I can be almost certain that you will have seen this view before. Even if you have not been yourself, Instagram and other social media feeds are full of photographs almost identical to the one I’ve included below. And as with many places on my bucket list, I’d seen the images online and in magazines, and now wanted to see it with my own eyes.
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona.
Horseshoe Bend is probably the most famous bend in a river in the world. On the Colorado River, the same river that carved out the Grand Canyon, the view is truly extraordinary. It is well worth joining the hundreds (probably thousands) of other people who make the pilgrimage to this little spot in Arizona every day.
The Horseshoe Bend Trail
You park at the foot of the hill and walk the 1.5 mile round trip to the edge of the cliff. The path takes you up a fairly steep sandy bank to the top where there is a shelter offering the only shade for miles, and then back down a slightly more rocky hill to the viewpoint. On the day we were there it was a hot 30 degrees Celcius which meant the steep sandy hill was hard work in motorcycle gear (we got a few funny looks from other people wondering why we were in jeans and boots), but it was well worth the effort.
Walking along the trail to Horseshoe Bend.
The views from the top of the hill are vast – you can see the Vermillion Cliffs ahead and are surrounded by the lands of ancient people. As you reach the edge you are welcomed by stacked rocks and a superb view of the Colorado River down in the canyon. You’re not as far away from the river here as you are at the Grand Canyon, and I could see people in boats on the water, giving this place a sense of scale.
Boats on the Colorado River.
It’s possible to get right up to the edge and dangle your feet over the edge, I got as close as I dared and wondered whether those who were leaning right over were brave or just stupid. Probably a bit of both.
Standing overlooking the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend.
It might have been super busy with tourists, but Horseshoe Bend is a must-see view and well worth the stop. There was something about the number of people there that added to the charm of the place for me; somewhere so popular that so many people want to see it even on a random Tuesday in the heat of the afternoon. We all shared something in the moments we stood there, like it was a pilgrimage to witness the beauty of the persistent river below, that has taken thousands of years to carve out this curve in the rock in its continuous desire to reach the ocean. It’s another one of those places in the world where standing and looking to take it all in must come before you reach for your camera – taking a few moments to comprehend the awesomeness of the view is mandatory.
Standing at Horseshoe Bend, Arizona.
Tips for Visitors
It’s free to park in the large carpark close to the site. There are no facilities (toilets or food/drink), but you are not far from the town of Page with all the usual amenities. Take water and wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat – the heat is strong. Note that there are no barriers or handrails along the cliff edge (part of the beauty of the place), so keep an eye on where you and anyone who is relying on you are walking. Oh and you’ll need a wide angled lens, or perhaps pano mode, if you want to capture the all important photograph!