Tips For Visiting Horseshoe Bend, Arizona’s Famous Bend in the Colorado River

If you’ve seen pictures of Arizona, or even advertising USA travel in general, I’m almost certain you have seen the famous Horseshoe Bend.

visit horseshoe bend arizona

Know what I am talking about now?

Can you get a better view of the Colorado River snaking through this spectacular Southwest USA desert scenery?

What is Horseshoe Bend?

Horseshoe Bend is where the Colorado River makes a giant sweeping horseshoe shaped bend in the canyon. It’s a picturesque perspective and you get a wide panoramic view of it.

I especially loved the emerald green water of the Colorado River below, which is not a color you typically see of the Colorado River.

Where is Horseshoe Bend, Arizona?

Horseshoe Bend is one of the top places to visit in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Page in northeast Arizona, close to the Utah border.

The parking lot and trailhead is located off US Highway 89, approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center.

Plenty of handicap-assessable parking is located near the trailhead.

Visiting Horseshoe Bend

Tips for visiting Horseshoe Bend

There isn’t much to do at Horseshoe Canyon itself, except gaze in wonder, although it depends on how many photos you want to take from multiple different angles.

From the parking lot, there is an easy 0.6-mile one-way trail to the scenic overlook. You really don’t need a lot of time there.

You can walk to certain viewpoints along the rim, but there is only a small section that is actually fenced.

Standing on the edge of the high cliffs was quite scary. I was amazed at how many people would risk toppling off the edge just to take that coveted Instagram worthy photo.

No thanks!

This is mostly a natural landmark, so caution is paramount – we stayed well back and only took photos up close where there was a fence in front of us at Horseshoe bend overlook.

At one stage, I stepped in to pull a young boy away from the rim. His intrepid curiosity taking him closer and closer to the edge. My stomach felt sick watching and I couldn’t but entice him back.

While we were in the Grand Canyon region, two people actually died from falling off the rim trying to take photos. It’s not worth it. You can get plenty of spectacular photos from the realm of safety.

There are many boats cruising down the Colorado River below and we could spy campground toilets on the banks across the river. I was inspired to get down into the canyon either on land or by boat to explore the perspective from down there.

Tips for visiting Horseshoe Bend

You probably only need 30-60 minutes at Horseshoe Bend. But you may want to extend that with a picnic to enjoy with the views.

I’d say sunrise or sunset would be spectacular time to visit Horseshoe Bend, and the middle of the day in summer would be HOT.

When is the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend?

If I was to visit the Lake Powell and the Page Arizona region again, I would go to Horseshoe Bend at sunrise or sunset.

Sunrise is one of the best times of day to photograph the bend, as the sun will slowly begin illuminating the canyon walls.

Are you prepared to wake up early for it? In my experience, it’s always worth it!

At other times of the day, the bend and river are in shadow. Early afternoon is also a popular time to visit.

The good news is visiting Horseshoe Bend can be quick and easy when visiting the nearby Page, AZ area.

Horseshoe Bend is open year round from sunrise to sunset. It is slightly less busy in the off-season – running from October through February. Spring or Autumn will have the best weather being neither too hot or cold. It’s the desert so during summer there will be high heat and little shade.

The Grand Canyon East

It was only a couple of weeks after visiting Horseshoe Bend that we realized it’s actually considered part of the Grand Canyon East Rim area.

The Grand Canyon East Rim area is not like the north rim or south rim and west rim, whereby you can stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon and look into it.

The east side of the Grand Canyon is where the Glen Canyon area merges into it, so the region around here is considered part of Grand Canyon East.

Horseshoe is a unique and spectacular perspective of the Grand Canyon!

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

It’s the only place along the Grand Canyon where you can get an up close selfie of the Colorado River as it makes its carving move downstream.

The Grand Canyon East is also said to incorporate Antelope Canyon, the Glen Canyon Recreation Area and Lake Powell.

Things to do near Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

You’re in luck. Horseshoe Bend Arizona is surrounded by many cool attractions in the Page and Lake Powell region.

You can easily combine them into a full-day experience. I actually wouldn’t make the trip to Horseshoe Bend unless you were going to do other things in the Lake Powell/ Page region.

Lake Powell

Lake Powell

With its sculptured white and red sandstone and blue waters, Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a sublime place to visit.

It’s an oasis in the desert surrounded by a magnificent canyon – underneath and above the water.

Lake Powell is an immense man made lake with loads of recreational activities on offer. We didn’t do much other than enjoy our camping spot right on the beach at Lone Rock Beach.

I loved this area. It’s beautiful and offers a relaxing getaway.

Most of Glen Canyon sleeps under the surface of Lake Power.

The upper sandstone walls however beckon you to come play. Whereas with the Grand Canyon you can mostly just stare with wonder and incomprehension, here at Glen Canyon you can boat, ski, fish, kayak, paddle board or swim among the towering domes and cliff walls.

Camping at Lake Powell, Lone Rock Beach Campground
Camping at Lake Powell, Lone Rock Beach Campground

We kayaked, paddle boarded and swam in the lake at Lone Rock Beach. Well, only a quick 2-minute dip as it was early April and still very cold.

Other places of interest to visit in this area include:

  • Rainbow Bridge – the world’s largest natural bridge, only accessible by boat and tours. And includes a strenuous hike from Navajo mountain. This is a sacred site to neighboring tribes, so be respectful and do not climb the bridge.
  • Rent a houseboat and explore further afield.
  • Hike into Glen Canyon’s back-country.

Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

You might recognize it from the old Microsoft screen saver. The most expensive photograph sold of Antelope Canyon went for $6.5 million. That’s how impressive those polished crevices in the slot canyon are.

You can read more in our post on how to visit Antelope Canyon. 

How far is Antelope Canyon from Horseshoe Bend?

Antelope Canyon is only about 10 minutes from Horseshoe Bend!! It makes it so easy for you to visit these two top Arizona destinations in one day!

Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam

If you want to marvel at great engineering feats than stop in at the Glen Canyon Dam visitor center.

In 1963, Glen Canyon dam began backing up the waters of the Colorado River that now have created 1,9000 miles of shoreline at Lake Powell. There are cool free exhibits explaining how it was built and why. You get beautiful views from here of the Colorado River and the dam.

You can pay to do a guided tour of the Glen Canyon Dam and Powerplant – Learn more here.

Page, Arizona

Page was founded as the company town for the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. It’s now a tourist and recreational center for visitors to the area.

It’s quite a golfer’s mecca and is a great base for exploring the nearby attractions.

Getting to Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is located just outside the town of Page (10-minutes away) and right near Lake Powell.

Page is about 114 miles from the Grand Canyon and 273 miles from Las Vegas and 157 miles from Sedona.

Horseshoe Bend has become so busy, they were building a new, large parking area when we visited, and we had to park some ways down the road and pay a $5 per person shuttle fee to get back down there.

Hot Tip
If the new parking area is still not open, have the driver of your car drop everyone off at Horseshoe Bend overlook area before parking your car and catching the shuttle. For a family of four, that saved us $15.

Car & RV Rental

If you don’t have your own car, check below for rental car options from Las Vegas and from Sedona, or Phoenix.

 

You may wish to rent your own RV, campervan or motorhome. Check out RV share.

Tours to Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Check out the below Horseshoe Bend tours from Las Vegas, Sedona, and Flagstaff:

Where to Stay in Page, Arizona

Lone Rock Beach Campground
Boondocking at Lone Rock Beach Campground

As mentioned, we camped for $12 a night at the Lone Rock Beach Campground on Lake Powell, which is about 30 minutes from Page.

Other options include:

See all hotels in Page here.

Other Places to Visit in the American Southwest

Planning a road trip in the Southwest, here are more great suggestions:

Places to visit near Antelope Canyon

Combine the below places when visiting Antelope Canyon:

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Planning to visit Arizona? Horseshoe Bend is that famous landmark along the Colorado River. See inside for tips on how to get there, things to do there, tours, and where to stay. | Arizona travel | USA travel | Road trips.

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