Horseshoe Bend; Page, Arizona: NOT Worth It

Horseshoe Bend; Page, Arizona: NOT Worth It

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?

 

Mother and Son at Horseshoe Bend, Page Arizona Horseshoe Bend Worth It The OBriens Abroad Family Travel

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

View of Horseshoe Bend and Colorado River in Page, Arizona. Is the Horseshoe Bend really worth it?

 

Here are my two main issues with Horseshoe Bend are:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

View of Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ Is the Horseshoe Bend Worth it?

 

Mother and son sit at Horseshoe Bend Page Arizona Is Horseshoe Bend Worth it? OBriens ABroad family travel

 

 

red rocks of horseshoe bend is horseshoe bend worth it how many deaths are at horseshoe bend

 

 

Why you SHOULDN'T GO to Horseshoe Bend in Arizona! A road trip to Horseshoe Bend is one of the top Arizona things to do, but is this destination worth it? #Arizona #ArizonaTravel #HorseshoeBend #ArizonaDestinations #Thingstodo #Travel #TravelUSA #horseshoebendarizona #

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 89Page, 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!

 

Why you SHOULDN'T GO to Horseshoe Bend in Arizona! A road trip to Horseshoe Bend is one of the top Arizona things to do, but is this destination worth it? #Arizona #ArizonaTravel #HorseshoeBend #ArizonaDestinations #Thingstodo #Travel #TravelUSA #horseshoebendarizona #

 

 

62 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, I got dizzy and scared just looking at your pictures. I am not good with heights so I have to agree that this is not the place for me to visit. You were very brave!

    1. Thanks! The real kicker is that similar views are available in other spots past the Glen Canyon Dam, so this stop and the plummeting edges weren’t even necessary! Oh well!

      1. Tom Troske
        YES, it’s worth it! Can’t believe anyone would say it’s not. Nobody forces you to stand on the edge. Just be careful, smart, and watch your step. Personally, I stood on the edge, sat dangling my feet over, etc. It’s beautiful. As for similar views are available in other spots – sure, there are cliffs with water/river but not this unique picturesque horseshoe formation.

  2. OMG! these are wonderful photos! nothing like mediocre pictures its more like exceptional and outstanding ones. I would love to visit Arizona one day and come to this place as well. This is so beautiful oh my I’m speechless. Take me there with you!

  3. Wow!! It sounds like you had a quite an adventure – the trip made you stretch in all sorts of ways! Now you know. 😎. Despite so, I appreciate your writing so much. Your wit & humor shines through and through, and takes me there with you. Happy travels, my Love! Seeing your next one unfold unfold more harmoniously 💗🦋💝

  4. This is so tough! I feel the same way sometimes about how IG has made these places so crazed. But at the same time, I am one of the people who wants to go and snag a picture. Always a catch 22. Thank you for the warning though on how close to the edge you have to get to grab the shot. I will be prepared if I ever go!

    I currently have a travel link up going on and this post would make a great addition if you wanted to join in on the fun! http://www.lifessweetwords.com/2017/11/traveltuesday-22-goodbye-tribute-to-our.html

    Happy Friday!

      1. I enjoyed you pictures. We visited in October 2018. I did fine at Antelope Canyon and Glen canyon damn but I didn’t even go down the slope at Horseshe Bend. My 4, 7 and 10 year old grandchildren accompanied the parent and I kept fearing I’d hear screams and, well you get it. I don’t get along with heights at all. Same with the Grand Canyon and The Badlands. I stay far away from edges. I like looking at the pictures though.

        1. I’m glad you like the pictures! I agree with you about a fear of heights, though. I struggle with that and the anxiety is just not worth the view sometimes!

  5. I don’t know how you even managed to get that close to the edge.. Just looking at those photos gives me vertigo! I love how you write, it’s hilarious. I also completely agree that it’s ridiculous going to any tourist location these days because everyone (including myself) seems to be looking at the landmarks through their phones :/

  6. Hahaha! I love your take on this! It’s super trendy to post about Horseshoe Bend lately! I hadn’t even heard of it until a couple of weeks ago. You did get some amazing pics, but I’d also be terrified that my son would hurt himself.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it is super trendy right now! It’s really not worth trying to take your own pictures since so many others are taking the exact same ones. Just appreciate the nature and look at someone else’s pics!

    2. Yes! Only heard of it once news said someone died. It’s gorgeous, but no need to go see it myself, everyone did that for me and I feel I’ve officially seen it. :-/

    1. Thank you! I’m trying not to let my fear of heights prevent me from doing the adventurous things my husband and son like to do, but it gets hard at places like this!

  7. I bet the sunsets are spectacular. So many different places in the world that are just incredibly intense to take in with the eye. It is unfortunate that we can’t seem to enjoy what we see without our phones or camera’s in hand. I hope to better that practice in my own life! xo~ D

  8. Oh my goodness, STUNNING! I don’t have any other words to describe it! Although, I could never ever do it (with my fear of heights I would have a panic attack just planning my trip ha!) at least I can live vicariously through you!

  9. We were there this past summer. It was beautiful, but you’re right… terrifying. I was scared out of my mind and fighting anxiety the whole time as my husband and children climbed all over the rocks looking for the best angles possible for photos. Ugh… But, I would say it was worth it. It’s one of the more spectacular places I’ve had the privilege to see.
    Another terrifying venture for me was in Sequoia National Park. The elevation is SO high, and once again my family was climbing all over the rocks with far too little fear. Meanwhile I watching trying to continue to breathe. Haha… still a truly beautiful sliver of creation though, and I would go again. Anxiety attacks and all. 🙂

  10. Haha you’re absolutely right that this spot is super popular on social media posts, so I’m not at all surprised to find out it’s crowded with tourists. I’d probably stop by if I’m ever in the area just for the heck of it, and then I’d immediately head off on some really long backcountry hike or backpack to really experience the canyon 🙂 Or even better…find an awesome climbing route! 😀

  11. Seeing a picture from this place with an actual story behind it makes it the best picture I’ve seen from Horseshoe Bend. I can totally relate with your worrying, I have two dogs (which is the closest to kids I have right now haha) and I am paranoid about taking them on hikes with steep cliffs. Awesome to know how busy it can get, that makes it a “maybe” on my list, it still looks beautiful!

  12. Oh my goodness there is nothing mediocre about your pictures. They are absolutely gorgeous. I am afraid of heights so I can only imagine this would be a very scary expedition for me. Although I did enjoy the Grand Canyon very much but we flew a helicopter down inside of it and landed, so I didn’t have to look over the edge.

  13. haha this post made me laugh. growing up my family never did the grand canyon trip that most families did. We were like, we’re gonna sit in a car for hours and walk around and look at a big rock? eh, we’ll pass.

  14. These are beautiful pictures, but I can totally see how this would make a mama’s heart leap! With young kids, I don’t think we will be visiting here anytime soon. Thanks for sharing the pics!

  15. We live not far from horseshow bend and I was hoping to go for the first time this year… but I get major vertigo and never thought about the edge… eek!! I struggled getting close to the edge at the Grand Canyon, even with a barrier!

  16. Great story, thanks for sharing! It reinforces my “fear of my kids falling” phobia but the scenery is quite impressive. I found your story while reading headlines of a new fatality at the bend (14-yr old girl from CA). Glad I stumbled upon your site.

  17. Today I visited this place and as told in the article there are bunch of Asians who were jumping at the end just for a picture making every one around them uncomfortable and that to after knowing that there was a14 years girl died falling off from the same exact place previous day. There are no barriers or a guard to stop such actions.

    1. Her death is a complete tragedy! Hopefully it brings the dangers of casual viewing to light so other visitors will be more aware of themselves.

  18. I was at horseshoe bend just over a month ago with my family. What struck me there was not so much the views (beautiful, yes) but so many people clambering over the dangerous precipice trying to get selfies. In fact the beauty of the place is marred by the number of people trying to get their pictures taken in a dangerous manner. I thought to myself- there are accidents waiting to happen here. Almost exactly a month later, a child died this week. I really hope that they install a guard rail there. And people get smart about taking selfies in a dangerous precipice.

    1. I felt the exact same way. The views are definitely impacted by the crowds acting stupid, and I was too tense watching them to even try to enjoy the area! The child’s accident is a complete tragedy, and I’m glad it doesn’t happen even more often.

  19. I live here in Page. I was 1 time at HB. We tried with my family 3 more times, but every time was so crowded we just leaved. It’s annoying if you live here but you can’t enjoy the nature because the tourist people. It just sad. I don’t know exactly how many death are, but my husband working for the park and almost every week is some bad accident/death at HB. People didn’t realize how dangerous this place is.

  20. Just left horseshoe bend. It’s stunningly gorgeous and was worth the 3 hour drive.
    I loved it.
    Yes, there were idiots getting too close to the edge, but people do dumb things.
    I wish I could go back again. Worth every second.

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