“What a difference a day makes?” If that day happens to include 24 hours in Page, Arizona, that difference will be a deeper understanding and appreciation of the power, complexity and artistry of an incredible force of nature known as the Colorado River.
If you’re coming to Page from Grand Canyon South Rim (which most of you will be doing), you’ve already gotten a sense of what wind and water erosion can accomplish, albeit in a somewhat abstract sense. From Grand Canyon Village and nearby vantage points, views of the river tend to be from far away, but as you proceed East on the Desert View Drive toward the park boundary, opportunities to get a better glimpse of it present themselves at places like Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point and from the top of the Desert View Watchtower.
Upon exiting the park, you are now on Navajo Indian Tribal Land, in an area loosely known as “Grand Canyon East.” A stop at the Little Colorado River Overlook reveals where two rivers join as they continue on course toward the Pacific Ocean. This confluence, known as the “sipapu,” is a sacred place to the local Hopi Indians, and is regarded as the portal through which the human race emerged from the underworld to walk the Earth.
Continuing East to the junction of AZ64 and US89, a stop at the Cameron Trading Post is a definite must, if not for a quick bathroom break/leg stretch, for a delicious meal of their signature Navajo Tacos and perhaps a bit of souvenir shopping. Ask to visit the gallery to view some of their higher-end collectibles, such as jewelry, pottery, paintings and sculpture.
As you proceed North on US89 toward Page, the river falls mostly out of view until you turn East at Bitter Springs and start the climb to Manson Mesa. Be sure to stop at the well-marked pull-out before entering “The Cut” to view the gorge as the river dramatically cuts its way through the plateau and winds its way toward the Grand Canyon.
Getting back in your car and heading North once more, the town of Page, Arizona begins to come into view. Here, you should start looking for mile marker 545 and the sign for the parking lot of the Horseshoe Bend Overlook. This incised meander of the Colorado River offers perhaps the most “up-close-and-personal” view possible from a rimside vantage point. Small wonder that it’s risen from an obscure afterthought to world-famous icon status in relatively short order. After paying your one-time parking fee, allow at least 90 minutes to take in the view, including the 1.4 mile round-trip walk on a partially-paved, graded trail. If anyone in your party has mobility issues, allow more time to complete the walk, or consider alternate means of visiting Horseshoe Bend.
During the summer months when temperatures routinely exceed 100°F, this activity should be scheduled for the following morning.
Time permitting, after visiting Horseshoe Bend Overlook, other activities well worth your time include:
Check in at your hotel, get some dinner, spend the rest of your evening relaxing.
The following day, after a good breakfast, tour Antelope Slot Canyon. There are two branches of the main section of Antelope Canyon, Upper and Lower. At 100 yards in length and a mostly flat trail, Upper Antelope Canyon is the easier of the two sections, manageable for most people, even those with mild mobility issues. ***Effective 2021, a set of walkways was installed from the exit of Upper Antelope back to the tour vehicle parking area. All Upper Antelope Cany on visitors must be able to manage this 1/4-mile walk after the canyon tour, no exceptions!*** Lower Antelope Canyon is the more physical of the two, requiring some stair climbing and light bouldering. Individuals reliant upon wheelchairs, walkers or other mobility aids will not be able to manage this section of the canyon. Due to the rapidly rising popularity of Antelope Canyon tours, reservations are an absolute must. These must be made well in advance of your arrival in Page. If you find that Antelope Canyon tours are sold out, consider touring alternate slot canyons that are just as scenic, but far less crowded, including some lesser-known drainages of Antelope Canyon.
If you manage to tour Antelope Canyon early enough, you might also be able to squeeze in some more sightseeing, including:
If your schedule dictates that you must move on to your next destination, consider stopping at these “bonus” attractions between Page and Kanab, UT:
Naturally, if you’re visiting Page from Zion or Bryce on your loop through the Grand Circle, the order in which you partake of the above activities can be flip-flopped to suit your itinerary. Still, don’t be surprised if you find that 24 hours in Page, Arizona is just enough to whet your appetite but not enough to satisfy your hunger for jaw-dropping scenery and family-friendly fun. Page, Arizona offers so many ways to play, so why not stay another day?