Flickr album link: Factory Butte
There is plenty to see and do around Hanksville, Utah, yet this adventurous region is often completely overlooked by mainstream tourists that are attracted to the famous national parks that are nearby. There are also a few practical reasons why overcrowding is not a problem in these parts, which has to do with the nature of the terrain. The dirt roads into the wilderness stretch out forever and most are too rough for an ordinary passenger car, so this is a limiting factor. This can also be a blessing in disguise for high ground clearance vehicle owners, because finding solitude is easy to do. Off-highway vehicle enthusiasts are also in luck, because there are vast sanctioned areas where playing in the dirt is legal. Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Glen Canyon and Goblin Valley are all easy to access from Hanksville, while the Majestic San Rafael Reef is the main geological attraction that draws visitors near. At the south end of the reef the landscape dramatically changes to golden sandstone crested gray shale buttes that are an ominous sight to see. There are two special recreation areas in this unforgiving badlands landscape and Factory Butte is the easiest to recognize from afar.
The Factory Butte Special Recreation Area offers hiking, biking and 4x4 trail riding in a strange landscape that compares to being on the moon. Factory Butte rises sky high above ground level and it stands alone, so it truly is an ominous sight to see. The shape of the golden sandstone cap way up in the sky does resemble the square shapes of an industrial setting and it is easy to get the urge to climb to the top, but the slopes are extremely steep and only experienced rock climbers tend to take this landmark on. All around are eroded shale beds that are worth wandering through and this is one of the best places in the west to view spring season wildflower blooms. There are old abandoned mining sites in this area that are fun to explore, while the scenic splendor attracts landscape artists worldwide.
There are many restrictions to be aware of at Factory Butte and the main thing to keep in mind is off road travel is taboo, because this is a protected wilderness area. Basically, Factory Butte is a dirt road touring area and the trails extend to both the San Rafael Reef and the neighboring Swingarm City OHV Area, which is where the action is at. Swingarm City offers endless ATV trails and it is a haven for motocross bikes, while rentals can be found in Hanksville and sometimes onsite. This is by far one of the strangest landscapes on earth to shred the otherworldly shale hills, so be sure to keep Factory Butte and Swingarm City in mind when planning a lengthy off road adventure!
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