Running around a park where a gang of horses died of thirst is always a bit risky. Getting lost in such a park is a really bad idea.
Dead Horse Point State Park lies close to Moab in the US state of Utah. Cowboys used it back in the 19th century as a natural corral for horses. However when the corral was abandoned, the horses did not leave the enclosure even after the gate was left open, all eventually dying there.
I decided to run around the trails that encircled Dead Horse Point. From the Visitor’s Centre, I ran south on the east rim as far as the overlook. On my left were steep drop-offs to crazy canyons. Word is that Thelma and Louise lie down there too after they drove their car off the ravine edge back in the 1990s. Little do many know the film’s end was taped here rather than at the presumed and infamous Grand Canyon.
From the Point, I headed north following the west rim of the peninsula. Unlike the east side, where there’s a clear trail, the west side is through the desert with only a set of rocky cairns and a few dodgy footprints to follow.
It was all good until I got to a place marked “Rim Overlook”. One minute the cairns were there. The next they were nowhere to be seen. To my right, desert. To my left, vertigo inducing cliffs. I wandered around a bit, thinking of dead horses, then of poor Thelma and Louise. With no other plan in place, I just kept following the canyon ridge… until the cairns miraculously appeared again.
I ran on and up to Big Horn Overlook, and peered tentatively over the edge. And with my water bottle running dry, and an hour’s trail run logged, I ran back to the Visitor’s Centre again. There I told the warden of my traumatic experience. She assured me that she would send out the official Cairn Inspectors first thing the next morning. Hopefully I have thus helped save fellow trail runners from future life-threatening jogs around Dead Horse Point State Park. (Have a look at the garmin track here, just in case).