Published October, 2015
By Story by Blake Tilker, Photo by Matt Roberts/ special to the Gateway
‘Round the Bend
Just in case you haven’t gone already
Ok, now this is the big daddy of the area. This is one of the reasons you came here in the first place. Someone once told me the three most important features of Page are Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend. And even though Horseshoe Bend is on National Park Service land, it’s free and accessible to everyone.
Horseshoe Bend gets its name from the serpentine, 180 degree curve in the Colorado River. Although it looks more like a mule shoe, the winding section of river has carved out one of the most photographed natural wonders ever.
The trail head for Horseshoe Bend is about three miles southwest of Page and is well marked with signs and tour buses. Park at the well-maintained parking lot just off US 89 and make sure you’re wearing socks because they are about to be knocked off.
The hike to the canyon’s edge is only 0.5 miles, but the first section of trail is a steep ascent in thick sand. There’s shaded seating at the top of the hill if you want to gather your molecules before
starting the descent.
The rest of the hike is in sand, but you can bounce around the protruding sandstone fins to make it a bit easier.
The first time I went to Horseshoe Bend, I walked right up to the edge of the 1,000 foot Navajo Sandstone drop and literally got weak in the knees. It must be my body’s way of telling me to get low. The exposure is immense and there aren’t any guard rails to hold you back, so keep that in mind on a windy day.
Horseshoe Bend regularly has hundreds of people scrambling about for that award-winning photo to take home. Sunrise shots will light up the prominent point of the horseshoe, while sunset shots backfill the landmark and add another dimension of beauty.
A tripod and wide angle lens are needed to capture Horseshoe in its entirety.
Most people will head straight to the main overlook for the experience, however, I would suggest you hike around and get as high as you can via the various mounds of 180 million year old Navajo Sandstone buttes.