Dead Horse Point State Park

Starry sky, jaw-dropping views, family adventure!

Dead Horse Point is one of Utah’s 44 state parks and recreation areas. Many of these parks could easily be national parks, like Dead Horse Point, but in many ways, I think they’re better! Utah has set aside these scenic and adventurous places for the enjoyment of the public, not to merely look at but as places for a hands-on experience. I consider these the best places for families to experience the outdoors together.

The views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands 2,000 ft below the rim trails are definitely a highlight of the tour.

Groups I take on tours through Utah frequently comment that they enjoy the state parks more than the national parks with Dead Horse Point often ranking high as a favorite stop on our Utah tours. The views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands 2,000 ft below the rim trails are definitely a highlight of the tour.

My wife and I recently completed a goal I set this year to spend the night at Dead Horse Point, which is an International Dark Sky Park.  I’ve been visiting Dead Horse Point for many years and have seen it under snow, fogged in, during dramatic thunderstorms but never at night. I reserved a yurt for two nights and crossed my fingers for clear skies, which we were fortunate to have. We were not disappointed! We spent the first night enjoying a starry night from the campground; the second night we went to the main view point at the end of the road. The Milky Way immediately jumped out both nights with stars so numerous it boggled our minds. I live in an area near Zion National Park that also has dark sky but not quite like what we experienced here. Utah is the world leader with nine International Dark Sky Parks, Dead Horse Point being one of the nine.

My objective this trip was to hike all the trails and learn something new about the park. When I bring groups here we generally just visit the “tip,” or end of the road where the iconic view of the river below is located. We decided to hike all the trails and make this trip all about Dead Horse Point. Hiking the entire network of trails took only a few hours, about a half-day’s worth. The rim trails were easy with several side trips to overlook viewpoints. Starting at the visitor center we hiked approximately 8 miles. With the exception of the main viewpoint at the end of the road, there are no rails so watch your little children closely. (Below are details about the trails)

Getting there Moab is 31 miles from Dead Horse Point. Take US-191 north to UT-313, Dead Horse Point State Park is 18 miles from the junction. (see map below)

Pets Dead Horse Point, like all Utah state parks, is dog friendly. Dogs are allowed on all hiking trails in the park, and into the campground with the following guidelines: Pets must be leashed at all times, even while in the campground; Pets are not allowed on the Intrepid Mountain Biking Trails; Pets are not allowed in the Yurts (or in vehicles outside the yurts); Pets cannot be left in vehicles; Clean up after your pet.

Last word Dead Horse Point offers amazing views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands with sweeping vistas of the surrounding area including the La Sal Mountains. Rather than making this a quick photo stop, spend some time enjoying the trails, reserve a yurt or campsite and enjoy the starry sky light show.

#utahstateparks #deadhorsepoint

Below are details about Dead Horse Point that may be helpful in planning your trip.

Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs. The peninsula is connected to the mesa by a narrow strip of land called the neck. There are many stories about how this high promontory of land received its name.

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 of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only 30 yards wide, was then fenced off with branches and brush. This created a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs, affording no escape. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and let the culls or broomtails 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.

Located 18 miles off Highway 191, Dead Horse Point is on a spur road that splits off Hwy 313 a few miles before the entrance to Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky District. The park entrance is 31 miles southwest of Moab and 40 miles south of I-70.