More than a million years ago, a large freshwater lake covered all of Meadow Valley - the area along U.S. 93 between Caliente and Panaca. Later, uplifting and faulting of the terrain caused the waters to drain, leaving behind a thousand feet of sediments and gravel. During the most recent ice age, rivulets of rainwater and snowmelt began to carve gullies out of the softer sediments - siltstone and clay - resulting in the maze of towers, crevices, and canyons at Cathedral Gorge.
Mrs. Earl Godbe, an 1890s resident of nearby mining camp called Bullionville, was one of the first visitors to appreciate the drama of this sculpted landscape. Eroded siltstone spires reminded her of European cathedrals, prompting her to suggest the name Cathedral Gulch (later amended to Cathedral Gorge). Over the years, these buff-colored cliffs have also provided residents with a unique backdrop for Biblical pageants and other open-air dramas.
In 1911, Nephi and Elbert Edwards, two teenage boys from Panaca, began exploring the nooks and crannies of Cathedral Gorge. They and their brothers built a series of ladders through cave-like crevices and crawlways. In the early 1920s, the Edwards families led the movement to preserve and protect the Gorge, which became a state park in 1935.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the original camping facilities, including the stone water tower near the picnic area and the ramada at Miller's Point, one of the best observation points and trailheads in the park. Other facilities have since been added, including several nature trails, which offer excellent hiking and photographic opportunities.