2015: Moab, Utah

Dead Horse Point State Park

April 19


I'd read about Dead Horse Point State Park on the internet. It's very small compared to the nearby giant Canyonlands, but it provides some nice views of the carved-out Colorado River canyon. We spent part of a day hiking the canyon rim and snapping photos of the incredible vista.

The park gets its name from a legend. In the late 1800's, cowboys would use the point as a natural corral for wild mustangs. They would herd them across the narrow neck of land and then fence them off with branches and brush. The legend says that on at least one occasion, horses were left trapped on the waterless point where they died of thirst in view of the Colorado 2000 feet below. Ewww.

Potash evaporation ponds.

Thankfully, we didn't find any dead horses, but the views were spectacular. At least most of the views were; there's a long-time potash mine in the bottom of the canyon on private land, operating since the 1960's. The strange blue terraces are evaporation ponds; Colorado River water is pumped into the mine to dissolve the salts and bring them to the surface, where the solution is pumped into the ponds. Blue dye is added to the ponds to aid in evaporation by increasing the absorption of sunlight. The ponds are so bright (and unnatural) they can be easily seen on satellite photos. Kind of a shame in this amazing landscape.

Visitor center.

It was a beautiful sunny day, unliike a few days before, and Canyonlands was very close; so we decided after visiting Dead Horse that we'd return to Mesa Arch and try for some snowless photos.