Nestled among Utah’s rugged landscapes, Dead Horse Point State Park is a hidden treasure, often overshadowed by its famed neighbors, Arches and Canyonlands national parks. With scenic hiking trails, minimal crowds, and vistas that rival the grandeur of nearby national parks, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone visiting the area. What's more, its compact size makes it an ideal choice for those pressed for time and seeking an intimate connection with nature. This guide is your key to unlocking the wonders of Dead Horse State Park – from invigorating hikes to jaw-dropping viewpoints – ensuring you savor every moment from dawn to dusk.
Planning Your Visit to Dead Horse Point State Park
Located east of Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park is just a 45-minute drive from Moab, Utah. To give you some perspective, it's a quick 20-minute drive from the Visitor Center of Dead Horse Point to Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky Visitor Center. The entrance fee is $20 per vehicle for up to eight people, allowing you to explore for two days. The park welcomes visitors year-round from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Best Things to Do at Dead Horse Point State Park
Visit Dead Horse Point Overlook
If you only have time for one activity, visit the Dead Horse Point Overlook. The view from this vantage point is incredible, allowing you to behold the vast canyons below. You can reach this captivating location by hiking or taking the 22-mile Scenic Byway U-313, which leads to the Dead Horse Point Overlook parking area. A short, paved path guides you to the iconic photo spot, offering a breathtaking view of a bend in the Colorado River. The sight from Dead Horse Point is among the most photographed and revered scenic vistas in the world, showcasing the panoramic wonder of the Colorado River Canyon and providing grand views of The Needles and maze sections of Canyonlands National Park, as well as the meandering Green and Colorado rivers.
Explore Dead Horse Point State Park Hiking Trails
Whether you’re looking for a laid-back stroll or seeking a challenging adventure, Dead Horse Point State Park has something for everyone. And this state park is dog-friendly as long as you always keep your pup on a leash. Here are some of our favorite Dead Horse Point State Park hikes:
East Rim Trail
Distance: 2 miles one-way
Starting at the Visitor Center, this easy trail treats you to stunning views of the eastern canyon rim, giving you the chance to explore the mesa top and enjoy panoramic vistas of the La Sal Mountains, the Behind the Rocks area, sagebrush flats, and juniper forests. This mostly flat trail (except for a short hill a quarter-mile from the visitor center) provides a fantastic alternative to simply driving through the park. If you combine it with the West Rim Trail, you'll embark on a rewarding four-mile (or longer) half-day adventure, starting and ending at the Visitor Center.
West Rim Trail
Distance: 2.5-3.5 miles one-way
This moderate trail guides you along the western edge of the park, treating you to awe-inspiring vistas along the way. It's the longest and most primitive hiking trail in the park, providing stunning canyon views from both sides of the rim. You'll find cairns or stacked rocks to lead your path along the way. If you're up for a little extra adventure, consider exploring the Meander, Shafer, and Rim overlooks, which will add an additional mile to your hike. Among these overlooks, the Meander Overlook stands out as one of the park's most impressive spots.
You can choose to hike both the East and West Rim Trails by starting at the Visitor Center and returning via the other trail. This 5.5-mile adventure provides a comprehensive experience of the park's beauty, and you can add optional detours to visit the various overlooks along the way.
Colorado River Overlook
Distance: 0.5 miles one-way
For an easy but visually rewarding experience, follow this short path along the East Rim to a stunning view of the Colorado River. Heading north from the Visitor Center, this trail meanders along the East Rim, culminating in a stunning view of the Colorado River. From the Overlook, you'll witness the remarkable forces of erosion as the landscape descends into a massive S Curve in the river. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife in the juniper-piñon forest and seasonal pools of water known as desert potholes, adding to the trail's charm.
Bighorn Overlook Trail
Distance: 1.5 miles one-way
This moderate trail is the longest spur off the West Rim Trail, and its isolation leaves you feeling like you have the world to yourself. With views rivalling those of Dead Horse Point, this trail is a destination in its own right. The overlook earns its name from an eroded fin in the distance, strikingly resembling a pair of horns. At the trail's end, you'll discover a series of deep potholes that, when filled with water, come alive with fairy shrimp, tadpoles, and other fascinating forms of life.
Bike the Intrepid Trail System
The Intrepid Trail System at Dead Horse Point State Park is a network of non-motorized singletrack trails covering 16.6 miles. These trails cater to all skill levels, from easy to challenging, offering a unique way to experience the park's beauty. You'll be treated to spectacular canyon views below as you pedal through the area’s juniper and piñon trees, traverse slick rock, and tackle mixed terrain. The adventure begins at the Visitor Center parking lot, serving as the main trailhead. You can either bring your own bike or rent one from Bighorn Mountain Biking at the Intrepid Trailhead for an unforgettable mountain biking experience.
Witness Sunrise and Sunset Spectacles
At Dead Horse Point State Park, nature puts on a breathtaking show during sunrise and sunset. The canyon walls, bathed in golden light, evoke the beauty of vivid watercolor paintings, etching a lasting memory for those fortunate enough to be there. As colors dance and shadows play on the rocks, you'll be captivated by this unforgettable sight. For a front-row seat to the sunset, make your way to Dead Horse Point Overlook, a prime location to soak in the breathtaking views.
If you're seeking an escape from the crowds and a chance to connect with the sublime beauty of the natural world, Dead Horse Point State Park should be at the top of your list.
Where to Stay Near Dead Horse State Park
If you're seeking outdoor luxury and a close connection with nature, ULUM Moab, situated 25 miles south of Moab, is an ideal place to stay. Nestled in a crescent-shaped desert setting, this exceptional resort – featuring safari-inspired tent suites with king-size beds, luxe linens, and ensuite bathrooms, plus a full-service restaurant, three dipping pools, yoga classes, and more – offers an exclusive opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonders of the Southwest while indulging in sophisticated comforts and expansive views. ULUM Moab: the epitome of unwinding in style amidst the beauty of the outdoors.
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