dead horse map Around the turn of the century, the narrow point, high above the steep walls of a canyon,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.  And so goes the legend behind the name of Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab.

Dead Horse Point is a small state park covering just a few square miles of land, but the  spectacular view rivals that of the Grand Canyon.

IMG_0326 Towering 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, the main overlook of Dead Horse Point State Park has a 270° vista over the Colorado and its side canyons, from the bright turquoise tailing ponds of a potash mining complex in the northeast, along the river and south across vast areas of eroded ridges, buttes, pinnacles and cliffs with the La Sal Mountains in the far distance, then west to the near side of the Island in the Sky mesa and northwest along several branches of Shafer Canyon.

IMG_0396Plenty of the river and its corridor of greenery is visible, 1,900 feet below, including one big gooseneck meander close to the viewpoint.

 IMG_0503 A dirt track winds over the rocky desert at the base of the cliffs – this is Potash Road, which follows the Colorado river starting just north of Moab. It is paved at first, as far as the potash mining complex, then unpaved for the next 17 miles, ending with a steep ascent up the cliffs at the head of Shafer Canyon where it joins the national park drive.

Join us on our hike.

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