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How to Get to Utah’s Great Chamber aka Cutler Point

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Before I had even heard of the “Great Chamber” or “Cutler Point”, I’d seen a photo of this unique yellow sand cave and knew I had to find it.

Fast forward to January 2023 when I finally got to visit Utah’s Great Chamber as part of our collaboration with Visit Southern Utah in Kanab. Tim and I were hosted by Roam Outdoor Adventure Co. on a combo tour that visited both Cutler Point and Peek-a-boo Slot Canyon.

There were so many things that surprised me about the Great Chamber, from its size, to how much more there is to it than what you see on Instagram, and to the crazy offroad journey to get there!

That’s why I wrote this guide on how to visit the Great Chamber, with comprehensive directions (and GPS coordinates), ATV tour and rental recommendations, and tips on what to bring.

Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles: plan your hike in advance, stick to designated trails, carry out all your belongings, dispose of waste properly, leave natural areas untouched, minimize the impact of campfires, show consideration for fellow hikers, and avoid approaching or feeding wildlife.

What is the Great Chamber and Cutler Point?

Cutler Point is essentially a massive sandstone alcove perched high above the canyon floor near Kanab, in southern Utah. It’s characterized by its sheer size and the stunning views it offers of the surrounding landscape.

It’s located in one of the most geologically unique places in the US: Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. Let’s get our learn on for a few minutes and talk about how the Great Chamber formed.

Millions of years ago, this area was submerged beneath ancient seas. Over time, layers of sand, silt, and other sediment settled at the bottom of these seas. As the waters receded, the sediment layers were left behind, gradually solidifying into rock.

The rock layers in this region are predominantly composed of sandstone, which is relatively soft compared to other types of rock. This softness makes sandstone particularly susceptible to erosion by natural forces such as wind and water.

Fast forward millions of years, and the landscape underwent significant changes due to tectonic activity, uplift, and the carving force of rivers. The Colorado Plateau, where Cutler Point is situated, experienced uplift, exposing the sedimentary layers to the erosive forces of wind and water.

As rivers and streams carved their way through the landscape, they gradually wore away at the softer rock layers, creating deep canyons, valleys, and alcoves. Cutler Point owes its existence to this relentless process of erosion. Over time, the softer sandstone surrounding the alcove eroded away, leaving behind this majestic natural formation.

How to Get to the Great Chamber

You can get to the Great Chamber by Bureau of Land Management 4WD and ATV trails. It’s a little bit complicated, and definitely requires some off-roading skills, so let’s dive into the details so you can decide if self-driving to the Great Chamber is for you.

Vehicle Requirements

You absolutely need a high-clearance 4WD to get to the Great Chamber. As soon as you leave pavement, you’ll be driving through deep sand. I recommend renting a Jeep or ATV if you don’t have your own. You can also take a tour to the Great Chamber if you don’t want to worry about driving and finding your way.

Sand Driving Tips

Driving in sand can be an exciting but tricky adventure. Lucky for me, Tim has experience navigating sandy terrains safely and smoothly. Here are six must-know tips before you set out to drive to the Great Chamber.

  1. Adjust Tire Pressure: Lower your tire pressure to 15-20 psi for better traction on the sand. It’s like giving your vehicle a firm grip on the terrain.
  2. Keep the Momentum: Once you start moving, maintain a steady speed to prevent sinking. Consistency is key to keeping those wheels rolling smoothly.
  3. Engage 4WD: Before tackling sandy terrain, engage your vehicle’s four-wheel-drive system and switch to low-range gearing for maximum control and traction. It’s like adding an extra layer of confidence to your drive.
  4. Steer Smoothly: Avoid sudden turns or sharp maneuvers that can throw off your traction and stability. Keep your steering gentle and fluid for optimal control.
  5. Safe Distances: Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and others to allow for quick reactions to changing terrain and obstacles. Give yourself plenty of room to maneuver safely.
  6. Pack Recovery Gear: Be prepared for any surprises by packing essential recovery gear like a shovel, traction mats, tow straps, and a portable air compressor. And never embark on a sand-driving adventure without a trusty companion by your side, or at least telling someone where you’re going and when you’ll return.

Of course, if any of this information is new to you, I would recommend booking a tour or having an experienced friend drive instead.

Driving Directions

IMPORTANT: Do NOT take the route Google Maps recommends. It doesn’t take the UTV and 4WD trails you need to drive to get to the Great Chamber, so it won’t be very helpful. The directions below are based on the Bureau of Land Management trail map.

Heading north on Highway 89, turn right onto Kanab Canyon Road. Pass Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and continue onto the dirt road. Eventually, you’ll start to see markers for UTV and 4WD trails. Look for the trail marked 100 on your right.

Take trail 100 to 103 (again, look for the signs). This will lead you to the parking lot for the Great Chamber.

The GPS coordinates for the Great Chamber are: 37.18615649366742, -112.45442950232109

Great Chamber Map

Map base via BLM

How to Hike to Great Chamber

When you get to the parking area, you’ll see a sign (pictured below). The trail continues past this sign up towards the yellow rock formation.

It’s quite steep, but thankfully not very long. It’s only 0.25 miles to the Great Chamber from where you park.

When we went, there was an unusually high amount of snow on the ground, but in normal conditions, the trail is basically like hiking up a sand dune. You might find sandals easier for sand hiking, or taking your shoes off entirely.

Since we were hiking on crunchy snow, our normal hiking boots worked great.

Soon, you’ll get to the Great Chamber. Walk up into the alcove and go to the back wall.

Stand in the center and look out in the direction you came from for the famous Instagram shot where the walls of the alcove frame the sky and the dune.

Great Chamber Photography Tips

The Great Chamber is a photographer’s paradise! There are so many unique textures, compositions, and features all worthy of photographing.

Here are some tips to help you get the best shots.

  • Wide Angle Perspective: The vastness of the Great Chamber is best captured with a wide-angle lens. This allows you to encompass more of the landscape in your frame and emphasize the grandeur of the sandstone alcove against the expansive sky.
  • Foreground Interest: Incorporate interesting foreground elements, such as desert vegetation or rock formations, to add depth and visual interest to your composition. These elements can provide context and scale to the scene, making your photos more immersive.
  • Capture Details: While wide shots capture the grandeur, don’t forget to zoom in and capture the intricate details of the sandstone formations. Focus on unique textures, patterns, and colors that make the Great Chamber truly remarkable.
  • Unique Perspectives: Try different perspectives, angles, and locations for your photos.
  • Long Exposure Magic: If you’re photographing the Great Chamber during the day, consider using a neutral density (ND) filter to achieve long exposure effects. This can create mesmerizing motion blur in clouds.

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Where to Stay in Kanab, Utah

Kanab is the closest town to the Great Chamber, and is one of our favorite southwest bases! It’s a really cute town with lots of restaurants, shops, and hotels.

Our top recommendation for a hotel is Best Friends Roadhouse. The hotel caters to travelers with pets, but even if you don’t have a pet, it’s an awesome place to stay. We stayed there with our cat Mara and they treated her like a princess (rightfully so!).

You can use the map below to find other hotels in Kanab.

When to Visit the Great Chamber

Spring and fall are the best times to visit the Great Chamber. This is when the weather is most mild.

We visited the Great Chamber in January right after a heavy snowstorm, which I wouldn’t exactly recommend. Although it was beautiful, it made driving conditions and wayfinding more challenging, since the trail was obscured in deep snow. Thankfully, we were with a guide who knew his way around. If we were self-driving, though, I don’t think we would have been able to find the Great Chamber in those conditions.

I wouldn’t recommend visiting the Great Chamber in the summer. Temperatures regularly exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months, making it more dangerous to set off on a big desert adventure. Not to mention, the temperature of the sand will be scorching hot in summer.

What to Bring

Tours to the Great Chamber

We saw this place on a Great Chamber UTV Tour, and it was a blast. We didn’t have to worry about any of the navigation, and we even had the option to let the guide drive. Tim loves driving UTVs though so of course he was happy to take the wheel!

But if you want a less stressful experience where you don’t have to worry about getting lost or calling for help if something goes wrong, booking a tour is the way to go.

We went with Roam Outdoor Adventures Co. which you can book by clicking here or the image below.

Cool Places to Visit Near the Great Chamber

Kanab is one of the best owns in the southwest for outdoor adventure, so be sure to check out these other awesome destinations near the Great Chamber!

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