Although this is certainly not a wilderness excursion, we were in the area and figured we had to make a stop at this iconic viewpoint. To my surprise, Horseshoe Bend turned out to be one of my favorite stops on our trip! I've seen lots of photos, but seeing it in person was one of the most shocking and breath taking views I have ever seen and is certainly worth a visit.
Horseshoe Bend is a must see for anyone doing an Arizona or Utah road trip. Click here for a sample trip itinerary!
Miles: 1.5 total
Elevation Gain: 100 ft
Trail Type: Out and back
Trailhead: Dirt parking lot - Google Maps
We parked at the large dirt parking lot and were disappointed by how many other cars were already there. After the insanity of Antelope Canyon, we weren't ready to compete with the crowds of people trying to get that perfect photo. It wasn't until we saw a large charter bus pull into the lot that we literally ran up the beginning of the trail to beat the hoard of people now offloading the bus.
The walk to the viewpoint was only 0.75 miles one way, so we decided to just wear our flip flops. The trail heads uphill for the first 5 minutes, then leads downhill towards the edge of the canyon. There are lots of other people on the trail, and you can find some hard surfaces to give your legs a break from the soft sand.
As we approached the edge of the canyon, the distinct U shape is visible from most of the trail. It isn't until you walk up to the very edge and get a view down into the canyon that you are truly struck by how magnificent the view is.
The edge of the cliff is sheer, and there are lots of exposed rocks that overhang hundreds of feet above the canyon. There are no railings, and getting close to to the edge will definitely make your hands sweat. Some of the locals we talked to mentioned that this free attraction is a common place for suicides and deaths, and that is possible it will not always be a free attraction. We were pleasantly surprised that despite the crowd of people at the viewpoint, the wide rim allowed everybody to snap all the photos they wanted.
This place would be best visited at sunset when the sun sets near over the opposite edge of the rim, but we were lucky to have lots of clouds to give the sky some dimension.