The Essential Guide to Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
If I ask my children to describe our travel adventure to Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, the first and only word they respond with is “HOT”! We visited in July and it was well over 110 degrees, with no wind or clouds to provide any break from the blaring sun. However, the iconic view of Horseshoe Bend as captured in our photo above is worth the heat.
Horseshoe Bend is simply a section of the Colorado River where there is a dramatic bend in the river. The spot is located just outside of Page, Arizona and Lake Powell. We visited during our trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were travelling from the Grand Canyon to Flagstaff, Arizona and decided to make the slight detour north to see the bend.
Be Sure to Stop
Signs on I-89 indicate the location to stop and see the bend. There are minimal amenities at the stop as it only includes the parking lot and walkway to the observation point. It’s less than half of a mile walk from the parking lot to the observation area. And by observation area I mean where the cliff drops off to the Colorado River below. There is no formal observation deck or even guard rails. You really can get up close and personal with the canyon. Climb a few rocks to find your perfect perch for the view.
Enjoy the View
The view at the bend is dramatic. The cliff plunges into the Colorado River below and the contrast between the red rock and the green river is stunning. You can even watch the miniature brave souls below you who are navigating the river in rafts or kayaks. There are other locations along the river where you can stop and see the river on its way to the Grand Canyon, but there is something about the impressive curvature of the river at this point that draws the crowds.
Take a Rest
There is a permanent covered, open air structure at about the half-way point between the parking area and the river. This is a welcome reprieve after walking even the relatively short distance to the structure. A ranger was permanently stationed there with binoculars watching to be sure everyone was okay. We struck up a conversation with him and he shared that they had nearly DAILY medivacs via helicopter because people become overwhelmed by the heat.
Heed the Warnings
There are flashing warning signs at the entrance to the walkway providing many warnings on how to protect yourself from the heat. These are not signs to be ignored. Take heed of every single one of their recommendations as they are not exaggerating in the least. I have included a few in the Helpful Hints that I remember being lifesavers for us. And most importantly…
Leave Your Pooch at Home
Do not take your dogs or cats or any animal for that matter. They cannot come on the walkway as the parking lot, sidewalk, and sand will burn their paws nearly instantly. And you cannot leave them in your vehicle because it is just too hot. And, please, please, please, don’t leave them tied on a leash to your bumper. We witnessed one car who did this and the poor puppy could not find anywhere to get away from the heat because even the parking lot cement in the shade under the car was too hot for her paws.
We were fortunate that we had a generator that we were able to run to keep the air conditioning running in our travel trailer for our pooch while we were gone. But even so, we had to rush our visit to be sure the fuse in the A/C didn’t blow from running for too long and too high and result in our dog being left in a hot trailer.
Location: Off I-89, just south of Page, Arizona.
Wear closed-toed shoes. The walkway and area is among sand and you do not want any of that scorching sand to touch your skin.
Take plenty of water. The walk is not long, but it is so hot that you’ll be surprised by how much water you drink.
Wear hats and sunglasses. It is hot and glaringly bright.
Visit just before sunset. Some of the most impressive photos of the bend are as the sun is setting. And going later in the day may provide some reprieve from the heat.