There's nothing better than a scenic drive that's also incredibly short. This allows for a number of things: First, it saves time one would spend on the road and allots it to sightseeing. Second, it's easy enough to fit into one day, giving travelers the option to extend their time in a specific place, if necessary. When it comes to the most scenic drive in the Moab Desert, Dead Horse Point checks all of these day-trip-drive boxes.
While the drive is one that's well-known, it's one that's also incredibly underrated. The total length of the trip is less than 25 minutes and takes almost 30 minutes, exactly, to traverse with no stops along the way. Here's everything you need to know about taking this scenic drive, and why it's worth so much more hype than it currently has.
Dead Horse Point Scenic Byway U-313: The Most Scenic Views Of The Moab Desert
Hiking through the Moab Desert is not the only way to explore it, and it's not even the most efficient and comfortable way to see it. While hiking does offer incredible first-person views, a drive through this expansive desert is equally rewarding. There are some things that visitors should know when taking the Dead Horse Point Scenic Byway, and the first is that it resides mostly on the top of a plateau, or mesa. The second is that on the way up, visitors will observe the narrow strip of land that connects the starting point of the byway to the top of the mesa, giving one a pretty good idea of the incredible views that await at the top. The third is that Dead Horse Point Scenic Byway gives way to multiple hikes along the way, all before one even enters the park itself - so if this is something one wishes to take advantage of, it's a good idea to note where the trailheads are beforehand.
- Tip: Although those driving along the scenic byway will have the protection of the vehicle and, hopefully, access to AC, it's important to remember that this remote stretch of land is still a desert. Visitors are advised to bring plenty of water and snacks, as well as pack a first-aid or emergency kit in their cars.
The Dead Horse Point Scenic Byway begins at the turnoff from Highway 191, which is easily accessible from Moab, Utah.
- Fun Fact: The park received its unique name from the horse corral that once existed on the peninsula between the bottom and top of the mesa that the route runs along, today.
What Can Be Seen From Dead Horse Scenic Byway & The Best Overlooks To Look Out For
Of course, the entire route is scenic and offers astounding, high-elevation aerial views of the Moab Desert below and Dead Horse State Park. These also include the byway's scenic overlooks and hiking trails that can be found along the way.
Visitor Center & The Basin Overlook
As with all nature stops, the visitor center is a great place to start (or end) any scenic journey. Found roughly 21 miles after the Highway 191 turnoff, visitors to Dead Horse State Park can find the Visitor Center and, by extension, Basin Overlook.
Basin Overlook offers a short, easy hike down a nature trail that's paved for easing trekking. From the overlook, views of La Sal Basin, La Sal Mountains, and Chimney Rock are visible. Additionally, visitors can find other hikes along the rim of the canyonlands. This is also a popular spot for photographers to set up their cameras, so it's perfect for those interested in photographing Dead Horse State Park's nature and wildlife!
Another scenic point along the 22-mile route worth mentioning is known as The Neck. This is easily recognizable due to its small parking area, and it's a great midpoint to take advantage of on the way to the final overlook.
- Tip: For more hiking, the West and East Rim trails can be found at The Neck; these trails are shorter than the rim trails at the Visitor Center, thus better for novice hikers.
Dead Horse Point Overlook
As a grand finale before reaching Dead Horse State Park, the Dead Horse Point Overlook is one for the books. This is not only a great way to end what's already a short and scenic drive, but it's also one of the most spectacular views in the Moab Desert. From this elevation, visitors will be able to see the Colorado River roughly 2,000 feet below them, as well as extensive views of the red canyonlands. On a clear day, it's very possible to be able to see for nearly 100 miles in any direction. According to My Itchy Travel Feet, it's one of the most photographed landscapes in the world.
One doesn't necessarily need a reason to take the 30-minute desert drive through the Moab Desert. One doesn't even need a reason to visit the scenic vistas of Dead Horse State Park - however, its breathtaking views and ease of access are two great reasons to do so.