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Our View: Exploring Canyonlands National Park in Utah

Posted on 11-Nov-2014

On most of my lodging tours I try to include an evening getting away from restaurants, and have a real American BBQ somewhere beautiful. There is a perfect opportunity at Dead Horse Point State Park to do just that.

We leave our hotel heading for Moab, Utah, with its surrounding attractions: Canyonlands and Arches National ParksSeveral hours later we arrive at the gates of Canyonlands National Park, where we travel to the Island in the Sky district. On this itinerary this is our first real stop in a desert park, and from high atop the cliffs we take a hike to enjoy the vastness of Canyonlands from above.



From our trail, we have views for nearly a hundred miles to our south. In this distance the maze that makes up Canyonlands can be seen with perfect vantage. The Colorado and Green Rivers bring their respective canyons to a confluence below us, and the never ending details of colors and canyons can hold attention for hours. With every turn on the rim side trail, a new perspective is given, and the size and depth of Canyonlands begins to be appreciated. From here it is easy to understand the dangers of trying to navigate the rugged, and twisting terrain that lies below.




After admiring the desert scenery, and keeping an eye on the growing storm clouds in the distance, we head to Dead Horse State Park. Only 20 miles outside of Canyonlands, this elevated plateau peninsula is named for the horse rustlers that would chase the wild horses out onto the narrow strip of land, and barricade them on the point to return later, and capture the wild mustangs for saddle breaking and sale.

There are several barbeque sites in the park that offer good views and relaxing shade after a desert walk. I drop my travelers off on the point, and direct them around the trail which leads back to our dinner site. Much like at the Island in the Sky, Dead Horse Point provides a birds eye view of Canyonlands, with the La Salle mountains in the distance. The mountains, with their bare grey tops, and lush green forest shoulders provide a beautiful contrast against the red and orange canyons below. As they soak up the late afternoon sun, I hurry ahead and begin preparing our feast. This night we’ll be having a green salad, macaroni salad, chips and salsa, with stuffed chicken breasts and chicken or beef kebabs for a main.




The aroma of the BBQ helps guide the group back to our site for pre-dinner drinks and banter as we watch the sun begin to set. Just at the colors maximize vibrancy on the canyon walls, and desert scenery, dinner is served. We eat and talk, enjoying good food, amazing scenery, and wonderful company. The smiling faces, and relaxed atmosphere reassure me my planning and work for this moment is all worthwhile!




Just as we clean up after dinner, a kit grey fox trots by. He too has smelled the tasty BBQ, and is looking for leftovers. He casually lays down 30 metres from us, seeming to pose for our photos, as he struggled to keep his eyes open. The last fleeting moments of sun are warming his coat, and easing him to sleep.




We take an extra couple of minutes to make sure we don’t leave food scraps for this cute, but possibly food-conditioned fox, take our last few photos, and head back towards Moab, where our accommodation awaits. With a long day and full bellies, everyone welcomes a warm bed and good night sleep, as Mesa Verge National Park is on our agenda tomorrow!


View our Canyon Country In-Depth Tour 


Topics: USA Southwest, National Parks, Tour Leaders, Our View