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Sunrise to Sunset Photo Series

In this series of photographs, Brian Klimowski answers one of our most commonly asked questions, “What is the best time of day to photograph Horseshoe Bend?” Thanks to his efforts, you can get a sense what what time you should be there depending on the effect that you want (and your luck with the weather!) Thanks Brian! FROM THE ARTIST In my photography I not only attempt to convey unique moments, aspects and light, but also a sense of pattern, process and evolution. I frequent the Page area, and enjoy shooting many of the popular (and relatively unknown) locations nearby. In my Horseshoe Bend series, I wanted to capture the dance of light and atmosphere through one day (from the same perspective) when interesting interactions were likely (late monsoon season). The September day I chose provided just what I was looking for. I arrived at Horseshoe Bend well before sunrise and scouted the location where I would shoot the series of photographs. I used a tripod, and marked the exact perspective so that it could be easily repeated. Images were taken approximately every hour from 30 minutes before sunrise, to about 30 minutes after sunset. The temperatures were pleasant, and I gave myself the opportunity to spend the entire day at the location (equipped with water, food, a good book, and plenty of sunscreen), but ended up marking the location carefully and running into town a couple times to add a bit of variety to my day, and keep my perspective fresh. With a little planning I was able to capture what I had envisioned, and am very satisfied with the results. Beautiful locations such as Horseshoe Bend graciously reward those that patiently pursue them. Taken with aCanon EOS 10D

51 Responses

  1. Hi. To see sunset at Horseshoe bend , what time should I get to the parking area to have time to walk over and find a spot ? And is it possible the lot is so packed I can’t get a spot ?

    1. Hi Ronda,
      It is best to arrive at the parking lot 45 minutes to one hour prior to actual sunset in order to secure a parking space and walk to the rim. As to what time that is, that depends on the time of year as sunset varies according to daylength. To check sunrise and sunset times for your trip dates, visit
      Regarding whether the parking lot might be full at the time of your arrival, that’s difficult if not impossible to predict. However, the parking lot was recently expanded which more than doubled the number of available parking spaces, so those sorts of situations are rare nowadays.
      If you’re visiting during the summer months, which are very hot and crowded typically, you might consider visiting Horseshoe Bend at sunrise to take advantage of cooler temperatures and less competition for parking. Again, check to see what time sunrise occurs at the time of year you’re traveling.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  2. I’ve read where the gate to Horseshoe Bend does not open till sunrise. If this is accurate, how would I get in to photograph the blue hour?

    1. Hi Rodney,
      You are correct that Horseshoe Bend opens at sunrise. To inquire about access to the overlook outside of regular operating hours, please contact the City of Page at 928-645-8861. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  3. I’ve been taking notes from all the responses you’ve posted here! I have a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to fill, but I’ll be staying in Phoenix. My guess is I’d drive up to Page on Friday and spend the night there, then come back Saturday – but would that be enough time to see – The New Wave, Horseshoe Bend (in the afternoon, as you’ve mentioned) and the Grand Canyon all in a day? I’m guessing no since I’d need to spend time in each place basking in its beauty and then I shouldn’t be driving at night. I think the driving route (for Saturday) would take a total of 6+ hours. *facepalm* While I have nothing to do on Friday, I’ll just drive up and see whatever I can see on that day (maybe Horseshoe since it’ll likely be afternoon by the time I get there). Then do the Grand Canyon the next day! I’m flying into Arizona. Are there any must-see things if you have a whole weekend? I’m new to hiking, so no scrambling, and my photography skills are limited to my cell phone.

    1. Hey Courtney!
      You have correctly deduced that seeing the Grand Canyon as a “drive-by” on your way back to Phoenix from Page is neither realistic nor fun. It takes ~3.5 hours to drive from Page, AZ, to the Grand Canyon, then another 4.5 hours to drive back to Phoenix. Depending on what time of year you’re traveling, that could eat up most of your workable daylight.
      You need to set aside a separate day for the Grand Canyon in order to really do it justice. That said, if you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, you really should prioritize it over everything else. Also, if you’re going to Page, AZ, you should plan on touring Antelope Canyon while you’re there. But with a whole weekend to work with, you should be able to fit both Page and the South Rim into your itinerary and have a perfectly nice time.
      You could do something like this:
      Friday: Drive from Phoenix to Page, AZ, direct drive time ~5 hours, optional stops: Montezuma Castle National Monument near Verde Valley, Sunset Crater/Wupatki National Monuments just North of Flagstaff (loop drive connects them, would add another 90 minutes-2 hours onto your drive time), Cameron Trading Post (maybe for lunch?), Horseshoe Bend on way into town, overnight in Page
      Saturday: Tour Antelope Canyon first thing in the morning, maybe do the New Wave hike, too. Drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim, that afternoon, stopping at Grand Canyon Viewpoints between Desert View point and Grand Canyon Village (half-a-dozen+ of them, all different, all worthwhile!), approximate drive time factoring in stops ~3.5-4 hours; overnight at the Grand Canyon.
      Sunday: Drive back to Phoenix (~4.5 hours), optional detour through Sedona will add another 90 minutes-2 hours to drive time.
      Hopefully you’re not locked into your hotel reservations in Phoenix. Also, I’m getting a distinct sense that you’re just planning to “wing it” regarding lodging at each point of interest. You don’t want to do that as the area is already starting to get busy, and will just get busier as time goes on what with Spring Break just around the corner. Make advance reservations for ALL hotels, you’ll also need one for a guided tour of Antelope Canyon (link provided above).
      I hope that helps. If you have further questions, please write me directly at [email protected]
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  4. Hi Alley

    We want to take the raft tour on Horseshoe bend starting from Page, in late April. What is the best time to be on the river to be able to see the canyon and take pictures? We also want to visit

    1. Hi Anish!
      In late April, the Horseshoe Bend Raft Trip is offered three times daily: 7:00 am, 10:30 am, and 1:00 pm (check-in 30 minutes prior). While there’s no such thing as a bad time, I would avoid the mid-day departure since the sun will be beating right down on you and be very hot. The 7:00 AM departure will offer cooler temperatures at the beginning of the trip; the afternoon departure will also be warm toward the beginning of the trip, but cool off a bit toward the end as well as offering nice light and shadow play on the canyon walls.
      If you also wanted to visit Antelope Canyon (your comment cut off at the end, so I’m just assuming), please visit our companion site for more information on that, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hey Barbara,
      Like anything else in life, either time slot has its advantages and drawbacks.
      At sunrise, the ‘Bend will mostly be in shadow as the sun is behind you. However, if you’re visiting Page, AZ, during the scorching hot summer months, a sunrise visit affords the advantages of cooler temperatures and smaller crowds.
      At sunset, the sun will be right in front of you, and potentially in your eyes, so definitely wear sunglasses if visiting at that time. If you’re a photographer , visiting at sunset will allow you to capture the stunning “starburst” phenomenon right before the sun dips over the horizon.
      For more commentary on this issue check out The Best Time To Visit Horseshoe Bend
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  5. Hi, I just visited Horseshoe Bend and it was beautiful. I was just wondering if we can post and/or sell pictures of Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon or if we need special permits for that. I don’t want to accidentally break some law or property rights, so I’m just curious about that. Thanks!!

    1. Hey Arnold,
      Happy New Year! Apologies for the delay in response to your inquiry, this is an excellent question.
      In general, a Special Use Permit from the National Park Service is required to commercially sell photos of Horseshoe Bend. Likewise, permission from the Navajo Indian Tribe is required to offer photos of Antelope Canyon for sale. Usually one must obtain these permissions in advance, but you could try to do so “after the fact.” All they can do is say “no.” For the Glen Canyon National Park Service in Page, AZ, the phone # is 928-608-6200. Phone # for Navajo Nation Parks & Rec is (928) 645-0268.
      Good luck and safe travels,

    2. If you are selling any artwork yourself, it is a legal requirement to have a business license. It allows you to file for a DBA (Doing Business As) so that you can operate under the business name of your choice. You can also operate a business under your own name.

  6. Hey, you have a nice informative site – congrats. I am thinking about doing some pre-dawn photographs. When should I arrive at the parking lot not to be late and will it be possible to park there (if it is still dark), since the City of Page site states that the place is open from dawn until dusk? Thanks

    1. Dear Dan,
      Thank you for your nice compliments.
      At present, “dawn to dusk” are the official operating hours of the Horseshoe Bend parking lot, according to the City of Page. This means you wouldn’t be able to be at the overlook prior to sunrise. Since you are not alone in wanting to visit Horseshoe Bend before “actual” sunrise, I would recommend contacting the City office Economic Development and Tourism to voice your concerns. They can be reached at (928) 645-4310.
      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful at this time,

  7. These photos are beautiful!
    I am planning a relatively short trip to Arizona. Wanting to see antelope canyon (even though it’s extremely touristy) or cathedral slots. I’m wondering if I’ll be disappointed by choosing the later instead of antelope.
    Also curious on an itinerary which is better. Visiting the Grand Canyon first or south rim if it is better for day 1 then driving early evening to Page. And seeing horseshoe bend for sunrise followed by a slot tour. Are there any other places you can recommend preferebly off the beaten path if possible. Or any other tours worth going on in the area? I seen float tours as well.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Katrina,
      It’s hard to wrong with any of the slot canyons in Northern Arizona or Southern Utah! If you choose Cathedral Canyon over Antelope, I don’t think you’ll feel shortchanged at all. In fact, Cathedral has some features that are unique to it alone. Other alternate slot canyons worth considering include but are not limited to Antelope Canyon X, Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon (formerly “Secret” Canyon), Waterholes Canyon, Mystical Antelope Canyon, Ram’s Head, and Wind Pebble Canyon… just to name a few. Guided tours are required to access these. Other slots where you can go on your own at your own risk are the Buckskin Gulch, Wire Pass Canyon, Spooky Gulch, and Zebra Slot Canyon. The latter two are near Kanab, UT.
      As for other worthwhile places that are a little “off the beaten path,” Alstrom Point, White Pocket, the Wahweap Hoodoos, and Stud Horse Point would be worth considering. Astrom Point and White Pocket, though they don’t require much in the way of hiking, are somewhat challenging to get to. White Pocket, for example, requires an off-road drive through some very deep sand, and Alstrom Point is located at the end of an unpaved road that can be in relatively good to really bad condition depending on recent weather. If you are driving a rental car, off-road driving is expressly prohibited, and should not be attempted, or you risk voiding your insurance. A guided tour is the best way to access these locations for optimal safety and comfort. Alstrom Point Tours White Pocket Tours
      The Glen Canyon Float Trip is also a worthwhile activity. No rapids on that stretch of the river, but lots of beautiful scenery and compelling history.
      As for what order you visit the Grand Canyon and Page, that will depend largely on lodging availability, or lack thereof, in the Grand Canyon. Check that first, then book lodging and slot canyon tours in Page, AZ, around when you can get rooms at the South Rim. Grand Canyon lodging
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  8. Hi, I am planning to drive from St George to Horseshoe Bend to watch sunrise in March, followed by a tour at the Antelope canyon. I will probably have to start driving at 4am while its still dark, will this route be safe to drive in the dark?

    1. Hi Jason,
      Unfortunately, I cannot endorse this plan. The route from St. George, UT, to Page, AZ, though all on paved roads, goes through some very remote and dimly lit areas, some of which happen to be a popular feeding ground for deer and elk. These animals, as well as free range cattle and feral horses, tend to be nocturnal, and colliding with one is a very real risk during the early morning hours. Should this happen, you’ll find help a long time in coming, not to mention very expensive.
      A better plan would be to make the drive the day prior and stay in a hotel in Page, AZ. Sunrise the next morning would occur at about 6:45 AM (check for exact times on your trip date). Plan on getting to the overlook about 30 minutes prior to sunrise and staying around for about 30 minutes afterward. This period is when the light tends to change most dramatically. Be sure to bring a jacket, gloves, etc., as morning temperatures are still very cold at that time of year.
      Be sure you have an advance reservation for your Antelope Canyon tour.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Alley,

        Is the Horsehoe Bend parking lot locked before sunrise and after sunset? Is it possible to park before sunrise so you can be at the overlook 30 minutes prior to sunrise?

        1. Hi Stephen,
          I understand that the gates are locked until personnel arrive at the fee booth, which is usually a bit before sunrise and a little after sunset. For exact hours, or to possibly arrange being there before “technical” sunrise, please contact the City of Page, at 928-645-8861.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Brenda!
      The artist doesn’t specify, but he does remark that at the time he took the photos, “the temperatures were pleasant,” which enabled him to remain at the overlook all day in relative comfort. That tells me two things: 1. that he didn’t take these during the summer months, when daytime temperatures can exceed 110 degrees (Fahrenheit), and 2. he didn’t take them during the winter months, when it’s like to be gray, cold and damp. My best guess is he took there in the spring (March-April-early May) or autumn (late September-early November).
      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, but hope this at least aids you in your trip planning.
      Best of luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hello Alley, Ryan and others! Just found this thread – I’m the photographer that took the series of photos – be happy to address any additional questions or inquiries. Such a beautiful location, I return whenever I can. Glad to see that these photos have been useful!


        1. Hi Brian, and thank you for contacting us!
          I so appreciate your willingness to answer peoples’ questions, especially in regard to photography. I’m the worst photographer ever, so I can use all the help I can get!
          Best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season,
          Alley 🙂

  9. Hi Ryan
    I plan on taking a trip to page as a little of southern Utah in sept for 4 days . I’d like to go to page a z. See upper and lower antelope canyons ,horseshoe bed possible a boat ride at lake Powell see rainbow bridge. By hiking .Or grand canyon south rim.maybe before page or after visit in page head out to Utah for a off road tour of grand staircase rock art and hoodoos para townsite and spend night there then head home. It may be too much for 4days my starting point can be Las Vegas or lake havasu city as I will be staying with family . Do u have any ideals or what might be better thanks
    Bette Reed

    1. Hi Bette,
      Ryan is away from the office, so I’d be happy to help you!
      4 days may not be quite enough time to do everything on your wish list, but you’ll still have a wonderful time with what you can accomplish!
      Re: the first item – seeing both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons is not 100% necessary to get the most out of your visit. If you are physically able to manage Lower Antelope, I’d recommend sticking with that, then using the remainder of your day to enjoy Horseshoe Bend and some other local attractions. Be sure to reserve your Antelope Canyon tour in advance of your arrival.
      To see Rainbow Bridge by boat will occupy the better part of a day. It does include some hiking, distance and difficulty will depend on the level of Lake Powell at the time of your visit, but you will get a good deal of walking in, no doubt about it! Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour
      As for going off-road in the Grand Staircase or Paria Wilderness areas, we hope you have your own vehicle and not a rental. Venturing off paved roads in a rented vehicle is strongly discouraged. One, it is expressly prohibited in your rental contract. Secondly, doing so will void your insurance, leaving you liable for any damage you may sustain, and on these roads, you’re likely to sustain it. I know, I’ve rescued a few people personally in the years I lived in that area! For your safety, and enjoyment, we would recommend going with a licensed tour outfitter to these areas. A very good and experienced one is Paria Outpost & Outfitters. Their White Pocket tour will take you to some amazing scenery, and get you there and back in one piece!
      So, with this in mind, here’s how your itinerary would play out:
      Day 1 – Drive from Las Vegas or Lake Havasu City to Grand Canyon South Rim. Overnight at Grand Canyon
      Day 2 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, visit Horseshoe Bend on your way into town if you get an early enough start. Tour Lower Antelope Canyon. Overnight in Page.
      Day 3 – Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour, overnight in Page.
      Day 4 – Grand Staircase/Paria Wilderness touring, overnight in Kanab, or Springdale, UT before driving back to Las Vegas or Lake Havasu.
      Hope that helps! Enjoy your visit and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  10. Hi Allen,

    Thank you for the views on when to see the horse shoe bend. I am looking to cover South RIm, Page and The wave at Kanab. Will be living in Vegas. How about Is it possible to cover in 1&1/2 days? I will also add Hoover dam for a short visit. IS the skywalk a must-see experience?

    1. Hi Vikram,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      First thing’s first: The Wave. First of all, it is not in Kanab, but a ways East of it. Second, if you do not have a permit to visit this site, chances are you won’t be visiting it at all. This is a fragile area ecologically speaking so access is limited to only a few people a day. Besides, with only 1 & 1/2 days to work with, you simply don’t have the time. The trip to The Wave alone takes the better part of a day. How To Get A Permit For The Wave
      Item #2: the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Here again, you don’t have sufficient time, plus it is not a “must-see” experience. Grand Canyon West (where it is located) will pale in comparison to Grand Canyon South Rim, which is the quintessential “picture-postcard Grand Canyon.”
      Now, on to what will work:
      Las Vegas to Grand Canyon: a 5-5.5 hour drive including a short visit to Hoover Dam. Overnight at Grand Canyon; a hotel must be booked in advance. Grand Canyon Hotels
      Grand Canyon to Page: 2.5 hours direct, 3-4+ hour drive if you make the most of it. Rise early, begin driving out the East Rim/Desert View Drive. Visit whichever Grand Canyon overlooks you care to on the way out of the park via AZ64 East; visit Horseshoe Bend on the way into town. Head back to Las Vegas (a 4.5 hour direct drive from Page), visit The New Wave after passing over the Glen Canyon Dam.
      Honestly, if you want to make this work and have it be comfortable for you and your traveling companions, I strongly recommend that you change your schedule so that you can stay overnight in Page. The above-referenced routing has you, in all likelihood, arriving back in Las Vegas very late at night and fatigued driving is risky at best, especially in a foreign country.

      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  11. Hi!! The photographs are fabulous.

    I will be traveling from monument valley to south rim Grand Canyon in the first week of August 2017. Enroute I plan to stop at page to visit lower/ upper Antelope canyon and horseshoe bent.
    The aim to capture best pictures at each of these places without any rush. Would it make sense to take the 11 am tour shot at lower antelope followed by the 1 pm one at upper and wait till sunset at horseshoe bent? If needed I can cover any of 2 of the 3 in a day , continue to Grand Canyon and drive back from Grand Canyon the next day to finish off the 3rd . What would make sense ? In addition, what is the avg sunset time in aug ?

    1. Hi, Sohini! Thanks for the compliments on the photos — I personally can’t take credit for them, but I’ll certainly pass on your regards to those who can.
      Now to the business at hand: I have to be honest with you, your plan is not exactly ideal. If you want to, as you say “capture the best pictures at each place without any rush,” modifying your schedule so you can stay the night in Page, AZ would be more conducive to that. Doing the 11 AM tour of Lower Antelope, followed by the 1:00 PM tour of Upper is good so far, but most would agree that Horseshoe Bend is best seen in the afternoon. Sunset is OK, but since the overlook faces due West, the “Bend” will be in shadow the lower the sun gets on the horizon. Sunset occurs at around 7:15 PM in August.
      Another reason we don’t recommend seeing sunset at Horseshoe Bend then driving to Grand Canyon South Rim is because driving at night can be dangerous in this part of the U.S. Supplemental/artificial lighting is kept to a bare minimum, plus deer, elk and other wildlife like to congregate near the roadways at night. Trust us, you don’t want to have a collision with one.
      Driving back from Grand Canyon to Page the next day to catch the attractions you missed is also less than desirable. No one wants to backtrack whilst on vacation, plus if you get charged by the mile on your rental car, that can rack up your trip costs.
      Hope that helps and that your travels are safe and happy!

  12. Hi there, is it possible to visit Grand canyon, Antelope canyon and Horseshoe bend in 1 day ?? we are planning to leave really early possibly 4 am from Las Vegas.

    1. Hi Sumi, thanks for stopping by!
      In theory, yes, it is possible. In reality, I wouldn’t do it if you paid me.
      First off, it takes 4.5 hours to drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim; that is if you drive directly, which you probably won’t. After all, ya gotta stop by Hoover Dam, maybe Seligman to see some of the old Route 66. The drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, Arizona (where Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are located) is 2.5 hours; again, that’s direct, which rarely happens. Lots of cool viewpoints and points of interest along the way. You would need to allow about 90 minutes to 2 hours at each attraction, and mind you, that’s after 7+ hours of driving. Then, the drive from Page to Las Vegas would take another 4.5+ hours, some of that likely being a night drive, which we don’t recommend in this part of the country.
      So add that all up, and you’re looking at 12-15 hours driving in one day’s time. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like my idea of a vacation. I’m getting tired just thinking about it!
      Do yourself, and your traveling companions a favor and pare down this wish list so you can have some quality time. If one day is all you have to spare, then choose one place to go, either the Grand Canyon or Page. Better yet, carve some time out of your schedule to stay overnight either at the Grand Canyon and/or Page. Hotels in either place do book up in advance, so visit Grand Canyon hotels, Page, Arizona hotels, or Page Vacation Rentals to make reservations.
      Hope that helps. Have fun!

  13. Can you tell me what time the second row of photos was taken? Trying to plan an elopement wedding at Horseshoe Bend and would love the best lighting for photos.. Thank you!

    1. Hi Lindsey!
      The second row of photos were taking from early- to- mid-afternoon. Hope that helps! Have a wonderful wedding,

    1. Good morning Si and thank you for visiting our site!
      Opinions are all over the place as to how wide a lens you should use, and some visitors even manage to get a decent shot of Horseshoe Bend using just their iPhones. Visit our Facebook page and you’ll see ->:
      In the meantime, you’re sure to find lots of useful tips for photographing Horseshoe Bend and other scenery nearby on our photography page.
      Hope that helps! Have a wonderful trip,

  14. I’m so glad I found this website – it’s so helpful! Thank you for all the information you have provided users like me!

  15. What a great article on Horseshoe Bend. Thanks for sharing all you hard work. We are going in a few weeks and I am excited about trying to photograph that area. You have been a great help.

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