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Guide to get the best photographs of Factory Butte

Factory Butte rises 1400 feet above the barren otherworldly lunar landscape surrounding it

Factory Butte last light east of Hanksville Utah
Factory Butte near Hanksville Utah and just to the west of the Moonscape Overlook got its name from Mormon settlers because it reminded them of the Provo Wool Mill back home.
It sits on the Factory Bench Mesa and is part of the Upper Blue Hills which are nearby, similar in appearance but not as spectacular as this lone blocky iconic formation.
The official discovery of this unique formation was made by Grove Gilbert, a USGS geologist in the 1870s. He noted coal seams along outcrops to the northeast of the butte. By 1908 small-scale coal mining was taking place at the Factory Butte Coal Mine located in Coal Mine Wash on the north side.
A person give scale to Factory Butte in the distance in the fading lightPhoto by Intricate Explorer 

If you’re wondering how the surrounding barren landscape gets its lunar-like look devoid of vegetation, that is thanks to the Blue Gate shale making up the area which is particularly hostile to plant life.

Drone view of Factory ButtePhoto by Intricate Explorer 

There are many different types of images you can find and create here

  • Documenting the sheer size of the butte sitting by itself on the plain with dramatic lighting from different directions 
  • Cracked dry earth can be found closer on the northern side
  • Wildflowers grow spectacularly here during the spring, creating opportunities of juxtaposition of the barren landscape with beautiful wildflowers
  • Capturing the texture, pattern, and colors of the rolling terrain at the base on the northwest side of the butte



The north side of the butte has a much different foreground than the south side  

The north side of the butte has a much different foreground than the south side
Xiu Yu

Photo Notes

  • The graded dirt Factory Butte Road from Highway 24 is traversable by cars and runs north/south on the east side of the butte and gives you a good selection of distant views from the south all the way to the north as you can pull over easily anywhere along the road

  • West Factory Road runs north/south on the west side of the Butte and can be driven by car, but you’re significantly further away from it

  • Neither Factory Butte Road nor West Factory Road gets you up close to Factory Butte, in order to do that you have to pull over and hike cross country or take an off-road vehicle, the area surrounding the butte is open riding country with no official trails

  • Getting closer to the butte is typically done by taking a south turn left off of Factory Butte Road around this area ( 38.470466, -110.909566 )

  • The best time to photograph the area is at sunrise or just after and just before and at sunset

  • In the spring desert flowers and blooming cacti are a stark contrast to the wasteland-like appearance of the area

  • The junction at ( 38.486029, -110.919593 ) takes you to an old airstrip and open coal mining area in just a few minute’s detour

Factory Butte BLM MAPBLM Map

Factory Butte from a distance with hoodoos in the foreground

factory butte in the distanceJohn Menard from Phoenix, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Factory Butte during the middle of the day

factory butte during the daydconvertini, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Getting to Factory Butte

From Hanksville take Highway 24 west for 10.7 miles and turn north at ( 38.367083, -110.892296 ) onto North Factory Butte Road, continue north, Factory Butte is on your right


Pull off anywhere you like along the dirt roads


This route takes you near the Moonscape Overlook which is not to be missed
Factory Butte at sunset from the Moonscape Overlook
You get a different view of distance Factory Butte from the canyon edge at Moonscape Overlook

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