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Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail, AZ

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Guide 111 Triplogs  5 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Hotevilla
3.9 of 5 by 34
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,229 feet
Elevation Gain 100 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.75 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2
Backpack No
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2  2018-06-04 Tortoise_Hiker
7  2017-11-12 Uncharted
11  2017-10-03 rcorfman
1  2017-06-26 friendofThunderg
4  2016-10-05 AZLumberjack
8  2016-10-02 RickVincent
2  2016-08-28 ddgrunning
9  2016-07-28 DarthStiller
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Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 137
Routes 111
Photos 5,253
Trips 942 map ( 2,097 miles )
Age 38 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Sep → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:25pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
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Don't horse around here!
by PaleoRob

Likely In-Season!
Horseshoe Bend is one of the easiest hikes in the Page/lower Lake Powell area. Despite this, it has one of the most spectacular scenes in all of the southwest as its destination; the 1200 foot drop to the Colorado River in the middle of the last free-flowing stretch of Glen Canyon.

The hike has a posted distance at the parking area of 3/4 of a mile, but this is actually just the distance to the Bend, not the round-trip distance. Be aware of this before starting your hike.

The hike starts with a brief heart-rate increasing climb up the side of a sand dune to a low mesa top. As you head west across the top of the mesa, you can see the rim of Glen Canyon below you starting to emerge. Beyond that are the Death Pockets and the Vermilion Cliffs. To the north is the town of Page and beyond that Smokey Mountain. Due east is P Hill, where ages of Pageites have painted their town's first initial on the sandstone cliff. To the south lays the Navajo Nation and US 89 winds its way up through a series of roadcuts the locals call The Little Cut. Take a look around, because this is the highest point on the hike, and as you continue towards Horseshoe Bend, you'll be looking down at most of the scenery.

After crossing the mesa, the trail begins down the west side of the mesa via another sand dune. There are some minor switchbacks near the base of the dune. Then you're down on the bedrock. The trail kind of disappears at this point, and there are no cairns, but your route should be generally obvious; keep heading west. The rim is marked by a rise in the bedrock, so you can step up and then look out at the scene below you.

The Colorado River, released from Glen Canyon Dam some 9 miles upstream, flows cold and clear-green. Fishermen can often be seen plying the waters of the Colorado in this stretch, as this cold water forms excellent trout habitat. Condors occasionally fly overhead in the spring, looking for anything that might have died recently.

Looking into the bend, on the right canyon wall, down near the water where the river first comes into view, you can actually see the Horseshoe Bend Petroglyph Panel. Oftentimes during the summer, a park ranger will have a spotting scope trained on the images to help you locate them. The canyon you see entering just downstream of the panel is Nine Mile Draw, which can (possibly) be descended all the way to the river only with technical rock climbing gear. Be careful near the edge, as high winds can sometimes boil up out of the canyon, making this place dangerous.

Once you have seen all you wanted to, return to the trailhead via the same trail. If it seems like you're climbing further up than when you left the trailhead, you are. The rim is almost a hundred feet lower than the trailhead itself.

This hike is totally exposed with no water or shade. Bring what you need and consider starting early or late if you are doing this hike during the summer.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-04-08 PaleoRob

    Glen Canyon Recreation Area NPS Details
    From the top of the short hill, it is 0.4 mile (0.65 km) to the viewpoint. The wide, sandy trail winds past sage, blackbrush, yucca, and other desert plants. There is no shade. Take water with you. The view of Horseshoe Bend from the rim of the canyon is extraordinary. (You'll need a wide-angle lens to get the entire scene in your picture!) Below you, the Colorado River makes a wide sweep around a sandstone escarpment. Long ago, as the river meandered southward, it always chose the most downward slope. This downward journey did not always occur in a straight line, and sometimes the river made wide circles around higher spines of rock. Here at Horseshoe Bend, the Colorado River did just that, and as the river cut down through the layers of sandstone, it created a horseshoe-shaped bend in the canyon. Conceivably, at some time far in the future, the river could erode through the narrow neck of rock, creating a natural bridge and abandoning the horseshoe- shaped channel around the rock. Please note: There are no guard rails at the viewpoint. Watch your footing, and keep track of your children!
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent of 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    As a secondary part of my trip to Page, AZ and my tour of Antelope Canyon, I had some time to kill so I visited the Horseshoe Bend. Nice little trail up to the top of a sand dune and then down to the abrupt thousand foot vertical cliffs forming the bend along the Colorado River. It was quite crowded with all kinds of people scurrying around and very few of them spoke the English tongue. Camera's, cell phones and selfi sticks were the popular item to have on hand.

    It's a beautiful sight to behold but a quick tip to myself includes to wait until later in the day when the sun isn't from behind creating those nasty dark shadows. I had planned on returning after touring Lower Antelope Canyon to catch a sunset but I had been going continuously since 0230 this morning and I kinda passed out at the campsite and missed the sunset hours :o If I have a chance to return, I'll keep this in mind... ](*,)
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    A long time destination on my bucket list. Great views. The day we were there the wind was blowing very hard. Luckily it was blowing parallel to the edge so we didn't have to worry about taking flight off the edge. But still I wasn't going to hang out over the edge to take a picture that resulted in 100% of the bend being in view.

    The wind did result with ears getting packed full of course sand. But the views were worth it.
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    What a freaking disappointment. I have never seen it this crowded before. People everywhere, cutting across switchbacks, crowding the rim, parking like idiots along the highway. This was the least enjoyable hike I've ever had at Horseshoe Bend and I am disappointed that Jen had to see it this way for the first time. Talking to some of my Page friends it seems like this is the new normal here. I am downgrading my trail rating accordingly. It was not fun.
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    My first hike here in Page upon starting my seasonal position at Glen Canyon NRA. Pretty crazy the amount of people going out there. Not something I want to do all the time just because of the sheer crowds, but glad I got it over with so I know what it's like and can move on to other things. The view is pretty sweet though.
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Working our way back to Phoenix at the end of a 10-day road trip through some of the prettiest scenery in the Southwest. Stopped off at Page after working down from Moab through Monument Valley today. Headed out to Horseshoe Bend to catch the sunset. Must have been 500 people on the edge of the cliff with the same idea. I'd seen this iconic Arizona scene before in hundreds of photos and tourist brochures. Now I've seen it live. It is a one of a kind.
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Northern Arizona Trek - May 2013
    Sarah’s Grad and Northern Arizona Trek - May 2013

    4 days
    3 nights
    791 miles by truck
    110 miles by boat
    324 digital images
    1 Master’s Degree celebration
    1 Slot Canyon
    1 Natural Bridge
    1 Vintage Mary Colter designed hotel
    1 Mother’s Day

    With my daughter Sarah’s graduation from ASU with a Master’s in Clinical Speech Pathology, my parents made the trek down from Canada to celebrate the achievement. Considering that Mother’s Day would be over the weekend, a road trip was in order :next:

    Friday May 10th
    11am to 3pm Sarah’s grad @ ASU
    3pm drive from Ahwatukee to Flagstaff – 161 miles, 2hrs 26min per Google Maps
    Fairfield Inn Flagstaff, 2005 South Milton Road, Flagstaff, AZ – Confirmation #85054171 & 85054171
    5pm – 9:30pm Lowell Observatory 2nd Friday Science Night, 1400 West Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff, Arizona
    ASU Clinical Speech Pathology :next:
    Marriott Fairfield Inn, Flagstaff AZ :next:
    Lowell Observatory :next:
    Beaver Street Brewery :next:

    After Sarah’s graduation ceremony held at Wells Fargo Arena on the ASU main campus, friends and family gathered at our Ahwatukee home for some good eats and an opportunity to personally congratulate Sarah. As the day wound down, it was time to head out on a road trip to Northern Arizona to take in some sights my parents only thought they could view through other people’s photographs. First destination – Flagstaff AZ to catch the “2nd Friday Evening Event” at Lowell Observatory on Mars Hill. The evening event was just about to wrap-up when we arrived 9-ish, but we still were able to walk the grounds and see the various telescope installations. Checked into the Marriott Fairfield Inn – rooms were scarce since NAU grad ceremonies were also on this weekend! Had time for a late evening stroll to Beaver Street Brewery – a Flagstaff visit requirement…

    Saturday May 11th
    8am drive from Flagstaff to Page AZ – 192 miles, 3hrs 15min per Google Maps (note Hwy89 closed at Echo Cliffs)
    Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas, 100 Lakeshore Drive, Page, AZ 86040 - Confirmation # 80002356H
    Upper and/or Lower Antelope Slot Canyon guided or self-guided hike
    Mars Hill :next:
    Hwy 89A Kachina homage :next:
    Tuba City Dinosaur Tracks :next:
    Upper Antelope Canyon :next:
    Glen Canyon Dam Overlook :next:
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook :next:
    Wahweap Marina Walk – Glen Canyon NRA :next:
    Lake Powell Resort & Marina :next: ... tions.aspx
    Big John’s Texas BBQ, Page AZ :next: ... beque.html

    After our complimentary breakfast at the Flagstaff Marriott Fairfield Inn, we checked out and returned to Lowell Observatory to trek around the grounds in daylight – quite the contrast from the previous evening’s “stumble in the dark”… We met “Big John” performing some of the morning chores around Lowell and he invited us into the Pluto Observatory for a private tour prior to the official visitor opening at 9am. “Big John” was a fount of information giving us the history of the site, including all the construction obstacles and the competitive nature of the academics in the race to discover planets in their predicted mathematical location. Once we’d had our fill of astronomy, we hit the road towards Page AZ. After an obligatory stop at my favorite Kachina site (kicking myself that I failed to take a geocoded photo with my iPhone), we bounced our way up Highway 89 towards the detour around the sinkhole (check out :next: and ... lapse.html ), via Hwy 160 through Tuba City to Hwy 98 near Cow Springs to approach Page AZ from the SE. This detour easily adds another hour onto your drive from Flagstaff to Page. We elected to do the Upper Antelope Slot Canyon tour rather than the Lower Slot Canyon, only because of the flat terrain. I recalled multiple ladders and rock butt slides when exploring the Lower Antelope Slot Canyon. Our Navajo Guide, Frankie, was full of facts about the canyon formation and pointed out the mostly unnoticed features within the slot canyon. Unexpectedly, Frankie is quite the digital photo buff and helped set up shots for most of the visitors. He knew my Canon cameras beyond any of my abilities. After Antelope Canyon we drifted into town to find a late lunch/early dinner joint – Big John’s Texas BBQ fit the bill. We checked into our rooms at the Lake Powell Resort and Marina (NPS Annual Pass came in handy once again to gain entrance into the Wahweap section of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area), freshened up prior to some sunset exploration around Glen Canyon Dam and Horseshoe Bend Overlook.

    Sunday May 12th
    7:30am to 1pm boat tour to Rainbow Bridge – confirmation # 80002356O
    2pm drive from Page AZ to Winslow AZ via Hopi Lands – 241 miles, 4hrs 22min per Google Maps
    La Posada Hotel, 303 E 2nd St, Winslow, AZ 86047 - Confirmation#72185 for Rm115, #72184 for Rm125
    7:30pm Mother’s Day dinner reservation at Turquoise Room in La Posada per Jonny
    Lake Powell boat tour to Rainbow Bridge :next: ... idge-.aspx
    Rainbow Bridge via Lake Powell :next:
    Walpi Hopi Village :next: and
    La Posada Walking Tour :next:
    Turquois Room :next: Mother’s Day, 3 people, $235 including tip…

    Mother’s Day – Up at dawn to catch an early breakfast and check out of our hotel rooms prior to boarding our Rainbow Bridge tour boat at 7am :next: . Besides our Captain’s Derek and Theresa, I think I may have been the only other Arizona resident on that boat that day. Had a chance to chat with visitors from France, Germany, and England – many who had seen the bridge on previous vacations. Interesting that there was instant recognition by our fellow boaters – we all were on the Upper Antelope Canyon trek the day before and were all staying Saturday evening at the Lake Powell Resort! I failed to note the time extension for the tour :next: “The Castle Rock Cut is currently closed due to low lake levels. This tour will last approximately 7 - 7.5 hours total.” Hopefully this won’t impact our 7:30pm dinner reservation at the Turquoise Room in Winslow AZ… The lower lake levels also tacked on an additional half mile for the hike to Rainbow Bridge (hope I didn’t burn out my parents’ wheels tackling Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend the day before). Mission accomplished :next: . Upon returning to Wahweap Marina, we grabbed some cold refreshments and jumped in my F-150 for the backcountry tour through Navajo and Hopi Lands. Didn’t have enough time to stop at Coal Mine Canyon ( ), but we did have just enough for a drive-by of Old Oraibi and Walpi on the Hopi mesas. We arrived at La Posada in Winslow before 6:30pm – plenty of time to freshen up prior to another gastronomic gem served up by Chef John in the Turquoise Room :next: and ... _McClendon’s_farm_prepare_for_Mother's_Day_Special_Event/ . After dinner we had a chance to explore the eclectic La Posada then sit out back to do some trainspotting…

    Monday May 13th
    8am drive from Winslow AZ to Ahwatukee via Mogollon RIm – 183 miles, 3hrs 16min per Google Maps
    La Posada Walking Tour :next:

    Mother’s Day – The Day After… Gathered at 8am in the Turquoise Room for morning breakfast (don’t know where I found the space for breakfast after that huge Sunday meal) and a daylight stroll around the hotel grounds before taking the Hwy 87/Mogollon Rim route home through Payson.

    More photos to follow... ;)
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    With a group headed to hike Wire Pass the next day. We took the detour around the damaged Hwy 89 into Page then South down to parking lot. It's only about 5 minutes South of Page. Once again saw folks that were dangerously close to the edge. Had a self talk that if I dropped my camera or my hat fell of….. DO NOT reach for it. Well I did drop my hat over the edge and in a few seconds it came flying up about 20 feet in the air and 10 feet back off the ledge. That’s some up draft!
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
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    On our way up to southern Utah we spent the night in Page. Being so close we had to experience the bend at dusk and dawn. I'm convinced this is NOT the ideal spot to shoot at either dusk or dawn! The lighting is so tricky shooting down into the canyon! But the scenery is worth it. A bunch of kayakers were camped below, looks like they were about ready to really have some fun!
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Another hike (sort of) in Arizona with my dog and another case of him nearly passing out from overheating. Made the drive up from Phoenix on Saturday morning and got to the HB parking lot around 11:30. Having read this was a very quick and easy hike (the validity of the very term being called into question) made the poor decision of leaving large water bladder and dog's water dish in the car. Set out on the trail just before noon and, by the time we were halfway down the hill, Walter was already panting heavily.

    We reach the viewpoint and found a 3ft tall rock with a small lip at the top that gave a small patch of shade. Got the dog in the shade and sacrificed the entirety of my small Camelback by letting him drink and cool his paws in the large fill opening in the main bladder. A nice German couple held Walter while I snapped a few pics and then knew I needed to get him out of the sun and back to our main water supply in the car.

    Stopped once more about halfway up the hill to give Walter the remaining water and a moment to catch his breath. This is not a difficult hike (lord knows we were passed by most of a tour bus full of geriatric Japanese women who were slowly but steadily shuffling up the hill, lace parasols in hand) BUT..... be aware that it is comprised almost entirely of very loose sand (think beach sand) and much of the walk is on a very steep hill (which you must ascend on your return to the parking lot.) So, while not difficult per se, be aware that doing this at noon when it was 102F in Page with no shade was very tough on my furry friend... pretty tough on me too.

    Got some good looks at the bend but was too worried about the dog's well being (and that he might try leaping to his death to avoid having to walk back up that hill in the sun) to really enjoy it. Have to go back sometime without the dog-- no handrails means that you better have someone to hold him while you carefully enjoy the AMAZING view.
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook Trail
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    This is almost mandatory for out-of-state visitors when visiting the Page area. After a delicious Diablo Burger in Flagstaff we made good time up to Page. Stopped at Horseshoe Bend at 5pm. Hustled up the sandy trail and arrived at the canyon edge about 15 minutes before sundown. There was a thick low layer of clouds that dampened the sunset view, so no spectacular Horseshoe pics this time. Our guests absolutely loved the view. This was a good finish to our long travel and hike day.

    Permit $$

    Glen Canyon Recreation Area National Park
    Glen Canyon Entrance Fee - 1-7 Day Vehicle Pass - $25

    Boat fees additional, follow provided NPS link above.

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Page, drive south on US89 for three miles until reaching the signed "Horseshoe Bend" turnoff, on the right (west) side of the road. Turn into the parking area, which has recently been expanded to accommodate more visitors during the high-use summer months. The trail begins at the sign at the base of the sand dune, and is very easy to follow.
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