Horseshoe Bend Trail has changed A LOT over the last 10 years. I first went to visit this iconic spot in 2016 on a road trip from Michigan to Washington and it blew me away then. My experience in 2023 was much different all these years later, as now over 2 million people visit per year! A large established parking lot, entry ticket station, and barriers are just a few of the changes. But even so, there’s a reason this place is the most instagrammed spot in Arizona. And It was just as beautiful as I remembered years later and truly a spot worth visiting that doesn’t take up a lot of time! Read on for everything you need to know to visit Horseshoe Bend Hike in Northern Arizona, near the Southern Utah border.
- Quick Overview of Horseshoe Bend Trail:
- Where is Horseshoe Bend?
- Getting to Horseshoe Bend Trail:
- Best Time of Year and Day to Visit:
- Photography Tips for Horseshoe Bend Trail:
- Other Nearby Destinations:
- Conclusion: Horseshoe Bend Arizona
Land Acknowledgement: Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute), Ute, and Pueblos Land. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting! And consider visiting nearby cultural centers and seeking out other ways to financially support Indigenous People.
Quick Overview of Horseshoe Bend Trail:
- Horseshoe shaped section of the Colorado River
- 1.5 mile walk round trip on recently updated trail that is considered ADA and stroller friendly
- Open Year Round
- Dogs allowed on Leash
- Bathrooms available at parking lot
- $10 per vehicle
As always with any trail or outdoor space, do your part and leave no trace! Take all of your trash with you! We carried out several empty water bottles and snack wrappers.
Where is Horseshoe Bend?
I almost mistakenly said Horseshoe Bend is in Utah, just because of how close it is! I’ve only ever visited Horseshoe Bend trail when on a Utah Road Trip. But this stunning vista is actually in Northern Arizona just outside of Page, Arizona, 10 miles south of the Utah border.
- Phoenix International Airport: 4.5 hour drive
- Las Vegas International Airport: 5 hour drive
There are some smaller regional airports nearby, but these always cost a lot more! On this trip, I flew into Las Vegas and stayed in St. George and Kanab, Utah.
Getting to Horseshoe Bend Trail:
Directions to Horseshoe Bend Hike will depend on whether you’re coming from Phoenix or Las Vegas. But from Page, Arizona take Highway 89 South. Horseshoe Bend will be between mileposts 544 and 545. There is plenty of signage and you will see lots of cars! Google Maps will take you straight there with no issue. If you are worried about not having cell service from where you’re at, I’d recommend downloading an offline version of google maps in the google maps app!
Entrance and Parking Lot:
Cars line up to go through the entrance and a staff member will take your cash or credit card payment of $10 per vehicle ($5 per motorcycle). You can then pull through into a large parking lot, park, and the trailhead is on the right side of the parking lot after you pay. There are plenty of signs pointing you there! If visiting in peak season (March-September), an additional parking lot is available further down the road with shuttle service!
Make sure you have water and sun protection if visiting during the summer months, as this trail is full sun and temperatures get really hot in the summer.
Photography Info: Leave your drone behind! This is a strict no drone zone! More photography tips below.
Best Time of Year and Day to Visit:
The Best Time of Year and Day will depend on the type of experience you want! I’m going to lay out a few pros and cons of some options.
Busy Season is typically March-September here. The chances of better weather and overall conditions are better during these months. However, you will be dealing with large crowds of people!
If you are visiting during peak season to get the best weather conditions, I recommend going for sunrise! The entrance opens at sunrise and the tour busses typically arrive at 7 am. Get there first thing to have a moment of peace, and secure your spot for photos!
Also, if you are flexible and can plan your visit during the week instead of the weekend, this will also help to cut down on crowds. We visited during a very rainy day which allowed us to have more of it to ourselves and get the photos we wanted. And honestly, the stormy skies were pretty neat looking!
If you are going for sunset, just be prepared for lots of people, tripods, etc, and get there early!
Photography Tips for Horseshoe Bend Trail:
1. Use a Sun Tracker
A lot of people like to photography Horseshoe Bend right as the sun is hitting the horizon to get that classic sun flare! I recommend using an app like Magic Hour or Sun Seeker to figure out exactly what time the sun will come up for sunrise or go down for sunset.
And again, the entrance opens at sunrise and tour busses start showing up at 7am. But even if you do not go for sunrise, people tend to come and go pretty quickly here. Just be ready to snag your spot!
2. Bring a wider lens!
I ended up having my friend take a photo on her 16-35mm lens to really get the whole scene in! The view of Horseshoe Bend is a lot closer to the ledge than it seems in some photos and I could not get the whole view on my film camera with a 45 mm lens!
3. Change your perspective
As mentioned above, some of the changes to this area included putting up a railing and fencing. I was nervous about trying to create around an ugly fence. But the fence is only at the main view and you can easily move to the left or right of it for shots without the rail.
We went to the left of the rail and loved the perspective we found. Just be careful and stay aware. The reason there is a rail now is because people have unfortunately fallen from the viewpoint. It is a scary 1000 foot drop.
4. Be Prepared for Sun
It doesn’t take long after the sun is up to completely flood this place with light! Bring an ND filter to balance out those highlights and still get a gorgeous shot if this is your situation!
Other Nearby Destinations:
If you’re looking for more things to see nearby check out these other guides:
Conclusion: Horseshoe Bend Arizona
I know it can be tempting to skip busy tourist views like this one, but it is popular for a good reason! As the most photographed spot in Arizona, it is well worth the 2 hours or so it would take you to experience this place! And as mentioned above, if you’re looking to have the best experience here:
- Go EARLY. The gates open at sunrise
- 1.5 miles round trip with just about 200 feet elevation
- If you are physically able, go to the sides of the fenced platform for unobstructed views
Let me know if you’ve been here or if it’s still on your list!
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