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If you’ve seen pictures of Arizona, or even advertising USA travel in general, I’m almost certain you have seen the famous Horseshoe Bend.
If not, here it is…
This iconic scene is one of the best views of the Colorado River. And that’s saying something, because the river is 2,334 km long!
The Horseshoe Bend is also part of the Grand Canyon National Park, but isn’t the main viewpoint (more on that later). However, if you’re visiting Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, making a stop past this scenic area is without a doubt a must-do!
However, finding this incredible view of the Colorado River snaking through this spectacular Southwest USA desert scenery isn’t an easy task.
That’s why we prepared this complete guide to the Horseshoe Bend Arizona so you can visit this epic photo spot without a hitch.
What is Horseshoe Bend Arizona?
Horseshoe Bend is where the Colorado River makes a giant sweeping horseshoe-shaped bend in the canyon. It’s a picturesque area on the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, where you get a wide panoramic view of the Grand Canyon – one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
I especially loved the emerald green water of the Colorado River below, which is not a color you typically see on the Colorado River.
Where is Horseshoe Bend, Arizona?
Horseshoe Bend is one of the top places to visit in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and is about 10 minutes away from the town of Page in northeast Arizona, close to the Utah border.
The parking lot is near the Horseshoe bend trailhead, which is located off US Highway 89, approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center.
Plenty of handicap-assessable parking is located near the trailhead.
Horseshoe Bend has become so busy, we had to park some ways down the road and pay a $5 per person shuttle fee to get back down there.
Hot tip: If the parking area is full, have the driver of your car drop everyone off at Horseshoe Bend overlook area before parking your car and catching the shuttle. For a family of four, that saved us $15.
If you’re coming from Page, the drive time is about 10 minutes to Horseshoe Bend.
From Las Vegas (273 miles) or Phoenix, Horseshoe Bend is about 4 hours 30 minutes away, and from Flagstaff, it can take 2 hours 10 minutes to get to the bend and from Sedona (157 miles), it’s about 2 hours and 50 minutes .
Horseshoe Bend is a 2 hour 20-minute drive from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim (114 miles).
When is the Best Time to Visit Horseshoe Bend Arizona?
If I was to visit the Lake Powell and the Page Arizona region again, I would go to Horseshoe Bend at sunrise or sunset.
Sunrise is one of the best times of day to photograph the bend, as the sun will slowly begin illuminating the canyon walls.
Are you prepared to wake up early for it? In my experience, it’s always worth it!
At other times of the day, the bend and river are in shadow. Early afternoon is also a popular time to visit.
The good news is visiting Horseshoe Bend can be quick and easy when visiting the nearby Page, AZ area.
It is slightly less busy in the off-season – running from October through February. Spring or Autumn will have the best weather being neither too hot nor cold. It’s the desert so during summer there will be high heat and little shade.
June until September are considered the monsoon season, so you might even expect rainy (and even stormy) weather during this time of year.
What is The Grand Canyon East?
It was only a couple of weeks after visiting Horseshoe Bend that we realized it’s actually considered part of the Grand Canyon East Rim area.
The Grand Canyon East Rim area is not like the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, North Rim, and West Rim, whereby you can stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon and look into it.
The east side of the Grand Canyon is where the Glen Canyon area merges into it, so the region around here is considered part of the Grand Canyon East.
Horseshoe is a unique and different perspective of the Grand Canyon!
It’s the only place along the Grand Canyon where you can get an up close selfie of the Colorado River as it makes its carving move downstream.
The Grand Canyon East is also said to incorporate Antelope Canyon, the Glen Canyon Recreation Area and Lake Powell.
Our Experience Visiting Horseshoe Bend
There isn’t much to do at Horseshoe Canyon itself, except gaze in wonder, although it depends on how many photos you want to take from multiple different angles.
From the parking lot, there is an easy 0.6-mile one-way trail to the scenic overlook. You really don’t need a lot of time there.
You can walk to certain viewpoints along the rim, but there is only a small section that is actually fenced off with a barrier.
Standing on the edge of the high cliffs was quite scary. I was amazed at how many people would risk toppling off the edge just to take that coveted Instagram worthy photo.
This is mostly a natural landmark, so caution is paramount – we stayed well back and only took photos up close where there was a fence in front of us at Horseshoe bend overlook.
At one stage, I stepped in to pull a young boy away from the rim. His intrepid curiosity taking him closer and closer to the edge. My stomach felt sick watching and I couldn’t but entice him back.
While we were in the Grand Canyon region, two people actually died from falling off the rim trying to take photos. It’s not worth it. You can get plenty of spectacular photos from the realm of safety.
There are many boats cruising down the Colorado River below and we could spy campground toilets on the banks across the river. I was inspired to get down into the canyon either on land or by boat to explore the perspective from down there.
You probably only need 30-60 minutes at Horseshoe Bend. But you may want to extend that with a picnic to enjoy with the views.
I’d say sunrise or sunset would be spectacular time to visit Horseshoe Bend, and the middle of the day in summer would be HOT.
Horseshoe Bend Entrance Fee and Hours
Fortunately, Horseshoe Bend is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. There are no fees to enter the park, but you do need to pay for your vehicle.
- Motorcycle – $5
- Car, Motorhome or RV – $10
- Buses up to 14 people – $35
- Buses up to 35 – $70
- Coaches of 35+ – $140
The most popular hours in the day are 9:00am – 11:00am and 4:30pm – 6:30pm. No overnight parking or camping is allowed, sorry!
Things to Do near Horseshoe Bend Arizona
You’re in luck. Horseshoe Bend Arizona is surrounded by many cool attractions in the Page and Lake Powell region.
You can easily combine them into a full-day experience. I actually wouldn’t make the trip to Horseshoe Bend unless you were going to do other things in the Lake Powell/ Page region.
With its sculptured white and red sandstone and blue waters, Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a sublime place to visit.
It’s an oasis in the desert surrounded by a magnificent canyon – underneath and above the water.
Lake Powell is an immense man made lake with loads of recreational activities on offer. We didn’t do much other than enjoy our camping spot right on the beach at Lone Rock Beach.
I loved this area. It’s beautiful and offers a relaxing getaway.
Most of Glen Canyon sleeps under the surface of Lake Power.
The upper sandstone walls however beckon you to come play. Whereas with the Grand Canyon you can mostly just stare with wonder and incomprehension, here at Glen Canyon you can boat, ski, fish, kayak, paddle board or swim among the towering domes and cliff walls.
We kayaked, paddle boarded and swam in the lake at Lone Rock Beach. Well, only a quick 2-minute dip as it was early April and still very cold.
Other places of interest to visit in this area include:
- Rainbow Bridge – the world’s largest natural bridge, only accessible by boat and tours. And includes a strenuous hike from Navajo mountain. This is a sacred site to neighboring tribes, so be respectful and do not climb the bridge.
- Rent a houseboat and explore further afield.
- Hike into Glen Canyon’s back-country.
You might recognize it from the old Microsoft screen saver. The most expensive photograph sold of Antelope Canyon went for $6.5 million. That’s how impressive those polished crevices in the slot canyon are.
How far is Antelope Canyon from Horseshoe Bend?
Antelope Canyon is only about 10 minutes from Horseshoe Bend!! It makes it so easy for you to visit these two top Arizona destinations in one day!
Glen Canyon Dam
If you want to marvel at great engineering feats than stop in at the Glen Canyon Dam visitor center.
In 1963, Glen Canyon dam began backing up the waters of the Colorado River that now have created 1,9000 miles of shoreline at Lake Powell. There are cool free exhibits explaining how it was built and why. You get beautiful views from here of the Colorado River and the dam.
Page was founded as the company town for the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. It’s now a tourist and recreational center for visitors to the area.
It’s quite a golfer’s mecca and is a great base for exploring the nearby attractions.
Car & RV Rental
If you don’t have your own car, check below for rental car options from Las Vegas and from Sedona, or Phoenix. Or Check out RV share if you wish to rent your own RV, campervan or motorhome.
Tours to Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
Check out the below Horseshoe Bend tours from Las Vegas, Sedona, and Flagstaff:
Where to Stay near Horseshoe Bend: Page, Arizona
As mentioned, we camped for $12 a night at the Lone Rock Beach Campground on Lake Powell, which is about 30 minutes from Page.
Other options include:
Tips for Visiting Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
Before you visit Horseshoe Bend, I have a few words of advice before you go.
- Arizona is hot. Like, insanely hot. So be prepared and drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen and if possible, stay out of the midday heat.
- Pack a camera with a wide-angle lens. If you’re a photographer, you’re going to want your widest lens to be able to capture the entire landscape.
- Avoid visiting in the summer months. This is not only the hottest time of the year, but the rainy season. July and August are monsoon seasons, and it can often go into September. Plan your trip for the winter like January, when the weather is more tolerable.
- Take snacks. The hike is only 1.3-miles round trip but the terrain is deep sand and a little rocky in areas. It takes a while to cover the distance because of this.
- This brings me to my next tip – wear sturdy shoes. The sand can be slippery so make sure your shoes have plenty of grip. Sandals and flip-flops are stylish but not a good idea.
Places to Visit near Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is a great half-day activity, so why not combine your trip with some of the below places when visiting The Grand Canyon.
Other Places to Visit in the American Southwest
If you’re planning on adding Horseshoe Bend as part of a road trip in the Southwest, then here are more great resources you might want to check out.
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