The Colorado River’s Twisting Natural Wonder: Horseshoe Bend

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Behold! The Bend! One of the most photographed natural wonders in the Southwest, Horseshoe Bend is a worthy stop on a day trip to Page, Arizona, from basecamp in Kanab. You’ve likely seen dozens of photos of the horseshoe-shaped hike and have been inspired to travel because of it. Well, it’s more accessible to get to then you probably think.

Located a scant five miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, you can access the trailhead directly from Highway 89. A 1.5-mile round-trip hike takes you up over one moderate hill and then down to the bend and back. At the overlook, you’ll be soaring more than 1,000 feet above the Colorado River.

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This is obviously a destination for taking photos. Different times of the day will create drastically different outcomes. Pre-dawn and dawn are some of the most richly saturated, high noon is lucrative because the deep shadows that the tall canyon walls cast are at their shortest, and, of course, facing sunset over the bend is simply lovely.

What Makes it Great

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The mighty power of the Colorado River has done incredible things through its meandering canyons. Horseshoe Bend is one of the more-accessible viewing areas to see this beauty at play. A short, moderate, rountrip hike of 1.5-miles makes the viewing site accessible. Because of this, there are heavy crowds throughout the summer months especially during the aforementioned best hours for photography. Keep this in mind, but don’t let it spoil your experience of nature.

As you look down at the bend, you will likely see boats passing along the river, which look like mere specs. The canyon walls are also colored by a variety of minerals, including hematite, platinum, and garnet.

It is for good reason that Horseshoe Bend is one of the most photographed places in the area. It also makes for a great entry point on your way to Antelope Canyon or before you head back to Kanab.

What You’ll Remember

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The wonderment of how nature created this stunning bend and waking up well before dawn to get the canyon in its best light.

Who is Going to Love It

All nature-lovers will get pleasure standing before Horseshoe Bend. The spot is also a landscape photographer’s dream. And people who don’t mind a crowded destination will love it.

GPS Coordinates, Parking and Regulations

GPS Coordinates: (36.878866, -111.510394)

Because Horseshoe Bend is located outside of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, there are no fees to park or hike here. Park at the big lot at the trailhead, right off Highway 89. The parking lot can accommodate RVs, busses, and passenger vehicles.

As mentioned above, the time of day you visit depends on what you would like to photograph. The hike is the busiest during the summer, but because of the seasonably warm, year-round weather in Page, most of the year is fine, and since the hike is short, you should be able to access it without a problem.

Take caution with children and those with two left feet. There are massive cliff drop-offs from the viewing area. Dog are not allowed here.

Difficulty: 1.5 stars

 

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