Horseshoe Bend


Horseshoe Bend is Page's biggest tourist attraction, receiving more than 5,000 visitors a day in 2018, up from only 100 five years ago. Despite the recent expansion of the Horseshoe Bend parking area cars often overflow onto US 89, and both dehydration and safety at the rim are real concerns. On November 6th 2017 the National Park Service, together with the City of Page, began a project to install a viewing platform with railings on the rim, and to compact the trail so it is handicapped friendly. NPS and Page will each pay 50% of the cost of the improvements. Horseshoe Bend itself is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; however the City of Page owns the land the parking area is on, hence the cost sharing arrangement. Future enhancements include further expansion of the parking area, restrooms, and most likely a fee booth. Effective April 1, 2019 the will be a $10 per vehicle to park in the Horseshoe Bend parking lot, $50 for a commercial vehicle under 20 seats and $100 for a full size bus. There is no fee if you hike in. If you want to avoid the crowds at Horseshoe Bend consider one of the other Colorado River overlooks such as Waterholes Bend, Tatahatso Point, Redwall Cavern Bend Overlook, or the other side of Horseshoe Bend. Mark Metternich offers an epic tour called "4 Bends in 4 Days" which, based on the photos I have seen from past trips, is highly recommended.

Getting There

The hike to Horseshoe Bend is an easy hike beginning on Highway 89 about 2 miles south of the Walmart in Page, Arizona. The parking area for the trailhead is 0.2 miles south of mile marker 545. The hike is 0.5 miles long (the sign at the trailhead says .75 miles, Google Earth says .53 or so) and there is a hard to find small dinosaur track about 50 yards from the end. Thousands of people probably walk right by this footprint every year and never notice it!

Shooting Horseshoe Bend

You will need a 24mm lens or wider to get the whole overlook in. Consider using a polarizer to bring out the color of the water. It is easy to overexpose here. I suggest you bracket or use a graduated neutral density filter. Early afternoon in late spring/ early summer is the best time to avoid shadows. Sunrise works very well also, be there right when the sun rises. This way the far cliffs will be lit but the entire bend will be in shadow. At sunset you'll be shooting right into the sun, so consider waiting till the last seconds and get a star-burst by shooting at f/16 or f/22.

It's a 700 feet drop to the Colorado River from the rim so be careful. There were three fatalities at Horseshoe Bend in 2018. Before venturing out to the rim check to see if it is undercut; one of the fatalities in 2018 involved rock breaking off the rim.



Horseshoe Bend at Sunset


Horseshoe Bend at Dawn

Horseshoe Bend Vertical Drop

Be safe - 700 Foot Vertical Drop