Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River carved by colorful, 1,000-foot canyon walls. This iconic gooseneck is one of the most visited and photographed sites in Arizona, and you absolutely must add this pitstop to your Arizona road trip itinerary!
When visiting Horseshoe Bend, you can paddle through the river’s gooseneck OR you can hike the Horseshoe Bend Trail to the famous Horseshoe Bend overlook. The latter is the topic of this blog post!
In this guide, I’m sharing ten things you need to know about the Horseshoe Bend hike, including how to get there, trail details, current entrance fees, photography tips, and more!
10 Things to Know About the Horseshoe Bend Hike
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1. Location & Parking
The Horseshoe Bend trailhead is located about 5 miles south of the center of Page, Arizona.
To accommodate the large amount of traffic that Horseshoe Bend gets (about 2 million visitors yearly!), a fairly large parking lot for the trail is located right off Highway 89 with parking spots for RVs and oversized vehicles. No parking is allowed on the shoulder of the highway, so if there is no parking available in the lot, you will be asked to come back later.
🧻 Thanks to a renovation in 2019, vault toilets are available at the trailhead.
Get directions to the Horseshoe Bend trailhead parking lot here.
2. Entrance Fees
There is a $10 entrance fee for vehicles (including RVs) and a $5 entrance fee for motorcycles.
Unfortunately, your America the Beautiful National Parks pass won’t work here because the City of Page operates Horseshoe Bend.
3. The Trail
- Length: 1.5 miles
- Type of Trail: Out & back
- Elevation Gain: 137 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
The Horseshoe Bend hiking trail is 1.5 miles roundtrip. Many people come to Horseshoe Bend thinking that they’ll park and walk directly up to the overlook, but in reality, you have to hike about 0.7 miles (one-way) to get to this overlook!
The trail itself is graded and wheelchair-accessible, fairly wide, and exposed (sun-wise). Since this trail has no natural shade cover or relief like tall trees or large boulders, trail maintenance workers have placed two shade structures strategically along the trail. Note that there are none at the overlook though.
From the parking lot, you’ll head west to find the trailhead. Don’t worry, there are signs, and it’s easy to find!
The first part of the trail is the steepest. You won’t have too much of a view, and you’ll probably be wondering if you’re at the right place. Don’t worry, you are!
Once the trail levels out, you’ll be treated to expansive views of the surrounding desert. Soon, you’ll reach a set of railings, and the giant horseshoe-shaped hole in the sandstone will come into view. You’ve officially arrived at Horseshoe Bend!
NOTE: The Horseshoe Bend hike is short but exhaustion is still possible, especially mid-day or in the summer. Always be prepared for the heat. Drink lots of water, wear UPF clothing, a sun hat, and sunscreen, and consume plenty of electrolytes before your hike.
4. The Overlook & Exposure
Horseshoe Bend Overlook sits 1000 feet above the Colorado River. The dark water snaking around the towering cliffs, the kayakers that appear to be the size of Matchbox cars, and the sandy shores dotted with brightly-colored tents will – without a doubt – mesmerize you.
So be extremely careful! A fall would be deadly. It’s easy to get lost in the scenery and lose your footing; you’re watching what’s in front of you instead of what’s underneath you. Make sure to have total awareness of your footing and your surroundings. Also, the rocks at the edge of the cliff can crumble, so stay far away from the edge.
There is a set of railings at one part of the overlook, but if you venture past that section (which most people do), there will be no railings, and you’ll be walking beside exposed 1000-foot cliffs.
While there’s one particular photo that everyone likes to get, there are many great photo ops from different vantage points! Roam around the cliffs that jut out above the river. The further you venture away from the railings and main overlook, the fewer crowds you’ll experience.
As always, exercise caution, watch your step, and pay attention to your surroundings.
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5. Sun, Shade & Heat
The Horseshoe Bend Trail is extremely exposed, cliff-wise and weather-wise. Regarding weather, Page (the town that Horseshoe Bend is in) is part of the desert, and summer heat can get pretty intense. It can also get hot in the shoulder seasons, so always be prepared with sun protection and plenty of water and snacks.
There is a little bit of shaded relief (two shade structures) on the hiking trail but nothing at the overlook.
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Horseshoe Bend is open year-round from sunrise to sunset.
But just because it’s open doesn’t mean you should visit! Their winters are chilly, and their summers are brutally hot. The best time to visit Horseshoe Bend is when the weather is milder – March, April, May, September, and October.
Overnight parking and camping are prohibited at the Horseshoe Bend trailhead. Parking is only available from sunrise to sunset.
If you’re looking to camp, there are plenty of campgrounds in the area! ⤵️
- Page Lake Powell Campground – 4 miles from Horseshoe Bend
- Wahweap Campground & RV Park – 11 miles from Horseshoe Bend
- Antelope Point RV Campground – 12 miles from Horseshoe Bend, convenient for those who will be kayaking to Antelope Canyon
Pets are welcome at Horseshoe Bend but must be leashed. Pick up all waste and make sure to pack it out. And carry plenty of water for your pet to drink; they get dehydrated just like you!
It’s not recommended to take your dog on this hike in the high summer heat; the ground gets extremely hot. And never leave your dog in your vehicle; you will be arrested and criminally cited by the City of Page Police Department.
Horseshoe Bend is a very touristy spot, and because of its extreme popularity, you’ll probably never experience complete solitude.
That being said, you can avoid the heaviest crowds by not visiting during the busiest hours. The busiest hours are 9 AM – 11 AM and 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM.
The Horseshoe Bend overlook is a popular sunrise and sunset spot as well, so if you do run into hordes of people, pack your patience. And remember, there’s plenty of rock to go around at the overlook. Break away from the cluster of people at the railings! The further you venture from the “main overlook,” the fewer people you’ll encounter.
⚠️ But never creep too close to the edge!
Here are some Horseshoe Bend photography tips to give you the absolute best photos of this geological wonder!
- For the best lighting, take photos at sunrise or sunset. There’s a reason that photographers rave about golden hour; the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset offer the most magnificent light! Horseshoe Bend is no exception.
- Bring a wide-angle lens. The bend is wide, and you’ll need a wide angle to capture the vast expanse of it. I took these photos back in 2019 when I didn’t own a wide-angle lens. 🙈 Do yourself a favor and bring a wide-angle lens!
- Get different angles. There’s one shot of Horseshoe Bend that everyone gets. Sometimes there’s even a line to get “the shot.” Shake it up by walking around the bend and snapping different shots that’ll make your images stand out!
📸 Don’t forget your Peak Design Capture Clip! Clip your camera on your backpack and take the strain off of your neck!
Discover Your Next Adventure
Where to next? I’ve got some suggestions!
- Kayaking to Antelope Canyon
- One Day in Page, Arizona
- Saguaro National Park
- Petrified Forest National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
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