Now it’s possible to visit Dead Horse Point State Park every day – without leaving home.
Dead Horse and 15 other state parks in Utah have joined the digital age with their own Facebook pages. While Utah State Parks has long had a Facebook presence, it covered all 43 park units and was operated out of the Salt Lake City office.
That changed recently when staff members from several parks asked for their own pages. The request was in line with the philosophy of Utah State Parks Director Fred Hayes, who has championed more autonomy for each park since taking the position a year ago.
Crystal Carpenter, assistant manager at Dead Horse, was one of those pushing for the change, although she credits others as well.
“It wasn’t just me,” she said. “There were many naturalists and curators hoping to have a page for their parks.”
Carpenter, naturalist Jordan Perez and park manager Megan Blackwelder update Dead Horse’s page daily. On Wednesday, the page featured an introdution to the park’s new gift shop manager, a photo of a bird common to the park and a photo of wildlife tracks. Readers are often asked to comment on photos or other park postings.
It’s all a way to engage the public and create more interest in visiting the park in person, Carpenter said.
“It’s such a great medium to connect with people because there are so many people on Facebook,” she said. “Everybody’s on it.”
To reach the Dead Horse page, go to www.facebook.com and enter Dead Horse Point State Park. The page will pop up, featuring many photos and lots of information.
“We use it to advertise activities in the park, any kind of closures, and if we’re looking for volunteers for trail maintenance,” Carpenter said.
Information about park geology and wildlife, new items in the gift shop, and even podcasts about the park are also featured.
“It’s been so wonderful,” Carpenter said. “Both of our neighbors [Canyonlands and Arches national parks] are on it. It’s been fun to interact with them.”
The page reportedly has had hits from people in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey in addition to various U.S. states.
While the step into a Facebook page is welcomed at Dead Horse, Carpenter said that will be the extent of social media involvement at this point. Twitter isn’t on the horizon.
“That’s a bigger commitment than Facebook,” she said. “We haven’t braved that realm yet.”