Who hasn’t seen a picture of Horseshoe Bend on the internet? Instagram? I was not immune on our recent trip to Arizona so we took the 18 mile detour north towards Page to see what the iconic natural feature was all about.
Horseshoe Bend is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area and the river you see flowing is the great Colorado River. It is located just 5 miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. The viewpoint is about 3/4 miles off the highway and by the time you park and start walking you will have about .6 miles to go.
The trail is wide and begins uphill on a sandy path but once you crest you head down to where you can see the river. While we were there, improvements had begun to the trail so the next time you go the trail will be more accessible to varying abilities. Half way down there is also a covered sitting area if you need a break from the sun as there is no shade on this walk.
Although you never see the crowds in those internet pictures, be rest assured you won’t be alone while visiting. See all the tiny people lining the rim?
However, there is plenty of room and no one is in any hurry to rush about or push for a spot next to the edge of the canyon that sits 1000ft above the water below, so you really don’t feel like you are surrounded by the masses.
The rock walls containing a variety of minerals offer a sharp contrast to the blue green river below. If you are brave enough to get close to the edge and peer down, you will see guide boats cruising along with white spray behind them as they explore the canyon and stop on its shores for lunch.
Take time to walk along the edge and find different viewpoints as another and yet another detail catches your eye. We couldn’t decide if the swirl in the water was sediment, algae or the rock underneath. What time of the day you go will determine the range of colors you will see in both the water and the canyon walls.
Don’t forget a bottle of water and sun protection if you need it. Think about packing an umbrella for your trip, they offer shade and keep you just a bit cooler! You can read more about my hike on the sand dunes in my post: Spring Break Road Trip Day 3: Lyin’ Down At Horseshoe, Tiger Beetles and Bear Right At Wild Cows, Oh My!
For more information and current conditions, visit the parks website.
Approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of Carl Hayden Visitor Center on U.S. Hwy 89 or 18 miles north of the junction of 89 and alt 89 (Bitter Springs), between highway marker 544 and 545, turn at the sign into the large parking lot. Vehicles are prohibited beyond the end of the parking lot at the base of the hill. No permit is needed and bathrooms are available.