Capitol Reef National Park is a place of spectacular beauty; it has so many areas of special, natural wonder. Unfortunately, very few people get to visit these special places. In an effort to make these hidden treasures known to the public, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch have created this blog series to highlight the best-unknown places of Capitol Reef. Watch for new “Special Places” posts. This time we’re talking about Capitol Reef’s Gypsum Sinkhole
In the northern section of the park is the area known as Cathedral Valley. It’s a sparse, open desert country with the occasional monolith rising from the sand. It is also the least visited part of Capitol Reef. And it is where you can find the Gypsum Sinkhole.
Formed when an underground gypsum plug was dissolved by groundwater, the cavity that is now the Gypsum Sinkhole is nearly 200-feet deep and 50-feet in diameter. It’s an impressive site, unlike anything else you will find in Capitol Reef. Something else that you will likely notice near the sinkhole are the lava flows that seem out-of-place in sandstone environment. Known as sills and dikes, these stark black rock formations were deposited when the nearby Thousand Lake Mountain erupted in the distant past.
The trailhead to the Gypsum Sinkhole is located on the Caineville Wash Road. (We recommend getting a map at the Capitol Reef visitor center before you head into Cathedral Valley.) From the trailhead, it’s only a short hike to the Gypsum Sinkhole. Visitors are advised not to stand to close to the edge. It is very unstable.
The Gypsum Sinkhole is a rare geological marvel. And we think you’ll love it.