Members of the Navajo Nation referred to the peaks as “the mountains whose name is missing,” for they were unnamed until relatively recently – the 1870s – when the rugged, remote range southwest of Moab became known as the Henry Mountains.
“The Henrys were one of the last mountain ranges to be named,” said Saige Culbertson, a seasonal park ranger at Dead Horse Point State Park.
Almon Thompson, who was one of the founders of the National Geographic Society, named the mountains in honor of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Culbertson said. That’s just one of the many interesting tidbits that Culbertson discovered while researching the Moab area for a presentation she will give on Saturday, Aug. 5, at 8 p.m. at Dead Horse Point State Park.
Culbertson spent two months researching the different people and cultures that settled in the Moab area.
She said she will share stories about the original inhabitants – the Native Americans, as well as later arrivals, such as the Spaniards, and then the Mormons.
“I’ll talk about how they made this place their home, and what brought them here,” Culbertson said. “And how places got their names.”
As a member of the Cherokee Tribe, Culbertson said she was most interested in learning about the Ancestral Puebloans who lived in the area. The Utes continued to trade with one another after some of the tribe broke off from the original group, she said.
Native Americans, as a whole, banded together to resist the Spanish invasion, she said. People of the Mormon faith entered the area in the 1850s to establish settlements in Moab and other areas of southeastern Utah, Culbertson added.
Visitors can drive to and park at Dead Horse Point, where the ranger talk will take place. Culbertson recommends that attendees bring water, sunscreen and a camera.
“We’ll all be enjoying the sunset together – it’s a great view – after learning all this great history,” she said.
Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs, located 2,000 feet above a gooseneck in the Colorado River. Ancient Indian hunters, and cowboys of the late 1800s, hung out in the area.
Later this month, Saturday, Aug. 12, is Military Appreciation Day, when active-duty military and service veterans can enter Dead Horse Point and all other Utah state parks for free. Those currently serving as well as veterans will also get a 20 percent discount on any purchases at the visitor center gift shop.
“Military Appreciation Day is a statewide annual event that every state park celebrates in mid-August,” park manager Megan Blackwelder said. “It’s also our 60th anniversary.”
“While this is a day to celebrate those who served, it is also a chance to reflect on part of what they served for, something very prevalent in the Moab area, our public lands, including Dead Horse Point State Park,” Blackwelder noted.
A special flag-lowering ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. at the visitor center. Afterward, at 6:30 p.m., visitors are invited to join rangers for a mile-long, “easy hike” starting at the Dead Horse Point parking lot.
On the following evening, Sunday, Aug. 13, seasonal park ranger Brendan Westley will lead a 1-mile, approximately one-hour hike across “easy terrain,” starting at the visitor center.
“I’ll basically be talking about how plants and animals of Dead Horse Point are able to survive in desert conditions, through adaptations,” Westley said.
Participants are encouraged to bring a liter of water and wear sturdy shoes.
Rangers to host talks and walks in August
What: “Trekking through History” – a ranger talk (plus other upcoming events)
Where: Dead Horse Point State Park
When: Ranger talk, Saturday, Aug. 5, at 8 p.m. Ranger-led hikes, Saturday, Aug. 12, and Sunday, Aug. 13
Cost: Park entrance fees apply: $15 per car with up to eight passengers (valid for 3 days), or $10 for seniors 62 and older
Information: 435-259-2614; www.stateparks.utah.gov/parks/dead-horse/