One of the joys of travel is the unexpected find, the destination you knew nothing about that someone tells you about, like Dead Horse Point State Park. Ruth & I were on our way to Canyonlands National Park when Diane encouraged us to check it out. Time allowed this by late afternoon.
To visit Dead Horse Point, travel 9 miles north of Moab, Utah, on US 191 and turn left on SR 313; 23 miles later you’ll see a sign to turn left for DHP a few miles before the entrance to Canyonlands.
Browsing its excellent visitors’ center, I wondered out loud why I hadn’t heard of Dead Horse Point before and learned that word of mouth was its best sales rep.
In 1959 this State Park, now one of 43 in Utah, came into being. After seeing it, Ruth and I can’t wait to explore some of the others, like Goblin Valley that Ranger Megan recommended. And we’re not alone in our admiration of Dead Horse. Before I checked out exhibits and the film downstairs, I flipped through the Visitor Registration book and read Kentuckians Jim and Margie’s comment, “Like the Grand Canyon. Wow!” Another visitor simply wrote, “WAAoooo!!” It’s that kind of place.
A few miles northwest of the Center is the Colorado River Overlook providing a panoramic view of a canyon half the size of Grand in a high, cold desert environment. From this overlook, we were told, you can see as much of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below, as anywhere else in its meandering course. Along its banks are willow and tamarisk trees, the latter introduced and kept as ornamentals when a 1941 flood planted lots of them. Since they consume their weight in water every day, they’re competition for the 30,000,000 people down river who depend on water that the horses couldn’t get to.
Legend has it that cowboys drove wild horses across a narrow neck out onto a waterless point where they could see the Colorado below but couldn’t get to it and died of thirst. The reasons for this mindless cruelty are unknown but provided the name for the Park.
It’s so scenic that Hollywood has repeatedly used DHPSP as a movie set, like John Ford’s Stagecoach, John Wayne’s 1st high-profile role. Most people think that the final scene of Thelma & Louise was shot at the Grand Canyon, but they’re wrong. It was filmed here.
Ruth and I didn’t have time for the 3 easy to moderate loop trails or the rim walks, this time. We also learned that the most satisfying visits include either a sunrise or sunset, and we couldn’t wait for the latter. So, of course, we’re planning a trip back to Dead Horse next summer. Maybe even sooner.