The Shafer Canyon Overlook is on the left of the park road, 0.5 mile past the visitor center  (just before crossing the neck). Shafer Trail Viewpoint, across the neck, provides another perspective 0.5 mile farther. The neck is a narrow land bridge just wide enough for the road, and it's the only vehicle access to the 40-square-mile Island in the Sky.
The overlooks have good views east down the canyon and the incredibly twisting Shafer Trail Road. Cattlemen Frank and John Schafer built the trail in the early 1900s to move stock to additional pastures (the "c" in their name was later dropped by mapmakers). Uranium prospectors upgraded the trail to a four-wheel-drive road during the 1950s so that they could reach their claims at the base of the cliffs.
Today the Shafer Trail Road connects the mesa top with White Rim 4WD Road  and Potash Road, 1,200 feet and four miles below. High-clearance vehicles should be used on Shafer, preferably with four-wheel drive if you plan to climb up. Road conditions can vary considerably, so contact a ranger before starting out.
This trail begins near the Shafer Canyon Overlook. A brochure should be available at the trailhead. This moderately difficult hike follows a five-mile loop down Taylor Canyon to Neck and Cabin Springs, formerly used by ranchers, then climbs back to Island in the Sky Road at a second trailhead 0.5 mile south of the start. Water at the springs supports maidenhair fern and other water-loving plants. Also watch for birds and wildlife attracted to this spot. Bring water with you, as the springs aren't suitable for drinking. The elevation change is 300 feet.
This easy trail leads to a dramatic arch that rises on the rim of a sheer 800-foot cliff. You'll marvel as to how this arch has survived at all in its precarious location. The trailhead is on the left, 5.5 miles from the neck. On the way, the road crosses the grasslands and scattered juniper trees of Gray's Pasture. A trail brochure, available at the start, describes the ecology of the mesa.
Hiking distance is only 0.5 mile round-trip (30 minutes) with an 80-foot elevation change. The arch, eroded from Navajo sandstone, frames views of rock formations below and the La Sal Mountains in the distance.
A handy lunch stop, the Grand View Picnic Area, is 2.5 miles along the main road past the Murphy Point turnoff. Two trails start here. White Rim Overlook Trail (1.8 mile round-trip) is an easy hike east along a peninsula to an overlook of Monument Basin and beyond.
Gooseberry Trail (5.4 miles round-trip) drops off the mesa and descends some extremely steep grades to the White Rim 4WD Road  just north of Gooseberry Campground; the strenuous trip takes up to four hours with an elevation change of 1,400 feet.
Continue one mile on the main road past the picnic area to Grand View Point, perhaps the most spectacular panorama from Island in the Sky. Monument Basin lies directly below, and countless canyons, the Colorado River, the Needles, and mountain ranges are in the distance. Grand View Point Trail (2 miles round-trip) continues past the end of the road for other vistas from the point, which is the southernmost tip of Island in the Sky.
The Green River Overlook is to the west of the main road junction; turn west and go 0.25 mile, then turn south and continue 1.5 miles on an unpaved road to the overlook. Soda Springs Basin and a section of the Green River (deeply entrenched in Stillwater Canyon) can be seen below.
This trailhead is on the right one mile northwest of the main road junction. Aztec Butte is one of the few areas at Island in the Sky with Native American ruins; shortage of water prevented permanent settlement. The easy trail (2 miles round-trip) climbs 200 feet to the top of the butte in 0.5 mile for a good panorama of the Island.
The Whale Rock trailhead is on the right of the park road, 4.4 miles northwest of the road junction. An easy trail (1 mile round-trip) climbs this sandstone hump near the outer rim of Upheaval Dome for an ascent of 100 feet.
The park road ends 5.3 miles northwest of the main road junction, providing a look at this geological curiosity. There's also a small picnic area here. The easy Crater View Trail (1.8 miles round-trip) leads to overlooks on the rim of Upheaval Dome: the first viewpoint is 0.8 mile round-trip, the second one is another mile farther. A fantastically deformed pile of rock lies below, within a crater about three miles across and 1,200 feet deep.
For many years, Upheaval Dome has kept geologists busy trying to figure out its origin. They once assumed that salt of the Paradox Formation pushed the rock layers upward to form the dome. Now, however, there is strong evidence that a meteorite impact caused the structure.
The surrounding ring depression (caused by collapse) and the convergence of rock layers upward toward the center correspond precisely to known impact structures. Shatter cones and microscopic analysis also indicate an impact origin.
When the meteorite struck, sometime in the last 150 million years, it formed a crater up to five miles across. Erosion removed some of the overlying rock, perhaps as much as a vertical mile. The underlying salt may have played a role in uplifting the central section.
Another hiking possibility in the Upheaval Dome area is the Alcove Spring Trail (11.2 miles round-trip), which leaves the road 1.5 miles before the Upheaval Dome parking area and connects with White Rim 4WD Road  in Taylor Canyon. Five miles are on the trail in Trail Canyon and five miles are on a jeep road in Taylor Canyon; the elevation change is about 1,500 feet. Carry plenty of water—the strenuous trail is hot and dry.