Bighorn Viewpoint

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 3.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5812 - 5969 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Usage: Hiking - No Dogs
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Facilities: Flush toilets
Trailhead: Dead Horse State Park Visitor Center
Fee: $10/vehicle
Attractions: Scenic overlook, desert landscape
 


View Bighorn Viewpoint in a larger map

The Bighorn Viewpoint trail is located in the Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab, Utah. The trail leads from the Visitor Center to an overlook above Shafer Canyon where hikers can get a good view of an interesting rock formation that looks like a pair of 'big horns'. The changes in elevation are subtle enough to make this an enjoyable hike that most anyone can accomplish.


The Bighorn Viewpoint trail actually begins near the campground but unless you are staying in the campground there are no parking areas so the trailhead for this hike is at the Visitor Center. The trail leading to the campground begins on the south side of the building. You can walk around either end of the building or you can also walk up the stairs into the building and out the doors on the other side.


A trail sign on the south side of the Visitor Center points the direction to the campground as well as the rim trails.


Following the trail signs to the campground will lead you across the parks highway.


Another trail sign marks the point where the Bighorn Viewpoint trail departs from the West Rim trail.


The trail through the red dirt is well traveled and easy to follow.


A short distance through the sagebrush and juniper trees the trail comes to the rim above a branch of the canyon. From here the trail becomes a bit more interesting as it navigates around the rim varying between sections of slickrock and patches of red dirt. The portions of the trail that pass over stretches of slickrock have cairns that mark the route.


The trail comes to an end on a rocky point overlooking the canyon where there are grand and impressive views for the hiker to take in. Don't venture too close to the edge because as you can see it is a long way down. Across the canyon is the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. If you look closely you may be able to spot the dirt road the comes down from the Island in the Sky into Shafer Canyon. The road travels around the base of the district on a shelf of white rim sandstone. It is very popular with 4 wheel drive enthusiasts.


A ridge that extends into the canyon has mostly eroded away. Part of the last remains of the narrow fin of rock now take on the appearance of a big set of horns. The horns look more like those of a pronghorn antelope than a bighorn sheep making other names come to mind that would seem more suitable like 'Pronghorn Viewpoint' or 'Big Horn Viewpoint' if a need was felt to stay with the 'big' aspect of the horns. There are desert bighorn sheep in the area as well as a few deer but the best chance of seeing the sheep are within the canyon itself.


The scenery is very reminiscent of the Grand Canyon even though it isn't nearly as deep or wide.


Ripples formed in the wind blown sand add to the beauty of the desert landscape.


Back at the Visitor Center you can tour the museum, browse the gift shop or stop at the Pony Express Coffee Shop for a snack. If you click on the picture to view the enlarged menu you should have no trouble making out the items and prices (which I'm sure are subject to change). Dead Horse Point State Park has a lot to offer in the way of hiking and mountain biking trails. The campground fills up quickly during the summer months so be sure and make reservations. The BLM runs a larger campground a short distance away that normally never fills to capacity but it lacks the nice electrical hookups and other amenities that DHP has to offer. If you would like to see it all for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.