I did this as a solo overnight backpack trip. I was amazing sunset views as I left late in the afternoon and hiked down into the canyon. The trail drops down into an interesting canyon and seems to go forever. Follow this to the White Rim road. Continue over the road for a while to find a suitable campsite. I loved my campsite, beyond the white rim. There are no set campsites beyond this point so follow "leave no trace" protocol. Permits are required for overnight stays. Left early in the morning becasue it is a steep hike up and wanted to avoid the heat past high noon.
Situated 2000 feet above the Colorado River, the legend goes that cowboys once rounded up wild mustangs and herded them onto what is now called Dead Horse Point Overlook. After choosing the horses they wanted to keep, they somehow forgot about the rest and, trapped on that waterless point far above the river, the poor things died of thirst.
Sad as the story is, the panorama from this overlook is stunning. From here you can see a hairpin turn of the Colorado River (in my pix above), a little of the Green River off to the southwest, and across miles and miles of Canyonlands N.P.
I don't know if this is really an "off the beaten" as it was pretty lively but it's on the way to Canyonlands NP Island in the Sky district - take 191N. for 10 miles out of Moab, then southwest on 313 for 14 miles to the turnoff. Turn left and continue another 7 miles to the Visitor Center. Fee is $10 per vehicle, $5 for seniors, and the park has a campground ($20 per site) with electrical hookups, tent pads, covered shelter, charcoal grates and bathrooms. No showers. There's one (short) paved walking trail and several primitive hiking trails.
See the park website for visitor center/concession hours and more information.
In 1961 Newspaper Rock, one of the largest and best-known petroglyph panels in Utah, was designated a state park. It is located about 12 miles west of U.S. Highway 191 on the paved road that leads to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park, where you will see a sign for Newspaper Rock. This little area is well worth the stop if you are interested in the early history of the area. Newspaper Rock is a rock surface with hundreds of petroglyphs etched into the rock surface. If you rush past this short side trip you will be missing one of the finest displays of Indian rock art in the United States. It is believe that these were made mostly by the Anasazi people, which date A.D. 1 to 1275. We viewed bison, mountain sheep, footprints, snakes, and many other animals and abstract pictures. Besides the Anasazi there is also some ancient art most likely from the Fremont; and more recent UTE or Navajo dating from the 1200s to 1880. From what is believed to be the UTE or Navajo period one can see horses with riders, which would have dated in a period after the Spanish introduced the horse to the area. No one knows for sure what these pictures mean.
If you are in the Island of the Sky District of Canyonlands there really is no excuse for not stopping by Dead Horse State Park. The park is literally on the way! I'm not entirely sure why it isn't just park of Canyonlands...but I digress. This dramatic bend in the river has a grizzly history. Back in the cowboy days, the land between the bend was used as a corral for horses. One bunch of horse was unfortunately abandoned or forgotten by the ranchers and all the horses died of thirst while right in view of the river thousands of feet down. Hence, this is how the point and the Park got their names.
It really does not take a long time to tour if you are in a hurry, probably only an hour or so.
It costs $7 to get into the park. There is a visitors center with restrooms and of course a gift shop.
This park is also the scene of many a picnic, lots of tables to choose from, many with roofs for shade.
There are several isolated trails and backcountry opportunities which we were not able to do. The Colorado Overlook was a wonderful time as we encountered no one.
If you want to experience more formations take the shorter trails described in their website. We took the very short ones along the scenic route and decided on the Colorado Overlook for our long journey since it is a bike trail / jeep trail. It is quite a treat to be allowed to ride in a National Park.
Off the beaten path would be if you take your backpack and start walking anywhere in the immens large National Park. You for sure have a big chance to be at places where no-one ever stood before! or at least not for centuries.
i hiked about 1/2 down gooseberry trail to white rim canyon (colorado river). This photo of cliff about 1,400 feet above white rim canyon in the background.
I can't tell you exactly where this photo was taken in Canyonlands. It is an ordinary view that demonstrates how lovely this area is even when off the beaten path looking at nothing in particular.