Long Canyon Road to Dead Horse Point

Moab, UT

There are two dirt roads just west of Moab that take you up the side of a steep wall of rock to the top of a high mesa.  Last week we posted a blog about our ride up to Island in the Sky in Canyonlands NP by way of the Shafer Trail Road.  Recently we picked up David, Karen, and Cody and drove the second of these two roads, Long Canyon Road, which takes you up to the top of the mesa just outside Dead Horse Point State Park.

To get to Long Canyon Road we drove out Potash Road, the same road we did to get to Shafer Trail Road.  The road itself is not marked but it begins in the parking area clearly marked for viewing Jug Handle Arch.

Jug Handle Arch

As you leave the dirt parking lot you are immediately in Long Canyon, with soaring rock walls on both sides of the road.

We picked up a new driver for this trip

After a few miles the road begins to climb and go around some sharp switchbacks.

We stopped often to enjoy the view of the canyon below with the snow covered La Sal Mountains behind us.

As we rounded a curve a sharp pillar of rock rose up in front of us.  There were three cars parked along the side of the road near it so we stopped to see why.

A closer view of the rock wall of the pillar revealed the reason for the parked vehicles.

About a half mile beyond the rock climber, we came upon one of the neat features of Long Canyon Road, a pass under a huge boulder.  Now we know this boulder is going to fall down some day, but it didn’t appear that today was the day, so we felt pretty safe driving under it.

The road under the boulder was a bit rough.

But it is no problem for a high clearance vehicle.

Right after the boulder the road goes up a steep, narrow canyon then turns sharply around a switchback . . .

. . . and continues to climb up the canyon wall.

At the top of the steep grade pictured above is the top of the mesa.  A small, primitive camping area is located there.  This area is pretty remote and the “only” amenity is the spectacular view along the rim of the mesa.

At the top of the mesa the road continues along flat terrain for another mile where it meets Utah Rte. 313, a paved road leading in to Dead Horse Point State Park.  We entered the park and drove out to the point to enjoy the great views below. We could see most of the Shafer Trail below us as it headed to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands NP.

Shafer Trail below us

The Colorado River winds through the canyons

The Shafer Trail heads into the canyon

A view of beauty (points for John on this one!)

Hey, dogs love a great view, too!

David and Karen enjoy the view

In the distance we could see the evaporation ponds for the potash plant.  We passed right next to them last week when we drove the Shafer Trail Road.

We enjoyed Long Canyon Road so much we decided to take it back down the mesa on the return trip and enjoy the great views again.  Our decision was a good one as that great view behind us on the trip up was now constantly right in front of us on the trip down.

The La Sal Mountains

Check your brakes!

Down through a beautiful slot

This is Long Canyon

Both Shafer Trail and Long Canyon are “must do” trips in the Moab area in our opinion.  Both roads are well-maintained and only require a bit of high clearance in a couple of spots.  Allow at least a half day for each as it is slow going, but that’s OK as you need to enjoy the scenery anyway!

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41 Responses to Long Canyon Road to Dead Horse Point

  1. pmbweaver says:

    We drove Potash Road but not that far. That is one crazy ride.

    Just watching those rock climbers gives me the willies! Never in a million years would I attempt that. I can barely look at it. Those are some brave people.

    Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the prettiest areas. We wanted to camp there a few nights but the winds were terrible. We asked a few that were camping how it was, they both said…Don’t come. They were scared of turning over one night. They were leaving that day. That did it for us.

    Y’all had an amazing gorgeous drive. Pam….I love that photo of you. John did a terrific job of catching all the beauty on that area with a piece of human beauty too!

  2. Laurel says:

    Glad to know that boulder stayed in place. Another gorgeous scenic drive! I never tire of red rock country, and with the view of the snow capped mountains in the distance it’s even more spectacular. Cody is getting quite the grand tour. 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      The mountains are one of my favorite parts of Moab. I love watching the snow line change with the weather. Cody is having the time of his life and isn’t very happy when we travel into the NP and he has to stay home.

  3. LuAnn says:

    Another spectacular trip in the red rocks. You two sure chose the right vehicle for getting to some of these gorgeous places. Imagine all the beauty you (and we) would have missed without your Jeep. 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      We say this same thing often, LuAnn. As a matter of fact we were saying this today as we drove two roads that our Jeep was necessary. The Jeep has gotten us to several hikes we wouldn’t have been able to complete with another vehicle. We definitely made a good change for us now:)

  4. Ingrid says:

    We drove part of Long Canyon Road last year and you are so right – the scenery is spectacular. Now I wish we had continued all the way to the top. Guess we’ll need to catch it in a couple of weeks. Thanks for checking it out for us 🙂

  5. Nancy says:

    Oh the Fabulous Places You Go! 🙂

  6. explorvistas says:

    What a great ride! Thanks for the trip, Pam!

  7. Sarah says:

    What a spectacular way to get to Dead Horse Point State Park! I still remember the incredible views from the point. I’m sure you are aware that the final scene from “Thelma and Louise” was filmed in the park. Just a bit of movie trivia. Thanks for the beautiful photos and the memory.

    • placestheygo says:

      It sure makes that long drive to Dead Horse Point a little more spectacular:) Yes, we do know about “Thelma and Louise” and John did mention this in our post from two years ago. But thanks for sharing because you never know:)

  8. harleyhawk43 says:

    Nice! We just left Moab last week. Mostly hiking and motorcycling for us.


    • placestheygo says:

      Our very first trip to the red rock country was a motorcycle trip. We’ll never forget that awe of riding up into Arch’s with the colors all around us for the first time. Nothing better than a motorcycle with all these gorgeous rocks around.

  9. Sheila says:

    Great photos! Such a beautiful area and you guys are having a ball! Nice photo of you Pam!

    We camped in Moab years ago and drove up to Dead Horse Point late in the evening to enjoy the Clear, Dark Skies. We sat in our ford Explorer with the moon roof open and gazed at the sky for hours. One of my hobbies is Astronomy and this adventure was a highlight.

  10. Yet another spectacular scenery and your jeep is providing you the best of that road to the Dead Horse Point. What a ride! and what a view!

  11. Beautiful drive! We did it a couple of weeks ago. I noticed on our GPS that the road just after the rock drive through was named Pucker Pass.

    • placestheygo says:

      I can see why it has the name Pucker Pass with that little slot area. We thought of you Joan as we drove Shafer Trail:) We explained to our friends why we now have a shovel in the back!!

  12. Jim and Barb says:

    We drove down Long Canyon, when we got to the bottom I wanted to turn around and drive it up! We never did get to do that trip so we have something to look forward to when we return.

  13. Erin says:

    Gorgeous views! Rock climbers trying to scale a flat surface, and it doesn’t look like he’s got a safety rope … at least not that I can see … seems awfully risky to me.

    • placestheygo says:

      Erin, the climber did have one safety rope, but was basically free climbing. He has a little bag of chalk on his back was working very slowly trying to find hand and foot holds.

  14. So you think our big truck could do this road???? Truly a gorgeous day…and yes, John does score points for the photo comment! 😉

  15. Jodee Gravel says:

    The vistas in the this post and the towers in the last make me want to detour from our plans and head there this fall! I know it will still be there…but wow it is breathtaking! These places are why we bought our Jeep as well 🙂 Not difficult to see how the arch got its name. I’ve never seen a vertical one like that. The David and Karen shot is a bit scary, perhaps they aren’t really standing over the edge? I’m glad you enjoy photography as much as Jeeping and hiking, it’s so much fun to see it all!!

    • placestheygo says:

      A Jeep or high clearance 4×4 is so much fun to have in southern Utah and Sedona. We purchased ours at the perfect time. Yes, Utah and its beauty will be here but sure is hard to pass it by. Karen and David were standing on a mushroom formation that is right on the edge on the back side. You notice John and I weren’t up there:) Thanks, Jodee! I am glad I finally learned how to take better photos. I use to be so bad that I sometime missed the subject!

  16. Pam Leonard says:

    You finally posted one that isn’t on my Moab area list! It might just shoot right to the top too!

    • placestheygo says:

      We’ve done a few new things, for us anyway, the last couple days so maybe they aren’t on your list either:) We’ll be posting on them soon. Long Canyon should be on your list as long as you have high clearance.

  17. Sherry says:

    Another journey I couldn’t take without you. Thanks so much for the great pictures of the views. They are just really fantastic shots. Love the La Sals in the snow and the jeep under the rock. That’s definitely some rough road under there.

  18. Stunning views Pam! Isn’t it fun how you can just turn your vehicle around, go the other way and the views are all different. Cody hasn’t stolen the whole show this time but he’s still a little ham in front of the camera. Makes me laugh!

    • placestheygo says:

      We don’t usually do this on Jeep roads but this certainly was a great idea. I guess we need to do this more often. We have learned that out and back hikes are great, also, because the scenery is so different. Cody just loves hiking and going along for the Jeep trips. He has been great fun to have along.

  19. Rene Ready says:

    Should I even ask if I can do the trip in a Dodge Grand Caravan? I would love to see it.

    • placestheygo says:

      Rene, NEVER! This road changes constantly and is challenging for even a Jeep Wrangler. We had several one foot steps to climb to finish the road on our last visit. Sorry! Maybe find a nice Jeep driving “friend” to take you up this road. It is really beautiful, narrow, and steep.

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