Horseshoe Bend is one of those rare places that is absolutely breathtaking, yet it is accessible to people of all hiking skill levels. A very short hike off a highway takes you to the top of a cliff overlooking Horseshoe Bend and the Colorado River over 1100 feet below.
Distance – 1.25 miles roundtrip
Approximate hiking time – 30 minutes to an hour
Elevation at Trailhead – 4327 feet
Elevation highpoint on Trail – 4373 feet
Elevation at Overlook – 4214 feet
Difficulty – Easy, however there are steep dropoffs, stay away from cliff edges
Trail – Sand and sandstone.
Amount of water recommended – 1 liter
Bathrooms – None
Season to hike – Year around
Permits – None
Pets: Permitted. Not encouraged. Must be on leash.
How to get there
Horseshoe Bend is just south of Page, Arizona. From the Glen Canyon Dam on US-89 head south for 5.1 miles. You’ll pass along the edge of Page, Arizona. At around 5 miles from the Glen Canyon Dam, you’ll see a sign for Horseshoe Bend Overlook. Turn right into parking area. If coming from the south, take US-89 north to Page, Arizona and before coming into town you’ll see a Horseshoe Bend Overlook sign. Turn left into the parking lot. (See the Google Map for this hike at the end of this post)
What to Bring
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Hitting the Trail
Even though we’ve been here several times, we always have to stop and hike out to the overlook when driving through Page. It’s just that majestic. Since it is so readily accessible, please realize that you probably won’t have the place to yourself. It’s common for tour buses make this a stop along their routes.
Horseshoe Bend is one of those wonders that was carved out over millenia by the waters of the Colorado River as it made its way down through Grand Canyon. It’s not too difficult although summers can be very hot as there is no shade with the exception of a small gazebo structure halfway to the overlook. The hike will start from the parking lot and is extremely easy to follow. The first part of the trail up to the gazebo is all uphill, but it is a gentle climb. As you reach the gazebo, you may choose to take a breather, as there are benches under the gazebo, or you can just continue on, as the rest of the hike is downhill to the overlook.
This may be one of the few places where I’ve seen people hike in flip-flops, cowboy boots, high heels, and even someone in a wheelchair. With that being said, I would still recommend wearing proper footwear and bringing adequate water. We found that a lot of people there assumed that since it was such a short hike that they didn’t need to be prepared. The overlook at Horseshoe Bend can be dangerous, as there are no railings on the edge of the cliffs. Exercise extreme caution as it is a drop of over 1000 feet to the Colorado River. I would not recommend getting too close to the edge. You may also be able to see watercraft up and down the river, and some people rafting the river spend the night down at the shores of Horseshoe Bend.
Despite the absence of railings, there has been only one documented fatality at Horseshoe Bend in the last 20 years. Unfortunately that was in July 2010, when a 32 year-old hiker from Greece was standing on a thin sandstone ledge when the rock broke, and he fell to his death This is another good reason to stay away from the edge. You cannot see how thin the ledge you are standing on might be.
Also, while not recommended, if you choose to bring children or pets, be vigilant, as they may not be as aware of themselves nor others, and accidentally bump someone or get spooked. Be mindful of others.
The afternoons and evenings are the best times to take pictures of Horseshoe Bend. Since the bend is so wide, you’ll want to have a fish-eye lens to fit the entire bend in your photograph, although pretty much any picture taken there will be impressive.
When you’re ready to head back up, just retrace your steps back to the parking area. As always, be considerate to fellow hikers and protect the beauty of Horseshoe Bend by not leaving behind litter or graffiti.
What to Bring
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