas.” We didn’t see any aliens, but we did see a lot of signs illustrating the capitalization of aliens. The “Ale-Inn” in the town of Rachel is probably the most famous destination on the highway. When I say “town” I mean one restaurant with a trailer in back where all the employees live. We took a picture of the sign, Eric got an “area51” sticker, and we were on the road again.
Along this highway there were these mysterious little trees that were obviously planted and not native to the area. We spotted them about every mile or so, and they had colorful ribbons tied to them. Not sure what they meant, but they were pretty cool.
It took us a few hours to get to Cathedral Gorge. I must say, of all the places we have been, this is my favorite. I was worried we wouldn’t get a camp site, but upon arrival we could see this was silly. There were 22 sites and only one was taken by an RV. I guess the desert is not a popular place for camping in the dead of summer. We had our choice of spots, and picked the one with the most shade. After setting up camp, we got back in the car to explore the park.
First stop was the moon caves. The name was appropriate, because it did look like we were on the moon or another planet. The temperature in the caves was probably about 20 degrees cooler than the summer heat out in the open. We explored a few caves then drove to the next point of interest.
Miller and Eagle Lookouts were next. As you can see, this place is amazing. The reasons why I liked it here so much was because it was somewhere that was out of the way, not crowded with people, but still had amazing things to see.
After our exploration we headed back to camp and set up the hammock. It was late afternoon, so it wasn’t as hot and there was a nice breeze. We sat in the hammock and read for awhile, talked about our next moves, and just enjoyed the scenery. We were completely content.
As the sun sank in the west, we took a little walk on one of the trails to take some sunset pictures. We all climbed this small hill to get a better view of the gorge. Breathtaking. We were sitting on top of the world, a gentle breeze was blowing, and the sun was lighting up the gorge. We sat there for awhile and soaked it all in. We were filled with amazement at Mother Nature, and also with a bittersweet feeling knowing our travels would be over soon.
Back to camp to cook dinner, take a shower (yes, this park has SHOWERS!), and turn in. Even though we only stayed one night at Cathedral Gorge, we’ll never forget it.
And by the way, Cathedral Gorge’s penny was from 1999.
Next stop: Zion National Park in Utah.