On day six (June 27th) of our family vacation to Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, our family split up for the first time. While Bill, Daniel, Jess, and I drove 152 miles to Arizona to check out Horseshoe Bend, Jospeh and Julie chose to stay closer to our Airbnb in Washington, Utah for some local hiking.
Located within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Horseshoe Bend is a beautiful horseshoe shaped carving etched away over the course of millions of years by the Colorado River which now extends 1,000 feet deep into the sandstone desert landscape.
Guilty as Charged
This now famous park was once little known until social media brought it to the forefront making it a must-see when visiting the area. In fact, in early June while scrolling through my favorite Instagram hashtag, #findyourpark, I discovered Horseshoe Bend. We immediately added visiting the park to our list of places we wanted to see on our trip out west and worked it into our excursions.
Finding Horseshoe Bend
From Page, Arizona, Horseshoe Bend is an easy drive south on Highway 89 approximately six miles to between mileposts 544 and 545. Watch for a right-hand exit onto a dirt road which will lead to a relatively new parking lot with a ranger in a booth collecting a $10 parking fee per car. Rest rooms can be found on the lower side of the parking lot.
Hiking to the Bend
It was just after noon and already 88° by the time we started our hike. From the upper side of the parking lot, a ranger guided us to the trailhead as we began our 1.5-mile roundtrip hike on a mostly sandy and gravel trail. The hike starts uphill and it’s not until you crest the hill that you can see the cut in the desert landscape of the meandering Colorado River nearly 3/4-mile away.
With an elevation change of only 407 feet (from 3,957 to 4,364) and the relatively short distance of the hike, it’s doable for most people. There’s even a shaded shelter near the top where those needing a break can take a brief rest before continuing on with their hike.
A satellite view from my Garmin (affiliate link) of the river and the hike can be seen on the map below.
Throngs of people were headed in both directions on the trail and I suspect it looks like this most of the time when the park is open. In fact, the popularity of Horseshoe Bend has increased the number of visitors dramatically and in 2017 roughly 1.5 million people ventured to this seemingly new millions-of-years-old desert attraction. According to the Desert News, over 2 million were expected to visit in 2018.
Capturing Memories and Snagging an Instagram Worthy Picture
We didn’t drive all that way to just gawk, so we immediately worked our way toward the protective fence to take a few pictures before moving away so other visitors could get a good view as well.
Using Bill’s GoPro (affiliate link) on its extended selfie stick (affiliate link), I was able to hold the camera up above the edge of the cliffs and get a clearer view of the iconic horseshoe carving – my Instagram worthy photo.
Before we moved away from our prime real estate, we took a few family pictures…
I eventually got up the nerve to join Jess on the rock above the fenced area for one more picture. Notice how far from the edge we are – no way was I going to get as close as the lady in the Instagram picture at the top of this recap.
A Little Exploring
After our initial pictures we explored the less crowded area to the left of the most popular viewing point before turning to head back to our SUV. There were several good rocks perfect for those needing to sit and rest before making the mostly uphill trip back to the parking lot.
Final Thoughts on Horseshoe Bend State Park
Even though it was a long drive to get to Horseshoe Bend from where we were staying, I am so glad that we made the effort. If you’re in the area, I would definitely recommend taking the time to check it out this beautiful bend in the Colorado River. Our country has so many wonderful natural formations and this is right up there with some of the prettiest.
- • Have you visited Horseshoe Bend?
- • What’s the most interesting natural formation you’ve visited?
- • Are you afraid of heights?
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