Monday, August 15, 2022—Dead Horse Point State Park and a Return to Canyonlands National Park

Mid-morning saw us off to Dead Horse Point State Park. Utah’s Dead Horse Point State Park features a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River 2,000 feet below and Canyonlands National Park.  It is most famous for its view of the gooseneck bend of the Colorado River, a much sought after photographic icon.

Colorado River as seen from Dead Horse Point
As seen from Dead Horse Point

The park covers 5,362 acres of high desert at an altitude of 5,900 feet.The legend of Dead Horse Point originates around the turn of the 19th century when cowboys would round up the wild mustangs that roamed the mesa. It is said, a herd was driven down the neck of the peninsula, its sheer cliffs forming a natural corral, and the 30-foot-wide entrance was fenced off with branches and brush. For reasons unknown, the herd was left or forgotten. After a period of time with no food or water, they succumbed to the harsh desert elements, with the Colorado River in view 2,000 feet below. It is rumored those horses can be seen and heard still roaming the area.

Colorado River and Canyonlands NP as seen from Dead Horse Point

After the long awaited photograph of the gooseneck bend described above, we returned to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, just a few minutes away. Our goal was to photograph Mesa Arch, the crown jewel of Canyonlands National Park. This pothole arch on the easter edge of the Island in the Sky mesa perched at the edge of a cliff with views of canyons, Monster Tower, Washer Woman Arch, Airport Tower, and the la Sal Mountains in the distance.Sunrise is the ideal time to photograph Mesa Arch, but the crowd of photographers can be overwhelming. Even at mid-day, the site was crowded, mostly by a large foreign “family” group of about a dozen and a half people. It seemed they took forever to pose singularly and in groups. We have seen groups like this before in other national parks, traveling in two or three vans. Anyway, we waited our time and snapped a couple of photos.

Kay at Mesa Arch in Dead Horse Point SP
Mesa Arch in Dead Horse Point SP
Mesa Arch in Dead Horse Point SP

After a few more photos of the canyons below, we returned to the motel for the afternoon.

Colorado River and Canyonlands NP as seen from Dead Horse Point

Later in the afternoon, we did a quick driving tour of Arches National Park; it was Kay’s second visit and my third. Knowing it would be crowded (you have to reserve a time slot to visit), we did not have any particular goals in mind—just sightseeing. That turned out to be a good thing as a storm rolled in and it rained on us most of the time we were there. We did manage to get a few photos between rain storms.

Storm at Arches NP
Rainbow at Arches NP
Arches NP
Arches NP
Arches NP
Balanced Rock, Arches NP
Double arches, Arches NP