Destination: Castle Valley, Utah

castleton tower and the rectory

Epic desert views abound in Castle Valley, Utah. This is the view looking towards Castleton Tower and the Rectory from the Fisher Towers. Bring your camera.

 

If you love desert sandstone towers set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains with the convenience of drive-up accessibility, you should add Castle Valley, Utah, to your list of must-visit destinations. Adventure-seekers should note that while epic views can be had from the paved road, you’ll want to park your rig at a trailhead and explore on foot to take in the best vistas of this wild labyrinthine landscape.

hiking in castle valley

Castle Valley is located in Grand County at an elevation of 4,685 feet above sea level. You can get there easily from the town of Moab, Utah, by following route 128 along the Colorado River as it winds upward, eventually snaking through the red rock landscape and opening up into a breathtaking collection of sandstone towers and buttes all set against the dramatic La Sal Mountains.

castle valley onX map

This general overview photo from the onX destop platform shows the locations of Castleton Tower, the Rectory, and the Fishers towers. The small town of Castle Valley can be seen in the lower left-hand corner.

 

Castleton Tower, the Rectory, and the Fisher Towers

While there are many spectacular features to explore in Castle Valley, I would recommend exploring Castleton Tower, the Rectory, and the Fisher Towers. All three are world-class rock-climbing destinations, and if you take the time to hike up to these natural wonders, you might catch a glimpse of climbers scaling the steep sandstone cliffs.

 

Castleton Tower

castleton tower in castle valley

Hiking to Castleton Tower with heavy packs full of climbing gear.

Castleton Tower might be the most popular desert tower in the state of Utah. This Wingate sandstone pinnacle rises 400 feet above a 1,000-foot-tall Moenkopi-Chinle talus cone right in the middle of Castle Valley. You’ll need technical climbing skills to make it to the top of Castleton Tower, but just about anyone who is in good physical condition should be able to make the hike to its base. From this vantage point, you’ll have incredible views of the valley. The hike to the base of Castleton Tower is roughly 1,400 feet of elevation gain and 2.7 miles round-trip.

 

The Rectory

castle valley the rectory

The Rectory is the narrow mesa in the center of the frame. You can just make out the profile of the Bishop, a tower located at the far end of the Rectory.

If you make the hike to the base of Castleton Tower, you are already right at the Rectory. It’s a long sandstone mesa immediately adjacent to Castleton. Standing on the saddle between Castleton and the Rectory is otherworldly.

 

The Fisher Towers

sunset at the fisher towers

Sunset at the Fisher Towers. The little squiggly bit is the summit of a classic rock climb called Ancient Art.

The Fishers are some of the wildest-looking desert towers that I have ever seen, and they are relatively easy to get to. Even from the trailhead, you get phenomenal views, but if you enjoy hiking, you can get much closer to some of these formations. The Fisher Towers Trail climbs over 1,600 feet and is approximately 4.5 miles round-trip.

As with all outdoor destinations, we highly encourage you to practice Leave No Trace ethics, maintaining these spectacular destinations for those who come after you.

hiking near the fisher towers

Exploring around the Fisher Towers reveals some extraordinary canyon terrain.

 

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When he's not publishing campervan content or gear reviews on ExPo, Matt Swartz is honing his paragliding skills, hiking a 14er, or exploring the backroads of Colorado. His love of travel has seen him bike across the United States, as well as explore more exotic destinations like the Amazon basin and Patagonia. Matt spent three years living in a 1964 RV with his partner, Amanda. He's worked as an Interpretive Ranger and Wildland Firefighter and his photography and writing has been published in Rova Magazine, the Leatherman blog, 'Hit The Road' by Gestalten Publishing, and Forbes.