Horseshoe Bend is one of those places you see in pictures, but you can only fully appreciate when you see it with your own two eyes. The vastness of this place is unreal. It is where the Colorado River has carved its way into an almost circle while making its way to the Grand Canyon.
The good (and not so good) thing about this beautiful landmark is that it’s very easy to get to in regards to both parking and hiking. And you know what that that means…it gets super busy with tourists!
- Difficulty: Easy; Good for all skill levels
- Length: 1.3 miles out and back
- Elevation gain: 200 ft
- Dog friendly: Yes
- Trailhead: Horseshoe Bend Parking Lot
- Highly trafficked
- Restrooms at trailhead
We have visited Horseshoe Bend twice now and had very different experiences each time we went.
First Visit (March 2017):
The first time we went to Horseshoe Bend it was sort of by accident. We had camped at Lake Powell the night before and woke up super early, so we decided to hit the road towards the Grand Canyon. We planned to stop at Horseshoe Bend, but hadn’t looked up where it was and just sort of stumbled upon it. (The parking lot is located off US-89 freeway about 15 miles from Lone Rock Primitive Campground.)
We arrived there at about 7 am and the parking lot was mostly empty, so we weren’t even sure we were at the right place. I was still in my sweats and fuzzy socks from camping the night before and didn’t even bother changing before heading out for a hike we knew nothing about. Luckily, it turned out to be a very short hike that takes all of about 20 minutes before you’re there. It has a short incline (roughly 0.2 miles) at the beginning and the rest of the hike is a slight decline until you reach the bend. The trail is very wide so there is plenty of room to pass the slow-pokes 😉
It ended up being the perfect morning and an ideal time to visit! It was still overcast since it was so early in the morning and there was barely anyone else around. Our first stop was right in the middle of the bend on a rock that juts out for an amazing view. Looking down was a little scary and if you are afraid of heights, I would beware of going too close to the edge.
We hung around here for a little bit before we decided to venture off towards the left. More people were starting to arrive so we wanted to find a more secluded place to take in the view. Going towards the left or the right just offers different viewing spots and more rocks that jut out! It doesn’t matter where you look out from, though, you get an amazing view wherever you are.
We took lots of photos and enjoyed the breathtaking view before heading back to the car. We could have spent a lot more time there enjoying, but it was starting to get more crowded as it got later. It ended up being a good decision to leave when we did!
Second Visit (January 2018):
Our second visit to Horseshoe Bend was a little different than the first. Since we had been there once before, we knew what to expect and where to go. We got a late start that morning and didn’t get to the parking lot until about 10 am, so this time it was much more crowded. The sun had also started to peak out and it was a clear morning, so our pictures turned out a lot differently!
Everywhere we looked there were people taking selfies or climbing out onto sketchy rocks to have other people take pictures of them. It was a little nerve-wracking to watch, especially since there are no rails anywhere to prevent people from falling. So if you go please be careful 🙂
We also didn’t have the option to go towards the left this time because they were doing construction, so that meant we (and everybody else) went towards the right.
Since it was so crowded, we spent a little less time enjoying the view in peace. There were other people all around us trying to take photos and find the best spot for a photo-op. That meant that we were able to find someone to take a photo of all 3 of us, which is rare when we go on our road trips 🙂
So this visit, we walked around, took some photos and were on our way. It was still so worth stopping because it is such a short hike to see something you won’t find anywhere else!
I hope this has given you a little more information about visiting Horseshoe Bend and the next time you’re in Arizona, you put this hike on your to-do list 🙂
HAPPY HIKING ❤