Visitors to Dead Horse Point State Park are in for a treat. Driving to each of the park’s many overlooks reveals a completely different perspective into Utah’s vast canyon country. Some visitors claim Dead Horse Point State Park is even more captivating than the Grand Canyon.
The park is a slender peninsula of land extending off the massive plateau that is home to Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky district. The park sits above the beautiful White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park and offers views of Moab, the La Sal Mountains to the south and the Colorado River, 2,000 feet (609 meters) below. According to legend, the area got its name from its use as a natural horse corral around the turn of the century. According to legend, some horses died of exposure on the plateau.
A visitor center and art gallery provides a good primer to the park’s geology and key features visible from the many overlooks. The visitor center parking lot also serves as an excellent starting point to access the 16.6 miles (27 kilometers) of non-motorized single-track mountain biking and eight miles (13 kilometers) of hiking trails that sprawl across the park. Utah State Parks has a PDF map of the trails.
Eight miles of connected hiking trails lead to eight different overlooks. All of these trails are easy and do not require any technical hiking ability. Most of these trails allow both hikers and mountain bikers. Mountain bikers should yield to hikers, but sometimes it’s easier to go ahead and stand aside if you can. Hikers should yield to anyone on horseback.
In 2014, the Intrepid Trail System at Dead Horse Point State Park opened to the delight of many mountain bikers who have been enjoying its flowy trails through juniper and pinyon pine trees ever since. There are more than a dozen miles of non-motorized singletrack trails that are primarily rated easy and intermediate. Downhill riders should yield to uphill riders.
Since 2016, Dead Horse Point State Park has been an officially designated International Dark Sky Park. The high plateau and distance from city light pollution makes it an ideal place to view the celestial sphere. Park rangers are great resources for more information about the night skies above Dead Horse Point State Park.
Views From the Overlook
The view from Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. The overlook soars 2,000 feet (609 meters) above the winding Colorado River and offers vast breathtaking views of Canyonlands National Park.
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Where to Stay
Hotels and Lodging
Moab is the nearest town to Dead Horse Point State Park and has a variety of options for lodging from tent camping to luxury hotels. Moab is a 45 minute drive from Dead Horse Point State Park and is the best place to book tours of the area.
The town of Moab has many hotels, vacation house rentals, shops, restaurants and recreational outfitters. It’s busiest in the spring and fall, but stays busy year round even attracting many travelers in the winter months. It’s helpful to plan ahead and book in advance. Visit discovermoab.com for vacation planning tools and other important information.
Camping and Resorts
There are many options for lodging in and around Dead Horse Point State Park that can accommodate individuals and large groups from tent camping to lodges. Here are some popular options.
BLM campground near Dead Horse Point — sometimes called the Cowboy Campground. There are seven individual campsites (limited to 10 people and two vehicles per site) and toilets, but no water or hook-ups.
Kayenta Campground — located within Dead Horse Point State Park. There are 21 campsites available with restrooms (Visitor’s Center), picnic tables, fire rings and tent pads. Sites can be reserved online at reserveamerica.com.
Basecamp Adventure Lodge - this lodge has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and a fully stocked kitchen. This is a good option for groups and can sleep up to 19 people. They also have tent camping sites to accommodate even more people in a large group. It’s located just east of the park and can be booked online.
Moenkopi Yurts — located within the park, there are five yurts available for rent that can sleep up to six people each. A grill is available for outside cooking and the yurst have heating and A/C as well as electrical outlets. Reservations can be made on the park’s website.
The park is open year round from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.
WiFi is not available at the visitor center and cell phone signals can be spotty to non-existent.
Dogs are allowed at the park and in the campgrounds. Read the traveling with pets guidelines for more information.
The visitor center is open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
In the spring or fall temperatures pleasantly hover in the 70s and low 80s (F) (21-28 C). In January lows dip into the 20s and in July temperatures can skyrocket to more than 100 F (38 C). It does snow in Moab and Canyonlands National Park, but it usually doesn’t stick around for too long. It’s not common to see a heavy snowstorm in March and April, but it does happen. When it rains the slickrock becomes incredibly slippery and tough to navigate, hence its name, so check weather reports before heading out on any adventure and be sure to wear shoes with good traction. It’s always a smart idea to bring a rain jacket, sunscreen, a hat, snacks, a headlamp, first aid kit and more water than you think you’ll need for any activity.
Recommended mountain biking trails
Dead Horse Point Tour
Intermediate (14.4 miles/23.2 kilometers)
This trail has an elevation gain of 644 feet (196 meters) if you ride it counter-clockwise and has many lookout points.
White Rim Trail
Intermediate (100.8 miles/162 kilometers)
This is a popular long-distance trail usually done in 3-5 days. Overnight permits are required.
Amasa Back and Cliffhanger Trail
Difficult (9.1 miles/14.6 kilometers)
The trail has an elevation gain of 1,413 feet (431 meters) and is one of the most popular rides in the Moab region. Getting to the trailhead from the park will take 1.5 hours.
Recommended hiking trails
Dead Horse Point Rim Loop Trail
Easy/Intermediate (5 miles/8 kilometers)
A loop trail with an elevation gain of 908 feet (276 meters) that leads to eight overlook points.
Great Pyramid Loop Trail
Intermediate (4.2 miles/6.8 kilometers)
This loop trail has an elevation gain of 291 feet (89 meters) and features canyon views.
Amasa Back and Cliffhanger Trail
Difficult (8.5 miles/13.7 kilometers)
This loop trail trail has an elevation gain of 1,430 feet (436 meters) and has great valley views and opportunities for bird watching.
Recommended ATV trails
Intermediate (13 miles/21 kilometers)
This point-to-point trail has an elevation gain of 1,925 feet (586 meters) that starts on US 191 and ends on US 313 just before the entrance to Dead horse Point State park.
Difficult (9 miles/14.4 kilometers)
The Hell’s Revenge loop trail has an elevation gain of 1,112 feet (339 meters) and features steep climbs, descents and cliff edges.
Fins & Things
Intermediate (9.5 miles/15.2 kilometers)
This loop trail has an elevation gain of 1,092 feet (332 meters) and features eroded cemented fin-shaped sandstones.