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Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab: Is it Worth it?

Dead Horse Point

Moab, Utah is home to two national parks and one state park: Dead Horse Point State Park. As far as state parks go, this is spectacular because it overlooks the Colorado River and the vast canyonlands area below.

But is it worth it to visit? Keep on reading for more.

Naming the Park

Supposedly, cowboys used to herd mustangs onto the mesa below, fence off the area (at one point it’s only 30 yards wide), and choose which horses they wanted to keep. Some died of exposure, giving it the name Dead Horse Point (source).

Getting There

Dead Horse Point State Park is about 40 minutes from Moab, Utah. It’s close to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.

Map from Moab to Dead Horse Point State park

Cost to Enter

Since it’s a Utah state park, those hoping to use their America the Beautiful National Park Pass are out of luck.

You must pay an entry fee to get into the park, which is $20 per car as of this writing. Seniors, bikers, motorcyclists, and others can get in cheaper.

Viewpoint

The major thing to do is to drive to the main viewpoint, called Dead Horse Point.

A short walk will take you to this wonderful sight. Wander along the rim to get panoramic views; east, west, and south.

It’s the best view of “The Gooseneck,” the bend in the Colorado River below.

Dead Horse Point

Visitor Center

There is a small visitor center located on the east rim of the mesa, though I’ve never stopped in!

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Sunset and Sunrise

It’s common to watch sunsets and sunrises at Dead Horse Point. The sunrises are a little nicer because of the way the sun hits the canyon walls.

Dead Horse Point

The sunsets aren’t bad, but the higher canyon walls to the west tend to cast shadows into the viewing area.

Hiking Trails

I’ve never taken the time to hike around here, but there are multiple trails that lead to different viewpoints along the rim of the canyon.

Map of hiking trails in Dead Horse Point State Park

Shafer Trail and Potash Road

Dead Horse Point showing Shafer Road

If you look closely, you’ll see a road below the viewpoint. This is Shafer Road, which connects to Potash Road. The road begins in Canyonlands National Park and ends at the bottom of the valley.

Camping & Yurts

Dead Horse Point offers 2 campsites: Kayenta and Wingate, as well as 2 yurt campgrounds: Wingate and Moenkopi.

See the Dead Horse website for reservation details.

Night Sky Programs

Something we’ve come to enjoy is the night sky programs in the national parks. Utah is one of the best dark sky places in the country. If you get the chance, we highly recommend a night sky program.

Dead Horse Point offers some night programs, including moon hikes and more.

Mountain Bike Rentals

Dead Horse also rents mountain bikes and offers a number of mountain biking trails.

I haven’t done this, but this sounds appealing to me since the mesa is relatively flat and easy, and would provide opportunities to see viewpoints that we can’t get to by car.

Learn more about renting bikes in Dead Horse.

Thelma & Louise

Dead Horse Point is the location of the famous scene in the movie, Thelma & Louise, where two women drive a car off the cliff of the Grand Canyon.

The nearby Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage has one of the mannequins that was used in the scene.

There is nothing at Dead Horse State Park telling the visitor about this event.

It’s possible this scene led to multiple people committing suicide, in the Grand Canyon, in the same manner. If you’re curious about this, find out more in our article: How many people have died in the Grand Canyon?

Potash Ponds

Potash Ponds at Dead Horse Point State Park

If you look east from the viewpoint you’ll see some strange ponds at the bottom of the canyon. These ponds are from the Potash Mines located below. Though they look strangely out of place, in certain sunlight they put out beautiful bright blue colors.

Is it worth it to visit Dead Horse State Park?

Dead Horse is the most incredible state park I can think of (I can think of more enjoyable state parks, but none more breathtaking). However, it’s located right next to Canyonlands National Park, which provides similar canyon views.

Though the Dead Horse State Park viewpoint is more textured and intimate than what you get at Canyonlands, some visitors complain this is “just a $20 viewpoint.”

If all you want to do is check out the viewpoint and move on, they are probably right. But I think if I tried mountain biking or the yurts I would have a different opinion.

Things To Do Nearby

What Else Do You Need to Know?

There is so much to do in Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands. How do you know what you should see and do? You need help! Don’t miss out on the best things.

Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times!

Resources

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