Murphy Point Trail: Probably My Favorite Hike In Canyonlands So Far

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The main trail I wanted to do in Canyonlands during out week in Moab in December was the Murphy Point Trail. Sometimes called the Murphy Point Overlook. And now I think it’s one of my favorite easy hikes in Utah.

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Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah

We did the White Rim Overlook Trail before this and ended up hike to Murphy Point in the late afternoon, finishing not long before sunset. It was getting dark on our drive back down to Moab.

The parking area for Murphy Point is really small and not marked well. There was, I think, just one little sign and only room for two or three cars.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah
The meadow-y landscape on the way too Murphy Point

We saw one couple leaving on our way in and a few people at the overlook, then a couple on their way in as we were leaving.

It wasn’t busy and while we saw people at the overlook, we were far enough apart it didn’t matter. They actually got there after us and were gone before we got back to the car!

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah

Hiking to Murphy Point

The trail is nice and easy, starting out as a dirt path through a little meadow type area. I really enjoyed this part because it feels so different from all of the other areas of the park.

It’s not the most thrilling trail ever but it’s really nice. Before long, you’ll be walking over the slickrock following cairns to the end. It’s a very straightforward trail. It’s enjoyable and easy.

The end point is more slickrock so we walked around here for a while to try and get some other views. It wasn’t as cold and windy here but the lighting was pretty harsh.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah

Since it was late afternoon/early evening the sun was setting basically in our eyes so it was hard to get nice pictures looking out at the end view here.

While I was bummed about the lighting, I did like this trail a lot and am so glad I got to do it! I don’t even know why I was so set on doing this one, but I was and I’m glad we did it this day because we didn’t go back up to Canyonlands on this trip!

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah
You can see some of the cairns on the way to Murphy Point

In different lighting, this could easily be one of the best views in Utah and you can even see the White Rim Road below! I was trying to follow it but there was one section I just could not figure out where it went.

After walking around at the overlook for a while, mostly to the left, we headed back because I was ready to eat. Also, it wasn’t super snowy, but we did get to see a little snow along the trail.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah

I enjoyed that because that’s why we stayed in Arizona for the winter, to see the desert with snow. And we did, but barely. We had a good amount of it for our week in Zion, but it didn’t snow in Page until after we left. Of course.

Overall, I loved the Murphy Point trail and would definitely recommend it if you want a quiet trail with great views of the canyons below.

If lighting matters to you, I would try and do this one earlier in your day in Canyonlands so the sun is behind you.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah
The view from Murphy Point and not so good lighting

National Park Goodies

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah

Where is the Murphy Point trailhead?

The Murphy Point trailhead is 8.4 miles from the Island in the Sky Visitor Center, about 15 minutes.

It’s about 41 miles from Moab, a 56 minute drive. It’s right on the main scenic drive between Mesa Arch and White Rim Overlook.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah
My fancy not hiking boots that I hike six miles in two days in a row!

How long is the Murphy Point hike?

3.4 miles round-trip but I think we hiked closer to four miles because of the walking around at the viewpoint we did. It’s a little longer but not a full-day, or even an entire half-day.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah
View of White Rim Road from Murphy Point

Is the Murphy Point Hike hard?

Nope! There was one part that felt a little hard to follow but we got back on track pretty quickly. Effort-wise it’s not bad at all. It only has 147 feet of elevation gain, less than the White Rim Overlook Trail!

It’s easy enough that I did this hike after White Rim in my fancy winter boots that aren’t hiking boots in any way whatsoever.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah

Is the Murphy Point Trail worth it?

Yes! I liked this trail a lot and it’s a great option for a slightly longer hike in Island in the Sky. It’s not too long, it’s not strenuous, and it has amazing views. I would definitely recommend this one.

It’s a great choice on a Moab weekend trip if you have a whole day in the park or even if you just have half a day. You could still make it to the other major stops and overlooks with half a day.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah

Moab tours

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah

Where to stay in Moab

Moab Under Canvas – Staying here is how I ended up moving out west! This is a glamping resort just outside of Moab, right by the turn off too Canyonlands.

Quality Inn – This is on the far end of Moab (away from Canyoonlands) but still close to town, though you will have to drive downtown. It’s nice enough but not fancy. I’d stay here again.

Lazy Lizard Hostel – If you’re on a major budget and want less than no frills, this is it. We spent a couple weeks here one winter and have stayed a couple of other times. They have dorms, private rooms, and cabins.

Sleep Inn – This is my favorite place we stayed in Moab because it’s right downtown. It’s fairly new so it’s nice but not like, 5 star nice. Some rooms have kitchen facilities if you want to cook for yourself.

Camping in Canyonlands

The Willow Flat Campground is the only campground in Island in the Sky and it’s open year-round. It has 12 first come, first serve sites that fill up quickly in the summer and fall.

There are toilets, picnic tables, and fire pits but no drinking water or other amenities so be sure to come prepared. This is the closest place to stay too Mesa Arch.

Murphy Point trail canyonlands utah
The beginning of the trail heading to Murphy Point

Other Canyonlands posts you may like

Have you hiked the Murphy Point trail in Canyonlands? What did you think of it? What is your favorite trail in the park?

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