Autumn is in full swing with gorgeous days and cool nights, and my thoughts turn to where they always do—wanting to hit the trail during this perfect time of year. This started me thinking of my “epic summer journey” this year where I visited so many of our amazing western national parks over a period of three weeks. Looking over the photos, I’ve decided to share my incredible journey with you in a series of photo journals. I’ll be providing information on each of the parks as well. I hope you’ll enjoy the road trip.
My goal for the trip actually had a real purpose other than just a fun excuse to visit parks. Like so many of us, my Mom is getting up there in years and needs to sell her house and relocate to something smaller and hopefully “assisted.” She lives in Washington state and much closer to the rest of my family which includes a brother and two sisters. They’ve been trying to convince her that she needs to make some changes, and it was time for me to help. At the same time, my husband, who works for Petrified Forest National Park, had to go to Jackson, Wyoming for business. So I decided to combine a couple trips into one and make a fun camping vacation out of it!
I took off about a week before I was to meet Brad in Jackson to give myself plenty of time. My goal for the entire trip was to avoid interstates as much as possible and camp all the way up. I packed up all my camping gear in the truck and headed north.
My first stop was within a couple hours of home, yet it was to visit an overlook I had never seen before. Horseshoe Bend is famous for its 270° horseshoe-shaped bend, or meander, in the Colorado River. The viewpoint is located a mere 1.5 mile (2.4 km) roundtrip off of the highway just south of Page, Arizona. The turnout for the lookout is approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of Carl Hayden Visitor Center on U.S. Hwy 89, just south of highway marker 545.
Even though the trail is pretty short, it is exposed with no shade to speak of and on loose sand for most of the way. Flip-flops or flimsy footwear would not do well. Wear a hat and bring water. (You will be surprised at how thirsty you will get.) You hike uphill for approximately the first half, and then the trail drops down in elevation. This means you have to hike uphill and downhill in both directions.
The view will blow you away—no matter how many photos you’ve seen! Don’t forget your wide angle lens. This place is spectacular and beautiful!
Here are some useful links to learn more and help you plan your visit:
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Interactive Map (click on icon south of Page on Hwy 89 for Horseshoe Bend)
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Park Newspaper download page
- Horseshoe Bend Trail Brochure – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (PDF – 896 kb)
- Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Geology by Gary Ladd
Next stop, Cottonwood Canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.