Into the Badlands
If you drive from the town of Torrey, into Capitol Reef National Park, past the visitor center, through the cottonwood trees and towering sandstone cliffs, then leave the park, you’ll find yourself in the Caineville Badlands. This area is only 25-miles from Capitol Reef, but is one of the most desolate stretches of desert you’re likely to visit. And we’ve got several good reasons why you should check it out.
Despite the name, the Caineville Badlands are more than just an empty wasteland. There is a stark beauty in the desert. The ground is a peculiar gray color, with purple-like streaks running up the hard dunes. (Some locals call the area Luna Mesa, because it resembles the gray terrain of the moon.) But there are larger geological formations here too. Heavily eroded sandstone giants – like Factory Butte – dot the landscape. Located on the Coal Mine Road, Factory Butte is an impressive sight, and if you’re spending any time in Caineville, or nearby Hanksville, you should stop by. It’s an inspired spot for photography. And, pro tip, the landscape can become truly dramatic during Southern Utah’s summer storms.
These desert dunes are also the perfect playground for Jeeps and ATVs. You can’t do any kind of off-roading in Capitol Reef National Park. Which can be disappointing if you’ve brought your toys with you on your vacation. The Caineville Badlands offer you the space, the trails, and the dunes to satisfy all your off-road cravings. Check out the BLM site for the Factory Butte Recreation Area to learn more about the area.
One Last Thing…
We have one other reason why you should stop by the Caineville Badlands and Factory Butte. During the early spring, the conditions are just right for something magical to happen on the Luna Mesa. If enough rain has fallen, the entire badlands transform into a carpet of tiny purple and yellow flowers. So if you can make it work, this is the best time to visit the Badlands. And, we promise, it will no longer seem like a wasteland to you.