Dawn at Dead Horse Point

Dawn at Dead Horse Point

In a region known for amazing national parks with redrock views like Arches and Canyonlands, my favorite clifftop vista is in none of these; it is at a small mesa not far from Moab town, Dead Horse Point State Park. It shows a different mood with every season and every day and always surprises me. One of its most compelling aspects is the broad green horseshoe of the Colorado River that contrasts so well with the red, brown and white desert geography. As you might guess, there is a apocryphal story behind the name. The plateau leading out to the 2,000-foot cliffs constricts to a narrow neck at one point, and cowboys of the old west used a short length of brush fencing to make it a natural corral for wild horses they would round up. They could then select the horses they wanted to keep and let the others go. Once, for some unknown reason, some horses remained confined by the cliffs and eventually died of thirst and starvation — hence the name.  There is little evidence one way or other as to the truth of this yarn, but it has stuck around and is even enshrined in a plaque at the park.

Panoramas are the order of the day at Dead Horse Point, and I usually stitch several frames together with software to make a very detailed, high-resolution image. This presentation of the Dead Horse Point vista is made from four frames on a very cold winter morning.

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