Dead Horse Point State Park, UT 10/19/16

Dead Horse Point is off the road to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park, so it’s up there on a mesa overlooking the spectacular canyons, about 40 miles from Moab.


Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs, connected to the mesa by a narrow strip of land called the neck, only 30-yards across. According to one legend, around the turn of the century the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up these horses, herded them across the narrow neck and onto the point. The neck was then fenced off with branches and brush, creating a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs straight down on all sides – no escape. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and let the rest go free. One time, for some unknown reason, horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

You get a nice easy hike from the parking lot to the iconic view of a U-turn in the Colorado.


Lots of views of different sections of the river, and of canyons along the way. The final scene in Thelma & Louise, where they drive off the edge into the Grand Canyon, was actually filmed at Dead Horse Point.

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Shafer Trail is a popular 4×4/ATV route with lots of switchbacks.  We saw a number of folks ready to take on the trail:


There are some flat trails up on the point, providing views on all three sides of the Point:

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These are the potash salt ponds, where the water is evaporated to leave the industrial potassium chloride. The water is dyed blue to speed evaporation in the high desert sun. Strange sight in the middle of red rock country.

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And the Colorado is green (but the Green River is more brown).img_9222

La Sal mountains in the distance.




1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    hikeminded said,

    Wow. What a landscape!

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