Are you ready to experience a dramatic and awe-inspiring experience that will test your nerves yet reward you with breathtaking views? Don’t worry, it’s not as extreme as it sounds but the reward is more amazing than words and even pictures could ever describe. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona is a spectacular yet sometimes unheralded gem in the north-east corner of the state. If you are willing to take part in an unforgettable Horseshoe Bend hike, you will encounter memories that you will cherish forever.
Horseshoe Bend is situated in a perfect location if you are heading on a road trip to take in the Grand Canyon or many of Utah’s national parks. Just south of Page, Arizona, Horseshoe Bend is one of the most photographed locations along the Colorado River and requires a short hike from US Highway 89.
Parking can be tricky as the majority of visitors tend to park on the side of Highway 89 which is exactly what we did, but we did notice a pretty good sized parking lot available just off the main road.
Horseshoe Bend Hike
After parking your vehicle, you need to prepare yourself for a short 3/4 mile hike to the scenic overlook of Horseshoe Bend. As with all trails, you need to be wary of your surroundings and be careful as you walk along the sandy and rocky path which for the most part is in great condition. With such a large volume of foot traffic, the trail is easily identifiable and is accessible for hikers of all skills and fitness levels.
The first part of the hike is uphill to the summit before you begin heading down to the viewing area of the canyon. There are a couple of spots along the route to step aside and marvel over the beautiful landscape that is in front of you, though the beauty of this natural attraction is that the closer you get to the edge, the better the views will be!
The latter part of the hike is the trickiest and as you approach the rocks and cliff head, it will entirely be up to you and your hiking skills as to how much you want to do. If you want a simple shot of Horseshoe Bend, just keep on the trail and you will be presented with the stereotypical view across the Canyon.
The more fearless folks will hike around the side to get a different, more unique angle of the Colorado River and Horseshoe Bend.
Be Careful and Enjoy
Approaching the edge of the trail, you will notice that there is nothing (I mean literally ZERO) in terms of protective barriers so it’s all down to you to determine just how close to the edge you want to get. PLEASE BE CAREFUL!
We visited Horseshoe Bend when the weather was rainy and overcast at first, so the rocks were slippy and extra care was needed. Any time you visit a location like this, first and foremost you need to ensure your safety regardless of that all important shot you are trying to capture.
As you walk along the rocks literally facing a 1,000 ft drop to the base of the canyon where the Colorado River passes through, anyone with a fear of heights may suffer here. As the title of this post suggests, be fearless and be rewarded! Overcome your fear of heights and you will be rewarded with breathtaking views overlooking Horseshoe Bend.
It’s really cool to stand atop Horseshoe Bend and peer over the edge and take in all of the distinguishable rock features that make up the canyon. Just like all the other canyons we explored during this trip, the vast number of rock types are easily identifiable through the contrasting colors.
I will admit that on several occasions Heather wandered a little too close to the edge for my liking and I probably did the same. It’s scary to think that any wrong move could be your last but the exhilarating feeling that goes through your veins as you embrace the natural beauty is well worth the anxiety that you may be experiencing.
We could have easily have spent several hours here taking in the panoramic views of the canyon and picking out the campers on the plains of the Colorado River clearly enjoying their time in the base as much as we were at the summit.
I was a little more adventurous than Heather in clambering to a few higher vantage points on the red rocks that surrounded the overlook, though we were both rewarded for spending some time here by the sun breaking through the clouds that really enhanced the view of Horseshoe Bend.
Arizona, also known as The Grand Canyon State, is spoiled for choice when it comes to natural attractions worth experiencing. Hiking to Horseshoe Bend is definitely one of these experiences and I would strongly encourage you to consider adding this to your itinerary after or before visiting the Grand Canyon.
In comparison with all the other breathtaking overlooks of the Colorado River, Horseshoe Bend stands above the rest with the unique characteristics of the horseshoe shape along with the perfect composition of the rocks that contrast against each other both in and above the canyon.
I would recommend allowing at least a hour or two to hike down and back, while allowing enough time to experience the beautiful scenery. Regardless of the weather conditions, you are going to have a memorable adventure at Horseshoe Bend.