I’ve been to Horseshoe Bend twice with 10 years between trips and what a difference 10 years makes! The first trip in 2011 was before Instagram existed and you only went to Horseshoe Bend if you were lucky enough to know about it. Now, you have to pay to enter, there’s an official Horseshoe Bend hike and a lot more visitors. Here are the things you need to know before you go to Horseshoe Bend.
The time of year you plan to visit will have an impact on the precautions you need to take. Summer is insanely hot and you need to be prepared in advance. The best time to visit Horseshoe Bend is between October and March, skipping holidays.
If you are planning a trip to Northern Arizona and/or Southern Utah, definitely check out the 17 Best Things to Do Near Kanab Utah and The Best Sedona Vortex Hikes. Both are filled with things to do that are within a few hours from Horseshoe Bend.
1. The Horseshoe Bend Hike is Not a Typical Hike
The name Horseshoe Bend Hike implies a hiking trail. While it is 1.3 miles round trip, it is now a paved path. The paved path makes it feel like more of a long walkway than a hike. It’s an easy downhill walk on the way down to the Horsehoe overlook. On the way back up, there’s 200 feet of elevation gain.
Plan an hour for the Horseshoe Bend hike and time to take pictures. The walk is 15 minutes each way and there’s not much to do there other than see the view from a few spots and take photos.
2. The Walking Path is Wheelchair and Stroller Friendly
The upside is that the paved path makes it more accessible to everyone, which is a huge bonus. The path is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s wheelchair friendly, there are shade structures along the path and a safety railing at the Horseshoe overlook. and there are accessible bathrooms at the parking.
Being able to take a stroller is a game changer for parents of small children. The paved path is also easier for people that might have a fear of tripping or falling on a rocky path.
It’s important to stay on the path to protect the flora and fauna. It’s always worth mentioning that you should practice leave no trace principles. We need to protect natural places and sadly, some people leave trash here and trample things.
3. Dogs Are Allowed on a Leash and Should Not Be Left in a Car
The paved path is also pet friendly as long as they are on a leash. If you are on a road trip with your dog, you cannot leave your dog in the car. The police department will arrest you if they find your pet in the car in distress.
Bring a collapsible dog bowl with water for your dog because they’ll need it. Protect their feet with dog paw pad balm. It creates a wax barrier to protect them from hot pavement and is great for sand and too.
4. Bring Water, Sunscreen and a Hat on the Horseshoe Bend Hike
Even though the path is short, you should bring water with you. You’ll need it for everyone in your party including pets. There is no place to buy water once you get there. A lot of people think they are only going to be out of the car for 30 minutes, they go without water and end up with heat exhaustion.
You cannot underestimate the strength of the Arizona sun. On that same note, be prepared by wearing sunscreen and having a hat. The overlook is completely exposed to the elements. There is no shade available with the exception of the two spots on the way down to the viewpoint.
A Few Important Things to Pack For Your Trip to Arizona
- UPF 50+ Sun umbrella – You would be well served a sun umbrella with you to Arizona. I brought this same umbrella to Egypt and it was a lifesaver. It gives so much more shade protection than a hat and it will easily fit in a carry-on or day pack.
- Women’s Packable UPF 50 Hat – This hat is awesome because it has major sun protection and it folds into your suitcase and pops right back into shape.
- Men’s Wide Brim Hat – another great hat that won’t get ruined when you stuff it in your suitcase.
- Broad Spectrum Sunscreen – This sunscreen won’t leave a white cast on your face and it’s reef safe if you are going into the water. Reef safe means that it won’t hurt the environment in the water.
5. The Horseshoe Bend Hike Does Not Go Down to the Water
When I read about a Horseshoe Bend hike, I thought that it meant that you could hike down to the water. Unfortunately that’s not the case but you can go in the water a different way. More about that below.
6. The Sun Goes Down Really Quickly
If you are trying to take photos, it’s important to know that you need to be there well before the official time of sunset. So many of the places we’ve traveled around the world, the sky is prettiest up to 30 minutes after the published sunset time.
At Horseshoe Bend, the sunset is beautiful but it literally happens at the published time. Then it gets dark quickly. So if you hang out for awhile after everyone leaves, you will probably be walking back in the dark like we did.
Pro Tip: Be in the parking lot a few hours before the published time of sunset. The parking lot can be full if you get there too late. Also, you need time to walk down to the overlook. It takes about 15 minutes.
7. Parking at Horseshoe Bend
At the time of this writing, the cost for parking is $10 for cars and RVs. Unfortunately, the parking lot is often full and you cannot park on US Highway 89. Try to do the Horseshoe Bend hike first thing in the morning between sunrise and when it starts to get busy at 9am. Or get there a few hours before sunset if you want to see the gorgeous red sky.
Avoid visiting midday when it’s hottest. Also know that holidays, are much busier all day long and the parking lot will fill up.
8. Camping Overnight & Hotels
The parking lot is officially open from sunrise to sunset. We got back to our car after it was dark so I’m not sure what time they officially start kicking people out but you cannot stay in your camper van or RV overnight.
9. Bring the Right Camera Equipment
You need a wide-angle lens to capture Horseshoe Bend. A good camera with a wide angle lens is best but a GoPro or phone with a wide angle setting will work too. Drones are not allowed.
10. Take a Raft Trip Through Horseshoe Bend
If you want to experience Horseshoe Bend from the water, there is a full day raft trip through Horseshoe Bend. You’ll start at Glen Canyon Dam on a motorized raft that will allow you to see the massive canyon walls and travel 15 miles in the Grand Canyon, ending at Lees Ferry. They stop for a short hike along the way where you can see Petroglyphs.
11. There are Helicopter Tours for a Birds-Eye View
Horseshoe Bend is definitely a place that would look interesting from above. You can take. a 10-12 minute scenic helicopter tour of Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. Your pilot will share interesting knowledge of the area along with breathtaking sights.
The Horseshoe Bend hike is a great way to get out and enjoy one of the prettiest sights in Page, Arizona. If you are looking for other things to do in the area, the 17 Best Things to Do in Kanab Utah has a ton of amazing sights within an hour of Page.