You may think that the Grand Canyon is the most amazing sight available to visitors touring Arizona and Colorado, but once you get a look at Horseshoe Bend you may reconsider which view heads the list of spectacular natural wonders of the American West. Named so for its remarkable resemblance to the shape of a horse's shoe, Horseshoe Bend is a 270 degrees meander of the sinuous Colorado River, formed over a period of twenty million years as the watercourse made its way across the rising and falling tectonic plates of the Colorado Plateau.
Today this unusual river loop that twists around an isolated peninsula of Navajo Sandstone is one of the most popular photographic destinations in Arizona. The breathtaking vista can be viewed from the overlook of a steep cliff accessed by a half mile hike from US Route 89 about four miles southwest from the town of Page, Arizona. Horseshoe Bend is located five miles downstream from Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Horseshoe Bend: From Above and From the River
The sight of the undulating waters rounding the rock formations deep within the canyon basin is a scene that becomes a treasure of memory for those with the tenacity to complete the sandy, rocky hike to reach the cliff-top overlook. Many people feel a sense of vertigo when looking straight down the 1000 foot drop to the river below, and some even choose to lay down and peek over the edge for a more secure feeling. The scene itself seems to change dramatically throughout the day depending on the angle of sunlight, and photographers with wide-angle lenses will spend hours waiting for the perfect highlights and shadows. Both sunrises and sunsets here provide intensely colorful, striking images, but the best time to get the clearest view of Horseshoe Bend is mid-afternoon when the sun is at its zenith.
There's another way to enjoy the natural beauty and wonder of Horseshoe Bend. Many visitors enjoy boarding a comfortable pontoon raft below the 700 foot Glen Canyon Dam and floating along the winding river for a half-day journey along one of the most spectacular stretches of river in the western U.S. The view from the water looking upwards at the soaring cliffs of Horseshoe Bend is nothing short of stunning, and the river trip also affords the opportunity to see scenes of ancient petroglyphs and possibly some local wildlife before reaching historic Lee's Ferry and your bus back to Page.
More Souvenirs from Arizona are here.
To see more pictures from Horseshoe Bend visit us on Flickr.