The Great Chamber at Cutler Point is part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument near Kanab, Utah. The magically unspoiled views alone make it a worthwhile adventure from Kanab and if you do it correctly, it will only take a few hours…the key is doing it correctly. Fortunately, I’m here to impart all of my wisdom from our recent trip to the Great Chamber at Cutler Point so you can avoid our misadventures!
Read on for my all-inclusive guide to the Great Chamber at Cutler Point. The guide will cover the best time of year to visit the Great Chamber, vehicle requirements, deep sand driving tips, how to get to the Great Chamber at Cutler Point, tour options, a packing list, hiking trail info, and photography tips. I hope this guide to the Great Chamber at Cutler Point will help you plan a wildly successful trip and enjoy this secret gem outside of Kanab, Utah!
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When to Visit the Great Chamber at Cutler Point
In general, spring or fall are ideal times for visiting the Great Chamber at Cutler Point and the areas surrounding Kanab, Utah. You’ll enjoy lower temps than in the scorching summer and avoid potential issues with trails closed due to ice in the winter; I personally would not risk driving these trails under anything less than ideal conditions.
We went in April, which was a perfect time to visit the area – we had lows in the 40s, highs in the 70s, and no rain all week. The 4WD trails to get to Cutler Point and the hiking trail up to the Great Chamber were all in reasonable condition and we had no weather-related issues. The one thing I’ll add is consider the temperature of the sand – if you’re going midday (even in spring), the sand can heat up pretty quickly. My recommendation would be to do the hike earlier in the morning. I imagine fall would also be an excellent time to visit – we previously visited Moab, Utah for 3 days in October, and the weather was fantastic!
You absolutely must have a 4WD high clearance vehicle – do not risk driving without one. You will 100% end up stuck and there is little to no cell phone service to call for a tow. We personally rented a Jeep Gladiator through Turo, which allows you to rent vehicles directly from their owners (basically an Airbnb for cars). It worked absolutely perfect for us and I would definitely recommend it – the service allows you to choose a car that is 4WD and high clearance instead of relying on a traditional car rental company.
You will drive through deep sand to get there, and the wind frequently changes the grooves and depth of the sand, so you must be a confident driver. If you do get stuck, you should probably know how to get yourself unstuck, because this is not a well-trafficked trail. My fiancé and I had the area to ourselves for the first couple hours before any other people arrived at Cutler Point.
In case you’re wondering – no, I personally have absolutely no idea how to drive in deep sand. However, Jake (my fiancé) grew up driving on sand trails for fun, so he’s basically a pro. He had his teenage years to practice getting stuck and then unstuck out of deep sand so that I never had to experience it with him on this trip! I was extremely thankful for his secret ninja driving skills.
With that, Jake is here to offer some of his best sand driving tips. If I were you, I’d take notes and/or bookmark these because he not only successfully navigated us to the Great Chamber at Cutler Point, but we also journeyed to Peekaboo Canyon and White Pocket with absolutely no issues! Without further ado, here are his pro driving in sand tips:
- Equipment: First of all, make sure you have the right equipment, and by that I mean a 4-wheel drive truck or SUV, and preferably with tires that are larger than normal street tires. If you get something similar to the Jeep that we rented (I would strongly suggest this if you’ve never driven off-road before), then you should have a relatively stress-free experience getting to Cutler Point.
- Confidence, Confidence, Confidence!! Even if you’ve never driven in sand before you need to be confident in your every move. You want to maintain a good speed (that could be 20-25 MPH), and be smooth on the throttle. The worst thing you can do is spin the tires, so accelerate slowly to avoid this. If your tires start spinning to the point that you’re slowing down, STOP! You can always back up and go faster on the next try (I will reiterate this again below). If you spin too much and dig a hole with the tires, you may not be able to back out and you’ll have to dig the sand away from behind all of the tires to create a ramp to back out…and nobody wants to do that.
- Watch the terrain: if you see a sandy incline (hill) coming up, slowly accelerate to increase your speed before you get there, then maintain your speed up the incline, only slowing once you reach the top. As mentioned above, if you slow down too much on a hill and your tires start to spin, STOP! You can always back down the hill and hit it faster on the next attempt.
- Steering Wheel: If you are in very deep sand, do all of the above, but also move the steering wheel from side to side (between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock). This will help prevent sand from building up in front of your tires and provide extra traction.
- Washboards: If you come across “washboards,” or small, frequent bumps in the road (caused by the suspension bouncing of all the vehicles that drive through that section), there are two things you can do: slow way down and take it easy or hit it quickly to “skip” over the bumps… either way there’s going to be things shaking on your body that you didn’t know could shake! These washboards typically happen in “shallower” sand, so I wouldn’t worry about going too slowly and getting stuck.
- Air Pressure: Lastly, if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle but not bigger tires, you will need to lower the air pressure in the tires to 18psi to allow the tire to balloon out and get a larger footprint on the sand. However, make sure not to drive far on the regular road before airing the tires back up.
How to get to Great Chamber at Cutler Point
From Kanab: Head north on 89 until you see signs for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary on the right. Turn right onto Angel Canyon Road and follow it past all of the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary buildings. You’ll transition from a nicely paved highway to what they term an “unimproved road.” Next turn is when it gets kind of tricky…on the right hand side of the road, keep an eye out for 4WD and ATV trail markers. You’re going to want to take the trail for 100. Take 100 all the way to 103 and then straight up. This is the yellow trail on the left side of the map at the end of this section.
As an FYI, there is little to no service, so determine your route in advance and take screenshots of the map below! We were very ill prepared and only had offline terrain maps downloaded, but the maps were not high enough resolution, so we ended up down miscellaneous ATV trails and had no idea what the trail markers meant.
At one point, Jake navigated us to what looked like a trail on Google’s terrain maps, but was actually a dried up river bed…take it from me that these trail maps will save you many a wrong turn!
From Johnson Canyon Road: Alternatively, if you are on Johnson Canyon Road (on the right side of the map), take trail 100 to 103, which will bring you to the same location. Both routes do have cattle fences, so make sure your passenger isn’t napping – he/she will need to be prepared to hop out to open and close all the fences standing between you and Cutler Point!
For the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) most updated maps, visit their website. Scroll down until you see the BLM maps section, click on Kanab South, and it will open a handy PDF for download. The directions I provided were accurate when we went, but it’s always a good idea to call the BLM field office and ask if there are any trail closures.
Tours to the Great Chamber at Cutler Point
If my driving directions and tips have scared you off of doing a self-drive adventure, don’t fear! There are tour companies in the area that will navigate the scary sand driving and show you the trail to easily hike Cutler Point. You can leave the driving, planning, and worrying to the pros. Honestly, if I didn’t have Jake and his Class A sand driving skills, I would have definitely opted for a tour.
Interested in taking a tour to the Great Chamber at Cutler Point? Check out this tour to the Great Chamber!
Hiking & Trail Info for the Great Chamber
The good news is that once you finally arrive to Cutler Point, the hike to the Great Chamber is a relatively short hike. The somewhat less exciting news is that there are no trail markers and for us, it was not super clear. Fortunately, I’m here to pass along all of our misadventures so you can avoid our mistakes and successfully hike Cutler Point the first time!
Here’s what we did (hint: DO NOT DO THIS!). We hiked up, and then tried to hike over. It was rocky/sandy as described, but there was no Cutler Point at the top. We decided to keep going, which I would not recommend, so we hiked over another mound of sand and found…nothing! At this point, we cut our losses, hiked down back to the car and regrouped with a snack. At this point, I was able to pull up a screenshot I had taken of the terrain and we realized our problem. After some minor corrections and rehydrating, we were off again.
Here’s what we did (round 2) – this is what I would recommend: Looking at Cutler Point from the parking lot, go to the right (east), climb over a fence, and follow the trail at the same elevation until you can go up. The last bit is through sugar sand, so you have to do a bit of a jog to make any forward progress. Somehow we lost the trail a bit on the way up, so if you’re hiking and it looks like the photos below, you have also lost the trail.
Fortunately, after reaching the top and exploring, we successfully followed the trail the entire way down! In hindsight, the trail seemed incredibly obvious and I have no clue how we lost it at all. Personally, I think I was starting to crave a yummy lunch, and was not paying close enough attention. Anyways, this is how the trail down should look. See how much easier it looks than the pictures above?
One more note for hiking to the Great Chamber at Cutler Point: I’d recommend checking out the most recent comments on AllTrails for up to date trail conditions and just to double check if anything has been reported (ice, washed out roads, etc.) AllTrails requires a login, but is free to sign up.
What to Bring for Your Hike to the Great Chamber
Wear: Since much of the hike is through rocky sand and sugar sand, I’d recommend higher hiking boots (like these) or hiking sandals (these Keens are amazing!). Jake made the mistake of hiking with low boots and basically ended up with an entire beach of sand in his shoe while my higher hiking boots stayed sand-free! You can see in the picture below that even my boots are nearly disappearing under the sugar sand near the top of the hike.
Otherwise, make sure you are prepared clothing-wise. The trail is nearly all exposed so you’ll feel the direct sunshine. Even in April, it got hot quickly and by the time we reached the Great Chamber, I was down to a tank top. A hat was a life-saver for both of us in keeping the sun off our faces too.
Other Items to Bring:
- Water – it’s a relatively short hike, but do not underestimate the power of the Utah sun.
- Snacks – we rewarded ourselves with snacks at the top. Please make sure you pack out all of your trash! This area is so pristine, and let’s all help it to stay like that.
- Shovel – bring a shovel in your car in case you need to dig out your car if you get stuck. Always better to be over prepared in situations like this.
- Offline maps, especially trail maps – I think I probably belabored this point above, but learn from our mistakes and download trail maps in advance!
- Sunscreen – very sunny on the entire trail!
Photography Tips for the Great Chamber
Honestly, it’s hard to take a bad photo of the Great Chamber at Cutler Point. This hidden gem just brings about all the magical feels once you reach the top, especially because it’s not highly trafficked. My most important photography tip is to bring a wide angle lens. I shot at around 12mm, which worked perfectly.
Otherwise, take your time and enjoy the sights from the top! It’s not only the views from inside the cavern that are spectacular…soak in the panoramic views of the entire valley.
Where to Stay in Kanab, Utah
Kanab, Utah will be your best bet for exploring the Great Chamber at Cutler Point. It’s a quaint little town with plenty of accommodation options. There’s a couple different choices for you.
Outside of Town: If you’re ok staying slightly outside of town, check out this house with beautiful views of the red rock cliffs. You’re only a couple miles outside of town and get to enjoy epic views; plus, you’re walking distance to local hiking trails.
In Kanab: Many of the hotels in Kanab are relatively similar and you have plenty of chains as options. If I had to recommend one, I’d suggest the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. This is where we stayed for a few days – it was a good location, and provided a quick, easy breakfast in the morning to fuel us on our adventures.
And there you have it – all of our misadventures on reaching the Great Chamber at Cutler Point! Let’s hope some of my tips will prove helpful for you…any other suggestions I should add to this guide?