There was one place in Arizona’s desert land that had captured my attention more than anywhere else, so when we started planning our road trip through Arizona and California I knew I had to make sure we got there. For now, Horseshoe bend remains quite an off the beaten path attraction. There is no observation deck, or ticket fees to visit, there is no handrail or fencing to keep you away from the edge. There is literally just a dirt car park and a small trail, leading you to the horseshoe shaped bend in the Colorado River, offering you the chance to get your adrenaline pumping and sit on the edge of the 1,000 foot drop.
How to get to Horseshoe Bend really depends on where you’re coming from. However, the closest town is Page, Arizona. Page actually has it’s own small regional airport, with direct flights coming in from Los Angeles, Phoenix and Denver through Great Lakes Aviation. You will definitely need a car to get to Horseshoe Bend, unless you’re visiting on a tour. If you’re not visiting as part of a larger road trip, the only place to rent a car at the airport is from Avis. I would reserve your car as early as possible (especially if you’re visiting during the summer months) to make sure you don’t miss out.
From Page you will need to drive south on Highway 89 to between mileposts 544 and 545. Look out for the exit lane and dirt road on the west side of the road that takes you to the parking area. There are also signs along the way which can direct you.
From the car park, Horseshoe Bend is accessible via a short walking trail through the desert. The trail is approximately 2.5km (1.5 miles) for the return trip, and is relatively easy despite the inclines along the way. While the bend can be viewed from the cliffs above, it is definitely better to get right up close to the edge to experience it’s full beauty.
Horseshoe Bend is located about 8km (5 miles) downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and about 6.4km (4 miles) southwest of Page.
Unique ways to experience Horseshoe Bend
If you’re spending a little more time in Page and you’re looking for some different ways to view Horseshoe Bend you’re certainly not short on choice. Here are a few ways to find a completely different and unique perspective of Horseshoe Bend:
- Experience Horseshoe Bend from the sky with their a scenic flight or helicopter ride – these flights are often combined with the Grand Canyon and other parts of the Colorado River or Navajo lands – offering truly breath-taking experiences
- Go kayaking or canoeing on the Colorado River and around Horseshoe Bend for a view from the bottom
- Rent a boat or jet ski and cruise down Lake Powell and experience the Bend from the water – check out Antelope Point Marina or Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas for rental opportunities
- Take a Colorado River Discovery raft tour, that starts on Lake Powell and takes you to Horseshoe Bend
- For the extreme adrenaline junkies why not jump straight into the canyon? I couldn’t find much information online, but when we were there a group of people were base jumping off the cliffs! MAKE SURE you only take part in jumping activities as part of an organized and licensed tour that offer appropriate training and safety equipment before you go.
Check out the Horseshoe Bend website for a complete list of all tours in the area, as well as prices, visiting recommendations and direct links to book.
Around Horseshoe Bend
The one main attraction that shouldn’t be missed in Arizona is Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, found on the Navajo land east of Page. There are two different parts to the canyon – Upper Antelope Canyon (also known as The Crack) and Lower Antelope Canyon (also known as The Corkscrew). Although we didn’t have the chance to experience the canyon (we waited until way too late to book and missed out on tickets), the pictures look phenomenal! Check out the Antelope Slot Canyon website to see why you need to visit on your next trip to Arizona!
Important information you need to know before visiting Antelope Canyon:
- You can not visit Antelope Canyon without a native Navajo Guide, which means you must book a tour to be able to visit.
- The light inside Antelope Canyon changes depending on what time of the day you visit. The best time to visit is in the morning, between 10am – 1pm, when the light begins to pour into the canyon through the slots in the surrounding rock.
- I would highly recommend booking your tickets in advance – at least one week ahead but ideally, whenever you know what day you want to visit, especially for the peak light tour times, because they can absolutely book out in advance, and unfortunately poor planning and organization was why we missed out on visiting.
- Photography tours are also on offer, but they are more expensive than a regular tour. Tours conducted during the peak light hours are also charged at a higher rate than those outside of prime time.
If you’re hoping to get out and visit more of USA’s Southwest why not check out The Grand Canyon – Arizona, Zion National Park – Utah, Rainbow Bridge – Arizona, Monument Valley – Utah or Marble Canyon – Arizona.
Horseshoe Bend is the prefect side trip for anyone visiting the Grand Canyon or road tripping through Arizona. It’s about 225km (140 miles) from both the South Rim and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but it is actually only 8km (5 miles) away from the beginning of Grand Canyon National Park. If you’re visiting both rims of the Grand Canyon via Highway 89/89A, you can actually visit Horseshoe Bend on the way, by taking a short detour towards Page.