If getting more exercise is one of your goals for 2017, then you might want to consider a “First Day Hike” on New Year’s Day with Jim Wells, a park ranger at Dead Horse Point State Park.
On Sunday, Jan. 1, Wells will lead a 3-mile hike inside the park to the Bighorn Overlook – joining thousands of people around the country who will hike in their own state parks on the first day of the new year.
It’s part of a “nationwide push by state parks to get people outside and doing something active,” Dead Horse Point State Park assistant park manager Crystal White said.
Anyone is welcome – including families with kids, and pets on leashes. Wells will meet participants at 1 p.m. at the park’s visitor center, before hiking to the Bighorn Overlook.
Wells described the hike as “easy,” although in January, there could be snow, so dress accordingly, he said.
“Last year, there was a foot of snow,” Wells said. “We did it in boots (not snowshoes).”
The First Day Hike tradition began in the early 1990s at Blue Hills State Reservation in Massachusetts. Since then, the program has spread to include parks in all 50 states, where guided hikes are being offered to encourage people to get outdoors, exercise, and connect with nature. Last year, nearly 50,000 people across the country participated in the guided First Day Hikes program.
Last year’s hike at Dead Horse Point State Park attracted mostly local residents, as well as a tourist from England, Wells said.
Although it’s not an interpretive hike per se, Wells, who is a naturalist, said he will answer any questions about the area. The park’s website describes the hike as “moderate” with short sections of moderate cliff exposure.
Bighorn Overlook is named for an eroded fin that resembles a pair of horns that can be seen in the distance, according to the park’s website. At the trail’s end are a series of deep potholes, which teem with fairy shrimp, tadpoles and other lifeforms when there’s water in the potholes.
Some of the potholes are 6 feet deep, which is really unusual, Dead Horse Point State Park Manager Megan Blackwelder said.
Dead Horse Point became a state park in 1959. At 5,900 feet elevation, the park is comprised of nearly 6,000 acres of sagebrush and juniper-pinyon forest on a high mesa surrounded by deep canyons with views of the Colorado River.
In addition to the First Day Hike, Wells leads monthly one-and-a-half mile-long full moon hikes – including a possible hike in January, he said.
Additional guided hikes will be offered in the spring, he added.
Dead Horse Point hosts New Year’s Day hike to Bighorn Overlook
(It’s part of a) nationwide push by state parks to get people outside and doing something active.
What: “First Day Hike” at Dead Horse Point State Park
When: Sunday, Jan. 1, from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Dead Horse Point State Park; hike is to Bighorn Overlook
Cost: Park admission is $10 per vehicle with up to eight people, or $5 for Utah seniors 62 and older. Pass is valid for three consecutive days.
If you plan to be out of town on January 1, Wells recommends looking online for a guided First Day Hike wherever you happen to be that day. To check the database, visit: www.americanhiking.org/first-day-hikes/.