Exploring Minor Overlook in Canyon Rims Recreation Area

Views of rock formations and the Colorado River from Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Views of rock formations and the Colorado River from Minor Overlook

I have four favorite overlooks in Canyon Rims Recreation Area south of Moab, Utah: Needles Overlook, Minor Overlook, Canyonlands Overlook, and Anticline Overlook.  Each one is special and beautiful in its own way, but today I’d like to take a deep dive into exploring Minor Overlook, about 15 miles north of the pavement (aka road to the Needles Overlook) en route to Anticline Overlook.  Minor Overlook is definitely not “less exciting” than the other viewpoints: it has great views to the La Sal Mountains, buttes, the Colorado River, and more!

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: N/A miles Trail Type: Overlook Elevation Gain: N/Aft. Pets: No Fees: None

Views toward the La Sal Mountains along with shoes because... well, let's call it art.  Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Views toward the La Sal Mountains along with shoes because… well, let’s call it art

One of the great things about Minor Overlook is that it’s a good place to stop in both the morning and the afternoon.  (Anticline Overlook is similar in this respect.)  In the morning, views are better into the canyon and down over the Colorado River.  In the afternoon, the La Sal Mountains are better to look at, but the canyon view is still nice enough to warrant a stop.

Views to the northwest from Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims National Recreation Area, Utah
Views to the northwest from Minor Overlook

When you’re coming in the road to Minor Overlook, the road turns right and left to go around a large butte (more about the butte later).  Turn right to follow the gravel road.  It’s accessible to most vehicles in dry weather.

Views northward across Hatch Point from the top of the butte, Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Views northward across Hatch Point

The entire far side of the butte is the overlook.  A few signs explain the nearby geology and the layers in the rocks.

Guardrail along the edge of Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Guardrail along the edge of Minor Overlook

Enjoy the views down into the canyon, including a gooseneck of the Colorado River.  You can just barely see one of the ponds at the Potash Plant, but it’s pretty easy to ignore if you don’t enjoy such things.  I like the point more to the left – very cool!

Views from Minor Overlook.  The formation just across the river is known as Pyramid Butte.  Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Views from Minor Overlook. The formation just across the river is known as Pyramid Butte

And that’s that for Minor Overlook.  Read the signs, enjoy the views, and leave.

The Colorado River below Minor Point, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
The Colorado River

Unless you’re my siblings and me when we were young…

Back in the day, guardrail slackline at Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims National Recreation Area, Utah
Back in the day, guardrail slackline

…because if you are anything like us, you’ll find some way to make a simple viewpoint into an epic adventure.  Our first attempt at adding interest was to use the guardrail as a slackline.  (In case you think it’s dangerous, it’s not anywhere close to as bad as it looks.)  So of course we had to try it again on a more recent visit.

Guardrail slackline at Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims National Recreation Area, Utah
Guardrail slackline. Sometimes I somehow become a fashion statement….

And then, we decided to scale the butte.  There’s a fissure that gives access with a bit of easy Class 3 scrambling.

Looking at a possible way up the butte at Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims National Recreation Area, Utah
Looking at a possible way up the butte

If you’re looking for the correct fissure, head toward the northern end of the butte on the viewpoint (western) side of the butte.  It’s not all of the way to the northern end of the butte, but it’s much closer to the northern end than to the center.  The area has two possible cracks that look possible to scramble; we used the more southerly of the two.

The fissure up to the top of the butte near Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
The fissure up to the top of the butte

It’s not a stroll in the park scramble, but it’s not too bad.  I got my mom up there once.  Use common sense and don’t try it in flip flops and you should be fine.

Scrambling up the fissure up the butte near Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Scrambling up the fissure

Once up the crack, try not to trample fragile soil and scramble (Class 2) your way up to the top of the butte.  I headed right for a bit and then doubled back on a higher bench.

Views to the La Sal Mountains from above Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Views to the La Sal Mountains

The views from on top of the butte are fantastic!  To the east are the La Sal Mountains, which look better in the afternoon than in the morning.

Views from the top of the butte by Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims National Recreation Area, Utah
Views from the top of the butte

To the west is the canyon of the Colorado River, and the views are even better up here than they are from the official overlook.

Looking back down at the parking area for Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Looking back down at the parking area

We enjoyed the view for a while before scrambling back down.  It’s well worth the trek up if you have the time and don’t mind a bit of scrambling.

Scrambling back down the fissure at Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims National Recreation Area, Utah
Scrambling back down the fissure

From here, you’ll probably want to continue up to Anticline Overlook, which has a short trail and lots of great views!

Views from Anticline Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Views from Anticline Overlook

Round Trip Length: This is a viewpoint, not a trail per se.  So you almost don’t have to get out of your vehicle.  If you scramble up the butte, you’ll probably go about half a mile or a bit less all told.

Elevation gain: N/A unless you climb the butte, which is about 100ft. high

Facilities: None.  There are picnic tables and primitive restrooms at Anticline Overlook.

Fees: None

Views to the west (into the canyon) are better in the morning from Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Views to the west (into the canyon) are better in the morning

Trail Notes: Don’t try scrambling up the fissure unless you’ve done some amount of scrambling before.  Some of the rocks are a little loose underfoot.  Also, look for a generally easy way up after the crack – you don’t have to scramble up the nearly sheer hillside; there are easier ways!  The views of the La Sals are definitely better in the afternoon and the views of the canyon are generally better in the morning.

Views to the north up the Colorado River from Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Views to the north up the Colorado River

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

The Hatch Point Road en route to Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
The Hatch Point Road en route to Minor Overlook

GPS Coordinates for Minor Overlook

Minor Overlook: 38.439968,-109.622936 (38°26.39808′, -109°37.37616′ / 38°26’23.8848″, -109°37’22.5696″) (5,629ft.)

Top of Butte: 38.439455,-109.622153 (38°26.36730′, -109°37.32918′ / 38°26’22.0380″, -109°37’19.7508″) (5,705ft.)

The gpx file for my hike around Minor Overlook can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

Download GPX File size: 6.6 KB Downloaded 10 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

A blooming sage brush bush at Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
A blooming sage brush bush

Getting to Minor Overlook

From US-191 south of Moab, Utah, turn west (right if coming from Moab, left if coming from Monticello) onto the road marked for Needles Overlook, Anticline Overlook, and Canyon Rims Recreation Area.  Drive across the cattle guard and follow the paved road 15 miles.  At this point, the road to the Needles Overlook goes off on the left and is paved.  You want to go right onto the gravel road for another 14.7 miles (you’ll pass by the Hatch Point Campground along the way).  Turn left on the gravel road that strikes west toward a butte, following the sign for Minor Overlook.  The access road is about a half a mile long.  Turn right at the junction to drive around the north side of the butte to the viewpoint on the western side.

The roads to Minor Overlook are paved or grave and should be accessible to most vehicles (not sure I’d take a super-low clearance sports car, but most others should be fine).

Visual route map and elevation profile for my trek down from the top of the butte by Minor Overlook, Canyon Rims National Recreation Area, Utah
Visual route map and elevation profile for my trek down from the top of the butte by Minor Overlook

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