Horseshoe Bend in Arizona: Top Tips and How to Avoid the Crowds
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Horseshoe Bend is an iconic overlook in Page, Arizona. At the overlook, you’ll get to see the Colorado River bend into a horseshoe shape deep in the canyon. Stand 1000 feet above the river and look out at the blue water as it carves its way through the red rock. This is one of the most Instagrammed (is that a word?) spots in the American West!
In this post I share:
- important things to know
- how to get there
- how to avoid the crowds
- other ways to experience Horseshoe Bend
- other outdoor activities nearby
Let’s get started!
Visiting Horseshoe Bend
If I’m being honest, I didn’t have high expectations for Horseshoe bend.
I thought it was going to be one of those spots that are so hyped up on the Internet, but a little underwhelming when you actually see it in person.
I’m happy to report that I was wrong.
Horseshoe Bend was really impressive, and I’m glad I made the stop on my way home from an Arizona road trip.
Know Before You Go
- Horseshoe Bend is open year-round from sunrise to sunset.
- Current alerts and conditions can be found on the NPS website.
- There’s minimal shade along the short walk to the overlook and at the overlook.
- Bring plenty of water, sun protection, and proper clothing and footwear.
- Pets are allowed, but they must be on a 6-foot or shorter leash and you must clean up any solid waste.
- If and when the parking lot fills up, visitors will be asked to wait until spots become available.
- There’s no overnight parking or camping allowed.
- $10 per vehicle, $5 per motorcycle, bus fees vary depending on passengers
- The entrance fee is one-time use and there is no re-entry.
- There are no refunds. Definitely check the weather before you go because this area is very exposed and not somewhere you’d want to be in a thunderstorm.
Getting to Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe bend is located about 3 miles south of Page, Arizona on US 89. It is very easy to access, which is part of the reason it’s so popular.
Horseshoe Bend is a good stop along a longer camping trip or road trip!
Directions: Horseshoe Bend parking lot
The Horseshoe Bend Hike
The hike from the parking lot to the overlook is along an easy trail that’s about 0.6 miles one-way.
At the end of the trail, you’ll see a fenced partition where you can look down to the Colorado River 1,000 feet below!
Be careful if you venture away from the fenced area! There are loose rocks and the terrain is uneven.
In addition, the sandstone edges of the terrain can be unstable. You do not want to be on the edge when a rock slides or breaks underfoot. Please use common sense here. A cool photo is not worth risking your life.
Once you’ve had enough time at the overlook, simply follow the path back to the car.
What to Pack
Exactly what you pack and wear will depend on the time of year and the weather, but below are a few of my go-to items:
Ways to Avoid the Crowds at Horseshoe Bend
This is what you really want to know, right?
There are a few things to keep in mind when planning your trip if you want to avoid the crowds:
Time of day:
Generally, the busiest time of day at Horseshoe Bend is 9 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 7 pm.
If you want to avoid the crowds, start by getting an early start! The lighting for photos will also be much better in the early morning or evening.
Horseshoe Bend is open from sunrise to sunset.
Time of year:
The time of year is another important consideration if you want to avoid crowds.
The late Spring through Summer is going to be the busiest (and hottest) time to visit. I personally would avoid the Summer for those reasons.
In the Spring and Fall, visitation is lower than in the Summer.
Winter is the least busy time of year but it’s cold and potentially snowy.
Day of the Week:
Lastly, if you can, go on a weekday, not a weekend!
I visited Horseshoe bend in the early Spring on a weekday afternoon and it was awesome. Not crowded at all, plenty of parking, and overall it was a great experience!
Other Ways to Experience Horseshoe Bend
The short hike from the car to the overlook is the most popular way to experience Horseshoe Bend, but if want to avoid the crowds and get a different perspective, there are a few other ways to visit.
I linked to a few guide services below, but I have not personally tried any of them, so make sure to do some additional research and find the right outfitter for you and your trip.
These activities require planning and in some cases, being booked months in advance.
Take to the skies
How cool would this be? Get amazing views of Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, and Horseshoe Bend in a plane or helicopter.
Paddle down the river
This is what I want to do next time I visit!
There are a few different options for this activity. You can go on a rafting trip with a guide or kayak Horseshoe Bend with or without a guide. Lots of options!
Visit on horseback
You can take a guided tour on horseback to visit Horseshoe Bend and the surrounding area.
Things to do Nearby Horseshoe Bend
There is a lot to see and do near Page, Arizona. In fact, Page is a town people drive through on their way to many of the activities listed below.
Horseshoe Bend is a great stop along a longer road trip to some of these other places:
- Glen Canyon Dam – You can take a tour of Glen Canyon Dam. Glen Canyon Dam is the second-highest concrete arch dam in the United States.
- Antelope Canyon – This is an extremely popular place. You can only visit Antelope Canyon with a Navajo guide. Get info on planning your trip here.
- Hike The Wave – The Wave is a beautiful and remote hike to wave-like sandstone formations. You will need a permit to hike The Wave. Info and permits can be found on the BLM website.
- Lake Powell – Love boating, waterskiing, fishing, and camping? Lake Powell is the place for you!
- Grand Canyon National Park – Grand Canyon National Park is a large national park. There’s a North Rim and a South Rim and loads of epic viewpoints.
- Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (Utah) – This is one of Utah’s most popular state parks! Play on large pink sand dunes, camp, ride ATVs, and more!
Those are all of my tips and things to know before you visit Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.
I hope you have an awesome trip. If you have any questions as you’re planning, feel free to comment below!