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How to Visit Horseshoe Bend

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Last Updated on May 31, 2024 by Sarah Puckett

We’ve all seen the iconic photos of Horseshoe Bend, that perfectly curved U-turn carved by the Colorado River. But did you know it’s just a short hike to get there? It’s so easy to visit Horseshoe Bend, and this guide will tell you how!

I’ll never forget the first time Tim and I visited Horseshoe Bend. After years of saving Instagram posts featuring this ridiculously photogenic landscape, I was nevertheless taken aback by the sheer scale and grandeur of this place. 

The short hike to Horseshoe Bend rightfully belongs on your southwest road trip bucket list. We want to help you have the best possible visit, so we’ve packed this guide to hiking Horseshoe Bend with all you need to know, including entrance fees, what to expect on the trail, and our favorite photo spots. 

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona

Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles: plan your hike in advance, stick to designated trails, carry out all your belongings, dispose of waste properly, leave natural areas untouched, minimize the impact of campfires, show consideration for fellow hikers, and avoid approaching or feeding wildlife.

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Horseshoe Bend At-A-Glance

  • Location: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Page, Arizona
  • Entrance Fee: $10 per vehicle for parking
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 137 feet
  • AllTrails Link

What is Horseshoe Bend?

Horseshoe Bend is a breathtaking natural wonder located near Page, Arizona.

It is a dramatic meander in the Colorado River that forms a horseshoe-shaped curve in the landscape. The river has carved out a steep, 1,000-foot-deep canyon over millions of years, creating a stunning geological formation.

Visitors can easily access Horseshoe Bend via a short, scenic 1.5-mile round-trip hike from a nearby parking area.

The overlook provides panoramic views of the emerald-green river snaking through the red rock canyon.

This iconic landmark is not only a testament to the power of natural erosion but also a must-see stop on any road trip through the American Southwest!

When is the Best Time of Year to Visit Horseshoe Bend

The best time to visit Horseshoe Bend depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for, as each season offers its own unique benefits.

  • Spring (March to May): The temperatures are pleasant, typically ranging from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C), making the hike to the overlook more enjoyable.
  • Summer (June to August): While summer brings longer daylight hours and clear skies, it also comes with extreme heat, often exceeding 100°F (38°C). If you visit during this time, plan to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the peak heat and bring plenty of water.
  • Fall (September to November): The weather is mild, with temperatures ranging from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C). The summer crowds have diminished, offering a more tranquil experience. This is a great time for photography as the lighting conditions are often ideal.
  • Winter (December to February): Winter offers fewer crowds and a unique, serene view of the canyon. Temperatures can be chilly, especially in the mornings and evenings, typically ranging from 30°F to 50°F (-1°C to 10°C). Be prepared for colder conditions, but enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of a less crowded overlook.

We visited Horseshoe Bend in winter both times, and it was really pleasant! The temperatures were perfect for hiking and it wasn’t too crowded since winter is the off-season.

When is the Best Time of Day to Visit Horseshoe Bend

The best time of day to visit Horseshoe Bend varies depending on what kind of experience you’re seeking:

  • Sunrise: Visiting at sunrise offers a serene and tranquil experience with fewer crowds. The soft, early morning light can cast beautiful colors on the canyon walls and the river below. It’s an ideal time for photography and enjoying the peacefulness of the natural surroundings.
  • Midday: If you visit around midday, the lighting will be bright and even, which is good for capturing the deep colors of the rock formations. However, this is also the busiest time of day, with larger crowds and higher temperatures, especially during the summer months. It’s essential to bring plenty of water and sun protection.
  • Sunset: Sunset is arguably the most popular time to visit. The setting sun casts dramatic shadows and highlights the curves of the bend, creating a stunning visual effect. The temperatures are cooler than midday, and the sky can be filled with vibrant colors. However, it can also be quite crowded, so arriving early to secure a good spot is advisable.

We visited Horseshoe Bend in midday. On our first visit, the lighting was bright and harsh. But on our second visit, the sky was overcast, which created perfect even lighting across Horseshoe Bend! So while sunrise and sunset would generally be the best time to photograph, weather conditions can make midday a great time too.

How to Get to Horseshoe Bend

To get to Horseshoe Bend, you first need to get to Page, Arizona. The closest major airports to Page are in Phoenix and Las Vegas. These locations will have the best flight options.

  • Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS): About 4.5 hours west of Page, with numerous flight options and car rental services.
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX): About 4.5 hours south of Page, also with many flight options and car rental services.

You can search for a flight by clicking here or using the form below.

You should plan to get a rental car from the airport when you land, since there is no public transportation to get to Page. Having your own vehicle is pretty much a requirement for exploring the US southwest.

You can search for a rental car by clicking here or using the form below.

Driving Directions to Horseshoe Bend from Phoenix

Starting Point: Phoenix Airport Rental Car Center, 1805 E Sky Harbor Cir S, Phoenix, AZ 85034

  • Get on I-10 E from E Sky Harbor Cir S (3 min, 1.0 mi)
  • Follow I-17 N to US-180 W/N Country Club Dr in Flagstaff. Take exit 201 from I-40 E (2 hr 13 min, 151 mi)
  • Follow US-89 N to Horseshoe Bend in Page (2 hr 2 min, 127 mi)

Driving Directions to Horseshoe Bend from Las Vegas

Starting Point: Harry Reid International Airport, 5757 Wayne Newton Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119

  • Get on I-15 N from Landing Strip Ave, McCarran Airport Connector/S University Center Dr, and E Tropicana Ave (11 min, 4.1 mi)
  • Follow I-15 N to UT-9 E/W State St in Washington. Take exit 16 from I-15 N (1 hr 54 min, 132 mi)
  • Take State Hwy 59 S and AZ-389 E to US-89 S/E 300 S in Kanab (1 hr 16 min, 71.0 mi)
  • Follow US-89 S to Page Pkwy in Page (1 hr 14 min, 76.2 mi)
  • Follow Page Pkwy to Horseshoe Bend (3 min, 0.3 mi)

Horseshoe Bend Entrance Information

The Horseshoe Bend parking lot is located off US Highway 89, approximately 5 miles south of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center.

The parking lot is managed by the City of Page, which charges a $10 per vehicle fee for parking. The lot is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Note that only cash is accepted on holiday weekends. Cash and card are accepted other times.

Horseshoe Bend itself is managed by the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area which does not charge an entrance fee. Theoretically, you could walk to Horseshoe Bend but I wouldn’t recommend it since there isn’t an alternative legal place to park close by.

Can you visit Horseshoe Bend on your own?

You do not need a guide to visit Horseshoe Bend; you can visit entirely alone. In fact, we didn’t go with a guide either time we visited Horseshoe Bend.

If you would prefer to go with a guide, here are some recommended tours, which combine a tour of Horseshoe Bend with another Northern Arizona attraction, Antelope Canyon, nearby:

Tips for Visiting Horseshoe Bend

  • Be careful, for real. While there is a railing at one part of the overlook, the rest is open. You can walk all the up to the edge of the cliff without anything stopping you, which is why it’s extremely important to be careful here. If you are going to approach the edge, do so with care and watch every step! It’s best to avoid getting close to the edge, as it’s a 1000 foot fatal fall to the Colorado River below.
  • Pets must be on a leash. Do not leave your pets in the car!
  • Bring at least 2 liters of water on your hike in the summer. Water is available for purchase for $1 per bottle.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. The only shade on this trail is provided by the metal shade stations along the trail.
  • The sand gets hot in summer, so avoid wearing open-toed shoes.
  • Drones are NOT allowed at Horseshoe Bend.
  • There are pit toilets at the trailhead, but no running water, so bring your own hand sanitizer!

Horseshoe Bend Trail Description

The Horseshoe Bend Trail is very well-marked. From the parking lot, you’ll walk between signs indicating the start of the trail. From there, the path meanders about 3/4 of a mile over mostly flat terrain. Along the way are shade posts, where you can stop for a rest and a reprieve from the sun. 

You’ll know you arrived at Horseshoe Bend when the trail widens into a large open area. Horseshoe Bend is usually somewhat busy, so you’ll probably see people spread out along the viewpoints. 

Feel free to explore, find different photography points, or just relax and enjoy the view!

When you’re ready, head back down the trail the way you came to return to the parking lot.

How much time do you need at Horseshoe Bend?

We recommend giving yourself 1-2 hours to visit Horseshoe Bend. This gives you plenty of time for the hike, photos, and time to just relax and take in the views.

Horseshoe Bend Trail Map

What to Bring to Horseshoe Bend

What to Wear:

What to Pack:

Where to Stay in Page

There are many hotel options in Page suitable for any budget!

We’ve personally stayed at the Courtyard Page at Lake Powell by Marriott and enjoyed it! There’s a nice outdoor pool area and the interior decor evokes the desert landscape. We like staying at Marriott branded hotels because the quality is reliable and we can use our Bonvoy reward points for free stays (which is what we did here!).

Here are some more options for places to stay in Page:

You can use the map below to search for accommodations in Page, Arizona:

More Things to Do Near Page, Arizona

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