Visiting the jaw-dropping Horseshoe Bend was on my bucket list for quite a while. So when we set off on a 2-week road trip through Utah and Arizona, you can bet the Horseshoe Bend hike was one of the first things we did when we arrived in Page!
But, to be honest, Horseshoe Bend both overwhelmed and underwhelmed me. The 1,000-foot drop, the 270-degree bend, the vastness of the canyon, the rich color of the Colorado River below – all of that comes together and is simply breathtaking.
I could easily have stayed there for a while just taking in the view, but that’s also where the problem lies. It can be fairly stressful and sweaty to visit with the heat and the crowds.
After our visit, I realized there was a lot about the Horseshoe Bend hike that wasn’t apparent to people like me who were searching for information online beforehand. I had read many times that the hike was “only a 5-minute walk” from the parking lot. But that’s not accurate! I saw a lot of people who were expecting a short hike and because of that, didn’t prepare to bring enough drinking water or comfortable walking shoes (I even spotted a girl in black leather and knee-high boots..).
That said, I created this guide to make visiting Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona a little more transparent.
Here is updated information you need to know about the Horseshoe Bend hike!
Is Horseshoe Bend open during COVID-19? Yes, Horseshoe Bend hike remains open for visitors.
What to Know About the Horseshoe Bend Hike
- Entrance Fee
- Trail Length
- How to Get There
- Best Time of Day to Visit
- Sun Exposure
- What to Bring
- Photography Tips
1. Entrance Fee
It costs $10 USD per vehicle (car, truck, SUV, RV, motorhome) and $5 for motorcycles to access the Horseshoe Bend hike and park in the recently renovated parking lot. Unfortunately, you cannot use your America The Beautiful National Park Pass since Horseshoe Bend is managed by the city of Page, Arizona.
If the parking lot is full when you arrive, you simply have to come back at another time. Parking alongside the highway US 89 is not allowed.
2. Trail Length
How long is the Horseshoe Bend hike? The Horseshoe Bend hike is approximately 1.3 miles round trip in length from the parking lot to the end of the trail (about 0.6 miles each way). At a normal walking pace, it will take 15 minutes to walk there and another 15 to walk back.
The dirt trail is relatively flat, but there are a few natural inclines. The trail isn’t difficult, but it can be challenging if you are not well-prepared! Make sure to go slowly and not push yourself if you’re feeling weak from the heat. Many people mistakenly think the trip will only take 30 minutes total, but that is the total hiking time without any time for actually enjoying the view and taking a few photos.
For that reason, many people experience symptoms of heat exhaustion because they’re out in the sun for much longer than 30 minutes. The weather in the summer is extremely hot and dusty with sands that sting in high winds. In the winter, the trail can be brutally cold. Make sure to check the weather and prepare accordingly.
It wasn’t that long ago that the public at large didn’t know about the stunning 270-degree bend and 1,000 ft drop that makes Horseshoe Bend the icon it is today. So how did this amazing geological formation get discovered after 5 million years? Hint: Instagram.
Horseshoe Bend was still considered a local secret until Instagram and social media posts from 2016-2017 encouraged others to visit the area as part of their tour around the Southwest. Almost overnight, tourists began to arrive in droves, bringing the number of visitors to around 4,000 per day. Visitation to Horseshoe Bend has only increased since then.
As the Outside Online reported, the sudden spike in attention and popularity from underprepared travelers has had long-lasting harmful effects. Not only are there dozens of emergency calls now being made on the trail due to cases of heat exhaustion and stroke, but people are wandering off-trails and trampling the delicate fauna while leaving their own trail of trash behind. It is terribly unfortunate and sad to see beautiful natural landmarks become overwhelmed by underprepared visitors. Please, when you visit Horseshoe Bend and other natural wonders and national parks, practice the seven Leave No Trace principles and learn about the ways in which you can be an eco-friendly traveler.
4. How to Get There
Horseshoe Bend trailhead is just off the US 89 highway about 5 miles south of Page, Arizona. If you’re coming from a visit to the Grand Canyon North Rim via 89A, you’ll cross Marble Canyon and the Navajo Bridge and drive up and over some cliffs to reach Horseshoe Bend just before Page. If you’re coming from the northwest, from Kanab / Bryce Canyon National Park / Lake Powell side via 89, then you’ll reach the town of Page first. At the round-about in Page, there are a number of fast-food spots, plus a convenient Wal-Mart, if you need to stock up on water and snacks.
Two kayakers spotted from Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River
There is parking at the trailhead of Horseshoe Bend, but you need to pay the $10 entrance fee to pass. Drive up to the ticket booth and purchase your entry ticket. Save your receipt and place your parking pass on your dashboard so the parking attendants can see you’ve paid. Tip: There is no shade in the parking area, so it is wise to bring a sunshade for your car windshield. Don’t forget to put your ticket somewhere visible!
6. Best Time of Day to Visit
The best time of the day to visit Horseshoe Bend is from morning to early afternoon when the canyon walls and the Colorado River below are in full sun. Any later, and the bend will be partially covered in the shade. Sunrise and sunset are popular times to visit to capture the beautiful golden light.
We visited just before noon, and the sun illuminated the canyon walls and Colorado River perfectly! Note: Please remember to bring plenty of drinking water and hydrate yourself regularly. The sun is pretty relentless during this time of the day!
7. Sun Exposure
Apart from two wide structures offering shade from the sun, there is no other shade on the Horseshoe Bend hike. Even though the hike is 15 minutes each way, prepare to be exposed to the sun for at least 45 minutes – 1 hour. This may seem like a short period of time, but heat exhaustion can set in quickly. A carefree situation can suddenly become a dangerous one.
8. What to Bring
9. Photography Tips
If you plan on taking photos, you should also plan to bring your camera (here’s the Sony I use), action camera, tripod (compact Manfrotto), and/or selfie stick. There are dozens of people who make a bee-line to the end of the Horseshoe Bend hike to capture their photos then leave. As always, crowds come in groups so if you arrive during a busy time, enjoy the view while waiting for your turn to get “the shot.” There is only one guardrail to help prevent accidental falls and deaths in Horseshoe Bend, but there are areas that remain open without guardrails. Please be careful if you are taking photos or videos while near the ledge. Just one misstep can be fatal (and sadly has happened in the past).
The Horseshoe Bend hike is short and sweet but needs to be taken seriously to avoid emergencies. If you don’t want to hike Horseshoe Bend, you can also see it from the sky with a helicopter tour or via horseback.
Is Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona on your bucket list? If so, and if you have any questions about visiting, feel free to reach out by email or ask me in the comments. Enjoy your hike in Horseshoe Bend!
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