Golden Cathedral

Useful Information

Golden Cathedral, Neon Canyon, Utah, U.S.A. Public Domain.
Golden Cathedral, Neon Canyon, Utah, U.S.A. Public Domain.
Location: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef. Escalante, follow Hwy 12 east, after the airport straight ahead on BLM200 Hole in the Rock Road, after 16mi turn left on BLM240/Egypt Rd, after 9mi turn right to trailhead. (37.593064, -111.218356)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyErosional Cave GorgeGorge
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Monument Headquarters, 669 South Highway 89A, Kanab, UT 84741, Tel: +1-435-644-1200. E-mail:
Visitor Center, Tel: +1-435-644-1300.
The Wildland Trekking Company, 935 N 1300 W, Suite 6D, St George, UT 84770-6408, Tel: +1-928-637-6417.
Utah Slickrock Guides, Skye & Craig Copeland, P.O. Box 1301, Boulder, UT 84716, Tel: +1-435-335-7544. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



Golden Cathedral, Neon Canyon, Utah, U.S.A. Public Domain.
Golden Cathedral, Neon Canyon, Utah, U.S.A. Public Domain.

The Golden Cathedral at the end of lower Neon Canyon is located in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It is a huge erosional cave formed mostly by retrograde erosion in the colourfull reddish sandstone. The canyon was formed by a river during the last cold age when temperatures were much lower and the area ws more humid. As a result there was a river running through the canyon. The waterfall at this place destroyed the rock at the foot of the cliff, simply by the energy of the water hitting the round. Weaknesses in the rock allowed water to flow through and were widened. There are three channels where once the water was flowing through.

Today the area of the park is arid. The canyon is only reactivated a few times every year. The rest of the year the canyon is dry except for some pools. One of them is in the bowl where the waterfall once hit the ground.

Neaon Canyon is oriented to the south, so the sun shines into the canyon and the Golden Cathedral around noon. The high contrast between sunlight and shadow makes it quite difficult to take good picures. Either you take pictures in the morning or the late afternoon when the light is better or you use a tripod and HDR.

The only way to reach the Golden Cathedral is on a 15 km round trip hike. From the trail head (37.54113, -111.361753) on the cliffs of Egypt, you walk northeast, down the wash that deepens into Fence Canyon and ends in Escalante River (37.612337, -111.179307). Turn right and follow the canyon to the next side canyon on the left, after about 900 m (37.606514, -111.168346). This is Neon Canyon, and walking uphill you soon reach Golden Cathedral (37.611292, -111.164787). The hiike back is slightly different, you return to Escalante River and the walk directly towards the trailhead. The tour is about 4-7 hours and of moderate difficulty. You should not do it in the summer months (JUL to AUG) because its too hot. Also be aware there is the risk of flash floods, although it is not very high. The most strenuous part is the last ascent to the trailhead in the afternoon.

While it is possible to do the hike on your own, it is recommended to join a small group with a guide. The Wildland Trekking Company and Utah Slickrock Guides offer guided hikes to the Neon Canyon.