February 2013: Dead Horse Point State Park

Moab, Utah

Most of us have seen the spectacular scenery around Moab without realizing it - the landscape has often been used as the setting for Hollywood westerns. Before that, popular Western novelist Zane Grey stoked the imaginations of readers with action placed in Moab. Real people started coming to the Colorado River town in the 1950s when uranium was discovered nearby. Even though the mines have since played out, the town has never returned to its sleepy agricultural days. Today Moab is an outdoors mecca at the foot of the La Salle Mountains and the gateway to southeastern Utah’s canyon country with national parks at Canyonlands and Arches. In these parks dogs are not allowed in the backcountry, on trails or on rivers within the park. Still, there are plenty of other opportunities here that make Moab a prime destination for canine adventurers. 

Two loops, connected by the Visitor Center, skirt the edges of the rim of the rock peninsula. Numerous short spur trails poke out to promontories overlooking the canyonlands (most are unfenced and provide no protection for overcurious canines). This is sparse desert land on top of the mesa and during a hot summer day there is little shade and no natural drinking water on the trails for thirsty dogs. All told there are ten miles of paved and primitive trail at Dead Horse Point, most on hard, rocky paths.  

Legend has it that cowboys once herded wild mustangs onto to the top of this isolated mesa - 2,000 feet above the Colorado River - and blocked escape across a narrow neck of land with branches and brush, thus creating a natural corral. One time the horses in the corral were forgotten about and died of thirst while looking at the unaccessible Colorado River below. In 1959 more than 5,000 acres, most of which are on the mesa top, were designated Dead Horse Point State Park. While your dog will never trot the trails of Canyonlands National Park and look straight down 1000 feet at the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers, she can get the same kind of experience next door in Dead Horse Point State Park.  

Nine miles northwest of Moab on US 191 and then 23 miles southwest on Utah 313 to the end of the highway.