A unique horseshoe-shaped curve in the Colorado River located near Page, Arizona, Horseshoe Bend is a favorite among amateur and professional photographers alike. Its distinctive shape and striking colors make for inspiring pictures, and excellent views of the canyon and river below are easily accessible from a convenient access road within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Horseshoe Bend History and Background
Part of the larger Glen Canyon region, Horseshoe Bend is a beautiful natural marvel along the Colorado River. Take a quick drive on the access road from the Carl Hayden Visitor Center on route 89, then a brief (1.5 mile, round-trip) hike up to the viewpoint. Formed by water erosion over the millennia, this unique formation showcases a distinctive bend in the Colorado known. The walls of the canyon contain many fascinating and striking colors, filled with different geological strata and several mineral varieties. This 270-degree bend is a rare occurrence along the river, and is an immediately recognizable landmark.
What’s at Horseshoe Bend
The main attraction at Horseshoe Bend is the viewpoint down into Glen Canyon. From a vantage point of 1000 feet above the Colorado River, you’ll get unbeatable views of this unique bend in the most iconic river in the American southwest. If you’re interested in natural history or geology, there’s a lot to see in the sand and rocks around you as you walk up the hill to the viewpoint, including rare and very old Navajo sandstone.
Across the river, you’ll see the Paria Plateau and Vermillion Cliffs, two other important natural landmarks. To the right, the river stretches up into Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and to the left is Navajo territory. Enjoy the distinctive setting and this unique meeting place of different cultures.
If you were able to descend to the river below, you’d see ancient petroglyphs, carved by indigenous peoples nearly 800 years ago who used to farm the surrounding areas. This is the only petroglyph panel accessible to the public below the Glen Canyon Dam.
Tips for Visiting Horseshoe Bend
- Although the hike out to Horseshoe Bend is pretty short, it’s important to bring plenty of water, as you won’t find any on the trail.
- There are no guardrails at the viewpoint, so be very careful (especially with small children) as you approach the edge.
- The path is bumpier on the last leg towards the viewpoint, so exercise caution doing downhill.
- Photography tip: be sure to use a wide-angle lens or setting on a phone to capture the full panoramic beauty of the view.