Head north from downtown Moab along route 191 for 11 miles (17 km), crossing the Colorado River. Turn left onto the 313 West, but watch out, this intersection comes up fast! Drive along this highway for just under 15 miles (24 km), then turn left to continue along route 313 towards Dead Horse State Park. In a couple miles you will arrive at the park gate, where you have to pay the entrance fee. Continue along the same road until you reach the visitor centre on the left, where the parking lot is also located.
Total Gain: 144m
|Type of Hike||Loop|
|Crowd Levels||Moderate to Busy|
|When to Do||Year Round|
Before starting the hike you can replenish your supplies in the visitor centre. Grab a soda, snack or a souvenir for the hike. We also recommend talking to a park ranger here, who can provide you with the most up to date trail conditions and helpful tips for the hike. The route itself begins on the opposite side of the visitor centre from the parking lot, signposted as the East Rim trail. Head south along the East Rim Trail towards Dead Horse Point.
The trail here is almost entirely flat, tightly hugging the edge of the large rock peninsula – known as Dead Horse Point. To your left you see sheer cliffs running down 2000 feet to the valley bottom, meeting up with a gooseneck in the Colorado River. To the right, a handful of resilient plants hang onto the red dirt, populating the otherwise desolate and flat plain.
The point received its name when it was used as a natural corral for cowboy’s horses. Many horses were left stranded out on the point and died of dehydration and exposure – ironically all within view of the Colorado River below.
As the trail continues, you will soon reach Dead Horse Point, the apex of the hike. From here you will truly be granted unparalleled 360-degree views of mountains, canyons, towers, cliffs and the mighty Colorado River. There is a shaded picnic area at the point, as well as washroom. Take care when leaning over the edge to snap photos, as the exposure is severe! That being said, along most of the East Rim there is a manmade wall railing to keep you safe.
The West Rim Trail picks up where the East Rim left off, continuing around the point for another couple miles. At times the West Rim’s trail is more difficult to follow than the East Rim, but cairns and other small trail markers aid the process. There are two points along the path where you can divert to go to viewpoints, but these junctions are extremely well signposted. Check out these diversions if you have the energy.
Finally the trail will veer right, completing the loop and bringing you back to the visitor centre. You will pass by the Dead Horse Point campground as you near the lodge.
- The park road continues all the way to Dead Horse Point. If you want a shorter hike we recommend just doing the East Rim, and shuttling a car between the visitor centre and the point.
- There are several popular mountain bike trails accessed from the visitor centre. If you are keen to shred, look into bringing or renting bikes as another option for exploring the gorgeous scenery.