Island in the Sky

The island in the sky is an eroded sandstone butte located in the middle of Snow Canyon state park. Steep Walled on nearly every side, the top of the formation is accessible via a system of ledges, dihedrals and ramps on both the north and south tips. Once the top of the formation is attained it is traversed by an intricate series of drainage’s, bowls, parks, slots, ledges, and ramps. There is no easily discernible pathway through what is by definition a labyrinth of stone. There are several points which a rope and belay may be prudent.  All potential aspirants should have a good head for heights, comfort with exposure and understanding of the delicate nature of sandstone and its propensity to unexpectedly break.


Hike description:

  • Park at the trail head for West Canyon and hike the bike path to the Moss Canyon trail head.
  • At the entrance to Moss Canyon the north tip of the island in the sky is on the right. Begin climbing up a series of ledges pas several scrub oaks.
  • Pass an overhanging boulder on the right via a steep stem to attain an open dihedral which leads to an open flat area.
  • Traverse a varnish slab to the right and follow the water course at the top to the west (cliff edge)
  • Traverse south along a series of ledges on the west side of the formation to a corner crack with varnish features.
  • Climb the corner crack to a tree and bolt then a lower angle section to a short bombay chimney that exits onto a flat ledge via a hole.
  • Climb over the slab to the east to the 2nd dihedral
  • 70’ unprotected climb up dihedral to tree and single bolt belay 5.3
  • Continue south over ledges to scrub oak flat
  • At south end of park climb up and right over saddle, then up ledges to 360 view point at top.
  • Descend southwest to park. At south end of park turn west and climb over saddle and down into slot. Follow slot drainage south to next park.
  • Cross park on trail/drainage to south end, continue up drainage under dead leaning juniper and turn right following drainage up slabs and then ledges on left to 2 crawl through holes at top of saddle.
  • Descend into slot drainage and follow it up and east to a wide open park covered with moki marbles.
  • The sandstone peak at the north end of this area is the highest point of the island in the sky– also notice the mushroom rock that has been walled in to make a shelter.
  • From the moki park. go to the south east corner and follow a drainage around to the south and down slopy slab to the next park with large cactus.
  • Follow trail to south end of the park emerging at an open ledge with a cairn.
  • Turn west and ascend a drainage slot which will descend into the next park with a huge stand of cactus.
  • Continue south across park past huge junipers, and overhanging cave to south end. Climb south through gap past moki filled rock alcoves and down into major canyon drainage.
  • Locate 15’ chimney with slot at bottom, and climb up exposed arête to flat ledge at top. Belay off of huge boulder to the south. 5.6
  • Continue south to next park crossing it on drainage/path.
  • At south end of this park the drainage continues into morass of scrub oak. Turn left into side drainage and continue south into dead end canyon.
  • Just before end climb out on varnish edges to the right and traverse along top of slot which continues up drainage
  • Climb smooth drainage slab with good varnish edges on right past redbud trees at top.
  • Drainage narrows to squeeze slot with deep black varnish.
  • End of slot is wide ledge area with 2 bolt ring anchor
  • Hike west then south down ramp, then east past arch to ramp, slab dihedral descent of south end.
  • At bottom of slab turn west then south accessing cave slot below big loose boulders.
  • Follow ramp to top of 2nd tier then north to scree slope descent to wash.


Suggested equipment:

#1, 2, 3, 4 camalot

20’ cordelette

3 non locking biners

2 locking biners

100’ static rope

First aid kit.

For a guided experience on the Island in the sky please go to