Moab, Utah: Hike With Your Dog At The Beehive State's Outdoor
Most of us have seen the spectacular scenery around Moab without
realizing it - the landscape has often been used as the setting
for Hollywood westerns. Before that, popular Western novelist
Zane Grey stoked the imaginations of readers with action placed
in Moab. Real people started coming to the Colorado River town
in the 1950s when uranium was discovered nearby. Even though
the mines have since played out, the town has never returned
to its sleepy agricultural days.
Today Moab is an outdoors mecca at the foot of the La Salle Mountains.
Moab is the gateway to southeastern Utah's canyon country and
the national parks at Canyonlands and Arches. In these parks
dogs are not allowed in the backcountry, on trails or on rivers
within the park. Still, there are plenty of other opportunities
here that make Moab a dog-friendly destination for people who
love to hike with your dog.
Legend has it that cowboys once herded wild mustangs onto to
the top of this mesa - 2000 feet above the Colorado River - and
blocked off their escape across a narrow neck of land with branches
and brush, thus creating a natural corral. Once the horses in
the corral were forgotten about and died of thirst while looking
at the unaccessible Colorado River below. In 1959 more than 5,000
acres, most of which are on the mesa top, were designated Dead
Horse Point State Park (nine miles north of Moab on US 191; turn
west on SR 313, then go 22 miles to the Visitor Center).
While your dog will never trot the trails of Canyonlands National
Park and look straight down 1000 feet at the confluence of the
Green and Colorado rivers, she can get the same kind of experience
next door in Dead Horse Point State Park. Two loops, connected
by the Visitor Center, skirt the edges of the rim of the rock
peninsula. Numerous short spur trails poke out to promontories
overlooking the canyonlands (most are unfenced and provide no
protection against over-curious canines).
This is sparse desert land on top of the mesa and during a hot
summer day there is little shade and no natural drinking water
on the trails for thirsty dogs. All told there are ten miles
of paved and primitive trail at Dead Horse Point, most on hard,
A half-mile spur on the western side of the Dead Horse Point
mesa leads to an overlook of Shafer Canyon. Across the canyon
you can see an open plain that was used to film the famous final
scene in the movie Thelma & Louise when Susan Sarandon drives
a Thunderbird convertible over a cliff. Although there are wrecked
automobiles in Shafer Canyon, they were placed there by the Bureau
of Land Management to shore up the river bank. The wreckage from
the movie was airlifted out of the canyon by helicopter.
To the east of Moab on Scenic Route 128 is the Colorado Riverway
Recreation Area with distinctly different canine adventures in
store. Director John Ford began shooting Hollywood westerns on
location here in 1949 he went searching for a new desert location
for his upcoming Wagon Master to star Ben Johnson and Ward Bond.
He arrived in Moab where he was shown the Professor Valley and
the Fisher Towers on the Colorado River. Ford indeed made Wagon
Master here and more than 50 feature films would be shot on location
around Moab in the next 50 years. To John Wayne, this area always
defined the West.
Your dog won't be able to draw a full conclusion to agree or
disagree with the Duke - the canine hike at Fisher Towers ends
when a ladder climb scales an awkward rock before the end of
the trail. Upstream, the packed-sand Negro Bill Canyon Trail
climbs gently up a scenic canyon, crossing and tracing a clear-flowing
stream for two miles to reach the Morning Glory Natural Bridge.
Your dog won't be able to walk under the magnificent natural
arches in Arches National Park but he can play under the sixth
longest natural rock span in the United States. The pool under
the bridge makes an ideal doggie swimming pool but be careful
of the flourishing poison ivy growing nearby.
Moab is in northeast Utah at the intersection of US 191 and Scenic
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