Near Hanksville, UT
In my opinion, Utah is the most geologically diverse and photographically fertile states in America - with an endless surprise of landscapes, topography, mesa, buttes forest, deserts and vistas. Factory Butte is just such a surprise.
Sandwiched between Capital Reef, Canyonlands and Escalante sets the Factory Butte which is an oddly placed butte in the middle of a lifeless and barren badlands. The Factory Butte rises about 900ft from the desert floor with mesmerizing ripples and distinctive veins of rock. I had been to the area around Factory Butte several times before, but never could find an image I liked. Not until I was setting up camp after a long day of scouting. The above image was taken before sunrise from a campsite near the Factory Butte.
Trail Difficulty (2 out of 5)
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 2 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). This is one of the easiest shots you will ever get in the southwest – as the best place for this shot is right in your campground. The only reason for giving this a rating of 2 is the fairly easy 7-mile drive on a dirt road to get to the campsite/location.
GPS Coordinates & Elevation
4,687 Ft. Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click link above to view location in Google Earth
The closest town is Hanksville, UT which is located in south central part of Utah. The directions are from Hanksville, UT.
From Hanksville, travel west 10.6 miles on UT-24 until you get to a street sign that says 6650 EAST (this is Coal Mine Rd). Take a right and travel .8 of a mile and you will reach a fork in the road. Stay right at the fork and travel 6.2 miles until you see a small, unmarked parking/camping area next to a rock formation (this is right off of the dirt road that is Coal Mine Rd).
The shot above was taken from the parking/camping area at dawn.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
Factory Butte is a very unique rock formation with many photographic opportunities. However, the shot above is best at predawn and dusk (before any light illuminates the butte). Once the sun is up the colors/hues of the butte and surrounding areas change substantially.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
This shot is available all year, but the best times are late spring, summer and early fall. During the winter months, the sun rises/sets at a bad angle for the shot.
What Lens(es) Do You Need
There are many ways to shoot the Factory Butte - up closer to the butte with a wide angle lens or back at the road with a longer lens. For me, I prefer a compression shot from the road with a longer lens (135mm to 200mm). The shot above was taken with a 135mm lens and cropped (as this was the longest lens I had on this trip).
There are no permits required in the area.
Direction of the Shot
The direction of the shot is southwest at 220°.
Special Nuances of Shot
This is the closest thing to a layup you will ever get for a landscape photograph. The shot was taken directly in the little campsite off the dirt road.
There are many other compositions around this unique area that you can explore, but the shot above was simple and straightforward.
Special Equipment Needed
No need for any special photography equipment (other than a tripod).
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
This spot is off of the beaten path for most photographers and it would be rare to see anyone else at this location.
The area around Factory Butte is high desert climate at about 5,000 ft. elevation. The temperatures can vary up to 30° - 40° a day. Spring and fall are nice, but summer can get into the high 90s.
I have Verizon and the cell service from this location is spotty. A stronger cell signal is available as you near Hanksville.
The area around is the Factory Butte are badlands with the closest towns being Hanksville and Caineville, UT. As mentioned, there is a small camping area directly at the location of this shot (not sure if it is sanctioned by BLM or not) with a makeshift fire pit. There are other camping areas and lodging in both Hanksville and Caineville. Caineville is a very small community and Hanksville is not much larger, but has some lodging.
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Duke's Slickrock Campground & RV Park – 275 E Highway 24, Hanksville, UT 84734
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
Whispering Sands Motel
90 So. Highway 95, PO Box 158, Hanksville
280 East 100 North, Hanksville
The closest towns/communities are Hanksville and Caineville with Hanksville being the larger. As far as I know there are only a few places to eat in Hanksville. All are small town restaurants, and I had a good meal and service at Duke’s Grill and would return next time in this area.
Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review
Duke’s Slickrock Grill
Blondie’s Eatery & Gift
I don’t know of any laundry mats in this area.
Other Photography Opportunities Around
The closest international airport is Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), which is 235 miles west and services most of the major airlines. Walker Field (GJT), in Grand Junction Colorado (160 miles north and then east), is a small regional airport and services United Express, SkyWest/Delta, and America West Express/Mesa Airlines.
Area Guides and Workshops