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Dead Horse State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park is perhaps Utah's most spectacular state park. Dead Horse Point is a promontory of stone surrounded by steep cliffs near Moab, Utah. The overlook at Dead Horse Point is 6,000 feet above sea level. Two thousand feet below, the Colorado River winds its way from the continental divide in Colorado to the Gulf of California, a distance of 1,400 miles.
From the overlook, canyon erosion may be viewed on a grand scale. This erosion process has taken approximately 150 million years. Much of it is caused by the river slicing down into the earth's crust as land is forced upward. These powerful forces are still sculpting the fantastic shapes of the precipitous bluffs and towering spires.
Before the turn of the century, mustang herds ran wild on the mesas near Dead Horse Point. The unique promontory provided a natural corral into which the horses were driven by cowboys. The only escape was through a narrow, 30-yard neck of land controlled by fencing. Mustangs were then roped and broken, with the better ones being kept for personal use or sold to eastern markets. Unwanted culls of "broomtails" were left behind to find their way off the Point.
According to one legend, a band of broomtails was left corralled on the Point. The gate was supposedly left open so the horses could return to the open range. For some unknown reason, the mustangs remained on the Point. There they died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.
Vegetation and wildlife in this desert environment exist on a severely limited water supply. Plants have adapted by diminishing the size and physiology of their leaves--smaller leaves tend to lose less water through evaporation.
Most of the animals are nocturnal. They venture out in the evenings when the relentless heat has subsided and there is less need for water, Other wildlife and vegetation may have dormant periods depending upon precipitation patterns.
These desert plants and animals have only a slight edge on their environment. Please do not disturb them in their struggle for survival.
Dead Horse Point State Park is on SR 313 18 miles off Hwy 191 near Moab. The visitor center, interpretive museum, and 21-unit campground make Dead Horse Point comfortable and informative as well as spectacular.
Water is limited. Visitors should fill their recreation vehicle water tanks before coming to the park. (P.O. Box 609, Moab 84532-0609, 259-2614)