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    Dead Horse Point State Park: a “legendary” landscape in Utah

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    Joel Fulleda

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    The village of Moab It is a great starting point for anyone wanting to learn about the impressive nature of Utah's parks, from Canyonlands to Arches and Capitol Reef to hidden gems like Goblin Valley and Castle Valley. Today, however, we want to talk to you about Dead Horse Point, a small yet relatively unknown state park that looks like a point of view raised from which you can enjoy an impressive view of the reddish and jagged territory of the region: the view can remember the Grand Canyon, but the effect is completely different.

    But let's start from the beginning: where exactly is it Dead Horse Point State Park? What to expect from the visit?


    • Dead Horse Point: what to expect
    • How to get?
    • What to see in Dead Horse Point State Park: the available trails
      • Marlboro Point: a hidden gem!
    • The Legend of Dead Horse Point
    • Potash Road e Dead Horse Point nel cinema
    • Dead Horse Point: info utili
      • Park hours
      • Dead Horse Point: where to sleep?
      • Tour in elicottero su Dead Horse Point, Canyonlands e Arches

    Dead Horse Point: what to expect

    Dead Horse Point it is a stage that you will hardly be able to give up, especially if you are taking a tour of the parks of Utah, in the section between Canyonlands e Arches: yes, because Dead Horse Point is practically halfway between the two parks, and is perfect for those who are exiting Island in the Sky in the late afternoon and want to see a unforgettable sunset before returning to Moab.

    The spectacular panorama of Dead Horse Point shows a meander of the Colorado River that in fact can also remind you of other similar glimpses: not only the meanders of the San Juan River called Goosenecks State Park, but also another natural wonder of the West, the rocky spur of Horseshoe Bend (Page, Arizona) in the shape of a horse's hoof, also shaped by the Colorado River itself. The horse, in our case, returns again in the name of the place, but for a different and perhaps more macabre and fascinating reason: we will tell you about it shortly.

    How to get?

    But how do you get to Dead Horse Point?

    Coming from Moab, head north on US-191, leaving behind both the Colorado River bridge and the detour to Arches National Park. After about 15 km, you must turn left, taking the UT-313 W at the Moab Giants Dinosaur Park. From here, the sign will point you in the direction of Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point. The road, especially in the initial part, is suggestive: the threatening profiles of the red cliffs loom over it, anticipating what will be observed shortly thereafter.

    After 27 km, turn left and drive for another 12 km: after paying the entrance fee ($ 20 per car), you can stop at the Visitor Center (here is the Basin Overlook, which offers suggestive views on the east side of the canyon ) or continue by car for another 2 km until Dead Horse Point true.

    What to see in Dead Horse Point State Park: the available trails

    There are basically two ways of conceiving a visit to Dead Horse Point: the first - and simpler - involves a very short walk from the parking lot along the few meters of the Dead Horse Point Trail, which leads to the main natural terrace from which you can observe the splendid glimpse of thebend of the Colorado River, in the immense red expanse of Canyonlands cut from the splendid Potash Road: a viewpoint that allows anyone to enjoy a wonderful panorama with minimal effort.

    The second way to visit Dead Horse Point requires more time and determination: both from the Visitor Center and from the Dead Horse Point parking area there are some paths (there are also beaten by cyclists) that wind along the ridge of the canyon, offering all 'hiker a 360-degree view of the entire surrounding area. One of these is the West rim trail, which ventures for about 4 km on the western side of the park, up to Rim Overlook: from here, after enjoying the view, you can return near the Visitor Center, as the path rejoins the nearby area equipped for the camping.

    If you start from the Visitor Center, you can reach, after 2 km Pyramid Canyon Overlook: here too you can enjoy a scenario of dizzying beauty, despite being on the opposite side of the meander.

    Marlboro Point: a hidden gem!

    Most of the park's observation points are located on the mesa's main "peninsula", of which Dead Horse Point Overlook is the southern tip. However, not everyone knows the Marlboro Point, precisely because it is located on another strip of land less traveled by tourists and above all because the road to get there is decidedly winding.

    This viewpoint offers a beautiful view view of the Shafer Canyon, which is usually viewed from west to east, from the top of Island in the Sky (Canyonlands); from Marlboro Point it can instead be seen in depth from north to south, offering in fact a more unique than rare perspective. But the peculiarity of this overlook is that in front of you, before your gaze rests on the desert expanse, you will also see some rock formations that protrude beyond the ravine you are on: a couple of towers and a butt that greatly enrich the panorama.

    • How to reach it? Given that it is important to have an adequate vehicle (much better if a 4 × 4), it must be said that there are various roads, all dirt, that lead to Marlboro Point. I point out the one closest to the Park Visitor Center. You need to deviate from UT-313 W at this point and take the dirt road. After 1.6 km, turn left at the fork and continue on the main road for another 2.5 km approximately, until at least this point. And if you feel like it, you can also continue getting as close as possible to the arrival point, but keep in mind that the ground is sandy with holes and passages on rock. A rather bumpy journey, but mostly flat.

    The Legend of Dead Horse Point

    After suggesting how to visit Dead Horse Point State Park, we want to dive with you in the legend which gave this park its name.

    It is said that, in total and wild freedom, a herd of purebred horses lived in these places mustang. Some cowboys, exploring the area along the paths overlooking the endless valley, saw these splendid specimens and set out in pursuit, in order to capture them. The mustangs, in their desperate flight, saw their royal gallop on the edge of the meander come to an end: rather than being harnessed by the cowboys, the horses decided to launch themselves from the ravine, handing over their lives and freedom to the course of the river. Here she is tragic origin of the name Dead Horse Point.

    A legend no less suggestive - but perhaps less dismal - has it that the horses, pushed up to the trap of the meander, stopped there having no way out: the cowboys would have taken possession of the best beasts, while the other horses would have remained symbolically on that spur without ever returning.

    Potash Road e Dead Horse Point nel cinema

    To give prestige to these places there is not only the legend, but also the movies: where do you think Tom Cruise was climbing in the opening scene of Impossible mission, if not on the sharp spurs of the park? Here, at Dead Horse Point!

    But the film that made the park immortal is another: did you know that the final scene of Thelma e Louise - the dramatic car flight from the edge of the ravine - takes place not in the Grand Canyon (as stated in the film) but on the Potash Road, a panoramic road that practically winds sotto a Dead Horse Point? Here is the precise point. The Potash Road is an impressive, very demanding dirt road that part of Moab and goes up to Island in the Sky (Canyonlands) .

    Dead Horse Point: info utili

    Park hours

    The park is open all year round from the 6 22, while the Visitor Center opens at 9 am and closes at 17 pm. As anticipated, admission costs $ 20 and, being a State Park and not a National Park, it does not give the possibility to use the parks card.

    Dead Horse Point: where to sleep?

    The best place to sleep near Dead Horse Point is without a doubt Moab, called the "Entertainment Capital of Utah", due to the splendid natural heritage it preserves in the surroundings. We loved the rustico Bighorn Lodge, but at the link below you will also find other tips.

    Accommodation tips in Moab

    Tour in elicottero su Dead Horse Point, Canyonlands e Arches

    We point out a nice one helicopter tour in the Moab area, which may be reminiscent of the Grand Canyon helicopter tour experience we've long talked about. The difference - in our opinion decisive - is that this tourist flight itinerary will open up before your eyes the red-colored natural spectacle of Utah, which is very different from the Grand Canyon scenery.

    The helicopter tour (total duration: 1 hour) flies over the three districts of Canyonlands, the splendid rock sculptures of Arches, the aforementioned area of Dead Horse Point and many other emblematic places baptized by the Colorado River, as well as the point of its confluence with the Green River, a little further south of the park.

    Click here for information on the helicopter tour

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