Dead Horse State Park sits at the end of Utah 313, occupying a slim peninsula that ends in Dead Horse Point, a spectacular viewpoint of the Colorado RIver as it meanders towards Canyonlands National Park. Here is a great little video interview about the park from the Colorado River Re-Storied team, featuring ranger Megan Blackwelder.
Although Dead Horse Point is considered a “Moab-area” park, it is actually a 40 minute (30 mile) drive from Moab to the parks entrance. Taking US 191 north out of Moab will take you to the junction with Utah 313, which then climbs back south onto the plateau. After a few miles, you will approach an intersection, where the 313 makes a left and continues to Dead Horse Point (if you stay straight, the road will take you into Canyonlands National Park). There are a handful of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites along the 313 that you can opt to stay at if Dead Horse Point is full, including Cowboy and Horsethief, as well as the group site Lone Mesa.
|Moab regional map|
The park is open year round from 6am to 10pm, but only collects fees from 9am to 7pm (as of August 2013). It is $10 per each vehicle per day, up to 8 passengers. If the entrance kiosk is closed, they ask you to pay a fee at the self-serve fee station at the visitors center, located a few miles into the park, perched on the eastern-facing edge of the point. The visitors center is open from 8 to 6 in the summer (Mar 15 to Mid-Oct), and 9 to 5 in the winter (Mid-Oct to Mar 14), and has a small “food-truck” like cafe, Pony Expresso, where you can grab basic snacks and drinks. Each campsite goes for $25 per night, or $3 per person at the group site (located before you reach the visitors center on your left), with a minimum of 25 and maximum of 30 people.
|The View southwest from Dead Horse Point at sunrise|
The point itself is the main attraction at the park, and you can see why. The Colorado River gracefully weaves through the sandstone of the plateau 2,000ft below, making its famous incise meander. There are bathrooms at the point, as well as a handful of picnic sites with parking and shade structures. The point itself is mostly paved, with a small lookout deck and shade structures. Many people will camp at Kayenta for the sole purpose of catching the sunrise over the canyons, especially photographers. Getting there around 6am (in the summer) will ensure you catch the best colors and mildest temperatures, or, if waking up early isn’t your thing, arriving at the point before 6pm to catch the sunset is equally as rewarding.
Kayenta itself is located just past the visitors center on your right (if you’re heading towards the point). It’s about a quarter mile or so from the point, so within walking distance if you want to take the trail that parallels the rim. The dump station is in the front of the campsite, as well as the dumpster. The campground is set around a 1 way loop that climbs up a gentle slope, with site 1 at the bottom and 11 at the top.
|Kayenta Campground map|
As you can see, the campground itself is pretty small, and with only 21 sites, it often fills up quite quickly. Reservations are recommended, most likely won’t be able to just pull up to the entrance station and get a site. All sites have their own dirt tent pad, paved driveway or pull-through, and most have ample space and privacy. There is no distinction between RV and tent sites, all sites have an electric plug-in (so for those of you going to take photos at the point, bring an extension cord and set up shop!) No wood fires are permitted, but there are charcoal grills in each site.
Make sure to bring your own water. Although you can buy water bottles at the concession stand and get drinking water at the park, there is no recreational vehicle water services (and no showers). The park actually purchases and trucks in water from the City of Moab, so although there are flush toilets, the water does not come from the surrounding area. This also goes for all other campgrounds along the 313 and Canyonlands National Park, as there are no wells at all on the plateau. The campground is right around 6,000ft in elevation, so even on the hottest days in the summer, it likely won’t get too much hotter than mid 90’s. The night we stayed it dipped to around 75 degrees, completely comfortable, but not so warm that you’ll want to skip on a sleeping bag. In the winter, it does snow at the park, and will often get very cold at night.
|Our campsite, Site #2|
Our favorite sports were 3 (great view), 11, 13, 16 (own pull-through away from road), and 17 (the most private). Our least favorite was campsite 2, which didn’t have any privacy. However, we stayed in a tent, if you brought an RV or a camper, #2 would be a preferred site because of its easy access. Also, make a note where the bathroom is – when it’s 2 in the morning and you’re staying in site 19, walking 5 minutes around the loop to use the restroom can be pretty annoying.
In conclusion, although we probably wouldn’t reserve site #2 again unless we had to, we would definitely come back to Kayenta and Dead Horse Point State Park. Catching a sunset or sunrise from the point should be on everyone’s to-do list while in Moab, and the campground itself is well maintained and only a short drive away from Canyonlands National Park. However, if you’re looking for a quick site to stay in that doesn’t require a 40 minute drive from downtown, you’re best served staying somewhere else.
Stayed at Kayenta already and think we missed something? Planning a trip and have a more specific question? Leave us a comment below!