Round trip: 1.5 mi
May 28, 2016
If you’ve not had a chance to visit Horseshoe Bend, you are missing out! Contrary to Arizona’s typical ‘play it safe’ philosophy, the ledge that overlooks this amazing sight is entirely without guard rails or restrictions of any kind. This means that there is absolutely nothing to prevent you from inadvertently plunging 1000 feet to your death.
In fact, there is at least one documented occurrence (probably more) of this happening as recently as 2010. And once you experience the dizzying effect of standing on the precipice looking down you’ll wonder (as I do) why falling isn’t more common. In spite of this, I prefer the ‘use at your own risk’ attitude. And I love that the all too common, over-protective and view-blocking obstructions are generously absent.
We started out in the cool of the day, around 10am. The temperature felt pretty moderate due to the overcast sky, but at this time of year it’s typically already too hot for this hike. Fall and Spring would be ideal seasons for a visit. As you drive into the parking area the first thing you’ll notice (besides the unassuming size of it and the amount of cars that it currently holds) is that you can see nothing of what is on the other side due to a ridge that separates the lot from the main attraction. The trail immediately begins a fairly steep, but short climb up and over the ridge; taking you to the almost halfway point of the hike.
As you near the top and the view begins to open up before you, it becomes shockingly clear why this spot is one of the most visited and photographed sites in the region. On my first visit, I was so awestruck that I could barely keep myself from running down the other side all the way to the ledge. If it were not for the uneven, sandy, and rocky terrain that covers the descent of the trail I am certain I would have broken into a sprint! But the anticipation made reaching it that much sweeter.
Aside from the obligatory warning to use extreme caution, the number one thing I should remind you of on this hike is to BRING WATER. And plenty of it. This is Arizona, remember? And, as the Geico Gecko used to say, “Arizona is HOT”! A hat and sunscreen would also be a great idea, as the entire trail is exposed to the elements. In other words, no shade. Whatsoever. But don’t worry, if you need to cool down you will find a roofed ramada at the top of the hill (about halfway) where you can find a few moments of relief. Or as many moments as you like. Lastly, the hike is fairly short but is steep and sandy in places, making it difficult at times to find good footing; therefore enclosed shoes are highly recommended.
As for those of you who love to people watch, this is the place to be. This area is a popular stop for international visitors on their way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, so you’re likely to see or even meet people from all regions of the world. And all walks of life. You might even get lucky enough to stumble upon a few of our native residents, as we did. Particularly those of the slithering kind. Hssssss……..
Horseshoe Bend is not part of the Grand Canyon, contrary to popular belief. It is a natural bend in the Colorado River within the borders of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the same area that houses Lake Powell. Even so, the North Rim of the GC is a mere 5 miles away and can be clearly viewed and photographed from this overlook. And you don’t need a fancy or expensive camera. I took all these photos with my cell phone!
Horseshoe Bend is located just outside Page, AZ off of highway 89, between mile markers 544 & 545. The entrance is pretty unremarkable and can be easy to miss, so be sure to keep an eye on the mile markers.
Next stop: Arizona Trail, just outside the Grand Canyon!
Cliff Dwellers, AZ
This is definitely not something you would expect to see right off the side of the road. And yet, here it is.
PASSAGE #40 – KAIBAB PLATEAU SOUTH
training hike / Round trip: 4.5 mi
elevation gain/loss: unknown
Breathtakingly beautiful! This passage of the AZ Trail begins just outside the entrance gate to the North Rim. The parking lot is large and comes equipped with the cleanest, nicest smelling outdoor restrooms I’ve ever encountered. We followed an asphalt trail to the edge of the mountain then turned right, which led us along the Kaibab Plateau South Passage of the AZ Trail. But if you turn left at the T, you will actually be on the North Rim Passage. Either way, the views are spectacular and are definitely worth the trip!