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Dead Horse State Park is located 30 miles west of Moab, UT, near the entrance to Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky section. It has some of the best vistas of the canyonlands in the region, all easily accessible from viewpoints or short trails. Supposedly, its name comes from the practice in the late 1800s of cowboys corralling wild mustangs on the narrow point of land and on one occasion leaving them to die from lack of water.
I made this image at dawn looking to the southeast. The Colorado River is in the distance, two thousand feet below the mesa. The canyons in this direction are mostly outside of the national park’s boundary but illustrate nicely why one unit of the national park is called The Maze. I was struck by the richness of the colors revealed at this hour. A few hours later, these would fade to varying tones of brown that most people associate with the high desert of the Colorado Plateau.
There are several campgrounds in the park, including one with a few yurts. There are also campgrounds near the park, and Moab is about 45 minutes away. Both times I have visited were in the fall where temperatures are moderate, and weather is generally stable.
Because the dynamic range of the scene exceeded that of my camera, I shot multiple exposures optimized for either the dark canyons or the sky. The image is a blend of two exposures. Each exposure was processed in Lightroom, and then the two were combined manually in Affinity Photo.