“So, what’s the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend?”
Hope you’ve got a minute, because the answers you’re bound to receive are as diverse as the languages you’ll hear spoken by visitors at the overlook!
When prospective visitors to Page/Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon and the American Southwest want to get the best travel advice on the planet, they often jump on the travel forums of sites like TripAdvisor, Frommer’s and Fodors to get input from recognized experts on the area. And yet, surprisingly (or not) the answers that even they give to this question are as varied as the colors you’ll see in the rock layers of Glen Canyon.
On TripAdvisor, ConnieB, Destination Expert for Utah writes:
“Horseshoe Bend is best viewed late morning or mid day. The ‘bend and river are in shadow at other times. At or just before sunset, the sun will be in your eyes and the bend will be in shadow. It’s best viewed mid day to early afternoon.”
Yet, SouthJerseyGirl, Destination Expert for Grand Canyon National Park, offers up an opinion that almost runs counter to ConnieB’s:
“For Horseshoe Bend, I would try to see it in late afternoon towards sunset. With high sun at mid-day, the colors have a tendency to get washed out.”
Then again, RedRox, Destination Expert for Sedona, might disagree:
“Late afternoon is not the best time for Horseshoe Bend. You’ll be facing into the setting sun and the river below will be in shadows off the canyon walls.”
Bob B, Destination Expert for Tucson, Arizona and Northern Mexico, has yet a slightly different take:
“Horseshoe Bend is best seen mid-morning to early afternoon.”
DetTigerFan, Destination Expert for Grand Canyon and hiker extraordinaire, would seem to agree with Bob B’s assessment:
“The river is out of shadow by 9:30 in the morning and still will be well into the afternoon.”
Tet14, Road Trip Expert, as usual, has his own opinion based on many visits:
“We have been to Horseshoe Bend both in the morning and in the afternoon and prefer the morning.”
Ditto for dez40, Destination Expert for Zion National Park:
“Horseshoe Bend is better in the morning. In the evening the sun is in your eyes.”
But then again, blogger Joanne J. in A Note From Abroad had this to say about the view from Horseshoe Bend at sunset:
“The view was magnificent and I got the picture I had been hoping for as the sun was setting and clouds reflecting in the water.”
If your head is spinning by this point, that’s not surprising. Some facts to keep in mind: the new Horseshoe Bend Parking Lot is open from sunrise to sunset. The Horseshoe Bend Overlook itself faces due West. Therefore, during the timeframe around sunrise and sunset hours, the view of the Colorado River below does indeed tend to be in shadow. All other times during the day, it’s fully visible in all its glory. However, during the hot, crowded months between late spring and early fall, hitting Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise affords the twin perks of cooler temperatures and smaller crowds. Visiting at sunset boosts your chances of capturing the now-coveted “starburst” phenomenon as the sun dips over the horizon.
Here’s another one: Horseshoe Bend is located approximately 5 miles South of the town of Page. Many visitors to Page enter the area from Grand Canyon South Rim, making the Horseshoe Bend Overlook a convenient stop on their way into town. Map With so many vacations scheduled down to the second, anything that can be done to save time is sure to be appreciated, making the issue of optimal time to visit something of a moot point.
So, we haven’t really answered the question, “what’s the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend” now, have we? True to form, another TripAdvisor contributor, dbmove, has done so for us, and quite aptly, if we do say so ourselves. He says:
“I wouldn’t get too hung up on the “perfect” time to see Horseshoe Bend. Even with perfect timing, you could have clouds, rain, etc., that you can’t plan for and the sight will still be impressive. I was there last week and despite timing the visit for the perfect time in the canyon and giving up another activity to be there at the perfect time, it didn’t matter in the end. Half the group ended up scratching the visit because of heavy clouds. The half that stayed still felt it was worthwhile.”
An anonymous visitor to a different travel forum sums it up perfectly:
“We were planning to visit and were wondering whether or not time of day was crucial. Now we know it’s never bad, just different!”
We couldn’t have said it better! Still, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, a very patient gentleman named Brian Klimowski actually took the time to sit at Horseshoe Bend all day long with his camera and capture the constantly changing light and colors. Visit this page to see the beautiful results of his experiment! Sunrise to Sunset Photo Series
While you are in the area, make sure you also check out Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, and the Grand Canyon. Here are some quick links to popular requests.
Booking a tour for Antelope Canyon – You have seen this photo somewhere in the last few months, and it is only 4 miles away if you’re at Horseshoe Bend.
Fly over Horseshoe Bend in a plane or helicopter – usually for less than $100 dollars, you really get to see a different view point of the canyon and Lake Powell. Airport is about 10 minutes away. Makes for really great instagram shots 😀
Good luck and happy travels to all!