Dead Horse Point State Park looms 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and imposing Canyonlands National Park in Utah, sprawling over 5,300 acres in high-desert altitude. There are miles of developed hiking trails in the park, including a paved trail that provides easy access to some of the most scenic views. There’s also a 21-tent-site campground with picnic tables and a visitor center that’s open year-round. The park is located nine miles north of Moab on US 191; turn west on SR 313 and travel 23 miles. It takes about 40 minutes to drive from downtown Moab. Park in the main car park for Dead Horse Point.
The Legend Of Dead Horse Point
According to one legend, the point once was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa. Cowboys rounded up the horses, herded them across a narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only 30 yards wide, then was fenced off with branches and brush, creating a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs. Cowboys chose the horses they wanted and, for reasons unknown, left the other horses corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River 2,000 feet below.
Moab experiences a variable climate. Winter tends to be mild in lower elevations, which creates great conditions for long walks and day hikes. Higher elevations in the nearby La Sal mountain range offer skiing and snowmobiling. Occasionally, a winter snowfall presents unique landscape photographic opportunities. Summer days in Moab are hot and dry, cooling down in the evening. It’s highly recommended to pack extra water when hiking the canyon during summer months.
The Moab area is a paradise for photographers. Under conditions of constantly changing light, Dead Horse Point State Park’s landscape provides limitless photographic opportunities, with a view that stretches more than 100 miles. Certainly, the best time of day for photography is during sunrise or sunset, when the red rocks seem to glow with intense color. A wide- to medium-range zoom lens is ideal, so if you have a 24-70mm or 24-120mm equivalent, it would work great. Bring a polarizer to control haze and enhance saturation.
Sunrise and sunset are the best times to capture the popular view of the gooseneck in the Colorado River and the distant Canyonlands. For the best vantage point, walk past the observation deck and continue along the path for approximately 100 feet. There are no rails, and visitors are warned to use extreme caution when approaching the edge of the cliffs. March through May are the most popular months, while summertime is ideal for photographing thunderstorms over the canyons.
Zooms that provide focal lengths from wide to moderate telephoto are ideal for capturing the expansive vistas at locations like Dead Horse Point. For Canon and Nikon full-frame DSLRs, the Tokina AT-X 24-70mm F/2.8 PRO FX offers this sweet-spot range, with a fast maximum aperture of ƒ/2.8 throughout the zoom range and a minimum focus distance of just under 15 inches for wide compositions that incorporate prominent foreground elements. List Price: $999. Contact: Kenko Tokina USA, kenkotokinausa.com.