We had a leisurely morning and made our plans for the day. I had seen these amazing pictures of a bend in the Colorado River and read about Dead Horse Point State Park, so it was on my list of places to see. It’s only 32 miles from Moab on Highway 313 so it was something we talked about doing while we are here. I’ll let you be the judge of whether it was worth it. We left the campground at 11:00 and headed north out of Moab. I never get tired of the scenery here.
At Highway 313, we turned at the Track Museum and Dinosaur Trail. There are life-sized dinosaur statues outside on the “dinosaur trail”. Any kid that likes dinosaurs would love this place.
From that point, Dead Horse Point State Park is 22 miles on Highway 313 and on the same road as Canyonlands.
The road is lined by rock bluffs and red rock structures.
Along the way, there are turnoffs for different overlooks of named rocks. This was the viewpoint for the Monitor and Merrimac named after two ironclad ships that fought in the Battle of Hampton Roads in the Civil War. See if you can imagine those ships when you look at the rocks.
This was the viewpoint for the Lone Mesa. It is so large it was hard to get it in the frame of my camera.
Once we left to rocky bluff areas, we were on the top of the mesa all the while driving on Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway. The road seemed to go on forever.
We finally arrived at the entrance to Dead Horse Point State Park.
There was no line to get in, so we paid our fee of $20 per vehicle (up to 8 people) and drove on.
We got to the Visitor Center where there were just a few cars in the parking lot. We went inside to look around and ask a few questions. Then we went outside to the canyon overlook. This was our first view of the canyon and it was awesome!
The paved path along the rim gave us an opportunity to view the canyon from many different angles.
Walking along the rim, we could see out into the distance.
From here, we got our first glimpse of the Colorado River. It made me want to get a little closer to get a better view of the river. I was still looking for the view of the river that I’ve seen in so many pictures.
From there, we drove to the end of the park road which is Dead Horse Point Overlook. We got out to view the many pinnacles, buttes, and hopefully, the river. It was a breathtaking panorama of Colorado River 2000 ft. below us.
The Colorado River starts from snow melt 9000 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The 1,450 mile long river flows down through Utah and Arizona before reaching the Sea of Cortez. This is what we came to see!!
Looking down into the canyon, we could see the bicycle and OHV/Jeep trails below us. Yes, I said bicycle!
This spot is famous from the movie Thelma and Louise where they drove off the cliff here.
Those blue pools are evaporation ponds for the potash mines. The salt water in the ponds has blue dye added to speed up evaporation. From there, they harvest the dry salt. Then they refine the potassium chloride into plant fertilizer.
After looking around in every direction, we ate our lunch in the overlook parking lot in the AC. The Jeep thermometer read 88 degrees, but we couldn’t believe it. It was definitely cooler at the higher elevation. From there, we headed back down. The legend of Dead Horse Point is an interesting one. It states that around the turn of the century, the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck was then fenced off with branches and brush. 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 2000 feet below. This is a picture of the narrow neck of land where the cowboys herded the horses. The road is extremely narrow here with drop-offs on each side. On the left, you can see an example of the branches they used to fence off the horses.
We pulled into Horse Thief Campground to check it out. The sites had electric only, but there was a dump station available. There was no water at the campsites. The sites were large enough for us and there were some larger rigs in there. The sites sat atop the bluff for a very nice view. They even had a few yurts to rent. These things are pretty cool on the inside.
The drive back to Highway 191 was just as beautiful.
We stopped in town before returning to the campground so Bob could exchange the shirt he bought the other day for a larger size and to do some grocery shopping. It was the only grocery store in town and it very busy, but everyone was wearing a mask. We made one last stop at the C-store for some adult beverages and were back at the campground by 3:30. Bob said we needed to hurry before our self-rising frozen pizza started to rise. By now, the temp had risen to 105 degrees and it was HOT. It didn’t seem hot at all in the state park, but here it was oppressive. You could hardly touch anything that was metal without burning your hand. We enjoyed our time in the AC until dinner. Once the sun started to drop behind the mountains, we took our walk around 8:00 and it was still 96 degrees. We have 2 more days forecast to be in the 100’s and then the highs should be in the 90’s. That will be a relief! When the sun starts to drop behind the bluffs, the sunlight turns the cliffs to gold in the east.
Then if you wait a few minutes for it to drop behind the bluff, it lights up the clouds with many beautiful colors.
It’s like looking at heaven!