A dramatic landscape of sheer cliffs lit up by early morning sun and endless badlands

Finding Moonscape Overlook | Utah's Most Otherworldly Landscape

Our guide to finding Moonscape Overlook has everything you need to know about this unforgettable Utah destination and its otherworldly views.

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A white campervan parked amidst a desert landscape with a huge rock formation in the distance and a woman seated on a rock in the foreground

Can you imagine waking up with these views right outside your door? It's hard to believe that Moonscape Overlook in Utah is not only reachable by anyone, it's also a place where you can camp out overnight and it won't cost you a penny.

This off the beaten path destination is just one in the Hanksville area that will leave you breathless. There's good reason the Mars Desert Research Station is located just miles away from Moonscape. It's because this place truly does feel like you've left the planet.

After spending several days exploring this area we can confidently say it's one of our favorite places we've ever boondocked and home to some of the best landscapes we've ever seen. If you're itching to find this place for yourself and take in the views firsthand we've put together all the details you need to know on how to get there.

Finding Moonscape Overlook

How to Get to Moonscape Overlook

Despite its remote location in southern Utah, reaching Moonscape Overlook is fairly easy.

From the northern or eastern parts of the state you can take I-70 to Utah Highway 24 and head south towards Hanksville. It's about a four hour drive from Salt Lake City and two hours from Moab.

Coming from the southwest, you can take Highway 62 until it meets 24 and then head east. It's a three hour drive from Bryce Canyon National Park.

From the southeast, Highway 95 heads directly into Hanksville.

A Jeep Wrangler in the distance kicks up dust as it drives across a desert landscapeA woman has her back turned to the camera as she holds one hand up to her face and looks out across a beautiful desert landscape

The overlook is about 12 miles west of Hanksville, right off Highway 24. You'll leave the paved highway and turn onto Factory Butte Road, which is a rough washboard gravel road that heads north. It's easily drivable in any vehicle, but expect a bumpy ride.

After driving 5.5 miles toward Factory Butte you'll turn right onto a dirt road, which is labeled Coal Mine Road on Google. From here it's another 2 miles out to Skyline Rim, which is the cliff edge where Moonscape Overlook is located. Stay left when the 'road' forks. You don't want to head south on what Google calls Skyline View Road.

The coordinates for the overlook are: 38.452131, -110.837856.

The drive on this last section of road is extremely rough and rutted. We did it in our Ford Transit campervan without 4WD and plenty of others do it in all types of cars, just take it slow. If there's been heavy rain recently it would be worth reconsidering, unless you do have 4WD.

Looking over the edge of a golden sandstone cliff edge to a rolling blueish gray landscape

Because it's close to Capitol Reef National Park and on the route between Utah's western and eastern national parks, Hanksville makes a great stop to add to your Utah road trip itinerary. While you're checking off the "Mighty Five" it makes sense to see Moonscape Overlook and the other incredible landscapes here, which can easily compete with the scenery you'll find in the parks.

Before heading out to visit Moonscape Overlook we recommend downloading offline Google maps to your phone, since cell reception can be limited in the area.

In the map below we've saved pins for all the best spots to see in Hanksville, plus helpful locations like gas and groceries.

Map of Moonscape Overlook & Hanksville Utah

When to go

By far, the best time to visit Moonscape Overlook is at sunrise or sunset. During the afternoon sunshine the views can look washed out, though the landscape is impressive no matter what time of day you're here.

Sunrise is an especially ideal time of day, particularly for photography, because of the way the cliff edges to the south are illuminated. With that in mind we'd highly recommend spending the night here if possible so that you can catch a sunrise. If not, you'll need to plan to head out well before dawn to make the drive and leave yourself enough time.

The best time of year to come here is in the spring or fall, when the weather is typically mild and comfortable. In this high desert region summer temperatures can reach the upper 90s (35 C). No matter what you should prepare for plenty of exposure to the sun and dehydration, but be extra cautious June through September.

What to do

Aside from admiring the incredible views and camping out, there isn't much else to do at Moonscape Overlook, but there are are plenty of other adventures to seek out in the Hanksville area, so we're discussing those in more detail below.

If you enjoy off-roading, then you'll want to head over to Swing Arm City, a freeride zone managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It's only one mile west of the turn off for Moonscape Overlook on Highway 24. You can also ride the designated routes or zones around the base of Factory Butte.

Off-road vehicles can be rented from Hanksville Tours with rates starting at $350 for five hours.

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Camping Near Moonscape Overlook

Moonscape Overlook is one of our favorite places we've ever boondocked for free.

There's plenty of space to spread out and campsites can be set up relatively close to the edge of the overlook, giving you an incredible view for the evening. Another huge advantage of camping here is that you can stay for both sunset and sunrise.

The land is all BLM public land so it's completely free, but it's also undeveloped. That means you'll need to pack out everything you pack in and, generally speaking, practice Leave No Trace principles.

A white campervan parked near the edge of a cliff with a mountain landscape in the distant backgroundd

Common Questions About Moonscape Overlook

Do you need a 4x4 to reach Moonscape Overlook?

No, Moonscape Overlook is reachable without a 4x4 vehicle. We've driven it ourselves in our RWD campervan and we saw several people at the overlook who came in a regular vehicle. That being said, expect the drive in to be very bumpy. It does help to have something with a little extra clearance, though a high clearance vehicle is also not required.

Can you fly a drone at Moonscape Overlook and Factory Butte?

Yes, drones are currently permitted in the area around Moonscape Overlook and Factory Butte. In fact, we think an aerial view is one of the best ways to capture both of these places.

At sunrise and sunset it's highly likely there will be others operating drones at the overlook, as well as people you need to avoid flying over. Be prepared to take extra caution while sending your drone up here.

A person in a red jacket stands on the edge of a cliff overlooking a rugged mountainous landscape below during sunrise
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Where is the famous Instagram photo of Moonscape Overlook taken?

You've probably seen photos across social media where someone is standing out on a tiny speck of land with the Moonscape Overlook view all around them. It's an incredible photo, though it has been done so much that it's lost any originality.

If you're interested in getting your own shot here be prepared to suck up any ounce of fear you have regarding heights. The spot you're looking for requires you to walk an extremely narrow spine of rock about 50 feet out to the edge. It's located on the extreme northeastern edge of the overlook.

Also, we hate to sound like a Debbie Downer, but here's the honest truth: people have lost their lives in the pursuit of "Instaworthy" photos, including a 19 year old man most recently. The views here are so incredible that it's not difficult to get some great photos that don't involve risking your life.

Nearby Adventures

Factory Butte

One of the most spectacular rock formations in southern Utah is directly adjacent to Moonscape Overlook. Factory Butte is a 1400 foot tall sandstone behemoth that rises up out of nowhere from the surrounding badlands. The weathered patterns on the ground and face of the butte, especially as seen from the air, are mesmerizing.

You have to drive past it on the way to Moonscape Overlook, so you'll get a good view either way, but we feel that it's worth a dedicated stop of its own.

It's also surrounded by the Factory Butte SRMA, where you can ride OHVs in designated areas and the Factory Butte Road off Highway 24 provides access into Swing Arm City, a freeride OHV area.

Chiseled hills of badlands leading up to a monstrous rock formation illuminated by golden morning sunlight

Long Dong Silver Spire

This more mysterious rock formation is a little trickier to find, since it's hidden from view on the road. It's still easily accessible though and can be reached without a 4x4. You'll just need to take the one mile hike out to get there.

It's one of the most unique formations we've seen and another great place to capture some beautiful drone photo and video.

The tall dark rock formation named Long Dong Silver juts up out of a brown desolate landscape

Capitol Reef National Park & Cathedral Valley

Thirty minutes west of Factory Butte and Moonscape Overlook is one of Utah's most underrated national parks: Capitol Reef.

If you're passing through the area you should definitely leave time in your itinerary to see it. The main portion of the park, centered between the towns of Torrey and Fruita, including the scenic drive, can be seen in a day.

To extend your adventure, add an extra day or two and head out into the Cathedral Valley. It's a remote section of the park that gets overlooked, but the driving loop is home to some amazing features, like the Temples of the Sun and Moon, and the Bentonite Hills.

A huge red sandstone rock formation sticks up out of a desert landscape with a person in a red jacket at the base showing how massive it is

Want to see Moonscape Overlook? Pin it for later!

A drone photo looking out over the edge of a cliff at a dramatic rocky landscape at sunrise with text overlay that says "How to Find Moonscape Overlook Hanksville Utah"

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