Horseshoe Bend


Horseshoe Bend is Page's biggest tourist attraction, receiving more than 4,000 visitors a day, up from only 100 five years ago. Despite the recent expansion of the Horseshoe Bend parking area cars often overflow onto US 89, and both dehydration and safety at the rim are real concerns. On November 6th the National Park Service, together with the City of Page, began a project to install a viewing platform with railings on the rim, and to compact the trail so it is handicapped friendly. NPS and Page will each pay 50% of the cost of the improvements. Horseshoe Bend itself is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; however the City of Page owns the land the parking area is on, hence the cost sharing arrangement. Future enhancements include further expansion of the parking area, restrooms, and most likely a fee booth. As of now the proposed fee is $10 per vehicle. If Horseshoe Bend is on your to do list, I suggest you do it now, as the experience and photo ops will be totally different once the viewing platform is in place. Alternatively consider one of the other Colorado River overlooks such as Waterholes Bend, Tatahatso Point, Redwall Cavern Bend Overlook, or the other side of Horseshoe Bend. Mark Metternich offers an epic tour called "4 Bends in 4 Days" which, based on the photos I have seen from past trips, is highly recommended.

Getting There

The hike to Horseshoe Bend is an easy hike beginning on Highway 89 about 2 miles south of the Walmart in Page, Arizona. The parking area for the trailhead is 0.2 miles south of mile marker 545. The hike is 0.5 miles long (the sign at the trailhead says .75 miles, Google Earth says .53 or so) and there is a hard to find small dinosaur track about 50 yards from the end. Thousands of people probably walk right by this footprint every year and never notice it!

Shooting Horseshoe Bend

You will need a 24mm lens or wider to get the whole overlook in. Consider using a polarizer to bring out the color of the water. It is easy to overexpose here. I suggest you bracket or use a graduated neutral density filter. Early afternoon in late spring/ early summer is the best time to avoid shadows. Sunrise works very well also, be there right when the sun rises. This way the far cliffs will be lit but the entire bend will be in shadow. At sunset you'll be shooting right into the sun, so consider waiting till the last seconds and get a starburst by shooting at f/22.

It's a 500 feet drop to the Colorado River here so be careful. If you really want to see the Colorado River from the bottom you can book a float trip that comes up from Lee's Ferry!


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