Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Kelly
The trail to Horseshoe Bend will lead you to one of the most awe-inspiring viewpoints you will ever see. At the Horseshoe Bend viewpoint, the Colorado River nearly wraps around itself as it carves through the sandstone. From the observation deck, you’ll have an almost aerial view of the river below you as it makes its iconic horseshoe shape.
When we visited Horseshoe Bend, we found the trail to be crowded and a bit longer than we expected. In this post, we’ll share everything you need to know to visit Horseshoe Bend. We share how to get to Horseshoe Bend, trail information, what to bring, when to visit, where to stay, and more.
About Horseshoe Bend
Six million years ago, the Colorado River had a nearly level floodplain at this location. Between six and five million years ago, the ground began to lift upwards. However, the Colorado River was not able to be pushed upwards due to gravity, so it began to cut down into the earth as the ground rose around it. Over time, the river began to erode the sandstone. (The type of sandstone at Horseshoe Bend is called Navajo Sandstone. Navajo Sandstone was created by dry conditions during the Jurassic Period and is a relatively softer stone because it was formed from sand dunes.)
Today, there is nearly a 1,000 foot (300 meter) drop from the top of the canyon to the floor of the canyon at Horseshoe Bend. The exact curvature at Horseshoe Bend is 270 degrees. It is truly a testament to how persistence pays off over time. The technical name of this type of geological feature is called an Entrenched Meander.
Horseshoe Bend used to be a quiet place without many visitors. Now, the number of visitors each year has surged to nearly 2 million!
How to Get to Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is located on what’s referred to as the East Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s located just 8 minutes away from Page, Arizona, and it’s part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
|Find out about the must-see sights at the North Rim and South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Horseshoe Bend is located conveniently off of Highway 89 between mileposts 544 and 545.
If you’re planning on flying to the southwest, most people either fly into Las Vegas (275 miles away) or Phoenix (274 miles away). From there, you’ll need to rent a car and drive to Horseshoe Bend.
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There are many tours offered from Las Vegas that take you directly to Horseshoe Bend, which might be a good option for a hassle-free visit. We found a day tour from Las Vegas to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon for a super reasonable price.
We personally traveled to Horseshoe Bend after visiting Kanab, Utah (77 miles away). We think Kanab is a pretty good basecamp for seeing places like Peekaboo Canyon, the Wave, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and many other breathtaking places.
Once you cross from Utah to Arizona, there could be a time change, so take that into consideration.
Horseshoe Bend is also located near Lake Powell (5 miles) and Antelope Canyon (10 miles). You could easily combine these attractions in the same day!
Planning Your Trip to Horseshoe Bend
Parking at Horseshoe Bend
There is currently a fee of $10 per motor vehicle (and $5 for motorcyclists). There is ample parking for cars, RVs, and busses. We had no trouble parking there during peak season. The city of Page operates the parking lot. (Note that National Park Passes do not apply to this parking lot.) You are not allowed to camp overnight in the parking lot.
There are restrooms at Horseshoe Bend (toilet pits) located near the parking lot. There is no running water, so bring hand sanitizer. At the viewpoint itself, there are no restrooms, so it’s a good idea to use the restroom before starting the trail.
Pets are allowed at Horseshoe Bend. (Dog friendly!) Just be sure to follow the leash rules and clean up after your pet.
Please note that you cannot bring drones to Horseshoe Bend (or any national park).
Be sure to bring sufficient water for the trail. (It gets hot in Arizona!) It’s important to be prepared for any hike. It’s a good idea to pack more water than you need.
We also recommend bringing an insulated water bottle (which will keep your water ice cold) and a daypack to bring your belongings. A selfie-stick will also help you get enough height to take some awesome photos of the canyon below. Be sure to wear proper shoes for hiking. Don’t wear sandals for this trail.
The Horseshoe Bend Hike
You can’t see Horseshoe Bend from the road, so you will need to complete a short hike to the viewpoint.
The trail to the Horseshoe Bend viewpoint is 1.5 miles out-and-back. The new trail is now ADA and stroller-friendly. We were able to comfortably use our jogging stroller to bring our toddler on the trail. It was definitely nice that we didn’t have to carry her in the hiking harness. (Side note: We love our jogging stroller!)
There’s a new trail to the viewpoint that meets the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) standards for accessibility. It’s a dirt path that blends with the natural environment. The steepness is between a 5 and 8% grade. (380 total feet of elevation gain.)
Along the trail, there are two shade structures with benches. It’s a good place to take a break from the sun and drink some cold water. Don’t underestimate the heat. Even though it’s a short trail, the entire trail is directly in the sun.
The difficulty level of the trail is not hard, but hiking in the intense sun can be a challenge. Be prepared with sun protection and lots of water. Wear close-toed shoes because the hot sand could burn your feet. Most sites rank the Horseshoe Bend trail as ‘easy’ in difficulty level.
The Viewpoint at Horseshoe Bend
Once you reach the viewpoint at the end of the trail, there is a small section with a guardrail where you can easily see Horseshoe Bend. You may need to wait a few minutes to walk up to it if it’s crowded.
On either side of the official viewing area, there are areas with large rocks where you will also see people taking photos. There are no guardrails there, so it’s important to be extremely careful. Use extreme caution if you leave the marked trail, as the drop is nearly 1,000 feet. (Don’t risk your personal safety for a photo!)
Be sure that children are well-supervised at all times. Only a small section of the viewpoint has a guardrail. We didn’t let our toddler walk around when we got to the viewpoint. She was either in her stroller or in our arms for a quick photo.
When is the Best Time to See Horseshoe Bend?
It really depends on the type of experience you want! The viewpoint faces West, so keep that in mind as you plan your visit. Many people prefer visiting at sunrise (no sun in your eyes), midday (clear view of the river without shadows), or at sunset (rich red tones).
In our opinion, any time is a good time to visit Horseshoe Bend. (And if you’re able, it would be cool to see how it changes at different times of day!) If you spend the night in Page, you could easily see Horseshoe Bend once in the evening and once in the morning since it’s located so close to town.
The city of Page lists the following times as especially crowded at Horseshoe Bend: 9am to 11am, and 4:30pm to 6:30pm. If you avoid those times, there will be less crowds. We also recommend that you visit on a weekday instead of a weekend if possible.
You’ll probably need 1-2 hours to complete the Horseshoe Bend trail. It may take you 30-45 minutes to hike 1.5 miles. Then, you’ll want to factor in some time to take photos and observe the natural beauty of this area. There are no other trails from the viewpoint, so you’ll just need to account for how much time you’d like to spend at the overlook.
Activities at Horseshoe Bend
In addition to the Horseshoe Bend trail to the viewpoint, there are other ways to see Horseshoe Bend.
For example, did you know you can float through Horseshoe Bend? You can sign up for a half-day rafting trip that begins at Glen Canyon Dam.
You can also fly over Horseshoe Bend. The flight is approximately 30 minutes. You will get a view like no other!
Kayaking at Horseshoe Bend
One of the most popular activities is kayaking at Horseshoe Bend! When you kayak down the Colorado River, you’ll have a completely different perspective of Horseshoe Bend. There are plenty of companies that will provide the kayaking gear and take care of transportation. We found one company that was fairly flexible and lets you customize your own trip. That way you can decide if you want to spend a couple hours kayaking, half a day kayaking, or a full day kayaking at Horseshoe Bend.
It was pretty cool looking from the top of Horseshoe Bend and seeing the boats and kayakers in the Colorado River. If you have the opportunity to kayak at Horseshoe Bend, we think it looks like a lot of fun!
Horseshoe Bend Tours
If you’d like to take an organized tour of Horseshoe Bend, you have many options! Here’s a few tours we’d recommend considering:
- Half Day Tour to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon: This tour departs from Page, Arizona, and will take you to two attractions: Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. This tour is Navajo-owned and operated.
- Overnight Tour to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas: If you’re visiting Las Vegas and really want to see Horseshoe Bend, you can book this tour to add to your itinerary and they will take care of all the transportation. You’ll also get to see the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam.
- Day Tour to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas: If you have just one free day in Vegas, you can add on a trip to see Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.
The Navajo Nation and Horseshoe Bend
The Navajo are the second largest tribe in the United States, and they are caretakers of many of the parks and monuments in Arizona.
This canyon is sacred to the Navajo. Be a respectful guest when visiting.
You can read more about the Navajo Nation in their own words. Be sure to obey all tribal laws and regulations. You can read their full protocol for visitors. When on Navajo land, please note that alcohol and firearms are not permitted. Teepees are used strictly for religious reasons. Always ask permission before taking someone else’s photo. Always follow Leave No Trace guidelines. Leave the land as you found it.
Nearby Attractions to Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is located just 20 minutes away from Antelope Canyon, which is one of the most famous attractions nearby.
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon. The sandstone curves in wave-like patterns, and it’s truly a geographical marvel. You will need to book your tour there in advance. Guided tours are required. If you’re not able to secure a reservation, you might be interested in booking a private tour through a nearby slot canyon. Antelope Canyon was closed because of covid when we were in Page, so we didn’t see Antelope Canyon ourselves. However, we were able to see Peekaboo Canyon near Kanab, which we would definitely recommend. You can read about our experience at Peekaboo Canyon with Dreamland Safari Tours.
There is so much to do at Lake Powell. You can see the Glen Canyon Dam, go swimming, or take a boat tour.
The Glen Canyon Dam is 710 feet tall and was built between 1956 and 1966. The creation of the dam was controversial. You can visit the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at the dam. You can park and walk across the dam for an incredible view.
If you have some time, we think taking the boat tour to Rainbow Bridge would be amazing. You will get to cruise 50 miles up the lake and see one of the largest natural bridges in the world!
And if you have some extra spending money (at least several thousand dollars), you can even rent a private houseboat for 5 to 7 days! Some of the boats sleep up to 12 people, so it might not even be that much extra money when you compare that to how much it would cost to book a hotel room for that many people.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
There are tons of things to do at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. You can see a full list of day hikes. They are ranked by difficulty level, so it’s easy to plan your trip. You can also plan a scenic drive if you prefer to stay in your vehicle. The National Park Service has put together a list of scenic drives.
Hotels Near Horseshoe Bend
The city of Page, Arizona, is the closest place to stay near Horseshoe Bend. Page is less than 5 miles away from Horseshoe Bend. When we visited Page, we stayed at the Best Western View of Lake Powell. We really enjoyed our stay at that hotel and would recommend it to others.
There are several campground that are near Horseshoe Bend. These include: Waheap Campground and Page Lake Powell Campground.
If you can afford luxury accommodations, the 5-star hotel Amangiri is just 19 miles away from Horseshoe Bend.
For a full list of over 50 hotel properties in Page.
Our Itinerary to Horseshoe Bend
We spent three weeks traveling through Utah and Arizona. We spent five days in Zion National Park, and then we drove to Kanab to see Peekaboo Canyon. We then continued from Kanab to stay in Page, Arizona, so we could see Horseshoe Bend. After our visit to Horseshoe Bend, we continued our trip to spend several days at the Grand Canyon. We also visited Bryce Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park during this trip.
Where to Eat in Page, Arizona
We ate dinner at Big John’s Texas BBQ. The barbecue was delicious! Our favorite dish was the pork ribs. The ribs were so tender that the meat melted off the bone. We also really enjoyed their homemade cornbread. We could eat there every day!
Another good restaurant is BirdHouse. They serve up fried chicken and donut holes. They have two homemade sauces to pair with their fried chicken: a tangy honey mustard and a buttermilk ranch.
For a meal with a view, check out Sunset 89. You’ll be able to see Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. They specialize in Island Pacific Rim cuisine. Note that they are closed on Sundays.
For breakfast, check out Ranch House Grille or Hot n Sweet Coffee and Donut Shop.
Frequently Asked Questions About Horseshoe Bend
How long of a hike is the Horseshoe Bend trail?
The trail to Horseshoe Bend is 1.5 miles out-and-back. The trail is ADA accessible and stroller-friendly. It takes about an hour or less for most people to hike the trail. The trail is not shaded and is in full sun, so be sure to pack sufficient water and sun protection.
How much does Horseshoe Bend cost?
It’s fairly affordable to visit Horseshoe Bend. To park in the parking lot, there is a fee of $10 per vehicle (car or RV). The fee is $5 for motorcycles. For commercial vehicles, prices range between $35-$140.
Is Horseshoe Bend a difficult hike?
Horseshoe Bend is considered an easy hike. The trail is 1.5 miles long out-and-back, and there is a total elevation gain of 137 feet. The trail is ADA accessible. What may make this hike challenging, however, is the weather. The trail is in direct sunlight and it can be very hot in Page, Arizona. Be sure to bring enough water and to bring sun protection.
Can I go to Horseshoe Bend by myself?
Yes, you can go to Horseshoe Bend by yourself as long as you’re comfortable doing so. You don’t have to have a guide to access Horseshoe Bend. The trail is quite popular, however, so it is unlikely you will be alone on the trail.
Can you drive up to Horseshoe Bend?
You cannot see Horseshoe Bend from the parking lot. You’ll need to complete the trail to access the viewpoint.
Can you visit Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon in the same day?
Yes, it’s definitely possible to see both Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon in one day. We recommend that you visit Horseshoe Bend early in the morning, and then book a tour for Antelope Canyon later in the day.
How long should you spend at Horseshoe Bend?
We think a couple of hours is enough time to set aside to see Horseshoe Bend. That’ll give you plenty of time to hike the trail, as well as plenty of time to enjoy the view at the observation point.
How far is Horseshoe Bend from Moab?
If you’re traveling from Moab to Horseshoe Bend, it’ll take you about 4.5 hours without any stops. It’s technically possible to do a day trip to Horseshoe Bend from Moab, but it would be a lot driving for one day. (Approximately 9 hours!)
Is Horseshoe Bend part of the Grand Canyon?
Horseshoe Bend is not officially part of Grand Canyon National Park, but it’s located along the Colorado River just east of the Grand Canyon National Park.
Is Horseshoe Bend Worth Visiting?
Horseshoe Bend is definitely worth visiting! Although it’s become a very popular destination, the viewpoint really does hold up to the hype. You’ll never forget the view!
Summary: Visiting Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is a truly beautiful destination. We highly recommend that you visit the Horseshoe Bend lookout. We still talk about how epic the view was from the overlook! There are a number of equally amazing attractions nearby, so we think that a visit to Page, Arizona, is well worth it!
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