Postcard From Dead Horse Point

Yes, that is droppings from an obviously live horse at the
entrance to Dead Horse Point Park. Sometimes you find
the picture and sometimes the picture finds you.
32 miles outside of Moab, Utah is Dead Horse Point State Park. The park is 5,362 acres of isolated high desert with breathtaking views overlooking Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River. The view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed in the world and was used in the movie Thelma and Louis as the spot where they drove over the edge of the Grand Canyon instead of filming the actual Grand Canyon as the view was more spectacular.

From the lookout point at the end of a narrow neck of land, you can see layers of ground representing 300 million years of earth's history. Look down the vertical walls of rock to the valley floor over 2,000 feet down. From the same spot you can look out and see the snow topped La Sal Mountains rising 12,000 feet.

In the 1800's, cowboys used this narrow finger of land sticking out over the valley for capturing wild horses. Fanning out in a u-shape, they would chase the animals onto the point and then block off any escape by piling up brush & dead tree's across the narrow neck of the plateau which is only 30 yards wide. This formed a 40-acre natural corral and the cowboys could then cull out the best horses for breaking and eventual ranch use. The old, young and small-in-stature mustangs (called "broomtails") would be left behind to find their way back into the wild.

The Colorado River 2,000 feet below the point
In the late 1800's, a large herd of wild horses were driven to the point and the "gate" of brush and dead tree's was put in place. For some unknown reason, several hundred horses were trapped on the point and kept circling and circling until they died of thirst. They could see the Colorado River with its life-sustaining water, but it was 2,000 feet straight down. Nobody seems to know the reason the horses were trapped - some say a sudden storm came up causing the cowboys to leave with the intention of coming back but for some reason never did; some say the cowboys got lazy, left only a narrow path through the "gate" when they departed and the remaining horses became confused and couldn't find the small opening. Whatever the reason, the name "Dead Horse Point" came about when several riders found hundreds of horse skeletons on the waterless point of the plateau, scattered in and about a large circle of hardened ground where they kept on the move looking for a way to get to the water until, one by one, they fell exhausted and died.