Horseshoe Bend in Arizona is a famous destination that attracts a lot of tourists. Adding it to your itinerary list will ensure that you have the ultimate Grand Canyon experience. It already looks majestic in the photos, but it will still surprise you once you see it in person. Here’s everything you need to know about this beautiful place.
What is Horseshoe Bend?
1. Horseshoe Bend lives up to its name. It is a horseshoe-shaped incised meander of the Colorado River located near the town of Page, Arizona, United States.
2. You can find it 5 miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is also about 4 miles southwest of Page Arizona.
3. This place is a must-visit if you like seeing incredible natural vistas.
4. Horseshoe Bend’s rock walls have a variety of minerals. You will be able to find hematite, platinum, and garnet.
Not a fan of heights? You need to muster up some courage to see Horseshoe Bend in its full glory.
5. You better think twice about visiting this place if you’re afraid of heights (there is a 1,000 foot or 300 m drop). But then again, we are sure your trip here will be worth it. While the overlook is 4,200 feet above sea level, and the Colorado River is 3,200 feet above sea level, you will be treated to breathtaking and scenic views.
6. As you get closer to Horseshoe Bend Overlook, you will notice that some rock formations have dark, sandy nodules. These are called “iron concretions.” What’s the catch about this feature? Iron is definitely heavier than sandstone, and iron tends to cluster up into small spheres during the process of petrification. When the sandstone erodes, dark sand spheres are once again exposed to the elements, causing them to break away from the sandstone bedrocks. When the break away from these bedrocks, they become “Moki Marbles.” Don’t take these marbles if you ever see one! Remember that you are only allowed to take only pictures.
7. The Horseshoe Bend is “tamed” by the Glen Canyon Dam. The emerald-green Colorado River also makes the gigantic bend more than a thousand feet below the overlook. It swings to the east and curves back to the west. This bend is locally known as “King Bend.”
How can you view this majestic place?
8. You can access Horseshoe Bend by hiking a 1.5-mile or 2.4 km round trip from U.S. Route 89. There is an access road that also reaches the geological structure because it is part of a state park.
9. Horseshoe Bend is a great example of what happens when water takes the path of least resistance. It was caused by the continual flow of water through the canyon walls. Approximately 5 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau abruptly uplifted, causing the rivers that flowed across this ancient landscape trapped in their beds. The rivers naturally sought a new natural level, and with the help of gravity, the Colorado River began cutting through rock layers deep and fast. The rock formation wasn’t going to budge soon, so the river just went around it. The result is the impressive Horseshoe Bend, a 270° bend in the river that is actually called an entrenched meander.
10. Horseshoe Bend lookout recently gained popularity and became a major tourist destination. The significant increase in the number of visitors is due to the references to the location on social media.
You can hike here, but you better be physically and mentally prepared!
11. The hike to Horseshoe Bend is pretty challenging because the trail is steep in some areas. There are also some parts of deep sand. While the hike has a relatively short distance, you need to be prepared for the challenge. It can also cause some issues for people such as Heatstroke or Hyperthermia, depending on the time of year of your visit.
12. This destination is as awe-inspiring as you’d expect. If you plan to visit, you better expect large crowds. The peak month for Horseshoe Bend is actually April, and the peak time is sometime around 11 am.
13. The parking lot is almost always completely full. Cars will be turned around by local police and told to catch the shuttle from a mile down the road. The newly-expanded Horseshoe Bend parking area just South of Page, Arizona will make you feel like you’re taking a trip through Jurassic World. You will need to make your way up the mildly steep incline through deep, sometimes unwieldy sand.
Explore it by boat or by an airplane!
14. You can take a rafting trip and float down the river to see the beautiful Horseshoe Bend. There are rafting trips and wilderness river adventures that offer the most exciting one-day rafting trip on the Colorado River. This is especially perfect if you want some family fun. You trip will begin with an exclusive ride down the two-mile long Glen Canyon Dam access tunnel. The Glen Canyon Dam is visible, and is 700 feet above you. After that, you will need to board your raft for the journey downstream.
The trip will be long, but you will experience and see the dramatic stretches of river in the western United States. There is also a guide who will be able to tell the story of the area’s soaring sandstone cliffs, and crystal blue-green waters. They will also share the exploration by Major John Wesley Powell, as well as the abundant wildlife. With a rafting trip, you can experience Horseshoe Bend like never before!
15. You can also join a Papillon air tour to see the Horseshoe Bend. You will be treated to stunning views of the mystical Horseshoe Bend, as well as Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. The sightseeing opportunity from the aircraft gives you high wings for viewing and photography. You will also enjoy the headset narration and air conditioning within the cabin. They can take you to see the expanse of Lake Powell’s glittering waters and its astounding 2,000-mile coastline. You will also see the colorful stone landscape of Glen Canyon and the nearby Glen Canyon Dam. The tour takes approximately 30 to 35 minutes.
It’s really high!
16. Since Horseshoe Bend is 1,000 feet above the rivers surface, it’s equivalent to a 99-story building.
17. If you prefer to look at Horseshoe Bend from the overlook and not through a rafting trip or an air tour, that’s perfectly find. You will have many opportunities for pictures and finding unobstructed views. Make sure to bring your camera!
18. The water in the Colorado River below is emerald green in summer. It is also cool enough to enjoy a refreshing swim. That is, if you can make it down to the bottom.
19. The tourism of Horseshoe Bend was low in 2010. It was also during that year when the first reported death at the rim was confirmed. Six others have also died while falling over the steep edges of Horseshoe Bend. To date, there have been seven deaths in nine years.
What do you need to prepare when visiting Horseshoe Bend?
20. For parking, prepare $10 per car and $5 for motorcycles. The incredible popularity of this section of the river will really surprise you. There are many visitors who come here no matter the month. The viewpoint is pretty “hyped” on social media, especially in Instagram.
21. The ideal time to go visit Horseshoe Bend is during morning, when the sun is behind you and shining brightly towards the bend, lighting up the river. It would also look heavenly during sunset. Since there are competing arguments on the best time, maybe it’s best if you just consider the weather. A clear day can guarantee you can get good photos due to the shape of the canyon (circular with vertical walls). It will also be difficult to avoid shadows in your photos. If you want a more magical photo, you can also come during the afternoon.
Don’t you think that this place is just too beautiful for words? You can also check out the drone video of this destination by reading this article.
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