Updated: Jun 19, 2020
If Horseshoe Bend isn't on your bucket list yet, it should be!
Photos can't even begin to show the massive scale of this place, you just have to see it with your own eyes. In 2017, I took a cross-country road trip from south-west Florida to Southern California and Horseshoe Bend was an absolute highlight!
Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona is an easy 1.25 mile hike that overlooks the deep blue Colorado River over 1,000 feet below. The hike is short, it begins with a hill that is slightly steep, but gradual. Less experienced hikers can take advantage of the shade shelter at the top to catch their breath halfway through.
You will find it off of Highway 89 with a large lot so you won't have to worry about parking. Parking for motorcycles is $5 and regular car parking is $10. There were quite a few people since it's a common spot for tour buses depending on the time of year, but Horseshoe Bend is so large and vast that you can easily get your own stunning photos. It doesn't feel crowded at all once you get to the edge because everyone spreads out around the wide rim. It may be tempting to get too close to the edge to get daring shots for Instagram, but please don't. There are no ropes, rails, or anything between you and a thousand foot drop, so exercise caution! They are working on implementing a fence of some sort which is necessary because sadly there are at least 2-3 deaths a year from people taking selfies on the edge.
The colors change depending on what time of day you visit and so does the temperature so make sure you look at the forecast and dress in layers. It was mid afternoon in October and was fairly hot on our hike up, but quickly cooling down on the way back once the sun was setting on the horizon. I've also heard the wind can pick up at the edge so having a hoodie is smart, you can always tie it around your waist if it gets hot. Bring more water than you think you will need, this is important because it is dry there and the sun can dehydrate you more than you're used to. Wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sneakers or hiking boots will allow you to feel the most comfortable. Some people say that the best photos are taken at sunset or sunrise and usually I would agree for most places, but we found that slightly earlier in the day the sun still lit up the river down below and more of the canyon overall which gave us beautiful photos with light leaks.
There are other options for having the ultimate Horseshoe Bend experience. Booking a helicopter tour with Papillon, the only company that offers this, gives you an amazing perspective. When we looked down into the river, we saw people kayaking and if I ever go back I definitely want to enjoy Horseshoe Bend that way because it's one of my favorite outdoor activities. A company that rents them out is Kayak The Colorado.
If you are out west and in the Antelope Canyon/Grand Canyon area, this spot is a must. It's easy and simple to reach and the views are incredible!
“Have your breath taken away with one of the greatest wonders of the West.”