A striking, menacing sandstone peak towering above a landscape that's equal parts Mordor and the Moon.
Utah is famed for its wondrous national parks like Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon, but it also has a lot to offer curious travelers willing to wander off the beaten track. Factory Butte, a cathedral-like sandstone hill that rises above the rugged Caineville badlands, is one of these lesser-known gems.
Part of an ensemble of small, flat-topped mesas called the Upper Blue Hills, Factory Butte culminates at 6,302 feet. With its root-like combs, crags, and shoulders that snake towards the hilltop, it seems deeply entrenched in the ground, like a very old rock stump.
The surrounding, barren landscape is equally otherworldly; it feels as though you’re exploring another planet, and for good reason: If you go, you’re likely to be the only one there.
When exploring this colorful formation, don’t forget your camera. While the scenery is striking on an overcast afternoon, it’ll surely be even more surreal at sunset.
Know Before You Go
To visit, take the Hwy 24 from Hanksville, in the direction of Capitol Reef. Eleven miles in, turn right on Coal Mine Road, a dry dirt track that curves around the Butte and heads North, accessible by any vehicle. Park and explore, or drive further to access a free campground and beautiful eroded rocks. Don't go too far though; after 10 miles, the road becomes impracticable.
If you drive a 4x4 or a dirt bike, and you've ever dreamed of drifting on the Moon, be sure to go make a few turns and skids in Swing Arm City, an off-roading terrain located next to the road's entrance.
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