As heavily advertised as the Horseshoe Bend in Arizona is, there’s at least 4 important things you should know if you’ve never been there before which most people not only don’t know about, but I promise will also make your visit to this place way better.
Quick info on Horseshoe Bend:
- Name: Horseshoe Bend.
- Location: 10 minutes south of Page Arizona.
- What is it? A beautiful rounded overlook of the Colorado River with canyon walls around it.
- Fee required to enter? Yes it’s $10 for parking to see the main overlook.
- Is it family friendly? Yes.
- Is there a hike to get to it? Yes, it’s mostly easy and takes about 10 minutes to reach the overlook.
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
- Recommended? Yes, Horseshoe Bend is an iconic area in Page and Arizona overall, but compared to how you can really explore it and places around it, the most popular way people do it is ironically the most boring in my opinion!
Where is Horseshoe Bend located?
It’s right by Page Arizona and in terms of reaching it:
Directions to Horseshoe Bend:
- From Las Vegas NV: 5 hour drive east.
- From Phoenix AZ: 5 hour drive north on road 89.
- From Salt Lake City: 6 hour drive south.
- From Sedona: 2 hour drive north on 89.
- From Kanab: 2 hour drive east on road 89.
The 4 things to know about Horseshoe Bend in Arizona:
- The main way to see Horseshoe Bend (from the top) is actually the most boring.
- There’s more to see in the top area besides just the Horseshoe Bend Overlook.
- You can explore Horseshoe Bend from the bottom (way better and there’s less crowds).
- There are tons of better places to see other than Horseshoe Bend, all in the same area of Page.
Some of these things to know require more details on how to do them, and I’ll cover that below, but let me first give you basic info on this area.
1) Most visitors go to Horseshoe Bend for the overlook, but here’s why it’s “boring”:
When people hear or see images of Horseshoe Bend online, 99% of the time, it’s people taking pretty much the same exact photo of themselves you see above. Sure it’s beautiful, but if you’re going to pay $10 to just see this spot, then in my opinion you are missing out on way better ways to explore the region and here’s why that overlook is just the tip of the iceberg:
2) You can see way more than just the Horseshoe Bend Overlook:
Most people arrive to Horseshoe Bend with only the intent (or expectation) to just see the overlook itself, not realizing that the area is basically a park where you can and should check out more than just that overlook.
When you arrive to the Horseshoe Bend parking lot, you will have a main trail to reach the overlook that goes straight west, but around the same region you will also have access to a few other attractions. For example:
- Slightly northwest of the overlook are petroglyths you can explore, plus more views of the canyon and Colorado River.
- Slightly south of the parking lot are the Horseshoe Bend tours, which are horse rides you can take around the area too, although to my knowledge this is outside the parking area.
- I would also recommend visiting the overlook around sunset time vs the day when there are more people in the area and generally if you go during spring-fall months, you will also have hotter weather then. Around sunset, it’ll be better (and more beautiful) in my opinion.
There’s 2 ways to do it:
- Boat tour (here’s one option). It also allows you to do helicopter and plane tours of Horseshoe Bend. Prices are around $50 per person.
- Private boat rental (here’s one option). This includes kayaks, canoes, jet skis and large boats overall. Usually prices range from $200+ per day.
It just so happens that there is an area near Page Arizona called Lee’s Ferry which has access to all that. You can find both boat tours and rent private boats outside of Lee’s Ferry, then either carry them in (you are given everything to attach to your car), or meet your tour group at the right time when it disembarks.
Lee’s Ferry is south of Page and about 30 minutes south of Horseshoe Bend. You’ll even cross a giant bridge to reach it and will have to pay about $40 per car to enter, but it’s worth it because that area has many advantages over seeing Horseshoe Bend from the top:
- There is a boat launch area there. You can then go upriver to see Horseshoe Bend from the bottom.
- There are beaches around the whole area, including by Horseshoe Bend you can stay on.
- There are awesome hikes in Lee’s Ferry to explore on top of that like Cathedral Wash and the Spencer Trail.
- You can also do an extra day in the area and explore the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
- On top of all this, the whole area is way less crowded than the usual place people to go to see Horseshoe Bend (from the top).
Here’s a picture of me hiking through Cathedral Wash and Spencer trail, both inside the Lee’s Ferry area:
These happen to be some of the best hikes in Arizona that I have seen and yes it takes some time to reach the Lee’s Ferry area, but the value of what you can see and do here is in my opinion way better and you can still explore Horseshoe Bend the traditional way, but at least combined with this approach, you’ll really be getting the most out of how you explore this specific area.
4) There’s way more things to see near Horseshoe Bend AZ (the Page area):
Once you’re doing seeing this spot from the top and bottom, I can promise you that there’s so much more to see and do, and even closer to Page. For starters, see my list of things to do in Page Arizona for many examples of that and that’s what I’d prioritize exploring when you’re there. By the way, if you’d like to know about that other hike I posted, it’s called Toadstool Hoodoos and it’s not far from Page either.
Of these options (in Page Arizona), I would say Antelope Canyon is the most popular thing, but I am also going to recommend reading my list of Antelope Canyon alternatives to explore too, because Antelope Canyon itself is a guided and expensive tour. Basically you have options to see even more overlooks, the Glen Canyon Dam, beautiful hikes and just a whole lot of other adventures that might make you forget about Horseshoe Bend!
More quick questions about Horseshoe Bend answered:
How long does it take to hike Horseshoe Bend?
The hike to the Horseshoe Bend overlook is only about 10-20 minutes from the parking lot.
Can you go to Horseshoe Bend without a tour?
Yes, the main way to see Horseshoe Bend is from the top and access to that area is only a $10 parking fee, then you can hike on your own to the overlook.
Is there a fee for Horseshoe Bend?
If you want to see Horseshoe Bend from the top, then you need to pay $10 for parking.
What is the best time to see Horseshoe Bend?
It’s ideal to visit Horseshoe Bend around noon when you can see it fully or during sunset time.
Can I do Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon in one day?
Yes, but I would recommend seeing Antelope Canyon first followed by a visit to Horseshoe Bend. It would take you less than half a day to explore both spots.
I hope this post on how to explore Horseshoe Bend properly (at least compared to the common way most people do it) was helpful! Aside from exploring the top and bottom areas, don’t forget how much more there is the area of Page!