There are two popular Jeep roads that lead west from the Colorado River across a flat desert, then sharply up the side of a canyon to a large mesa. Our last post described one of those roads, the Shafer Canyon Road. Yesterday we took the other route, Long Canyon Road. A short distance up the road, a Jeep coming at us stopped to tell us that about twenty three wheeled motorcycles were coming behind them. Since it is a one lane road, we quickly found a spot to pull off the road and wait for the bikes to pass.
The bikes turned out to be Urals, Russian-made bikes with permanently attached side cars and two-wheel drive (the rear wheel and the side car wheel).
After the motorcycle parade, we continued up the canyon where we came upon a huge boulder with the road running under it.
Soon after going under the rock the road narrowed as we went up a narrow canyon.
Then,we went sharply up through a couple of switchbacks.
Once on the top of the mesa, we were treated to great views of the canyons below.
We drove a few miles south into Dead Horse Point State Park. Looking down from the mesa rim near the park visitor’s center, we were able to see another mesa below us that was the location of the final scene from the movie “Thelma and Louise.”
We left the Jeep parked near the visitor’s center and hiked two miles along the mesa rim to Dead Horse Point. The “point” is a plateau surrounded by sheer cliffs 2,000 feet high with only a narrow neck of land 30 yards wide connecting the mesa to the main plateau. This made it easy for cowboys in the late 1800s to use the point as a natural corral by simply fencing off the narrow neck and keep rounded up wild horses from running away. Legend has it that one group of horses was inadvertently left fenced in and eventually died of thirst. A variation in the legend says that the fence was taken down, but the wild horses would not leave the point and eventually died of thirst.
One section of the point has an outstanding view of a horseshoe bend in the Colorado River far below. We found a spot on the rocky rim and enjoyed a snack while taking in the view.
The return hike was on the other side of the mesa, so we were treated to all new vistas.
Like Canyonlands NP just to the south, Dead Horse Point State Park has great views of the canyons and mesas below it. There is a campground in the park, but hiking is limited to the loop trail we did around the point. Like Amanda commented in our last blog, this is one of those adventures where the journey was more exciting than the destination.