There are three spectacular overlooks along the southern section of the Island in the Sky plateau, all accessed by short trails; Murphy Point
in the west, Grand View
in the south and White Rim
in the east, reached by a level, one mile path that follows a narrowing promontory to its far end, where the cliffs fall away vertically on three sides, giving an expansive panorama of the White Rim, the Colorado River canyon, the spires of Monument Basin
to the south and the upper part of Gooseberry Canyon
to the north (see 360 degree panorama
). The trail crosses flat, little-vegetated terrain and has good views all the way, yet is not too busy, perhaps as the trailhead is not well signposted; the hike begins from a picnic area along a short side road east of the main highway.
LocationMap of the Island in the Sky
360 Degree PanoramaPanorama from the end of the trail
. Full screen version (18 mb)
The trail to White Rim Overlook starts half way along the narrow picnic area loop road, at a small parking area with space for about six vehicles. The easy-to-follow route crosses a typical mixture of slickrock and dunes, composed of the Kayenta sandstone that forms the top of the mile-long promontory as it projects eastwards from the Island in the Sky mesa. The path soon passes a junction with the Gooseberry Trail
, which is the easiest way to descend to the White Rim, reaching the lower plateau after 3 miles and a drop of 1,500 feet. The overlook trail continues heading east as the land narrows, descending very gradually, and ending at a small flat-topped knoll. The point has the best views anywhere on the mesa of Gooseberry Canyon and Monument Basin, this latter an enclosed, vertical-walled valley containing isolated spires and narrow mesas, somewhat reminiscent of Monument Valley
. Most pinnacles are still topped with the resistant White Rim sandstone but some have lost their caps and are now destined for faster erosion. About 20 miles of the White Rim Road are in view, encircling three sides of the basin, curving around Gooseberry Canyon then heading north past several other branched ravines.