horseshoe bend

Why Horseshoe Bend was a HUGE Disappointment

Horseshoe Bend in Page was going to be the highlight of our Arizona road trip, but it ended up being a disappointment and probably the worst hike we did in Arizona.

I’m a super detailed planner and I had planned to hike to Horseshoe Bend first at sunset then at sunrise, but after doing the hike for sunset I was just was not motivated to go again for sunrise. 

How to Get to Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is just a short 15 minute drive from Page Arizona.  From Page drive south on Highway 89 and look for an exit lane between mile posts 544 and 545. 

You will drive on a dirt road and get to a parking lot where you can leave your car.  The parking lot at Horseshoe Bend does get rather crowded though, so you may have to wait. 

Google Maps has the location of Horseshoe Bend accurately labeled so you can easily navigate there.  Do download the map before you go in case you don’t have reception.

Best Time to Visit Horseshoe Bend

Sunset and sunrise are both great times to visit if you want some amazing pictures. 

But of the two I would pick sunrise if I could do it all over again.  Originally I had planned to go both at sunrise and sunset, but we only made it for sunset. 

It was super crowded during sunset, so I’d suggest going during sunrise instead.

horseshoe bend arizona

Dress available here and here.

The Best Instagram Photo Spot

How to get the best Instagram photo at Horseshoe Bend? 

The photo you see of everyone on Instagram looking down into Horseshoe Bend is at one spot.  Once you arrive and you are facing the Bend, start walking to your right. 

horseshoe bend instagram

You will see a small cliff that you can climb.  From the top of this cliff s where you can get the iconic shot you see all over Instagram. 

My husband was already tired of this place before we reached that point so we never climbed up.

How to Hike Horseshoe Bend

Hiking to Horseshoe Bend from the parking lot is super easy.  It’s not really a hike but more of a walk. 

The trail from the parking lot is only about .6 miles so 1.2 miles round trip.  The hardest part of the whole hike is the first part where you have to go up a huge hill from the parking lot. 

horseshoe bend hike

The rest of the hike was easy.

We went during sunset and in November, so it wasn’t that hot.  We didn’t really need the water we had brought with us. 

However, if you are doing the hike in the middle of the day or during summer, you should probably bring water and sun protection.  Right before you start the trail there are huge signs warning against heat exhaustion here.

The Crowds

Just how crowded was it at Horseshoe Bend?  It was impossibly crowded and I don’t think anyone talks about how crowded it is. 

horseshoe bend photography

There’s literally people hanging off every edge. 

All those Instagram pictures of girls perching on the edge by themselves, enjoying the view, so not the case.  If you want to enjoy a peaceful moment alone here I would come at sunrise.

Why I Didn’t Really Love It

First, I didn’t expect it to be quite so crowded.  I really wished we had gone for sunrise instead.  I guess if we hadn’t been so disappointed with it at sunset we would have rallied to go during sunrise.

horseshoe bend arizona

Second, it’s not really that easy to look down without practically hanging off the edge.  With a huge fear of heights, I literally took a glance and stepped back. 

I am not going to die just so I can look!!   I couldn’t really enjoy it. 

Third, well no one ever mentioned this…the gnats that practically swarm this area. 

Yes, they were everywhere!!! Literally EVERYWHERE!  I almost walked straight into a huge swarm of gnats at here and swallowed some. 

I’m guessing it’s the barely moving water source below that attracts them to this location.  There’s no way anyone can enjoy the view while fighting off the gnats. 

Unexpected Beauty Around Horseshoe Bend

The only plus side is the actual landscape leading up to Horseshoe Bend was beautiful.  I’m obsessed with deserts and loved the walk.  In case you are worried about the “hike” it’s really a short walk. 

arizona horsehoe bend

I had thought it was 1.2 miles one way but I think it’s actually 1.2 miles round trip. 

We went in November near sunset so didn’t really need any water, but there are HUGE signs warning about the lack of shade and bringing water.  Funny thing is our favorite canyon that has no tourists had no such warning signs and was much further and definitely required water.

All in all we could not wait to leave this tourist trap and be done with it.  Bucket list checked.  Have you ever been somewhere that was super hyped up and a huge disappointment? 

horseshoe bend arizona
horseshoe bend

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