Field Notes: Factory Butte

Learn how to locate and photograph Factory Butte in Utah like a professional photographer.

Factory Butte is a 6,302-foot flat-topped summit of gray stone in the Upper Blue Hills that resembles a factory. Located right outside of Swing Arm City, it’s also a popular destination for recreational vehicles. There are many ways to photograph this beauty, and many other spots to photograph in the surrounding areas.

GPS Coordinates

38.437775, -110.911049
View on Google Maps

I'd recommend bringing a long lens to this location, with a minimum focal length of 200mm.. While Factory Butte is quite large, you're quite far from it on the main road and you'll need the longer focal length to help fill the frame, and get detailed shots of the textures.

Time to Shoot

This is a great location to photograph during sunrise or sunset, depending on your composition around Factory butte. Be sure to review the Photographers Ephemeris to best predict the direction of the light for your shot.

Trail

Factory Butte is located 12 miles west of Hanksville, Utah. You’ll take state route 24 until turning north onto N. Factory Butte Road. This road is a corrugated dirt road with lots of bumps, and it’s recommended you have good ground clearance to not damage anything under the vehicle. This road is roughly 36 miles that takes you around the right side of the Butte. It is not recommended driving off of this road to get closer to it, because the ground is quite soft and you’ll run the risk of getting stuck. View directions on Google Maps.

Compositions

There are many, many ways to photograph this location. I recommend driving the road around the butte and paying attention to how the butte’s perspective changes. The road will also take you closer, revealing cracks and valleys in the ground which make for great foreground textures. As the perspective changes, so does the time of day to shoot. The closer you are to the beginning of the road, the better the lighting is for sunset. The more you drive around the butte, the better the lighting for sunrise.

It’s best to bring a long focal length since you’ll be so far away from the butte. In the springtime, the desert is filled with flowers so you could also try a shorter focal length, let’s say 21mm, to capture the flowers in the foreground and use the lens distortion to increase the size of Factory butte. What I find the most fascinating with this landscape though are the textures and shadows.

The black-and-white photograph shown above was taken during sunset around this location: 38.39655, -110.89175. I captured the landscape using a 280mm lens, then shooting three separate shots and stitching them together to make a panorama.

Nearby Camping

There are a bunch of dispersed camping sites around the area. Here are GPS coordinates for them:

  • Spot 1: 38.36946, -110.89382
  • Spot 2: 38.39299, -110.89153
  • Spot 3: 38.40041, -110.88712
  • Spot 4: 38.41599, -110.87962
  • Spot 5: 38.44333, -110.88222
  • Spot 6: 38.46062, -110.88900