Moab residents have abundant opportunities to learn about natural history being neighbors to nearby national and state parks.
There are two events scheduled for this weekend at Dead Horse Point State Park – on Friday, June 12, a history and cultural folklore presentation by park naturalist Acadia Tripp at the Pavilion; and on Saturday, June 13, a hike led by assistant park manager Crystal White.
The 5,300-acre Dead Horse Point area was designated a state park in 1959, due to its “spectacular view of the Colorado River as it makes a tight meander 2,000 feet below,” park manager Megan Blackwelder said.
Since then, eight miles of hiking trails and 17 miles of single-track mountain biking trails have been added to the park. The Intrepid mountain bike trail system was named for Intrepid Potash, which donated money to build the trails, Blackwelder said.
Have you wondered how Dead Horse Point got its name? Naturalist Tripp will talk about its origins during her “Desert Legends and Cowboys” presentation the various legends surrounding that topic – as well as the various routes cowboys used 100 years ago.
The next day, White will lead a moderately difficult hike for two-and-a-half miles, while talking about the plants and animals of the Colorado Plateau and how they’ve adapted to the climate. Wildlife in the park includes mule deer, knit fox, black tailed jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits, and lots of birds, such as ravens, golden eagles, peregrine falcons and small songbirds.
While backcountry camping is not allowed, there are tent and RV camping sites inside the park. A new amenity was added in October – yurts that sleep six. The yurts include heating and air conditioning, a wrap-around deck, grill, indoor and outdoor seating and a fire pit. There’s a bunk bed inside with a full-size mattress on top, and a queen size bed on the bottom. Additionally, there’s a full-size futon.
Tent camping is $28 a night; a yurt stay costs $80 plus tax, per night. Reservations to camp, or stay in the yurt may be made four months in advance. Additionally, four tent sites are held back for first-come, first-served walk-ins.
“Since March, (the yurts) have been full every night,” Blackwelder said.
Several movies have been set in Dead Horse Point State Park, such as “Mission: Impossible II,” and “The Lone Ranger.” The scenes were shot from atop Dead Horse Point, overlooking the gooseneck of the Colorado River, White said. From Dead Horse Point, visitors can look down upon Fossil Point – the cliff where Thelma and Louise famously drove off, in the movie “Thelma and Louise.”
The park visitor center is open year round; through October, visitor centers hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
While the interpretive events are free, there is a $10 entrance fee for vehicles, which is good for three days.
Dead Horse Point offers guided hikes, cultural presentations
When: Saturday, June 13, 9 a.m.
Where: Dead Horse Point State Park Visitor Center
When: Friday, June 12, 10 a.m.
Where: Dead Horse Point Pavilion at Dead Horse Point State Park
Cost: Park entrance fee of $10 per vehicle (good for three days)
Information: 435-259-2614; or www.stateparks.utah.gov/parks/dead-horse/