Moonscape Overlook – The Most Epic Viewpoint in Utah
Standing on the edge of the moon as the sun rose, golden rays bursting out from the horizon, I felt like I was flying…
This place absolutely 100% blew our minds! Moonscape Overlook in Utah makes you feel like you have literally been transported to the moon!
Moonscape Overlook is located in Hanksville, Southern Utah. The closest national park to this incredible place is Capital Reef National Park, so if you are ever in the Capital Reef Area, don’t think twice about adding Moonscape Overlook to your Utah itinerary.
You could also just plan an entire trip in Hanksville itself because there is SO much to do and see in there. It is an amazing area for outdoor adventurers!
Dave and I spent a few days in Hanksville on our insane 7 day Utah Road Trip and Moonscape Overlook was our favourite location during the entire road trip.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to get to Moonscape Overlook, including the exact GPS coordinates, what vehicle I recommend for the drive, campsite details and of course how to find the now insta-famous Moonscape Overlook photo spot.
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📍 Where is Moonscape Overlook Located
Moonscape Overlook is located in a tiny town called Hanksville in Southern Utah. From Salt Lake City it is around a 3.5 – 4 hour drive to Hanksville.
To reach the overlook, you will need to drive down a dirt road so I recommend renting a 4×4 or SUV for the trip. The road was bumpy but completely doable when we went with a couple of little divits which was when we were happy to have a slightly higher clearance vehicle. We rented a SUV Jeep Cherokee for this trip and it handled the off-road sections really well.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
Moonscape Overlook GPS Coordinates
The easiest way to get anywhere remote these days are by having the GPS coordinates. The coordinates for Moonscape Overlook are 38°27’05.8″N 110°50’16.6″W.
Moonscape Overlook is located on a canyon rim called the Skyline Rim on google maps. The coordinates for the Overlook are a little up from the Skyline Rim viewpoint and you will turn down a different road to reach it.
From Hanksville, take the UT-24 W for 10.6 miles (17.05km), before turning right onto Factory Butte Road. At Coal Mine Road, turn right. Keep left when you see an intersection splitting the road into two different directions.
After this, you will reach another intersection at Skyline View Road where you will need to turn right. Keep left at the next intersection where Skyline View Road takes a right and it turns into Moon Overlook Road on your left.
If you turn right to stay on Skyline View Road, you will have this amazing view in front of you (pictured below). This isn’t the right way to Moonscape Overlook, but its a beautiful spot for a photo!
Drive about half a mile more and you have arrived!
Don’t Miss out on Factory Butte!
Factory Butte is more of an official tourist destination but you definitely shouldn’t skip it! It is an incredible 6,302-foot clay/silt mudstone formation smack bang in the middle of the desert.
There was no one else there when we visited Factory Butte so it’s unlikely you will have to worry about there being crowds. There are lots of different places where you can stop to see Factory Butte from but there are also a couple of dirt roads that will get you even closer to it.
We went down two of these roads and there was a certain point when the driving became more difficult with medium sized water bars that you needed to drive across.
Factory Butte is on the way to Moonscape Overlook so you can stop there on your way. I have pinned both Factory Butte and Moonscape Overlook in the map above which you can use to get to both. I also recommend looking out for dirt roads to turn onto to get closer to Factory Butte. These roads will be on your left as you travel up Factory Butte Road from the main road.
🛎 Places to Stay Near Moonscape Overlook that are SO Worth it!
Moonscape Overlook is located in an area that has SO many other hidden gems and amazing places to explore so I recommend spending a few days in the area if you can.
There are some incredibly dreamy hotels that are worth checking out.
Broken Spurr Inn and Steakhouse – This is where we stayed! The Broken Spurr is a lovely hotel for those on a budget. I’m still dreaming about the super comfy bed! They also serve a full breakfast daily.
Skyview Hotel – Oh my goodness the views from this hotel are A DREAM! 😍 The Skyview hotel is super modern and clean and has a beautiful rooftop terrace and hot tub for relaxing in at the end of your day full of adventure!
Red Sands Hotel – If you want it all, (Mountain views, a swimming pool, restaurant, spa and wellness centre AND a hot tub) then the Red Sands Hotel is for you!
🚙 Do I need a 4×4 to get to Moonscape Overlook
This was our biggest question when we went and we got a lot of mixed answers. In the end, we opted for an SUV which handled the road fine. Some of the others I spoke with have made it down the road in a campervan but it really all depends on the conditions at the time.
We booked a rental from Salt Lake City International Airport so that we could pick it up and get going as soon as we landed.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel comfortable driving out to Moonscape Overlook yourself, there is an option to go with a guide! This 4 hour tour leaves from Torrey and will take you to Moonscape, Factory Butte, and Capitol Reef National Park. You can learn more and book this tour here.
⚠ Things to consider before heading out to Moonscape Overlook
- Has it rained recently: rain can make the ground super soft and form bigger holes that could make the drive harder.
- Future weather forecast: You do not want to get stuck in the middle of the desert in the pouring rain or in the middle of a storm. Flooding can happen very quickly in Utah and you can easily get stranded.
- There is no reception out there so make sure you are well prepared with a spare tire, emergency first aid kit and plenty of food and water.
- Moonscape Overlook is growing in popularity so chances are you won’t be the only one out there trying to get the perfect shot. Don’t forget to take turns and be kind.
🕐 Best Time to Visit Moonscape Overlook
The best time of the day to visit Moonscape Overlook is sunrise. We were there at both sunset and sunrise and sunrise was INCREDIBLE. The sun rose from out towards the view, lighting everything up and turning it golden.
The sun set in the other direction back towards Factory Butte so the canyon was in shadow pretty quickly.
We were there in early April in Spring and it was really cold. Overnight it got to 21 degrees F (-6 degrees C) which made us regret camping in a tent.
Personally, I recommend visiting this part of Utah in the shoulder seasons, Fall and Spring because Summer gets so hot that it drains your energy pretty fast and Winter is just ridiculously cold.
⛺ Camping at Moonscape Overlook (The Best Campsite EVER)
When I say the best campsite EVER, first you need to understand that there are NO facilities so you will need to pack out all of your trash, toilet paper, everything! There is also no water source out there so make sure you bring plenty of water with you.
Moonscape Overlook is a wild campsite, meaning there is no reservation system. So for a wild campsite, it is the BEST campsite ever. You can camp right at the viewpoint overlooking the canyon. You will feel like you are in the middle of nowhere even though it was only a 30-40 minute drive from Hanksville.
There are no designated campsites. We were the only ones camping in a tent when we were there, everyone else was sleeping in their cars.
🤳 How to Find the Insta Famous Photo Spot at Moonscape Overlook
If you are looking for Moonscape Overlook, chances are you are looking to get a photo like the one above.
The most asked question that I get about this spot is, “Was it scary?” Yes, for me it was 1000% scary but this of course will change from person to person depending on how bad their fear of heights is. Personally, I found the first part of climbing down the lookout the scariest as it was steep with lots of loose dirt. Once I was on the flat and walking across to the final viewpoint, I felt okay.
Dave on the other hand, was fine at the first bit and walking across, but didn’t have the guts to stand on the end.
We all have our different fears and strengths and so I can’t tell you whether it is going to be scary for you or not.
The photo spot wasn’t too hard to find. We reached the spot using the coordinates, parked our car and walked to the rim of the canyon. The photo spot will be right in front of you but if you can’t find it, try walking from the left (where the cliff face curves around to the left) back along the edge to spot it. You will only walk for 30 seconds or so before getting to “The spot.”
📹 Drones at Moonscape Overlook and Factory Butte
Drones are currently allowed at both Moonscape Overlook and Factory Butte. You can get a great shot of both of these incredible landscapes without one, but a drone just gets that awesome birds eye perspective.
🥾 What to Pack for Camping at Moonscape Overlook
- Hiking Boots – We both brought casual shoes with us as well but lived in our hiking boots on this trip. The ground is dusty pretty much everywhere so having only one pair of dirty boots each seemed like a better idea.
- Merino t-shirt – I love Merino t-shirts for outdoor adventures because the last longer in between washes without smelling.
- Hiking Pants – I using wear leggings on all our outdoor adventures but occasionally you will see me in a pair of hiking pants.
- Shorts –
- Fleece – I don’t think there’s anything better than having a cozy fleece to put on in the early mornings and evenings.
- Puffer Jacket – for those extra cold adventures! In Spring in Utah, we both needed our puffer jackets quite a bit.
- Raincoat – just in case
- Sunhat – 100% necessary for the strong Utah sun!
- Beanie – A beanie helped a lot on our road trip in Spring.
- Sunscreen – 100% necessary for the strong Utah sun!
- Bug Spray – We didn’t have too many issues with bugs in Spring, but in Summer it’s another story. Better to be safe than sorry!
- Hiking Poles – If you prefer to hike with poles.
- Tent – or your car camping set up
- Sleeping Bags
- Sleep Mats
- Camping pillows
- First Aid Kit – We never go anywhere without our first aid kit because you never know when you might need it.
- Camera! There will be plenty of photography opportunities! We have a list of our camera gear here.
🌲 Leave No Trace
The 7 Leave No Trace principles are important to be aware of to help keep places like Moonscape Overlook beautiful. Nature is there for us to enjoy but also respect and leave the way we found it but as well as respecting nature, we should also be treating each other with nothing but kindness. To remind yourself of the 7 Leave No Trace principles, check out the LNT website.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Apart from Factory Butte, there is plenty to see and do in the area.
Long Dong Silver Spire
Long Dong Silver is a an incredible rock formation that looks like it could have come straight out of a Star Wars movie! The spire is located around 20 minutes from Hanksville so is a great add on if you have time!
Go Hiking in Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park is not too far from Hanksville! There are lots of beautiful hikes to do in the park like the Cassidy Arch Trail which we thought was absolutely stunning! For many of the trails in Capital Reef, you will need a National Parks Pass which you can purchase at the entrance with cash if you don’t already have one. If you are visiting the USA national parks for more than 7 days, it is cheaper to purchase an annual America the Beautiful Pass.
Do the Cathedral Valley Loop Drive (4×4 recommended)
Cathedral Valley Loop is a 4×4 58-mile (94km) scenic drive through the desert. If you could all the extra turn offs to the viewpoints, this makes the drive even longer. I recommend saving an entire day for this one or if you don’t have long, the Temple of the Sun and Moon is a must-see!
💭 Our Thoughts
This was our favourite spot on our Utah road trip because the landscape was like no other either of us had seen before. Next time we would probably camp in our car because neither of us got any sleep that night as we were too cold.
You might also enjoy:
- Ultimate Utah 7 Day Road Trip from Salt Lake City
- How to Visit the Temple of the Sun and Moon, Utah
- Guide to the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail, Utah
- Cassidy Arch Trail – A Must Do Hike in Capital Reef National Park
- How to Hike the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail, Escalante Utah
- How to Visit the Bentonite Hills in Utah
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