A sharp black rock formation called Long Dong Silver dramatically rises up from the surrounding desert landscape in Utah with cliffs in the background

Long Dong Silver Spire in Utah | Weird Name, Incredible Hike

It's one of Utah's best hidden gems. The Long Dong Silver rock formation isn't easy to find, but we have everything you need to know in this guide.

Updated April 2024

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It's hidden between towering cliffs in the middle of nowhere Utah. And it juts up out of the ground dramatically, looking like the dark tower stronghold of some villain from a science fiction movie.

Maybe you've heard about this mysterious rock formation, or seen it on social media. It's been called by a few names, including The Spire and The Needle, but the name that seems to have stuck is Long Dong Silver.

In a region of Utah that's brimming with unique landscapes, this is easily one of the most impressive that we've seen in person. If you've been trying to decipher the exact location of this place and how to find Long Dong Silver, we've got all the information you need.

We're also including tips on the best time to go, how to capture the best photos and video (like the one below), and what to bring along to be fully prepared on this adventure.

A video thumbnail of a dramatic rock formation with text overlay that says 'The Spire aka Long Dong Silver'.

How to Get to Long Dong Silver Spire

One of the biggest appeals to Long Dong Silver is that it's still relatively undiscovered and remote. That also makes it a bit more difficult to find.

You won't see any signs or markers pointing to it and the surroundings are completely undeveloped with regards to visitors, but getting there can be as simple as putting in the right GPS coordinates.

Let's start there: Long Dong Silver is located off Utah Highway 24 about 7 miles west of Hanksville. Use these coordinates to find the starting point: 38.369457, -110.840582. As you reach this point, be on the lookout for a good place to pull off on the north side of the road.

There's no official route to get out to the rock spire, so you need to find the best path to take. You could park and walk about 2.0 miles from here, but it's easier to drive in further and cut that in half.

When driving, follow the tire tracks where others have already been. The soft, sandy ground in this area will be more compacted, making for an easier drive and you'll be reducing the impact on the landscape.

As you're heading north, you're aiming for these coordinates: 38.382063, -110.838436, which is as close to Long Dong Silver as you can park before you'll need to get out and walk. From here it's approximately one mile further.

You will see plenty of other tire tracks beyond this informal parking area, but you'll also see clearly posted signs saying you're not allowed to drive any further. Please respect the signs. Again, this is a completely undeveloped area that needs to be protected so we can all continue to visit and enjoy the views.

Make sure you have offline maps downloaded before venturing out, since there's very limited cell phone coverage in the area. To make getting to Long Dong Silver easier, we've put together a custom Google map. It has all the waypoints you need to know marked, including where to stop on Highway 24, where to park, and the spire itself. It also has lots of other points of interest in the Hanksville area that you won't want to miss.

Hiking to Long Dong Silver

The landscape views surrounding Long Dong Silver have been likened to Mordor (Lord of the Rings anyone?) or a planet from Star Wars. Either of those descriptions fits well. It's not just the spire itself that will have you feeling like you're on a trek across Middle Earth. The walk across this dry and arid patch of Utah with nothing else in sight besides dramatic and towering rock formations has an undeniable sense of adventure about it.

The ground is covered in a soft gray dirt with a layer of crust, but it easily crumbles under foot. This makes walking across any untrodden area a little difficult. It's similar to walking in dry sand on the beach.

To reduce your impact and make the hike a bit easier, just follow along in the path of others.

A low angle shot looking at dry crusty soil that has been walked on leading toward a dramatic rock formation landscape in the distanceLooking down from a first person view at a woman's legs and hiking boots as she stands on a dry and cracked gray desert floor

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From the parking area you'll be heading directly north, paralleling a dry wash. After about 1/2 mile the cliffs on either side will begin to get much closer together and that gap between them is where you need to go.

Following the path uphill and to the right makes for a much more difficult walk in this soft soil, but you'll get your first glimpse of Long Dong Silver a little sooner. You can take the longer, flat route around the hills if you want to save some energy.

The spire itself is just as impressive up close as it is from further away. It's made of a fairly crumbly rock and you can see firsthand how weathered it is. We couldn't help but wonder just how much longer it will stand up to the forces of erosion.

The best views and photos are definitely from the far side of Long Dong Silver, so take some time to walk up to and around it, then make your way back to your vehicle by retracing your steps.

A man is dwarfed as he stands next to the tall and pointed rock formation called Long Dong Silver in UtahA tall and dramatic rock formation jutting up from a desert landscape is dramatically lit by the low evening sun

When is the Best Time to Visit?

We waited for the most opportune time to visit Long Dong Silver, which was in late May during a beautiful sunset. The weather conditions couldn't have been better and it was an easy drive and hike in. If you're able to do the same, we'd strongly recommend a late spring evening, but we've covered some other things to consider in more detail below.

Weather in the Area

The temperatures in Hanksville are generally mild in the spring and fall, but climb sharply over the summer, especially in July and August. This is a very dry and sunny desert landscape, with no shade at all and the elevation, at around 4500' feet, is worth considering as well.

The summer also brings higher chances for sudden storms and windy conditions that sweep through the area. If you plan to go during the summer we'd recommend an early morning visit when temperatures are lowest and afternoon storms haven't fully developed.

If it's rained recently the soft and dusty ground could easily become difficult to drive in, so don't chance it under those conditions unless you have a very capable 4x4 vehicle.

Overall, the best time to visit Long Dong Silver would definitely be in the spring or fall. Either way, check the weather in advance and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, as the sun and elevation can really sneak up on you.

Best Time to Photograph the Spire

The other benefit to sunrise is that the lighting around golden hour (right after the sun rises or about an hour before sunset) makes the landscape all the more dramatic for photography.

During a bright sunny afternoon it will look washed out and less vibrant, but as the sun sets, especially with slightly cloudy skies, the colors come out in the rock formations and the shadows create a really stunning effect.

In our opinion, the best composition is from the north, looking back from where you came. During sunset the two black spires will catch light on the face closest to you instead of being backlit.

Aim for an evening with at least a few clouds and plan to arrive well before sunset, since you also have to contend with the cliff on the horizon.

What Else is There to Do in Hanksville Utah?

You don't come to Hanksville for just one epic destination. If you're planning a road trip here you've got to make several stops. This area is one of the most mind-blowing parts of the entire country.

Fun fact: there is a private research facility just down the road from Long Dong Silver called the Mars Desert Research Station. That's how otherworldly this region is.

Some other spots near Hanksville that we'd strongly recommend visiting are Moonscape Overlook, Factory Butte, Goblin Valley State Park, and all of Capitol Reef National Park, but specifically the Cathedral Valley Loop, which includes the Bentonite Hills and the Temples of the Sun and Moon.

While there's an abundance of hiking, off-roading and rock climbing are other popular activities here.

A woman stands on the edge of a sheer cliff overlooking an otherworldly landscape in Utah with dramatic rock formations and mountains in the distance.
See a shot you love? We have Utah landscapes photos for sale in our print shop!

Common Questions About Long Dong Silver

Do I need 4×4 to Get There?

All the major roads leading to Hanksville and the immediate area around Long Dong Silver are easily drivable in any vehicle. Under dry conditions you shouldn't even need a 4×4 or high clearance vehicle after leaving Highway 24.

On a dry spring day we were able to make it in our rear wheel drive Ford Transit campervan with no worries at all.

The ground is very soft in some places and could become slick with heavy rain though, so that's when we'd recommend a more capable vehicle. If it looks like the odds of getting stuck are higher, you could always stop at the pull-off right off 24 and walk in two miles.

Are Drones Allowed at Long Dong Silver?

Yes, drones are currently allowed at Long Dong Silver. You should always check official resources from the FAA, but there are plenty of epic locations in the Hanksville area that are outside the national park and other prohibited flight areas. Please also remember to be courteous of others who might be there at the same time and fly safely, but drone photo and video from this spot looks amazing!

What should I bring?

Long Dong Silver is an easy hike that feels like a big adventure, but it's always helpful to come prepared. Below is a list of some basic essentials you should pack, along with some other recommendations:

Bring plenty of water. The recommended minimum here would be 1 liter per person, but you should bring more to be on the safe side, especially if you're going during especially hot and dry conditions.

Remember to download offline maps before heading to Hanksville. You should anticipate not having cell reception.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. The Utah sun is no joke, so do everything you can to cover up and protect yourself.

A buff or neck gaiter. This can act as another barrier against the sun, but it could also be a lifesaver against gusts of wind. The dust is easily kicked up and can be downright unpleasant.

If you're heading out during sunset consider bringing a headlamp. It would be difficult, but not impossible to lose your way out here.

A snack. This is a personal must. We bring snacks everywhere.

A bag. Helpful to carry water, some extra layers, sunscreen, and, most importantly, any trash so that you can pack it back out with you.

Where Can You Stay Nearby?

If you'll be spending more than one day in the area and want to find a hotel or camp near Hanksville you've got a few choices.

Short Term Rentals

Muddy Creek Mining Company has beautiful and modern king and double queen cabins available for rent, located directly in Hanksville.

Blue Valley Domes offers four unique geodesic domes that sleep between 2 and 4 people. They're located right off Highway 24, just a few minutes from Long Dong Silver.

Camping

There are several paid campgrounds within under an hour drive, including some private ones and the Goblin Valley State Park Campground.

The Fruita Campground inside Capitol Reef National Park is in an amazing location.

You could also extend your adventure and spend a night or two on the Cathedral Valley Loop. The NPS campground there is free on a first come first serve basis. We chose to boondock on public land when we drove the loop and Hanksville is home to some of the best BLM boondocking we've ever experienced.

Hotels

Some lodging options in the immediate area are the Whispering Sands Motel in Hanksville and Cathedral Valley Inn, about 20 minutes west of town.

You can drive an hour west to Torrey, Utah which has plenty of hotels and overnight rentals.

Want to visit this place? Pin it!

A dramatic rock formation rises up from a desert landscape with text overlay that says Long Dong Silver Hiking Guide

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