A large rock formation rising up from a barren landscape with early morning sunlight hitting its peak.

Factory Butte | Hanksville Utah's Most Impressive Rock Formation

In a state full of extreme landscapes, Factory Butte is one of the most stunning. We have everything you need to know about this incredible rock formation.

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Even from far away, Factory Butte looks monstrous. It seems to emerge out of nothing, dwarfing even the impressively large badlands at its feet.

As we drove down Highway 24, passing through Hanksville Utah, a land full of extreme landscapes, we couldn't pull our eyes away from the sight of it.

We've spent months exploring Utah and several days in the Hanksville area chasing views just like this one. After making our way here and experiencing places like Factory Butte, we've put together all of our personal advice on how to find this monster, and the other incredible views nearby. If you'd like to experience this place for yourself in the best way possible, keep reading our guide to Utah's most impressive rock formation.

Birds eye view of the blue gray hills at the base of Factory ButteDrone photo of the endless badland hills at the base of Factory Butte

Discovering Factory Butte

How to Get There

Getting to Factory Butte is pretty straight forward. It's located about 12 miles west of Hanksville, off Utah Highway 24.

You can connect to Highway 24 off I-70 in the north, whether you're coming from Salt Lake City or Arches National Park and the Moab area. From Moab it's just over a two hour drive and from SLC it's four hours.

If you're heading up from the southern part of the state you can take Highway 62 north until you reach 24 and then head east. It's about a three hour drive from Bryce Canyon.

Whether you come in from the east or the west on 24, you're going to keep going until you reach North Factory Butte Road.

This is where you leave the smooth pavement behind for a rough washboard gravel road. It's a very flat grade and completely doable for any 2WD vehicle, but you'll need to drive very slowly if you care at all about your suspension.

Head north up this road to the massive rock formation in the distance. Trust us, you can't miss it even from a distance along Highway 24.

There's very little else out here. About 1 mile down the road you'll see fences on the left, which lead into the Swing Arm City OHV area. There are some vault toilets here, but other than an information board, you won't see anything else along the road.

A drone photo of Factory Butte at sunrise with golden sunlight hitting the peak and a pastel sky in the background.A sign indicating the OHV area at Factory Butte in the foreground with the rock formation out of focus in the distance.

Map of Factory Butte and Hanksville

When to go

The best time of year to visit Factory Butte is in the late spring or the fall. Temperature highs in April and May are typically quite comfortable in the 70s (low 20s C). Late September through early November you can expect the same.

One bonus in the spring is the chance of seeing desert wildflowers. A spectacular bloom in this area is somewhat rare and depends on precipitation the year before, but when it happens, the contrast of colorful flowers with the blue-gray mud of the Bentonite clay is stunning.

During the summer, between June and August, this area can see highs in the upper 90s (35 C). It's an extremely dry climate with lots of direct sunlight. Afternoon storms are also common during the summer.

Winters in Hanksville tend to be somewhat mild. Seeing and photographing Factory Butte covered in snow is a personal bucket list item and if you're able to make it there at that time of year we think if would be totally worth it.

The best time of day to view Factory Butte is undoubtedly in the early morning or just before sunset. The low angle of the sun makes for some incredibly dramatic effects on the formation itself and the badlands surrounding it.

If your goal is photography, it's really hard to choose a favorite between sunrise and sunset. Factory Butte really looks incredible at both times of day, whether it's catching sunlight on the southern and eastern faces in the morning, or backlit by the setting sun. We've photographed it at both times of day and were thrilled with the results either way.

A drone photo of Factory Butte with the dramatic blue gray badlands in the foreground and the sun setting behind the hills
See a shot you love? Our Factory Butte photos are for sale in our print shop!

What to do

Besides the views, the main thing that draws folks to this area is off-roading.

The land surrounding Factory Butte is managed by the BLM and is open to motorized OHVs, but visitors need to stay within designated areas to protect the endangered plant species.

Immediately adjacent to this Special Recreation Management Area is Swing Arm City, a freeride zone, where you can take a dirt bike, ATV or OHV anywhere you like. The hilly terrain makes for some of the highest and most thrilling jumps in the country, but there are also spots suitable for beginner or intermediate riders.

You can rent 2 or 4 seat off-road vehicles from Hanksville Tours with rates starting at $350 for five hours.

A video thumbnail of a dramatic rock formation with text overlay that says 'Factory Butte'.

Camping Near Factory Butte

If you find yourself like us and need more than one day to explore this epic terrain it's no problem to find camping around Factory Butte.

One of the things we love about this area is the ease of boondocking.

The official guidelines from the BLM are: "feel free to camp wherever your truck stops within the OHV open areas." That includes all of Swing Arm City and most of the area surrounding Factory Butte. Outside of these open areas, you're permitted to set up for the night in well established camp sites that are 150 feet from designated routes.

If primitive camping isn't your thing you still have a few options. Red Desert, Inc. manages a campground with full hookups in Hanksville as well as the Whispering Sands Motel.

The Cathedral Valley Inn is in Caineville, just six minutes down the road from Swing Arm City.

A campervan parked in a barren desert landscape with a large dramatic rock formation in the distant background

Nearby Adventures

Seeing Factory Butte firsthand might just increase your taste for adventure and epic scenery. If you've made it this far you can't miss out on the other unique destinations nearby.

Moonscape Overlook

Hanksville truly does have an otherworldly appearance. Nowhere proves that better than Moonscape Overlook. Sheer cliffs drop to a gray, barren landscape that stretches for miles.

The only thing you have to do to reach it from Factory Butte is keep driving. From the turn off Highway 24 it's about five miles on the gravel washboard road. From there, you'll need to head east on an unmarked route for another two miles.

A word of caution here: it does become extremely rough and rutted. A 2WD vehicle, like our Ford Transit campervan can make it just fine, but it's not a smooth drive by any means and it helps to have a bit of clearance.

The area right along the cliff edges is well established for camping and you're likely to have plenty of company, since this spot has become quite popular in recent years.

Sunsets and sunrises here are both incredible. There's a spot where folks take a turn walking out onto a tiny speck of land overlooking everything. We decided the risk of falling to our death just wasn't worth it, but let us know in a comment if you're brave enough to go out there for a photo.

A woman in a red jacket stands on the edge of a massive cliff overlooking a dramatic mountain landscape

The Long Dong Silver Spire

Our second favorite adventure in this area is hiking out to the mysterious spire rock formation that somehow got branded "Long Dong Silver."

The trek out to this remote spot will have you feeling like you're on a journey through Middle Earth. It's only a four minute drive down Highway 24, with about an hour of round-trip walking.

A sharp dark rock spire rises up from a desert landscape with rocky cliffs surrounding it

Capitol Reef & Cathedral Valley

If you've left time in your itinerary for a longer adventure, we'd strongly recommend heading out to Cathedral Valley.

The drive requires a 4WD vehicle and a full day of your time, but it's a part of Capitol Reef National Park that only about 1% of visitors make it out to see. On the way to the Temples of the Sun and Moon you'll also get to see the mind-blowingly colorful layers of the Bentonite Hills.

A woman stands between two massive sandstone rock formation with a third in the distance

Want to see Factory Butte? Pin this for later!

A drone photo of Factory Butte at sunrise with a pastel sky and text overlay with the name and location

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