Riding at Dead Horse State Park

Having to turn back on Day One of riding in Moab, separating from the group, was disheartening. Nine kilometres into our ride, I was hacking away with my upper chest in a lot of pain whenever I breathed hard on uphills. Only a third of the way through the route, I was seriously holding things up. So Bill took one for the team and slowly rode out with me, back to the trail head and our car while the two other couples we were with rode on.

Bye. Have fun. Ride hard.

I’d fallen sick with a brutal cold that was fast developing into bronchitis. Day Two I sat out. Day Three, I wanted to ride something… anything. Surely it was just a bad cold, and that’s it. So Bill took me out to Dead Horse State Park, a place with some relatively flat trails that wouldn’t get me breathing too hard. Little did I know it’d be the last ride for me of the trip.

IMG_2534At the trail head is a visitor’s centre with some interpretive walking trails that teach you about the ecological natural and human history of the area. Do you know how the area got it’s name? It is a gruesome, heart wrenching story…

We were there to bike along the Intrepid Trail system that would take us along the edge of the canyon on the Great Pyramid and Big Chief rim trails, and then, if I had the energy, we’d head across the highway and cycle a bit of Crossroads and Prickly Pear.

A map of the trail system. There are lots of green trails for those new to mountain bike riding up there.
The trails, and viewpoints have spectacular views.

The biking and hiking trails at Dead Horse State Park take you along the rim of the canyon, with breathtaking views. (Oh wait, maybe that was just my cold!)

Stopping at viewpoints like this you get such a dramatic impression of the size of this landscape!
There were fun features to roll over and ride… this is the bike trail, and it heads down, over those slabs of rock and around the tight corner of that mini cliff.

When you have great tires, big wheels and a lot of suspension, things like this are easy to roll over, as long as you remember, “Speed is your friend.” It’s usually hesitation that gets you into a crash situation.

Sometimes the trail passed through areas with very red rock.

A lot of the riding was through a landscape like this, with the gnarled and twisted dwarf  trees of the juniper forests, red soil, and rugged sandstone rock.

And sometimes you came very close to the cliff edges… but it was beautiful!
We stopped and rested for me a lot, and the places we chose were spectacularly beautiful.

No regrets. I’m so glad I had one more ride, even if it was a gentle one. Moab, I will be back. I’ve got unfinished business with you!

If you go…

  • Dead Horse State Park has an entrance day use fee of $15. They take visa.

    Most beautifully, at the end of the ride there’s coffee! It’s very civilized.
  • The biking trail heads are at the end of the parking lot farthest from the visitor’s centre. Park there.
  • Many people come just for the visitor’s centre, and for the very short walk along the canyon rim where its building is perched. Don’t be dismayed by the state of the parking lot. You’ll be away from the masses soon.
  • There is a large interpretive centre there with lots of interesting models, displays and informative signs on everything from geology and biology to the human history and prehistory of the area. If you’re curious at all about how the crazy rock shapes formed, this is the place to go and learn.
  • In the basement of the visitor’s centre, down the stairs from the gift shop, there is an auditorium of sorts with a movie playing, and a display of artwork and photographs. Be sure to check it out.
  • The bathrooms of the visitor’s centre are large and clean, with running water.
  • Most importantly, there is a coffee stand that sells drinks (real coffee!!!) and a modest selection of store bought snacks and sandwiches. They take credit cards.

7 Comments on “Riding at Dead Horse State Park

  1. My wife and I had a “disaster” at Dead Horse Point last summer but it involved a storm and our tent flooding! That post will be coming near the end of August … glad you got that ride in!


  2. Bummer about the cold. I guess that’s a risk when you’re pushing yourself and hanging out with strangers. Kind of reminds me of a dive trip I made to Palau…

    Liked by 2 people

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