Island in the Sky is a challenging place to backpack. The landscape below the mesa top is a mixture of talus slopes and vast basins without any reliable water sources. Some trails lead below the White Rim Road to the rivers, but river water is silty and difficult to purify. All overnight routes involve a descent of over 1,000 feet, except Murphy Point which is on the mesa top and is an ideal destination for single-night trips.
Backpackers camp in an at-large zone unless traveling along the Syncline Trail where there is a designated site. A permit is required for all overnight trips.