Murphy Point, Island in the Sky: Murphy Trailhead, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Murphy Point - 3.4 miles

Island in the Sky: Murphy Trailhead

Looking west from Murphy Point

Looking west from Murphy Point

Round-Trip Length: 3.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 6,235' - 6,067' (6,255' max elevation)
Elevation Change: -168' net elevation loss (+320' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Murphy Point - 3.4 Miles Round-Trip

Murphy Point caps a high, slender mesa that extends west from the Island Mesa with sweeping views over Murphy Basin, the White Rim, Green River and countless canyons that feed it.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Other highlights include Candlestick Tower (5,867' - north) and Murphy Hogback (southwest), an infamous stretch of White Rim Road that climbs 440' from Murphy Wash to a distinct terrace on the rim.

A well-defined trail rolls through open brush flats and slickrock to the Point, where visitors can peer down sheer cliffs with 270-degree panoramas across the lower desert.

Murphy Point is a great alternative to crowded drive-up viewpoints, and is arguably one of the finest places to watch sunrise and sunset in the District:

The trail heads southwest on a level, sandy path through diversely vegetated flats to the Murphy Loop Trail split (.45 miles : 6,185’). A rich collection of blackbrush, saltbush, rabbitbrush, Mormon tea, cacti and various grasses fill this open landscape.

The trail continues through heavier pockets of pinyon and juniper, undulating on cairn-marked slickrock down to Murphy Point (1.7 miles : 6,067’).

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 21.297  W109 51.839 — 0.0 miles : Murphy Trailhead
  • N38 21.080  W109 52.215 — .45 miles : Murphy Point - Murphy Trail split
  • N38 20.826  W109 52.770 — 1.0 miles : Rolling slickrock travel towards point
  • N38 20.527  W109 53.352 — 1.7 miles : Murphy Point

Worth Noting

  • The Murphy Trail (10.75 miles roundtrip) is a considerably more challenging option that drops into Murphy Basin and loops through desolate washes and desert flats connected by White Rim Road.
  • The trail is named after the Murphy family, who grazed cattle in the basin area in the early 1900s. Corral remains can be found in Murphy Wash, which comprises 2 miles of the Murphy Loop Trail.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips in Canyonlands National Park. Permits can be acquired at Visitor Centers the day of or day before your trip. Advance reservations can be made up to 4 months out and are recommended during peak season.

Call the Backcountry Reservation Office for more information: 435.259.4351

Click here to access the online reservation system.

  • There's a $30 fee per party to backcountry camp in Canyonlands National Park.
  • Hikers must camp in designated sites where explicitly stated. You may otherwise choose your own campsite in designated at-large zones.
  • At-large sites must be at least 1 mile away from any road and 300' from any archeological site, historical site or water source.
  • Mountain Bikers and 4WDs must stay on established roads and camp in designated sites at all times.
  • Fires are not permitted at backcountry campsites or within the backcountry in Canyonlands National Park.
  • Desert water sources are scarce and fragile. Do not bathe or wash dishes in creeks or pools. 

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $25 fee per vehicle to enter Canyonlands National Park (defined as private passenger cars with 15 people or less). Passes are good for 7 consecutive days.
  • $15 per motorcycle.
  • $10 per person (walk or bike).
  • Dogs are not permitted on trails in Canyonlands National Park.

Directions to Trailhead

The Murphy Trailhead is located 8.9 miles from the Island in the Sky Visitor Center on Grand View Point Road.

Contact Information

Canyonlands National Park

2282 SW Resource Blvd

Moab, UT 84532

Island in the Sky District: 435.259.4712

Backcountry Reservation Office: 435.259.4351

Park Administration: 435.719.2100

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


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