Marlboro Point is a stunning rim overlook in Canyonlands National Park, situated in the Big Flat area of Island in the Sky District. Whilst not far from the parks tarmac roads and marked hiking trails, the rough dirt road access and relative 'locals spot' secrecy surrounding this location keep it (handily) off the casual photographer's agenda.
How to Get There?
- Drive into Canyonlands on Island In The Sky Road
- Take the first left 1 mile past UT-313 turn off - N38 32.174 W109 47.748
- Follow this unmarked dirt road for 1.9 miles
- After 1.9 miles, follow the road branching right, marked "no camping" - N38 31.359 W109 46.094
- Follow this straight road due South for 2 miles till it ends in a small turnout
- From the parking area to the rim is a few hundred feet - N38 29.662 W109 46.214
The first section of dirt road immediately off Island In the Sky Road has the odd section of very deep ruts, you will need a ‘real’ 4x4 to drive this; an SUV will not be advisable as you need serious ground clearance in parts.
The second dirt road that heads South to the rim has some very rocky sections, again, a 4x4 with excellent clearance and some boulder negotiation would be advisable. If it’s rained, even with 4x4, forget about it.
Alternatively, you can walk, which I've done. Following the roads it’s roughly 5 miles, so can easily be covered in 1.5 to 2 hrs, though with a drive out from Moab it combines to make for a very early start.
What to shoot?
Marlboro Point itself is like something from Thelma and Louise. The rim dramatically falls away to reveal a towering blade thin spire and candlestick butte formation; far off in the distance you can see the Island of the Sky’s rim wall receding away.
Pinon trees and boulders dot around the area providing plenty of foreground. Opportunities for wide scenics are plentiful, although the rest of the canyon is so distant here, that the real sole visual draw is the butte and spire. You can see washer woman arch from here, although you’d need a serious telephoto to pluck it out from the canyon background.
When to shoot?
The position of Marlboro Point makes it an ideal sunrise location.
In the winter months (Sept to Nov), the sun rises directly East of the butte and spire; perfect positioning for sidelight on both formations, the expanse of the canyon as well means there’s ‘even shadows from the rim as well to balance out the bottom of the frame.
Marlboro Point is well worth the effort however you choose to get there. Very much still a ‘local’ spot, the likelihood of having this place to yourself is worth it, it makes a welcome change from the ‘tripod clash’ at the more popular landscape photography spots in Canyonlands National Park, such as Mesa Arch, Green River Overlook et al.