A 45-minute drive from Moab and located east of Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park is a welcome escape from crowds for maximum fun. Smaller than its neighboring park, Dead Horse Point is like a well-kept secret, offering fun hikes for people of every ability, truly jaw-dropping views (how come no one talks about this mini-Grand Canyon?), and best of all, wide-open spaces to explore.
What’s with the Name?
Surely this destination piqued your interest because of its name alone. Legend has it that cowboys used this natural occurring phenomenon to corral their horses, which, as you can guess from the name, didn’t always end well. Dead Horse Point in Utah is a long, skinny mesa. The narrowest part is referred to as “the neck,” past which there is one larger piece of land that drops off on all sides. In other words, there’s only one way in and one way out, which is why cowboys would corral wild mustangs here and fence off the one opening with branches and brush. The cowboys would then pick the cream of the crop, leaving the other horses trapped without water.
What to Do at Dead Horse Point
There are multiple breathtaking overlooks to explore as you make your way through the park. You’ll marvel at the sight of the Colorado River making its way through the canyon, with views of Canyonlands National Park beyond and the La Sal Mountains even further past that. Not to be overlooked, too, is the clear blue skies of the high desert, reminding us even as we are surrounded by massive rock beauty, that we’re all tiny in comparison to the space that surrounds us.
A hiker’s delight – they can take advantage of a couple of different hiking options within Dead Horse Point State Park. The easiest is the East Rim Trail, a 2-mile (one way) trail reaching from the Visitor’s Center to Dead Horse Point Overlook, which, by the way, offers absolutely amazing views. Experiencing the national parks from within the parks is incredible but seeing them from outside at this viewpoint is absolutely worth the trip. Another hike, the West Rim Trail, is a primitive 3.5-mile (one way) trek that starts at Dead Horse Point Overlook and ends at the Kayenta Campground.
It wouldn’t be Utah if there weren’t mountain biking options within this state park. Called the Intrepid Trail System, there are miles of trails for riders ranging from easy to difficult.