The trailhead to this easy hike is located just outside of Page, Arizona. It overlooks one of the most spectacular views on the Colorado River, 4 miles south of the Glen Canyon Dam, and 7 miles north of mile zero of the Grand Canyon. As you walk up the path, the trudge up the sandy hill might seem like a nuisance; but it is actually a walk through cycles of time. About 200 million years ago this sand was part of the largest system of sand dunes the North American continent may have ever seen. These “sand seas” are known as ergs. Our enormous erg was eventually hardened by water and minerals into Navajo Sandstone, an amazing uniform, smooth sandstone layer.
It stretches from Arizona to Wyoming, and it can be over two thousand feet thick in some places. When you reach the edge of Horseshoe Bend you will be looking down 1000 feet ( 305 meters) of the sandstone to the river. After the Navajo Sandstone hardened, other layers of sandstone, mudstone, and different sedimentary layers piled on top of it. Then, after a couple of million years, patient water in the form of rain, ice, floods, and streams, worked to erode away the different layers.Today the Navajo Sandstone is once again exposed, and its sand is slowly wearing away. So now, what you are walking upon is sand from the Navajo Sandstone, which was from the giant Jurassic erg – recycled sand!As you descend, the path is a little bumpier. It alternates between a whitish gravel, more sand, and some pretty solid, sloping rocks, the Navajo Sandstone. Notice how the rock itself has diagonal striped layers.
These are the remnants of the layers of the ancient massive sand dunes before they were petrified into stone. The whitish stones tell us how the sandstone was petrified. This rock is calcite,or limestone, the same rock that drips itself into cave formations. Back 180 million years ago, this mineral mixed in with the rain and snow to cement the grains of sand together. The process took about20 million years, but eventually all of the sand dunes were petrified by the calcite, retaining their beautiful sloping dune shapes. Today, as the grains of sand erode, chunks of the calcite also present themselves.
As you get closer to the viewpoint, some of the rocks are covered with hard, sandy bumps. These are concretions of iron. Iron, being heavier than sand grains, was attracted to itself in ball shape while the sandstone was being petrified. Now that the sandstone is eroding away, the iron concretions are coming into view as well. When the little concretion balls break free from the rock, they are known as “Moki Marbles”.You’ve made it. Worth the walk, wasn’t it? The view of Horseshoe Bend from the rim of the canyon is extraordinary. (You’ll need a wide-angle lens to get the entire scene in your picture!) If you find the height a little daunting, try lying down on the ground and looking over the edge that way. It gives you a much better sense of security. Make sure you keep an eye on your animal companions as well; they can slip as easily as you.
Below you, the Colorado River makes a wide sweep around a sandstone escarpment. Long ago, as the river meandered southward toward the sea, it always chose the steepest downward slope. This downward journey did not always occur in a straight line, and sometimes the river made wide circles and meanders. As the Colorado Plateau uplifted about 5 million years ago, the rivers that meandered across the ancient landscape were trapped in their beds. The rivers cut through the rock, deep and fast, seeking a new natural level. Here at Horseshoe Bend, the Colorado River did just that, and as the river cut down through the layers of sandstone, it created a 270° horseshoe-shaped bend in the canyon.
Conceivably, at some time far in the future, the river could erode through the narrow neck of rock, creating a natural bridge and abandoning the circular channel around the rock. Maybe in a few million years, this will be the site of a brand new natural bridge formed the same way as nearby Rainbow Bridge National Monument.
This is truly one of the most beautiful spots in America. I think most travelers drive right by it without even knowing it is there. The parking lot for Horseshoe Bend is on the west side of the highway and there is a tiny sign pointing the way. No matter what you do, pull off and do this fairly easy hike. Even if it is tough for you to get up that initial hill, the rest of the hike is an easy downhill hike to the lookout point. BRING YOUR CAMERA as you will want to take dozens of pictures--it is just that beautiful!
Don't let the hike scare you--you can see the hardest part from the parking lot--just an uphill hike but it is on a very sandy pathway so it is quite slippery. I don't think you'd be able to take a wheelchair and a stroller would be very difficult as well. Definitely keep your little ones close by--do not let them run ahead! I'm not usually afraid of heights but being on that edge is quite scary and if I was there with my kids, I'd be quite nervous. That being said, this is easily one of the most beautiful places in America and should be put on the top of your list if you are in the area around the Grand Canyon and Page. WELL worth the side trip!
Actually sitting on the edge of a 3000ft drop... makes this experience way more real than the millions of pictures you’ll see on the internet. You have to visit the Horseshoe Bend, it is an iconic USA location of natural beauty!
Be careful of vertigo... gravity has a habit of pulling you closer to the edge, just like that ring did to Frodo! *We were there on a completely still day... not so sure you’d want to stand near to the edge on a windy day.
Bucket List Location! Do it!
One of the few places I've ever been in my life that is 100% as stunning and gorgeous as the photos you've seen. Horseshoe Bend might be one of the most incredible natural attractions to behold in the whole U.S.
It's about a half mile walk from the parking lot to the cliff overlooking Horseshoe Bend--be sure and bring a water bottle, and be prepared to walk through a bunch of sand. Once you get to the edge of the cliff get ready for a jaw-dropping view into the riverbed and the rock formation. As Daryn said, the experience of looking out over such a sheer drop is amazing in and of itself. Seriously, no matter what if you are ANYWHERE close to this area you have to go visit Horseshoe Bend.
We rafted with the Colorado River Discovery tour, then hiked up to Horseshoe Bend. What a memorable day!
Spectacular!!!!! About a mile hike to this location so make sure you bring your water if going in the summer. Worth it. A little unnerving to be so close to the edge without any barrier, and with older kids my heart never stopped pounding.
Simply amazing. Located just outside of Page AZ this is a spectacular view. there is a steep incline, followed by a steep decline to get to the viewing point, made all the more difficult to navigate due to the loose sand underfoot. But once there you can stroll around to find a less crowded area to take pics.
Totally worth the effort and any detour you have to make to get there. Recommend Sunset / sunrise to take the most spectacular images.
It's about a mile walk from the parking area to the edge but there is a huge space that you can walk around but as stated pay attention you can go right up to the edge and it's easy to lose your footing especially if you're not paying attention.
Around Page there aren't many signs that point to horseshoe bend, its sort of off the interstate and then you'll see a state sign for it and a parking lot. You have to do a 20 minute hike out to it - so if you visit in the peak of summer like I did - bring lots of water! Seeing the bend in person is jaw dropping and its incredibly beautiful. Standing near the edge is thrilling! I'd suggest walking around the area and you'll be able to see different view points of the bend. Don't miss this!
Traveling the Arizona/Utah border is chock full of stuff to do. Horseshoe Bend is a must on the list. If you ask me, its almost better than the Grand Canyon. Being able to walk up and sit on the edge is pretty intense. I'm afraid of heights so it was a bit of a victory if you ask me. haha.
Its such an iconic spot that they extended the closed road down to the access point for the parking lot. If you are in the area or visiting the Grand Canyon, you have to put Horseshoe Bend on the list.
There is a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the view, and it starts with a pretty steep incline, but you can take your time and they have some shaded areas to rest if you aren't much of a walker. It is worth the walk tho! You must do it!
Spectacular view of Glens Canyon and the Colorado river! This stop begins with a 3/4 mile hike over red sandy / rocky hills with some grade. The view is breath taking or is it the 1000 ft vertical drop as you stand on the edge? There are no safety railings and but the view is one we won't forget!
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