Moonscape Overlook

The Moonscape Overlook is a stunning viewpoint east of Capitol Reef National Park. To visit this area, you’ll need a vehicle with good clearance and the patience to drive slowly along the rocky roads. The reward is a sprawling overview of a cold, gray world that looks strikingly like the surface of the moon.

Factory Butte

Along the road out to Moonscape Overlook, there is another interesting rock formation. Factory Butte is a huge fortress that rises out of the flat valley floor. We stopped and took several pictures along the way. Though the surface is flat enough to drive across to get closer to Factory Butte, leaving the designated road is prohibited, so follow the road to the right as it goes past. There are a few access roads that get closer, but none that really take you to the base of Factory Butte. We recommend staying on the main gravel road.

Factory Butte is worth the time.
It looks different from different angles.

Moonscape Overlook

You’ll have to make a turn shortly after passing Factory Butte to find Moonscape Overlook (see specific directions below). The gravel road is pretty good up to that turnoff, and then it becomes rougher, but still manageable for vehicles with decent clearance. As long as the road is clear of snow and water, experienced drivers should have no problems. Follow this secondary road to a large pullout on the right side of the road. This is the first turnout for Moonscape Overlook. It’s safe to get out of the car, but the drop to the surface of the moon is fatal, so be cautious.

We loved all the fun photos you can take in this area.

Some people like to continue up the road. Less than a mile up the hill there is a second overlook. We avoided this one because the road is steep and rough. There is not much to be gained by continuing to the second overlook, just a different angle of view for the moonscape. Some people like the farther viewpoint because there is a narrow neck of rock that sticks out into the valley. We don’t recommend climbing out there as people have died for that photograph. Just safely stay back from the edge at the first overlook.

It was super windy when we visited, but look how far you can see.
Do you think it looks like the surface of the moon?

The views at Moonscape Overlook are truly spectacular. You can see for a long way, and the area looks similar to the surface of the moon. There are lots of great spots for photos. The best time of day to visit is the late afternoon or evening so that the sun is behind you for pictures.

If you enjoy the Moonscape Overlook, make sure to visit the Mars Desert Research Station Bentonite Hills. It’s just as spectacular, and just a few miles down the road.

Gorgeous!

Directions

To access the Moonscape Overlook, take Highway 24 for 26 miles from the Capitol Reef Visitor Center (or it is 10.6 miles from Hanksville). There is a conveniently placed green street sign that reads 6650 E. Just turn north onto the bumpy road and proceed toward the massive rock structure called Factory Butte. Drive north on this road for 6.0 miles. It is pretty straight. Then at the 6 mile mark, turn right onto a narrow dirt road with a small sign labeled “0913.” Follow this road and stay to the right after about 0.7 miles where there is a small junction. At the 1.8 mile mark, keep left and soon you will be at the parking area for the Moonscape Overlook.

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