Sunrise at Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park features a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. Millions of years of geological activity created this view. It’s amazing to see what nature can make in a long period of time. Deposition of sediments of oceans, freshwater lakes, wind, and sand dunes created the rock layers of canyon country. Now we are seeing the amazing shapes post-errosion.
This is truly a special part of this world.
The park is located in 5,900 ft elevation. Even in this harsh environment with extreme temperature and lack of water source, plants and animals live around here. Plants grow very slow; 15 ft tall tree may be hundreds of years old. Most animals are nocturnal.
Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs. The peninsula is connected to the mesa by a narrow strip of land called the neck. There are many stories about how this land got its name. One of the stories say that the name came from its use as a natural pen for mustangs by cowboys in the 19th century. The plateau is surrounded by sheer cliffs 2,000 ft high with only a narrow neck of land 27m wide connecting the mesa to the main plateau. That was the reason why it was easy for the cowboys to fence off the narrow neck and keep the wild horses from running away. One time for some unknown reason, horses were left on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River 2,000 ft below.
Because of its dramatic overview, it’s a popular location for sunrise and sunset photography. We arrived when the sky was still dark. We set up the tripods and waited for more light. I didn’t know what to expect to see here until I looked back. There was vast landscape behind me, still dark, waiting to be discovered. It was my very first impression of the canyonlands. I had a great morning admiring the scenery I’ve never seen before. The world is a wonderful place that gives a joy of discovery like this.