Visiting Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

While I was moving to college, my family and I stopped for the night in Caliente, Nevada and spent time in Cathedral Gorge State Park. After a long day of driving, it was nice to be able to get out and stretch our legs in such a beautiful area. We were lucky to get there around sunset, so we had some amazing views.

Part of Cathedral Gorge

Cathedral Gorge is on the eastern side of Nevada and is home to many unique clay formations made from years of continuous erosion, creating very photo worthy orange and yellow hues. There are many open areas, as well as sever slot canyon areas. Make sure to keep track of where you are as it can easy to get lost in them!

Inside some of the trails

There are numerous hikes to take, including Miller Point Trail, Eagle Point Trail, and Juniper Draw Loop, the longest being three miles. Most of the trails are fairly easy for most people and great to take kids on. If you are low on time, simply parking by and exploring the Cathedral, Canyon, and Moon caves will give you plenty of opportunity to see the slot canyons and formations. Of these, I particularly enjoyed the Cathedral caves. If you do explore the caves, note that there are certainly possibilities of seeing bats and make sure to wear study shoes as the terrain may be uneven.

Looking back on some of the caves

There are also some historical structures nearby, including some built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The water tower and outhouse are no longer in use (don’t fret though, there are functional bathrooms nearby), but stand to serve as a thank you to those who helped develop the park during its creation in 1935.

The CCC’s water tower

If you are looking to stay the night, there are 22 $15 camping spots with an additional $10 fee for electric hookups. Each spot has a grill, table, shaded area, and access to a bathroom with showers. There are quiet hours from 22:00 to 07:00 and the visitors center is open from 09:00 to 16:30.

Unfortunately we couldn’t stay for very long, but what we saw was gorgeous and I would love to return, if only to take a few more photos.

Peeking out into the valley

Have you been to Cathedral Gorge, or passed by while driving to Caliente? Would you like to? Leave your thoughts the comments!

Working With Education First (EF) Tours

Two of my trips abroad have been spent with Education First (EF) Tours: Peru and Tanzania. EF became a leading tour company in my school starting my freshman year when my friends and I planned our trip to Tanzania, which happened to be the first international student trip out of our town since 9/11. Each experience with them was incredibly special to me and here’s a full review of each main travel aspect:

Peru Trip crew

Itinerary:

EF has a knack for creating itineraries that are action packed and seamless- when you’re not on a service trip. My trip to Peru was heavily loaded with stuff to do every day and we were easily transported from one place to another, with little wasted time. We stayed in several cities and villages, including Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, Aguas Calientes, and Puno and never had issues with our lodging and always had something exciting planned for the day. However, during Tanzania, which was a more service oriented trip, we killed a lot of time waiting around in our tent playing cards. While I still cherish these memories, I felt like it was wasted potential to see and do many more new things, especially when we were so far from home. However, some of this may be attributed to the fact that we were one of the first groups in this area; therefore it was necessary to have established relationships with the locals beforehand. Who knows, but I wish we had done more with our time and money. One aspect I particularly felt scarce on was learning the history of the area I was in.

Exploring Machu Picchu

Lodging:

All of the places I stayed were clean and hospitable. The only inconvenience we ever had was we had a bedsheet with a bunch of dirt on it in Ollantaytambo, but both trips had very nice places to stay with great service. Some of the Peru hotels had the best breakfasts I have ever had. In Tanzania, we did spend time in a hotel for one night, but the rest were big mess tent style areas. While the area was pretty rural the spaces were still clean and well taken care of. We fit four people in each tent, which gave us plenty of room for belongings and moving around.

Inside one of the tents in Tanzania
Our hotel in Ollantaytambo (note the ruins above!!)

Food:

EF has done a spectacular job of keeping meals available to people of all needs, from peanut allergies to vegan to food dye (my only allergy). Meals often had a wide range of options, from buffet styles to just a vegetarian or meat option. Everywhere we went it was friendly and well kept, which helps the fear of catching a foreign bug. We got to try lots of local cuisine and cooking styles. I even got to try guinea pig near Cusco, Peru.

Food in Arusha, Tanzania
Guinea pig in Peru

Safety:

At all points in both trips I felt safe. We were never even in any uncomfortable situations or times when health may be compromised. We passed through areas in Peru that were known to be more risky to certain groups, such as Juliaca, but we never stayed or spent time in them. We were completely supervised and had interpreters at all times as well.

Our Peruvian tour leader
Two of our four guides in Tanzania

Cost:

Both trips I attended were relatively pricy (mostly due to flights), but I have mostly felt that the experience was worth the cost. I had a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have experienced traveling solo or even with small groups.

Our Tanzania group

Overall, EF tours is a reliable, trustworthy tour company that offers awesome opportunities. I would and do recommend them to fellow classmates, friends, and peers, as they make sure the trip is seamless and leaves the student feeling fulfilled and maybe a bit unexcited to go home.