Saturday & Sunday, December 5-6, 2020
Since Diane and I both get new mountain bikes within the past couple of months and I am actually enjoying riding the new bike I got so far, I thought it would be fun to reserve a yurt at Dead Horse Point State Park for the weekend so we could check out the Intrepid Mountain Bike Trails since they are supposed to be on the easy side and we are still both pretty new to this. Also, since we enjoyed our stay in a yurt at Goblin Valley State Park last winter, I was interested in doing it again and spending more quality time exploring another of Utah’s State Parks since all of my previous visits to Dead Horse Point have been quick visits at sunrise for photos. When I booked the yurt back in October I knew that I was taking a chance on the weather, especially since we wanted to mountain bike. In early December there could be a foot of snow from a recent winter storm up here, or it could be beautiful sunny weather in the 50’s during the day. Thankfully we got lucky this weekend and had pretty great conditions for this time of the year. The highs were in the upper 40’s with a lot of sunshine and the lows were only in the low 30’s, which was even warmer than our Thanksgiving trip to Cedar Mesa last weekend. Of course, the lows at night didn’t really matter much to us since we were staying in a heated yurt.
We left home just after sunrise on Saturday morning and made our way over to Dead Horse Point State Park. Although we couldn’t get into our yurt until 3:00pm, we hoped to do plenty of riding on the trails before then. We briefly stopped at the Visitor Center to check in and then were on the trails just before 9:00am. There didn’t seem to be anyone else around at this time of the morning, probably because most were waiting for the temperature to warm up a bit before hitting the trails, but we both enjoyed riding in the cooler temperatures and having the trails to ourselves.
Welcome to Dead Horse Point State Park
We decided to start with the trails on the west side of the park since they were the furthest away from the yurts and we ended up making an 8.5 mile loop that included the Intrepid Trail, Prickly Pair Trail, Twisted Tree Trail and Whiptail Trail. Apparently these are considered the most difficult trails in the system, but we enjoyed them and didn’t find them too challenging. In fact, we both think the mountain bike trails at Dead Horse Point are about the perfect skill level for us and we look forward to returning again. Seriously, it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike so far!
Diane is ready to start riding the trails from the Visitor Center trailhead.
We had a good view of Marlboro Point from the Prickly Pair Trail.
Following the trail over slickrock along the rim of Shafer Canyon.
Diane on the Prickly Pair Trail.
A hazy view from the Twisted Tree Trail.
We returned to the parking lot at the Visitor Center just after 11:00pm and by now there were a number of other vehicles parked near the trailhead with many new riders getting ready to hit the trails. I wasn’t sure how busy these trails were going to be, especially at this time of the year, so I’m glad we got an early start and were able to enjoy the trails on our own without having to worry about running into other riders. We rested for a little bit, had some lunch and went on a short hike along the East Rim Trail before we were ready to go on another shorter ride on some of the east side trails.
For our second ride of the day we started out on the Intrepid Trail again, but this time made a loop out of the Great Pyramid Trail and the Raven Roll Trail. We stopped to check out the Colorado River Overlook and the Great Pyramid Overlook along the way and had a lot of fun coming back on the Raven Roll Trail which was fast and smooth.
The views from the trails on the east side of the park were pretty nice, too.
Diane took this short video clip of me.
This time when we arrived back at the trailhead it was finally time to head over to our yurt, so we loaded up the bikes, drove over to Yurt #2 and got settled in for the night. From the yurts there was a 360 degree view all around and I could see the La Sal Mountains, Abajo Mountains and Henry Mountains. By this time it was getting late and I wanted to take an evening ride to the canyon rim for sunset, so I hopped on my bike and followed the trail back to the Great Pyramid Overlook.
An evening view from the Great Pyramid Overlook shortly before sunset. It was hazy out all day and was no different at sunset.
There was also a good view of Chimney Rock from the overlook as I hiked along the rim of the canyon.
The Great Pyramid Overlook
Ready to leave the overlook and ride back to our yurt for the night.
It was a beautiful sunset ride on the Great Pyramid Trail.
Dead Horse Point Yurt #2
Just another shot of our yurt with my bike and the Earth Shadow.
This was our home for the night. It was pretty comfortable. We ate dinner and relaxed for the reminder of the night.
I always seem to be drawn to photographing the roof beams…
I wanted to get a shot of the yurt under the stars since this is a Dark Sky Park.
Since we were at Dead Horse Point, I just had to get up early on Sunday morning to take some photos from the point at dawn!
Looking down on the Goose Neck reminds me of our amazing float through Meander Canyon back in September.
This is a shot of the Gooseneck Overlook along the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands, which we hiked to in October.
A good look over to the Shafer Trail which descends from the Island in the Sky.
The Earth Shadow Over Whitbeck Rock
I watched the sunrise as I hiked around the perimeter of Dead Horse Point.
Light on the Point
The warm morning light looked nice on the ridge below.
Hiking along the East Rim trail to another overlook.
Dead Horse Point to the United Nations Tablet, to Hatch Point, to the Abajo Mountains…
When I returned to the parking lot after hiking around the perimeter of Dead Horse Point I was surprised to find that my Jeep was the only vehicle left there. It was pretty full when I was taking photos from the point earlier, so I guess everyone took their sunrise photos and left.
After catching the sunrise on Dead Horse Point I returned to the yurt so we could ride the Big Chief Loop this morning before heading back home. I like this shot because even my bike got in on the sunstar action if you look closely at the frame.
Diane on the Big Chief Loop.
Apparently this is known as Big Chief Butte, for which the trail is named after.
I think the Big Chief Trail had the best views of all the trails we rode this weekend, and I would love to come back and ride it at sunset another time.
Here’s another short video clip Diane took of me on the Big Chief Trail.
Diane on the Big Chief Loop Trail
Diane sits and takes in the massive view from a bench at the Big Chief Overlook before we returned to the yurt, packed up and then headed home. I can’t believe I actually had this much fun riding bikes!
Thanks for giving me my vicarious desert fix with latest series of updates to your adventures. Careful with the mountain biking though- it’s addictive!
I haven’t seen too many photos from Dead Horse Point State Park other than those directly off the point. Looks like a very fun trip.
That was definitely part of the reason I wanted to do this trip, so I could see the rest of the park besides just the main overlook.
As usual, great report and images Randy! Our family spent spring break a couple weeks ago out there… in Yurt#2!!! 🙂 Too funny. We’re big yurt fans, stayed in the Goblin Valley ones a couple years ago too, as well as the Oregon coast a while back. Can’t wait to go back!