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Utah Trip 2009

Day 5 of 10

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Tuesday, April 14th
Courthouse Towers/Park Ave. hike, drive to Dead Horse Point State Park

There were a few raindrops on our tent in the morning, but it stopped by the time we got up. Still, the sky was completely overcast, in contrast to the previous days. The campground host was nice enough to post the long-range weather forecast so we knew that stormy weather was approaching. It made me a bit nervous about our upcoming stay in Dead Horse Point State Park.

This was our last day in Arches, so we packed up our camp and headed out. Before leaving the park, however, we stopped at the Courthouse Towers trailhead to do the Courthouse Towers/Park Ave. hike.

After the hike we drove to Canyonlands National Park, about 40 minutes away. Our camping reservations were for nearby Dead Horse Point State Park, mainly for the reason that you can't reserve a camp site at Canyonlands. I hadn't wanted to take a chance, so I had made the reservation for the nearby state park. The one downside is that Dead Horse Point State Park doesn't allow campfires. The kids love having the campfire, though, so we decided we'd drive into Canyonlands and see if we could snag a campsite there, where campfires are allowed.

The ranger at the entrance station didn't know if there were any sites left. We next talked to a ranger at the visitor's center. He said that there had been 5 sites free as of 1pm, but he didn't know if there were any left now (it was 3pm). He also told us that there wasn't any firewood for sale in the park. The other downside is that there's no water at the campground, either. Given the uncertainty and the fact that we didn't have any firewood with us, we decided not to make the 10-15 minute drive down the road to the campground. Instead, we turned around and made our way back to Dead Horse Point State Park.

We checked in at the Dead Horse Point visitor's center, then drove to our camp site. Each site has a large covered area for cooking with two large picnic tables. It even has a cabinet for storing food, and overhead lights. Very nice. There is limited water, which means you can't hook up an RV, but the water from the bathroom faucets is potable.

We set up our camp and made dinner. The campground was nice, but the problem for us was that it was very windy. There weren't any tall trees to block the wind, either, only low brush. Plus, the ground was very sandy, so every time a gust a wind came we'd have to close our eyes and wait for it to pass.

After dinner, we made the short drive to the point itself. The views from the point are gorgeous. It's like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, only there's no one there. There were just a handful of other people at the point when we visited it. The Colorado River makes a hairpin turn 2000 feet below. The effects of the river carving up the landscape is visible for miles all around.

Colorado River from Dead Horse Point

View looking south from Dead Horse Point

One other thing we noticed to the east, near the river, was what looked like bright blue artificial lakes. We would learn the next day that these are evaporation ponds for the Potash Mine.

Potash Mine evaporation ponds


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