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Monday, November 10, 2014

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Day 1:  Drive to Dead Horse Point State Park, Moab, Utah
(Fun Facts throughout this post were obtained from
 the visitor center pamphlet, found at this link)

Saturday morning was a 5:30 am alarm.  
Thankfully, I did most of the packing and organizing Friday night, so it was more like getting the car loaded, breakfast made, and out the door by 6 am.  It was about a 4.5 hour drive to Dead Horse Point State Park, our first stop on our Moab adventure.  The drive to east/southeast Utah was very scenic, driving through the mountains and through the quaintest little mining towns, Helper and Price Utah to name a few. 

I had no idea we were going to end up in such an amazing state park.  Don't be too offended, but I think this park rivals the other two National Parks in Moab (and is even dog friendly!)

Dead Horse Point State Park is a state park adjacent to Canyonlands National Park.  This earned its less than attractive name from an old legend of cowboys and wild horses.  The point of this park made for a great location for cowboys to corner and corral wild horses.  The thin neck of the point was then covered by brush and a roughly made wooden fence.  Cowboys would then pick the horses they would keep and let the rest go.   Legend has it, that for some unknown reason, the cowboys left the unwanted horses behind the corral, trapped and dying of thirst while looking at the Colorado River 2,000 feet below. 

Dead Horse Point State Park is a high dessert, an inland dessert with an altitude of 5,900 feet.   October is the "wet season" and the park only gets about 10" of precipitation a year, half of that being snow.  The temperature was in the mid 60s during the day, which felt hot in the sun, and got down to the 40s/30's at night. 

We got to Dead Horse Point State park around 10:30.  After a quick stop at the visitor center to grab a map, learn about the park, and pay the free ($10), we grabbed our backpacks and headed to the East Rim Trail. Definitely spend some time looking around the neat and informative exhibits in the visitor's center (pictured below). 

Below are some of the views right from the visitors center.  

The blue you are seeing in the pictures is a cobalt dye added to the solar evaporation ponds to aid in the mining of Potash (below),. 

One section of the park, the northern trail system, the colored paths north of the visitors center (the intrepid trail system), is specifically for bikers (no dogs allowed).  The other section, the East Rim, West Rim loop, is for hikers only (dogs allowed) and loops through the point.  We left the visitors center and headed down the East Rim Loop to Dead Horse Point. 

The trail was a beautiful mix of rock, sandstone, cactus, and had spectacular views of the canyon below.  The overlooks and points of interests have nice clean well kept bathrooms, water bubblers, and many have covered picnic areas.  We stopped for lunch (and a beer) at Dead Horse Point with the most spectacular views of some of the most picturesque scenery Utah has to offer. 

While not one of the famous national parks, this park had an amazing landscape with beautiful views of Canyonlands and the winding Colorado River below. 

Gooseneck of the Colorado River, 2,000' below. 

Above is another view of the point and the river below.  Dead Horse Point is a 2,000' high mesa above the Colorado River.  The neck to the mesa is only 27 meters wide, and was where the cowboys gated off the mesa to coral the horses. 

There is a really nice viewing area/patio at the top of the point with 360 degree views from the point.  

Instead of taking the West Rim trail back to the visitors center, we decided to take the paved  road back.  A nice couple with a golden retriever educated us on the effects of sand stone on dogs paws/pads.  Essentially, the sand stone wears down their pads so it is best to limit their exposure.  This was an interesting factoid I had never heard of, and did not come across is any of my reading, so I was glad to run into this nice couple.  

If you are visiting the Moab area, definitely add this park on to your list, especially if you have a dog.  The national parks are NOT dog friendly, so this is a great place to hike with your pooch and enjoy some of the views that are similar to Canyonlands.  This was a great way to stretch our legs, take a nice hike, and enjoy the scenery before heading to Canyonlands to drive around the national parks.

Check back in for my post on Canyonlands, Arches, and Negro Bills Canyon!  


  1. Such great pictures! Utah is high on my list of places to visit for exactly that reason. The whole landscape looks beautiful!

    1. Thank you Jamie! It was so gorgeous - Wish I had more time there for sure! Hope you get to visit soon!

  2. Oh man. Utah is so beautiful.

    My boyfriend and I went to Canyonlands when we did a cross country car camping (say that 5 times fast) trip. So amazing. We definitely need to get out there again for a weekend or something. Love your photos!

    1. Thank you Kay! As a "New England Native" this is all so foreign and beautiful to me! Utah is winning me over and quickly! Cross country car camping sounds exciting! we did an overnight car camping adventure at Arches!

      Definitely need to get out there for a weekend! We went to Canyonlands too and loved it! Will recap that amazing trip next. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. So jealous of where you live!! Gorgeous pics. I never knew that about sand stone on dogs paws either. Very interesting.

    1. Really interesting to know about the sandstone and glad I do now! This east coast dog also had her first interaction with a cactus!

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