Horseshoe Bend is a name given to a unique horseshoe shaped path that the Colorado River formed near Page, Arizona. This unusual geologic feature was formed naturally millions of years ago. Located in Northern Arizona, a stop to take in this breathtaking natural wonder is the perfect break anytime you find yourself traveling near Northern Arizona/Southern Utah. Additionally, Horseshoe Bend is a nice easy side trip from the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff (each about 2 hours away), especially if you add on other area activities like Antelope Canyon or a Lake Powell boat tour to your itinerary.
A short .75 mile hike will take you to an overlook of this amazing natural phenomenon, which happens to be one of the most photographed sights in the Southwest. Although a short distance, the hike consists of both an uphill and downhill trek through sand, which 200 million years ago was part of the largest sand dunes system on the North American continent. The resistance, plus the dry, hot desert heat makes the hike seem a bit harder, so be sure to plan a little extra time. A winter visit is recommended due to the unbearably hot, dry summer conditions.
The Colorado River is 3200 feet above sea level and the overlook is 4200 feet, making for a stunning 1000 foot drop. The river shines a brilliant emerald green color, contrasting beautifully amongst the sandstone rocks.
You will see many people taking all sorts of crazy pictures, and in my opinion, getting a bit too close too the edge. There are no guard rails whatsoever, so if the winds ends up hitting you in the wrong way, you could literally tumble 1000 feet to your death. In fact, many people have fallen over the years trying to get a better look or better photo. It just isn’t worth it! You can take plenty of great photos without getting too close.
Overall, Horseshoe Bend is worth a stop if you are taking a road trip through Northern Arizona/Utah, and also if you need a fun day trip from the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Zion, or anywhere else within a few hours drive. It’s truly a mesmerizing sight that you need to see in person – a photo just does not do justice. A breathtaking wonder of nature, the curve of the Colorado, is without a doubt a roadside attraction to add to your bucket list!
*Remember that at hight altitude, your body has to work harder, so take it easy and drink etra water. Hydrate yourself even more on hot days.
*Plan a winter visit, if possible. The sunny, dry, oftentimes 100+ degree summer afternoons are just unbearable.
*Wear sunblock and sunglasses. There is absolutely no shade.
*Wear sturdy shoes. You will be walking uphill and downhill in sand, so you will need a little extra traction. Hiking shoes or gym shoes are great.
*Don’t let the short distance fool you. The trek through the sand, accompanied by the heat and high altitude, makes for a nice little workout.The sand adds more
resistance, making the short hike feel more difficult.
*Wear workout clothes. So many tourists were wearing jeans and regular shoes. I guess no one told them that a hike was involved. Just don’t! You are going to sweat and
get dirty. No need to ruin good clothes. Plus, workout clothes are easier to move around in and will keep you a bit cooler.
*Bring a quality camera with a wide angle lens in order to get a full picture.
*Plan your visit at sunrise or sunset for the best photos. If possible, visit at both times – the water and rocks seem to change color based on the
time of day.
*Stay far away from the cliffs – rememeber that it is a 1000 foot drop. Keep a keen eye on your kids and pets!
*If taking a day trip from Flagstaff or Grand Canyon, be sure to plan other area activities to make the drive more worthwhile. Lake Towell boat tours and tours of
Antelope Canyon are popular area attractions to consider (although a bit overpriced).
Read more about the history of Horseshoe Bend
Directions: Horseshoe Bend is located about 4 miles south of Page along Hwy 89. You will see a trail sign while driving. Park in the large lot (free).