Horseshoe Bend is a natural wonder that is taking over the world. Its a naturally-occurring horseshoe-shaped curve of red rock around the Colorado River in Page, Arizona. The Bend of the rock leads to gorgeous views of the emerald-green water of the Colorado River, as displayed by the number of professional photos and Instagram pics that have taken over the internet lately.
Of course I had to go there.
Yes, it’s cool to see the red rock canyon and the blue-green river water bend around a canyon wall, but, unfortunately, it feels like everyone in the world agrees.
You know how sometimes going to a popular place is ok and doesn’t really impact your visit, but other times seeing a bunch of other tourists kind of….. ruins your experience? Seeing Horseshoe Bend is the latter.
So is Horseshoe Bend worth it?
Our Horseshoe Bend Experience:
Horseshoe Bend was our first stop in Page, Arizona, after 6 hours of driving from central Utah.
I insisted on seeing it, and arriving at dusk seemed perfect. Just a bit cranky from being stuffed like Thanksgiving turkeys in the car for hours, I tried to muster mine and the other’s attitudes to see Horseshoe Bend once we arrived.
Tennis shoes on, jackets tied around waists, water bottles and camera in tow, we made our way up.
The first thing to greet us was a large parking lot. The second thing was a sign advising tourists on what to and not to bring; including drones. Darn. The third thing we noticed was a hill.
It wasn’t too hard to climb up using the sand-covered steps, but once at it’s apex we noticed the hill had a steep decline. And then continued. For a while. All-in-all we had around .6 miles hike up which left us embarrassingly out of breath. We took break’s for “Whit’s” sake, being regularly passed by selfie-stick wielding Asians in high heels.
Oh well, it is what it is.
Once we got closer to the actual bend we weren’t surprised to see a crowd of people already worshiping at the alter of social media (er, I mean, nature).
It’s not an exaggeration to say that every inch of Horseshoe Bend had a person planted on it, and that that person had a phone or camera (or both) attached. (Not that I’m any different, mind you, it was just kind of a shock to have the realization of my own blatant sheepishness hit me in the face.)
After the initial surprise that we weren’t the only ones interested in seeing this natural wonder, we took our place in line to try and get our own set of pictures.
Unfortunately, the edges are really steep and I’m really afraid of heights. Ben kept trying to walk closer to the edge to give Whit a better view, and I kept freaking out.
We became somewhat of a sideshow to the other tourists, entertaining them with my cries to keep my son away from there and Ben’s insistence that he wouldn’t put his son in any danger.
Well, Dad won. We did eventually get to the edge (I mean, we hadn’t gotten passed by classy Asians for nothing) but only by laying on our stomachs in the safest position possible. To his credit, Whit didn’t even complain when I tightened my arm Boa Constrictor-style across his torso.
Book a top-rated Antelope Canyon tour. It’s WORTH IT!
Deaths at Horseshoe Bend
Here are my two main issues with Horseshoe Bend are:
- It’s over commercialized, which means there are so many people you can hardly appreciate the nature. That’s just sad, considering there are other beautiful places with virtually no foot traffic nearby.
- Safety concerns. The edges actually go down at a negative angle, which means there are no cliffs to catch you if you fall. And there are no barriers preventing you from falling.
I was curious about how dangerous Horseshoe Bend actually is. How many people actually die at Horseshoe Bend? Am I just being paranoid and overprotective?
According to my research, nearby Grand Canyon sees around 12 deaths each year. Most of those are from people who carelessly fall over the canyon’s steep edges either while hiking, taking pictures, or goofing around. There’s even a compelling book about individual deaths at Grand Canyon in the gift shop, but I was encouraged not to buy it. That’s probably for the best.
There’s less research on how many people die at Horseshoe Bend, but the estimate is 2-3 people per year. In fact, one man’s fall is a suspected suicide in early 2018, and a 14-year-old girl accidentally died while on vacation to Horseshoe Bend with her family over Christmas, 2018. Her body was retrieved by helicopter at the bottom of Horseshoe Bend on Tuesday, December 25, after her family reporter her missing.
These and other near-fatal accidentals have prompted a railed viewing platform, but that doesn’t stop people from getting as close to the edges as possible in search of that perfect selfie.
I hope you enjoy our mediocre pictures. We risked our lives getting them.
This is just my personal opinion.
Let’s be reasonable, folks. There’s no reason to get upset over my saying this particular landmark isn’t worth it. You know why? Because we are all individuals who appreciate different things when we travel. Our family loves being in nature. We enjoy hiking, visiting national parks, kayaking, rock climbing, etc. My distaste for Horseshoe Bend has nothing to do with an unappreciation for natural beauty. It’s just that, for us, a place needs to be more than just natural beauty. We are looking for areas which builds us up and inspires us to think or feel more than we had. While Horseshoe Bend could do that, when combined with selfish, rampant tourists and incredibly dangerous edges that bad outweighs the good. What once must have been an incredibly spiritual location has been ruined (to us) by overcrowding.
Especially when Page, Arizona, is full of other naturally beautiful landscapes which still allow someone to sit and think without being asked to move out of someone’s selfie.
But that’s just one person’s opinion.
Yes, it’s beautiful, but, personally, being scared to death that my son was going to plummet to his death and feeling self-conscious about screaming while standing side to side with other people who are probably recording my outbursts for Instagram Stories just isn’t my idea of fun in the end.
But if you’re determined to visit….
Here’s what you need to know about Horseshoe Bend:
How to get to Horseshoe Bend:
- Horseshoe Bend; Page, Arizona: Mile Marker 545, Highway 89, Page, AZ 86040
Things to Know Before Going to Horseshoe Bend:
- The best time to go to Horseshoe Bend is at sunset on weekdays. Avoid holidays!
- Bring a camera with landscape photography lens and tripod, if possible.
- Take lots of water
- It can get pretty windy, so consider bringing a jacket
- It’s best to wear good tennis Shoes since the ground doesn’t have a lot of traction to avoid slipping.
- It is free to park and enter Horseshoe Bend
Interested in one of Arizona’s other natural wonders? Check out Angel’s Landing!
If you’re interested in things to do in Page, AZ and want to see Horseshoe Bend pin this article for later!