The Dead Horse Point & Canyonlands

A day of scenic lookout points in Utah led us to the Dead Horse Point and the Island In The Sky of the Canyonlands. Both viewpoints were easily accessible by RV and a few minutes hike and I’m sure that had we had more time to explore the parks around the lookout points, we would have come across more natural beauty.

Gooseneck in the Colorado River at The Dead Horse Point

The Dead Horse Point is one of Utah’s State Parks. A cliffy landscape offers views of the Colorado which makes its goosenecked way throughout the canyons, 2,000 feet below the viewer. Stories say that cowboys used to herd wild mustangs on to the point, using the cliff as a corral. And once, some horses were left corralled at the waterless point, where they died. The reason for this is unknown.

The Island In The Sky mesa

The Island In The Sky has a more cheerful name. It sits on top of a 1500 foot mesa – literally making it an island in the sky, especially in foggy or cloudy weather (as we saw on photos, sadly not ourselves). The sandstone cliffs are part of the Canyonland National Park which prides itself with its “rich diversity” in geological formations but also in flora and fauna.

A different view over the “Island”

The park was definitely rich in the apparently omnipresent chipmunks and we saw a lot of different shrubs and small flowering plants. My highlight however was my first (and possibly last) encounter with a Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus).

Ringtail – Bassariscus astutus – not a raccoon as suspected by other bystanders

Although these animals are nocturnal, this one specimen was running hiding space to hiding space in the broad daylight whilst apparently scavenging for food. Ringtails are omnivorous and we saw this one rather close to the parking spaces and bins, so my guess is that it had learned that humans leave a lot of edible garbage behind.
In any case, I was happy that I got a few shots of the ringtail before it decided to hide from the new stream of people arriving at the parking lots.

Running Ringtail

If you’d like to read more about Dead Horse Point or the Island In The Sky, have a look here:

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