Dead Horse Point State Park is one of Utah’s hidden gems. With stunning views of Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River, it offers a unique experience.
There are a number of different sites and trails to explore at Dead Horse Point, so it’s a good idea to get a feeling for what areas you want to visit while you’re there. We’ll give you a brief overview of the park’s history and highlights, tell you what you need to know before you visit, and recommend our favorite trails and viewpoints.
The Legend of Dead Horse Point
How did Dead Horse Point get its name? In the 19th century, cowboys would round up the wild mustangs that roamed the mesa and use the point of the mesa as a natural corral. The mesa has cliffs on three sides, so the cowboys would only have to make a barrier across one side to keep the horses contained.
Legend has it that once, after the cowboys had their pick of which mustangs they wanted, they accidentally left the rest of the wild horses out on the mesa in that natural corral for days. Having nowhere to go, these horses were left to the harsh conditions of the desert with no food or water, and eventually died.
Know Before You Go
Here are just a few things to know about Utah’s Dead Horse Point State Park as you get ready to visit!
Where Is Dead Horse Point?
Dead Horse Point State Park is located in southeastern Utah near the town of Moab. Moab is the nearest town to the park, about a 45-minute drive away. Dead Horse Point State Park is east of Canyonlands National Park, and from the visitor center of one to the other, it’s about a 20-minute drive.
What Is There to Do in Dead Horse Point State Park?
The park is open year-round for day use, and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy! Hiking, picnicking, camping, stargazing, wildlife watching . . . the list goes on. Dead Horse Point is also a popular spot for photographers and filmmakers.
When’s the Best Time to Go?
The best time to visit Dead Horse Point is in the spring or fall seasons. The park can get quite hot during the summer months, and you can expect freezing temperatures and sometimes snow during the winter months.
The park is open year-round (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day), and the park entrance is open every day from 6 am to 10 pm. The visitor center opens daily and stays open from 9 am to 5 pm.
Price of Entry
The price to enter Dead Horse State Park is $20 per vehicle (up to 8 people), $10 per motorcycle, and $10 per person if you walk or bike in.
If you plan on visiting Utah’s state parks multiple times during the year, you can also purchase a Utah State Parks Annual Pass for $100 for Utah residents or $150 for non residents. This pass gives entry to any Utah state park to a vehicle of up to 8 people and three walk-ins every day of the year (the purchaser must be present). This pass expires on the last day of the calendar year, no matter what month it was purchased.
Best Views and Trails
There are a number of different trails to hike and things to do at Dead Horse Point State Park, but here are just a few of our favorites!
1. Dead Horse Point State Park Short Loop Trail
If you do only one thing at Dead Horse Point State Park, walking along the short loop trail is worth your time. This is a 1-mile, easy trail that is easily located and very popular. The trail leads you out to a beautiful overlook with some amazing views of Dead Horse Point. This short loop trail has stunning views at any time of day and is worth seeing!
2. Dead Horse Rim Loop Trail
This is a moderate 5-mile hike that will take you along the Dead Horse Point Rim. On average, it can take about two and a half hours to complete. This trail is popular for its many great views and is often used for camping and birding. Because of its popularity, the trail is well-marked and easy to find. This trail is also dog-friendly, but all dogs must be on a leash. Along the trail are many options to go to outlooks over the canyons.
3. Big Horn Overlook Trail
Almost all the hikes in the park are rated as easy to moderate, since they are mostly flat. The Big Horn Overlook trail is 3 miles long, and considered to be an easy, out-and-back trail. At certain times of year, you can find lots of wildflowers and lizards! This trail doesn’t offer a lot of shade, so if you plan on hiking during the summer months, hike earlier in the day or be sure to bring lots of water. This trail offers a beautiful look point of the canyons below.
4. Mountain Biking
If mountain biking is more your style, there are lots of mountain biking trails in Dead Horse Point ranging from easy to challenging. The official Dead Horse Point State Park website has more information on where the trails are and how you can get started.
5. Night Sky Viewing
Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the best places in Utah to see the night sky! In 2015, Dead Horse Point was designated an International Dark Sky Park, meaning it is exposed to limited light pollution and has a high-quality view of the stars, making it perfect for stargazing and night sky photography.
The Best Way to Experience Dead Horse Point State Park
While there are many ways that you can experience Dead Horse Point State Park on your own, one of the best ways to see it is with a professional guide. At Utah Luxury Tours, we offer a variety of different tours that will allow you to see the best of what Dead Horse Point has to offer!
Our knowledgeable and experienced guides will take you to all the best viewpoints, trails, and sites in the park. If you’re interested in learning more about our tours or booking a tour for yourself, contact us today!