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How to Visit Moonscape Overlook in Utah

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Last Updated on May 18, 2024 by Sarah Puckett

If you’re like me, visiting Moonscape Overlook near Hanksville, Utah has been on my Southwest bucket list for years!

The first time I saw a photograph of this location, I knew I had to see this lunar landscape for myself. Initially, I had a hard time finding much helpful information about how exactly to find this Instagram-famous destination. We traveled to Utah several years in a row, each time coming within mere miles of this spot, but missing it entirely! As a result, it wasn’t until our fifth trip to Utah that we finally made it to Moonscape Overlook.

But let me tell you, when we finally made it to Moonscape Overlook and got to spend a night camping at what felt like the edge of the earth, all of the waiting was worth it!

To help you find this unique lunar landscape just an hour from Capitol Reef National Park, this guide has everything you need to know about how to get to Moonscape Overlook (with exact GPS coordinates), safety tips, and more!

Tim and Sarah at Moonscape Overlook at Sunrise with a pink sky against the rock formations

What is Moonscape Overlook

Also known as the Skyline Rim Overlook, the Instagram-famous Moonscape Overlook is one of the most unique geological viewpoints in Utah. Overlooking the Blue Valley just east of Capitol Reef National Park off of Utah State Route 24, Moonscape Overlook is about as close to a lunar landscape as most of us will ever get!

Moonscape Overlook rock formations in a purple sky

How to Get to Moonscape Overlook

Moonscape Overlook and Skyline Rim are located down a dirt road called Coal Mine Road or Factory Butte Road right off of Utah State Route 24 between Capitol Reef National Park and Hanksville.

The ridges in Blue Valley of Utah at sunrise.

GPS Coordinates for Moonscape Overlook

The exact GPS coordinates for Moonscape Overlook is 38°27’07.9″N 110°50’16.6″W (or 38.45219081523128, -110.83795513241735).

Driving Directions to Moonscape Overlook

  • From Utah State Route 24, turn onto Coal Mine Road (also called Factory Butte Road). If you are coming from the west or Capitol Reef National Park, it will be a left turn. If you are coming from Hanksville in the east, you will make a right turn.
  • Coal Mine Road (aka Factory Butte Road) is a flat dirt road that should be navigable by most vehicles in dry conditions.
  • Continue on Coal Mine Road/Factory Butte Road road for 5.6 miles.
  • Turn right onto Coal Mine Road and continue for 1 mile.
  • Make a slight right onto Skyline View Road and continue for 0.9 miles.

Tip: In Google Maps, enter “Moon Overlook, Hanksville, Utah” to get driving directions on your phone. DO NOT follow the directions to “Skyline Rim” on Google Maps, as this will take you to a different viewpoint down a different road about 2 miles away. You can get to Moonscape Overlook from Skyline Rim, but it’s less direct and the road is rougher.


Do you need a 4WD to Get to Moonscape Overlook?

In general, you do not need a 4WD to get to Moonscape Overlook. The road is a dirt road in decent condition, and most 2WD vehicles should fare just fine in dry conditions. If it has rained recently, however, I would avoid traveling in anything less than a 4WD. And, frankly, I would probably not recommend going at all in wet conditions.

We drove our 4WD high-clearance Sprinter van to Moonscape Overlook.

Drone photo with aerial perspective of a campervan in a desert landscape with unique geological formations.

Camping at Moonscape Overlook

Rather than just a quick visit to see the views at Moonscape Overlook and then leave, we decided to camp overnight in our van so that we could experience both sunrise and sunset.

Camping at Moonscape Overlook is free and wild. This means you do not need to pay a fee or make a reservation to stay here. Being on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, you can stay for up to 14 nights in a 28-day period!

There are no toilets or facilities of any kind at Moonscape Overlook. There is no cell phone service, no water access, and no picnic tables. It is a truly primitive campsite that requires you to be 100% self-sufficient.

What to Bring to Camp at Moonscape Overlook

Our van is fully equipped with a stove, microwave, sink with running water, composting toilet, bed, and solar panels to keep everything powered. If you are van camping in an RV like ours, you won’t need to bring as much traditional camping gear.

However, if you are car camping or tent camping, you’ll want to follow this list as a guideline for what to pack for a night camping at Moonscape Overlook.

  • Sleeping bags: Make sure to choose a sleeping bag that’s rated for the temperature range you expect to encounter on your trip.
  • Camping stove: A camping stove is essential for cooking meals on the trail.
  • Gas canister: Make sure to bring enough fuel for your stove.
  • Backpacking meals: Choose lightweight, easy-to-prepare backpacking meals that are high in protein and calories.
  • Camping dishware: All you really need is a bowl and a spork!
  • Headlamps: A headlamp is essential for hands-free lighting on the trail and in camp.
  • Solar-powered lantern: A solar-powered lantern will provide ambient light in camp and can be recharged during the day.
  • Charging brick and cords: Bring a charging brick and cords to keep your electronics charged.
  • Warm jackets/coats: Bring warm jackets or coats, as temperatures can drop at night.
  • Wool baselayer for cool nights and mornings.
  • Hiking pants/leggings: Choose lightweight pants or leggings for hiking.
  • Hiking boots: Sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support will help prevent injuries on rocky terrain.
  • Wool socks: Choose wool socks for their moisture-wicking and insulation properties.
  • WAG Bags: Essential for using the bathroom when camping.
  • Biodegradable wipes: These are great for staying clean while minimizing your impact on the environment. Be sure to pack them out!
  • Toothbrush/paste: Keeping your teeth clean is important, even while backpacking.
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays with a high-SPF sunscreen
  • Deodorant: Stay fresh on the trail with a natural deodorant.
  • InReach Satellite SOS device: This is a must-have item for any adventure into the wilderness where you won’t have cell phone service. The InReach device allows you to send an SOS message in case of an emergency and can help rescuers locate you quickly.
  • First Aid Kit: Accidents can happen, so make sure to bring a well-stocked first aid kit that includes essentials such as bandages, gauze, antiseptic, and pain relievers.

Where to Stay Near Moonscape Overlook

If you can’t camp at Moonscape Overlook, here are some recommended towns and hotels nearby!


Hanksville is the closest town to Moonscape Overlook, and has limited accommodations. However, if you aren’t camping, Hanksville is the next best place to stay.

Check out this unique dome VRBO, located just 25 minutes from away.


Caineville is another town near Moonscape Overlook, and like Hanksville, it is quite small and has few options. But, it’s only 30 minutes away.

The Cathedral Valley Inn is a great value, features views of the North Caineville Mesa, and is conveniently located between Moonscape Overlook and Capitol Reef National Park.


Torrey has the most options for accommodations and is a great base if your Utah trip includes Capitol Reef National Park. On the downside, it is an hour from Moonscape Overlook. Still, it will have the most amenities and is a great base for exploring Capitol Reef and other destinations along Utah Route 24 like Lower Calf Creek Falls and Escalante.

Use the map below to search for hotels in Torrey, Utah!

Sarah at Moonscape Overlook at Sunrise with a pink sky against the rock formations

When to Visit Moonscape Overlook

You can visit Moonscape Overlook any time of the year. Spring and fall provide the most mild temperatures. Winters can be freezing cold, and summers scorching hot, but since you don’t need to tackle a strenuous hike, this matters a bit less.

In terms of the time of day to visit, you should try to visit during sunrise or sunset when the colors will look their best. During the peak of the day, the landscape looks a dull gray color. It’s still an impressive landscape, but it just doesn’t compare to how it comes alive in golden and blue hours!

Moonscape Overlook rock formations in a purple sky

FAQs About Visiting Moonscape Overlook

Have there been any deaths at Moonscape Overlook?

Sadly, people have died at Moonscape Overlook while walking near the edge. In one tragic case, a teenage boy fell 1400 feet to his death when the ground crumbled out from under him.

Please use caution near the edges. And, consider not hiking onto the peninsula. I did it, and hated every second because I was so scared. Tim on the other hand, is more confident and sure-footed and didn’t feel uneasy walking out to the point.

But regardless of your confidence level, you never know if the ground could collapse beneath you when walking near the edges. Erosion is what created this landscape, and erosion is what will cause the canyon to continue to change.

Are there any hikes near Moonscape Overlook?

While there aren’t any hiking trails at Moonscape Overlook, there are many nearby.

Here are some of our favorites:

Are There Tours to Moonscape Overlook?

Yes, if you want to visit Moonscape Overlook, Factory Butte, and the Bentonite Hills on one epic tour, check out this option from Viator.

Photography Tips for Moonscape Overlook

Go at Sunrise or Sunset

For the best photos, you should plan to take pictures at Moonscape Overlook at sunrise or sunset. This is when the colors will be the best.

Moonscape Overlook rock formations in a purple sky

The Blue Valley gets its unique color from Mancos Shale, which appears gray in daylight but gives off a blueish and purplish hue during sunrise and sunset!

Sarah on the viewpoint at Moonscape Overlook in midday
Moonscape Overlook in afternoon light. Sunrise and sunset are better!

Since we camped at Moonscape Overlook, we got to witness both sunrise and sunset here. We liked sunrise best. Since the viewpoint faces east, you can watch the sunrise in front of you and illuminate the Blue Valley.

How to Find the Instagram Photo Spot

For the iconic “Instagram” shot, point your camera to the land peninsula that juts out into the Blue Valley.

Moonscape Overlook Utah
Moonscape Overlook, Utah

To find this spot, simply walk towards the edge and look out. It’s easier to identify from the north end of Moonscape Overlook, so if you don’t see it, walk north for just 100 feet or so and turn back around to face southeast. This is the same vantage point you see in all of the photos.

While I don’t really recommend walking out to the tip of the peninsula for safety reasons, we did it to get “the shot.” But, I don’t think I’d do it again. Plus, the formation is a great photography subject on its own.

If you do choose to walk out to the point, here’s what you need to know:

  • The initial climb down is scrambly with a lot of loose dirt
  • The peninsula itself is about 2-3 feet wide
  • At the end of the peninsula, you can step up to a pedestal-like point. It came up to my chest, which was taller than I expected. But, there are some natural steps to make it easy to climb up to the top.
  • The point stands 1400 feet above the desert floor, and it’s a steep drop in all directions, making the point especially dangerous.
The spot at the end of the viewpoint at Moonscape Overlook

Snap the Classic Blue Valley Canyon View

Along the canyon rim you can capture incredible photos of the rock formations standing tall in the canyon. Whether you are taking landscape photos or selfies, the Blue Valley as aw hole offers an incredible photo opportunity.

As always, be cautious near edges.

Sarah at Moonscape Overlook at Sunrise with a pink sky against the rock formations

Practice Drone Photography

Drones are allowed at Moonscape Overlook, making them the ideal option for an aerial perspective that captures the area’s vastness.

Click here for the drone we recommend.

Don’t Miss Factory Butte

Directly west of Moonscape Overlook is Factory Butte, a massive butte towering 900 feet over the desert floor. While Blue Valley is still the star of this show, don’t forget to turn around and capture Factory Butte too! The formation’s ridges and prominence make it a fantastic photography subject.

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Moonscape Overlook rock formations in a purple sky

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