Grand Prize in Caleb and Linda Pirtle' Favorite Escape Contest Goes to Carrie O'Brien

The Grand Prize in the Caleb and Linda Pirtle Favorite Escape Contest goes to Carrie O’Brien for her sensitive story and photograph on the wild, beautiful, and legendary Dead Horse Canyon State Park just outside of Moab, Utah.
Carrie writes:
Moab is one of my favorite places to escape …. even though the story of Dead Horse Point was tragic, and I felt felt sickened after reading the story at the visitors center. However, the beauty of it all took over and lifted me up as high as the cliff from where I took this photograph.
Millions of years of geologic activity created the spectacular views from Dead Horse Point State Park. Deposition of sediments by ancient oceans, freshwater lakes, streams and wind blown sand dunes created the rock layers of canyon country. Igneous activity formed the high mountains that rise like cool blue islands out of the hot, dry desert.

The plants and animals of Dead Horse Point have adapted to a land of scare water and extreme temperatures. Plants grow very slowly here. Trees fifteen-feet tall may be hundreds of years old. Leaves of most plants are small and some have a waxy coating to reduce evaporation. Most desert animals are nocturnal, active only during cooler evenings and mornings. Some have large ears to dissipate heat, while others metabolize water from food.

The Legend of Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs. The peninsula is connected to the mesa by a narrow strip of land called the neck. There are many stories about how this high promontory of land received its name.

The sad part made me cry.

According to one legend, around the turn of the century, the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up these horses, herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only thirty-yards-wide, was then fenced off with branches and brush.

This created a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs straight down on all sides, affording no escape. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and let the culls or broomtails go free. One time, for some unknown reason, horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

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