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Dead Horse Point State Park is a hidden treasure located between Canyonlands and Arches National Parks that I stumbled upon during my last road trip to Utah. It sits at 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and provides breathtaking views of the chiseled pinnacles and buttes of Canyonlands National Park. Don’t miss it! Add Dead Horse Point State Park to your itinerary. Here is how to spend one day in Dead Horse Point State Park.

Dead Horse Point State is perfect when combined with a visit to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Check out these posts to help you with the planning process:

16 Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches National Park. If you are short on time and can only spend a day in Arches, then read 8 Things You Can’t-Miss on First Visit to Arches National Park which ticks off all the major attractions.

Don’t miss Canyonlands National Park. If you only have one day then head to Island in the Sky at Canyonlands. Make sure to read One Day in Island in the Sky at Canyonlands National Park

With more time in Canyonlands, make sure to visit The Needles. One Day in The Needles at Canyonlands National Park

Dead Horse Point State Park at a Glance

  • Location – Dead Horse Point State Park is located on. State Route 313, 18 miles off Highway 191 near Moab, Utah. It is conveniently situated between Arches and Canyonlands National Park making it a perfect detour on a Utah road trip.
  • Hours – Park is open year-round from 6 am till 10 pm.  Visitor Center is open daily from 9 am till 5 pm (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day)
  • Fees – The vehicle fee is $20 (up to 8 passengers), and it is valid for 2 consecutive days.
  • When to Go – The best time to visit Dead Horse Point State Park is either during the spring or fall months. The temperatures are mild and the crowds are low. Summers are very hot. During the winter months expect freezing temperatures and snow.
  • Good to Know – wifi is not available in the park, and sporadic cell service might only be available at the Visitor Center.

Map of Dead Horse Point State Park

Map of Dead Horse State Point Park

Map of Dead Horse Point State Park. Image Credit: Utah State Parks

Why Is It Called Dead Horse Point State Park?

The story is that the cowboys used to round up wild mustangs and herd them across and to the end of this narrow mesa. At the end of the mesa, which is only 30 yards, they built fences, creating a natural corral surrounded by cliffs.

Apparently, they chose the horses that they wanted and left the other ones to die.

Hiking Trails and Viewpoints in Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park has several great hiking trails that meander along the rim of the mesa and offer stunning views of the Colorado River below and with Canyonlands National Park in the distance.

All the trails are easy or easy/moderate with very little elevation change.

East Rim Trail

East Rim Trail goes along the east rim of Dead Horse State Park. It is about 2 miles (or 2.25 miles long if you add a short spur to Basin Overlook).

Park your vehicle at the Visitor Center and hike all the way to Dead Horse Point Overlook. Along the way, you will pass by a short spur to Basin Overlook and the Neck.

Notice in the distance are bright blue glistening pools. These are not a mirage but are solar evaporation ponds used in the process of mining potash. The mine is currently owned and operated by Intrepid Potash Inc., and the ponds cover about 400 acres of land 20 miles southwest of Moab.

A Quick Read:

What is potash? Potash, a water-soluble potassium salt, is a solution mined from the Paradox Formation more than 3,000 feet below the ground. Water from the Colorado River is injected down through a well into the potash-bearing strata, where it dissolves the salts. The resulting brine is extracted from a different well and pumped into the evaporation ponds. Blue dye is added to the water to enhance evaporation.

“Potash” is a general term that refers to a variety of potassium salts, such as potassium chloride (KCl), that are mainly used in fertilizer products, but also in the production of soap, glass, ceramics, and batteries. Source: Utah Geological Survey

Basin Overlook at Dead Horse Point State Park

Basin Overlook at Dead Horse Point State Park. 

One Day at Dead Horse Point

If you continue past the Neck, you will reach Dead Horse Point. The views of the Colorado river glittering below and Canyonlands on the horizon are awesome!

Dead Horse Point

The view from Dead Horse Point is stunning with the Colorado river 2,000 feet below and Canyonlands in the distance. 

One Day at Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point in Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.

One Day at Dead Horse Point

West Rim Trail

West Rim Trail is 3.5 miles long (one way) if you add short detours to Shafer Canyon Overlook and Rim Overlook.

The trail starts at Dead Horse Point Overlook and ends at Kayenta Overlook. Or, you can continue to Big Horn Overlook (1.25 miles one-way).

Shafer Canyon

View of Canyonlands National Park from Shafer Canyon. 

One Day at Dead Horse Point

Shafer Canyon

View from Shafer Canyon Overlook in Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.

One Day at Dead Horse Point

Intrepid’s Tip:

My recommendation is to combine the East and West Rim Trails for a loop. Start at the Visitor Center and hike the East Rim Trail to Dead Horse Point Overlook. Next, continue along the West Rim Trail when you reach Rim Overlook turn right and finish your hike back at the Visitor Center, where you started. The total distance is 5.5 miles.

Stay for a Spectacular Sunset at Dead Horse Point

Hands down, make sure to stay and watch the sunset! I hope the weather cooperates and you will be able to capture some stunning photos.

Dead Horse Point at Sunset

View from Dead Horse Point at sunset. 

One Day at Dead Horse Point

One Day in Dead Horse Point State Park

View from Dead Horse Point at sunset.

One Day at Dead Horse Point

Intrepid's Tips for One Day in Dead Horse State Park

  • If you can only do one thing in Dead Horse Point State Park, then you should take the road through the park to Dead Horse Point. The views are off the charts! You will see a breathtaking panorama of buttes and mesas. And 2,000 feet below you will be the Colorado river twisting through the canyon.
  • If you are into mountain biking, then Dead Horse Point State Park is the place for you. There are miles of mountain biking trails called Intrepid Trail System.
  • Dead Horse Point State Park is a premier spot for stargazing. As a matter of fact, it was recognized as an International Dark Sky Park in 2016.
  • Finally, if you are looking for a place to stay while visiting Arches or Canyonlands National Park, consider staying in Dead Horse Point State Park and sleeping in a Yurt! Two campgrounds offer yurts: the Moenkopi and Wingate Yurts.

Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning your trip to Utah?

Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

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One Day in Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
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