Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the most popular destinations in the Moab region of Utah, so overcrowding can be a problem during the busy summer season. After Labor Day Weekend the number of visitors start to decline and by mid autumn there will be far more breathing room to be found in this majestic place. The hiking trails see far less traffic because the weather can change by the minute this time of year, which means enjoying some peaceful solitude is easier to accomplish if one does not mind braving some inclement meteorological conditions. Gray skies do have a way of casting an ominous look upon Dead Horse Point, which creates a memorable dramatic effect.
Hiking the 1.7 mile long Dead Horse Point East Rim Trail is as easy going as it gets, while the west Rim Trail System is a bit more challenging and this pathway is about twice the distance. Hiking the West Rim Trail System takes much more time, so most of the day trip visitors just opt for the West Rim roadside overlooks. This is especially true for tourists that are in a hurry. Dead Horse Point is the first point of interest on the way to the Island In The Sky, which offers dozens of intriguing primary destinations of its own. Oddly enough, touring Dead Horse Point in a hurry is what most people do because of eager anticipation of what lies ahead, so most visitors are here one minute and gone the next.
The West Rim roadside overlooks offer views that stretch deep into the vast Canyonlands National Park wilderness and some of the overlooks feature views of the towering cliffs on the edge of the Island In The Sky. This may be difficult to believe, but the West Rim views actually play second fiddle to the views at Dead Horse Point, which most definitely is the main attraction. This cliff top perch towers so high over the canyons below that it is easy to achieve an eagle eye view from this vantage point.
For those who saw the famous Hollywood movie, Thelma & Louise Point is straight down below Dead Horse Point and this lower plateau also has a very steep cliff that drops hundreds of feet down to the Colorado River. The river is a very long way down from the Dead Horse Point perch and this part of the goosenecks is amazing to see. A section of the Colorado River that runs through the Kane Creek Anticline can also be viewed from this overlook. The bedrock strata flows in every direction except an even horizontal plain in this upheaval zone, which creates a dizzying visual effect.
There is a Jeep Trail that runs from Shafer Canyon to the potash ponds and this dirt road can be seen way down below from Dead Horse Point. The vehicles on this trail look about the same size as fleas, which indicates just how high up this overlook really is. The cool Colorado River water looks refreshingly tempting, especially on a hot summer day, but this river might as well be a million miles away, which provides a clue as to how this famous place got its name.
Back in the late 1800s the cattle ranchers took over this region and they viewed the herds of wild horses as being competition for cattle on the high mesa grazing land. The cow pokes herded the wild horses and drove them out to Dead Horse Point, where they were corralled and left to die of thirst. This was one of the cruelest acts imaginable in the old west, which still draws disdain in this modern age, but this is actually how Dead Horse Point got its name.
Dead Horse Point certainly is a must to visit when doing a complete Canyonlands Island In The Sky Tour. If camping is in the plans, it is best to start making campsite reservations many months in advance, because the campgrounds in this State Park are some of the most popular in the entire Moab region. The views from Dead Horse Point certainly are worth the price of admission and the hiking trails are fun to take on too. This is one of the best Utah State Parks of them all, so be sure to chalk Dead Horse Point high on the travel bucket list!
Leave no trace!
Donations help the Destinaton West project continue into the future!
Go Fund Me!
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies