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A Sunrise Visit To Dead Horse Point State Park In Utah

A Sunrise Visit to Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah

Who’s in for a sunrise visit to Dead Horse Point State Park? Three sets of hands fly up. That is until the night before. Upon reflection my husband and friend Jo, don’t think it’s such a great idea after all. They don’t like the prospect of leaving a warm bed and driving 45 minutes from Moab at 6 AM. That’s okay. Ted, my other friend is game so the two of us meet with a coffee in hand and head off.

It’s almost pitch black as we drive north along Highway 191. We make one wrong turn looking for Highway 313 but in no time we’re back on track. By 6:30 AM there’s a little light in the sky, enough that we can pick out the shape of a deer. We’re both on high alert in case one bolts at the side of the road.

The Colorado River before the sun comes up in Dead Horse Point State Park
The Colorado River before the sun comes up in Dead Horse Point State Park

By 7 AM we’re at the park filling out the form and paying the $10 entrance fee. The drive through the park is pure magic at this time of day – open range and then finally glimpses of the canyon, 2000 feet below.

Sunrise at Dead Horse Point State Park

We’re certainly not alone when we pull up in the parking lot at Dead Horse Point. About a dozen photographers have claimed spots along the edge of the canyon – not that there isn’t plenty of room for us.

Before the sun comes up, it’s chilly so we wander back and forth along the edge trying to stay warm. But with the first touch of the sun ray’s, we’re peeling off jackets and staring in wonder as the scene along a gooseneck in the Colorado River unfolds.

A perfect perch to watch the sun come up - Dead Horse Point State Park
A perfect perch to watch the sun come up – Dead Horse Point State Park
Interesting to see Dead Horse Point State Park come alive with the sun
Interesting to see Dead Horse Point State Park come alive with the sun
A golden glow over the Colorado River
A golden glow over the Colorado River

Below us we can see jeeps that look like toy cars. Of course I’m only guessing that these are jeeps but judging from the fact the Moab is hosting the 9 day Easter Jeep Safari, with jeepers coming from all over the world, I’m betting I’m right.

This may be a week you want to avoid visiting Moab as the place is literally overrun by jeeps, especially in the evening when they’re back from their outings.

It's quite the 4W road you can drive along the lower rim
It’s quite the 4W road you can drive along the lower rim
Glowing rocks at sunrise in Dead Horse Point State Park
Glowing rocks at sunrise in Dead Horse Point State Park

The sun fills the canyon in no time so we meander along the canyon edge looking for other photographic opportunities.

The canyon is fully lit with sunshine within 15 minutes
The canyon is fully lit with sunshine within 15 minutes
There are beautiful hiking trails along the rim of the canyon
There are beautiful hiking trails along the rim of the canyon
Cacti galore in Dead Horse Canyon State Park
Watch where you sit
Dead trees add drama to the landscape
Dead trees add drama to the landscape
Checking out a different section of the canyon
Checking out a different section of the canyon

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By 7:45 AM our stomachs are grumbling and we know we can make it back to the Sunflower Hill Inn in time for breakfast. (I highly recommend staying here. It’s my go to place every time I visit Moab.)

On another visit I would plan to spend part of the day hiking the rim trails in Dead Horse Point State Park. If you’re visiting in April show up early for the great birding opportunities as the migration is in full swing. And there is plenty of history to discover as well.

Did you know that in the late 1800’s cowboys would chase wild mustangs onto Dead Horse Point?

My friend Ted - who is scared of heights playing at the edge
My friend Ted – who is scared of heights playing at the edge

As my friend Ted says, the early morning visit to Dead Horse State Park was one of the highlights of our eight day trip through Utah. Don’t miss it!

For more information on Dead Horse State Park visit their website.

Further reading on hiking in Utah

A sunrise visit to Dead Horse Point State Park

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. As a lover of landscape, these photos are just stunning and have my mouth watering!
    I think I need a map of this entire trip you are currently making so I can get on over there and replicate it 😉

  2. These are just stunning, Leigh. I had never heard of Dead Horse Point State Park and it is just amazing. It reminds me quite a bit of the Lake Powell area. I’m not a fan of waking up early but this was definitely worth it for you.

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