|Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point - Part 4 of 11 of
2010 Tour of fantastic Southwest USA
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Spectacular view from the Dead Horse Point Overlook at the southern end of the Dead Horse Point State Park
in Utah, USA. The mighty Colorado River makes a big U-Turn here and carves out this giant Gooseneck 2,000
feet below the Dead Horse Point Overlook which is at 6,000 feet of elevation. It is located between the
southern end of Dead Horse Point State Park and northeast corner of Canyonlands National Park in southeast
Utah, USA. This Overlook provides breathtaking 270-degree views of the canyon country of southeastern Utah
and the precipitous bluffs, the towering pinnacles and buttes of Canyonlands National Park.
During the sunset or sunrise golden hour, the panoramic view of the vast red sandstone canyons and
Gooseneck here can be even more gorgeous, beautiful and impressive as shown by the sample photos at the
Notice that the barely perceptible tiny white dot on the Colorado River in the picture above is a boat.
Zoom in for a closer view of the canyons carved by the Green River and its tributaries.
Sunrise and sunset are particularly beautiful times of day to enjoy panoramic views of Canyon Country. The
low angle golden sunlights add tremendous color and depth to the vast area of red sandstones and canyons to
present much more gorgeous views as shown in the sample photo at the following website:
The nice view east from Shafer Canyon Overlook on the Island In The Sky district of Canyonland National Park.
There are also many beautiful yellow wild flowers along Highway 211 going into The Needles district of
Canyonlands National Park.
Location and Direction:
Dead Horse Point State Park is located in southeastern Utah near the city of Moab. It is just a few miles
north of the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. It is reached by a 4 mile side road off the
main approach (Highway 313) to Canyonlands National Park, just before the national park boundary.
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Dead Horse Point State Park
Directions for Dead Horse Point State Park: From Moab, go northwest on US 191/163 for 9 miles and then
turn west into Utah 313 and go southwest on Utah 313 for 23 miles to the end of the highway to reach Dead
Horse Point State Park. About halfway there, you will make one more turn, at a well-marked intersection. A left
turn takes you to Dead Horse Point state Park (Phone: 435/259-2614, 800/322-3770); or straight goes to
Canyonlands National Park. Detailed Park Maps of the local area of Dead Horse Point State Park are available
Canyonlands National Park is located in southeastern Utah near the city of Moab and centered around the
confluence of the mighty Colorado River and Green River.
Direction to Island In The Sky district of Canyonlands National Park: From Moab, go northwest on US
191/163 for 9 miles and then turn west into Utah 313 and go southwest on Utah 313 for about 22 miles to
reach the entrance gate of Canyonlands National Park.
Direction to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park: From Moab, drive south on US 191/163
for about 40 miles, then turn west into Highway 211 and drive west for roughly 35 miles all the way to reach
the entrance gate of Canyonlands National Park. Phone: 435/259-4351
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Canyonlands National Park
Detailed Park Maps of Canyonlands National Park are available at:
Magnificent view from the Grand View Point Overlook at the southern end of the Island In The Sky district. It
offers gorgeous vistas across canyons carved by the Colorado River and the spires of Monument Basin, to
the distant La Sal mountains in the east and the Needles area to the south. Canyonlands National Park is a
primitive geological wonderland preserving hundreds of colorful canyons, buttes, fins, arches, spires and
hoodoos. A 360-degree spherical panorama from this Grand View Point can be seen at:
The scenery along Highway 211 going from Highway 163/191 into The Needles district of Canyonlands National
Park is also very beautiful as shown in these photos. Such scenery looks familiar in some western cowboy
View from Basin Overlook near the Visitor Center in Dead Horse Point State Park. The blue water ponds at a
distance are solar evaporation ponds owned and operated by Texasgulf Inc. for the "solution mining" of potash
in the underlying area. Potash is a vital plant food used extensively in agriculture. Potassium (鉀) is the third
major plant and crop nutrient after nitrogen and phosphate. The distinctive geologic strata of the Colorado
Plateau is not only rich in color and spectacular landforms but also in valuable mineral resources. Texasgulf
uses a unique liquid mining technique here. Water from the Colorado River is pumped into an underground mine.
The water dissolves the ore, creating brine which is transported to these evaporation ponds. Following
evaporation of the water, Potash solids remain. The solid potash are then harvested.
Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs. The peninsula is connected to the mesa by
a narrow strip of land called the neck. The entrance road passes over a narrow neck of land with a sheer drop
off just a few yards away to the left and right, and ends at a parking lot close to the far end of the promontory,
where 500 foot high vertical walls of Wingate sandstone fall away at all sides.
The name of the park comes from the legend that around the turn of the century the point was used as a corral
for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up these horses, herded them across the narrow
neck of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only 30 yards wide, was then fenced off with branches and
brush. This created a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs, affording no escape. Cowboys then chose
the horses they wanted and let the culls or broomtails go free. One time, for some unknown reason, horses
were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet
below, so the area became known as Dead Horse Point.
We toured the Dead Horse Point State Park and the nearby Island In The Sky district in northern part of
Canyonlands National Park on the morning of June 4, 2010.
There are many beautiful red and yellow cactus flowers in the areas of Dead Horse Point State Park and
Canyonlands National Park.
Breathtaking view from the Green River Overlook in the Island In The Sky district of Canyonlands National Park.
The park contains countless canyons, arches, spires, buttes, mesas and a myriad of other spectacular rock
formations and is a paradise for photographers. Under conditions of constantly changing light, the varicolored
landscape provides limitless photographic opportunities.
We also saw many beautiful orange colored wild flowers, known as globe mallow, in the semi-desert areas in
this region of Utah.
From the Grand View Point Overlook, I zoomed in for a closer view of the Monument Basin below.
The mighty Colorado river meets the Green River in Canyonlands National Park, and the Y shape they create
slices the park into three distinct districts: Island In The Sky district in northern part, the Needles in southeast
part and the Maze in southwest part. But there are no paved highways inside the park to connect these three
districts because of the rough nature of the landscape. Set high on vertical sandstone cliffs, Island in the Sky
district with average high elevation of 6,100 feet commands spectacular views of vast wild ancient land to the
horizon, huge walls of sandstone with the strangest forms are climbing up to the sky, the Colorado and Green
rivers quietly sculpt the vistas, the spires, fins and canyons. The Island in the Sky is separated from the rest of
the Colorado Plateau by a narrow strip of land named “the Neck.” The relatively flat mesa rises 600 meters
(2,000 feet) above the Green River on the west side and the Colorado River on the east side, - quite literally an
Island in the Sky. 20 miles of paved roads in Island In The Sky district lead to many of the most spectacular
views in the vast Canyon Country. From these lofty viewpoints visitors can see nearly 100 miles in any given
direction, resulting in panoramic views that encompass thousands of square miles of canyon country.
Needles in The Needles district in southeast part of Canyonlands National Park. It is so named because of the
massive red and white eroded sandstone pillars that extend southwards for many miles, forming a jumbled
landscape, but the area also has many arches, domes, and narrow canyons.
In the morning of June 5, 2010, we drove from Moab to go south on Highway 191/163, then turn west on
Highway 211 to enter and to tour the Needle district of Canyonlands National Park.
The Highway 211 into The Needle district of Canyonlands National Park ends amongst a jumble of small
ravines and interesting pinnacles at Big Spring Canyon Overlook as shown in this photo and the following 4
The Wooden Shoe Arch in The Needle district.
A 10-mile paved scenic drive gives visitors a wonderful taste of what The Needles was named after - beautiful
sandstone spires that jut out of the ground creating an unforgettable spectacle, an amazing diversity of terrain
with arches, canyons, grabens, and beautiful sculpted rock formations. However, with 100 degrees of desert
hot temperature and as a retiree, I did not take on the network of 60 miles of interconnected hiking trails to
venture into this massive "jungle" of stone needles. It is for the younger people in good physical shape to
enjoy. Instead, I used the 20X optical zoom of my camera to sample and to enjoy them remotely.
Zoom in for a closer view of the boat on the river to appreciate the immense size of the Gooseneck and the
Colorado River in the panoramic view above. (My camera, Canon PowerShot SX10 IS, has 20X optical zoom.)
There is a lake under the rock cliff along Highway 211 in such arid area.
There are several waterfowl, probably mergansers, on this lake.
One of many birds on the trees near this lake along Highway 211.
Notice that the color of water in the Colorado River here in Utah is reddish-brown because the silt and
sediment in the river comes from the red sandstone cliff, red rocks, red pebbles, red sand and red soil along
the river in this area. The Colorado River was originally named Rio Colorado or "Red River" by the Spanish.
The word "Colorado" is Spanish for the "color red". The Colorado River used to be one of the most
sediment-filled muddy rivers in the world before Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona was built in 1963.
Now the silt and sediment that gave it the red color are trapped behind Glen Canyon Dam at the bottom of
Lake Powell such that the color of water of Colorado River down stream below Glen Canyon Dam is more like
Several cars going down the incredibly twisting Shafer Trail Road (switchbacks) from the Island In The Sky
mesa down 1,200 feet to the unpaved White Rim 4WD Road and Potash Road as viewed from the Shafer
Canyon Overlook in Canyonlands National Park. A guy drove down this road indicated that "a couple places
where the cliff face was inches away on one side of the car and a sheer drop off on the other. " This picture
taken in my 2003 trip shows only a small portion of the amazing steep and tight switchbacks on the rim of the
cliff wall here. Better wide angle photo of this incredibly twisting road can be seen at: the following website:
The unpaved Shafer Trail Road as
viewed from the Shafer Canyon
Overlook in Canyonlands National
Park. Cattlemen Frank and John
Schafer built this trail in the early
1900s to move cattle stock to
additional pastures (the “c” in their
name was later dropped by
mapmakers). This Trail Road was
upgraded to an unpaved four-wheel
drive road during the 1950s.
How I use information age technologies to enhance my enjoyment greatly of sightseeing large driving tour
loop of thousands of miles and of one to two weeks in duration covering many Points of Interest is described
on my web page at: