"Can We Still Visit Horseshoe Bend During the Goverment Shutdown?"

Many travelers with pre-existing plans to visit Northern Arizona are rightfully concerned about whether their desired attractions will be open during the government shutdown. In the case of Horseshoe Bend, we are happy to report that the answer is “yes.”

The State of Arizona has allocated emergency funds to keep several National Parks open during the government shutdown, including the Grand Canyon, and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the latter of which encompasses the Horseshoe Bend Overlook. Additionally, some Navajo Nation residents are helping to accommodate visitor and/or parking overload by allowing access to Tribal lands which flank Horseshoe Bend to the South.

Even though the overlook itself remains accessible, some facilities and services will not be available. Visitors are asked to do their part to ensure that “closure under duress” isn’t necessitated, as it was recently at California’s Joshua Tree National Park. Use restroom facilities at your hotel or elsewhere as the toilets at Horseshoe Bend, which are under National Park Service management, may be closed. Please pack out all trash, and do not vandalize, remove, or disturb any rock formations, structures, or plants. 

The parking lot at Horseshoe Bend is patrolled by officers from the Page Police Department, and parking regulations are strictly enforced. If the “official” Horseshoe Bend parking lot is full, you will be asked to return to the overlook at a later time, or utilize alternate means of getting to the overlook, such as shuttles from the town of Page, AZ, or from alternate but sanctioned parking areas nearby. Parking on the side of US89 is not only unsafe, it is illegal, and punishable by fines upwards of $300. 

Other means of including Horseshoe Bend in your trip plans without the parking hassles are: 

Advance reservations are strongly recommended for all of the above activities.

Tour operators offering van transport services to the Horseshoe Bend Overlook are: 

18 Responses

  1. Hello Alley, Ms-Know-it-All! You impressed me so much while searching up our family mini vac planning.
    I am planning a visit to Antelope Valley & Horseshoe Bend during Thanksgiving weekend, coming from L.A. Do parking lots on Horseshoe Band get crowded as well that time of the year? The booking price for the combined tours vary from 55 to 120. I don’t know what to trust. Thanks for your time in advance.

    1. Hi Hae!
      The parking lot at Horseshoe Bend was very crowded last Thanksgiving, so it’s reasonable to expect it to be this Thanksgiving as well. The good news is, the parking lot was expanded over the summer, so there are more spaces to work with, but it’s still a good idea to arrive relatively early in the day to avoid the day trippers out of Phoenix, Las Vegas, etc.
      As for the pricing of Antelope Canyon tours, not knowing which sites you searched, it’s difficult to account for the differences, but my best advice would be to book directly with the Antelope Canyon tour operators or AntelopeCanyonNow.com for tour bundles instead of third party resellers.
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  2. Hi Alley

    We are impressed with the information shared. We are planning to cover Grand Canyon/Horseshoe Bend/Antelope. We will be driving from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon for our 1st stop. We plan to stay in Airbnb near Grand Canyon (maybe you can suggest some places for us 🙂 TQ) for 1 night and the next morning we will continue our journey to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope and drive back to Las Vegas in the same day. Is this possible?

    1. Hi Ristine,
      Unfortunately I can’t endorse your plan in full.
      Your plan for your first day is OK, but keep in mind that using Air B & B in areas like the Grand Canyon will automatically place you anywhere from 8 miles to 60 miles outside the park. It is best to stay inside Grand Canyon National Park, or at least in Tusayan, AZ, 7 miles outside the park so you are close enough to enjoy sunset and/or sunrise on the canyon rim without having to drive in the dark. Most roads in Northern Arizona are minimally lit, which is intentional to preserve the natural quality of the night sky. Plus deer, elk, free range cattle, and other wildlife are often present on the roads at night, ratcheting up the possibility of an auto accident.
      On day 2 is where your plan goes wrong. Traveling from the Grand Canyon South Rim to Las Vegas via Page is way too much driving for one day. First off, it will take 3.5-4 hours to drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page. I know Google Maps gives the drive time is 2.5 hours, but that’s wheels turning, no stops. That rarely happens since the drive is very scenic, and you’ll no doubt be stopping to take pictures on the East Rim drive of the Grand Canyon between Grand Canyon Village and Desert View, then in the Navajo Reservation before you get to Page. It then takes ~5-5.5 hours to drive from Page, AZ, to Las Vegas. Here again, the figure that Google maps gives does not reflect the stops you’ll invariably make for meals, restroom breaks, and photo ops, and the fact that there is construction taking place on a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge. This will tack another 30-60 minutes onto an already long drive.
      My advice: free up another day so you can spend the night in Page, AZ. If this is not possible, focus on sightseeing at the Grand Canyon this time around, then save Page, AZ, as well as Monument Valley, Zion, and Bryce for another trip when you can give the area the time it deserves.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you Alley for being helpful and informative.
        After much discussion we plan to 1st drive straight to Page -to visit antelope and horseshoe bend and overnight in some airbnb. Next day- Start an early journey to reach GCNP by morning and stay at GC until sunset and will then overnight airbnb. Next morning we will drive straight to LV airport and catch a flight to Buffalo.
        Hope this plan will work better.

    1. Hey Ryan,
      No, overnight parking is not allowed at Horseshoe Bend. If you’re looking for a place to “boondock,” the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart usually allows overnight parking, but just for one night, but no campfires, grills, slide-outs, or levelers may be used.
      Hope that helps – good luck and safe traveling,
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Mario,
      It depends on when you’re visiting. Now through late March/early April, the main parking lot for Horseshoe Bend will be temporarily closed between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. This is to enable construction crews to complete some long-overdue improvements and maintenance to parking areas and other facilities at the overlook. During the closure period, visitors will be required to park in an alternate lot and take a shuttle to the overlook for $5 per person. Prior to 9:00 AM and after 4:00 PM, the lot is open as usual and there is no fee to visit. However, if you find the parking lot full, you will be required to come back at another time when you can find an open and LEGAL parking space. Parking on the side of US89 will get you fined upwards of $300!
      For more tips on how to avoid parking hassles at Horseshoe Bend, check out “Help! There’s No Place To Park At Horseshoe Bend
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Ash,
      The parking lot to the Horseshoe Bend Overlook is very clearly marked, between mile markers 544 and 545, just South of Page, AZ. The walk to the overlook itself is ~3/4 of a mile each way. Just so you’re aware, parking at Horseshoe Bend can be very hard to come by during the mid-day hours, and again at sunset, so plan on visiting either just after sunrise, or using one of several alternate means of getting to Horseshoe Bend.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  3. Dear Alley, knower of all things Arazonian. I’m from Australia and will be staying in Page for the first three days of April. Was wondering if it’s possible (and practical) to get somewhere on the shores of Lake Powell where there isn’t quite so much boat activity. My goal would be to shoot a sunrise or sunset with some still water handy for reflections.
    Also curious whether Horseshoe is better shot at sunrise or sunset.
    Cheers, Ian

    1. Hi Ian, this is a great question!
      Unfortunately, areas of Lake Powell relatively devoid of boat activity tend to also be relatively devoid of access. One notable exception to this rule is Alstrom Point. This is a sweeping and stunning overlook of Lake Powell where this amazing panoramic view is literally laid at your feet. The downside? The road there is mostly dirt, can sometimes be hard to follow, and is in a very remote location. Cell phone service is spotty, if you can get any bars at all, and if you’re in a rental car, you’ve voided your insurance by driving on unpaved roads. The safest way to get there and back in one piece is to travel with a licensed tour company. For those staying in Page, AZ, Alstrom Point Tours, a division of Horseshoe Bend Tours, is the most logical choice. For more information, visit our companion site, http://www.AlstromPoint.com
      Another means of getting further away from “the fray” without expending too much time or effort would be to fly over the lake. Fixed-wing airplane and helicopters depart daily from the Page Municipal Airport over various parts of Lake Powell and surrounding areas, including Rainbow Bridge, Monument Valley, and Tower Butte. If you’d prefer to set your own course, you can also inquire about a custom “charter by the hour.”
      As for whether Horseshoe Bend is best shot at sunrise or sunset, opinions are all over the place about that, but the thing that will probably be the primary determining factor on when you go is parking, or more accurately, lack thereof. It’s become something of a mess of late, and improvements are in the works in hopes of remedying the situation. Still, between you, me, and the walls, it’s probably going to be a case of “too little, too late.” Most people find they have an easier time of it by visiting the overlook at sunrise. During the month of April, sunrise in Page, AZ, occurs between 5:45 AM and 6:15 AM.
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  4. Hi do you have tips on how to see both Horsehoe Bend and Antelope Canyon if traveling by RV? We will be on our first RV adventure in March leaving South Rim of Grand Canyon with a couple days to spare before needing to be back in Scottsdale. i’m a bit overwhelmed by options.

    1. Hi Kim,
      Traveling in an RV, you might find parking difficult to come by. The parking area at Horseshoe Bend tends to become overwhelmed by ~9:00 AM, and spaces for RV’s are few and far between. Your best option is to take a shuttle from Page, AZ, which are offered by Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Tours. Advance reservations are recommended for that service.
      As for Antelope Canyon, you have to take a guided tour to explore that area regardless. There are two companies that pick up in the town of Page, and two that pick up from the Tribal Park Entrance on US98. Advance reservations are a must since this attraction is very popular. How To Book A Tour For Antelope Canyon
      Another thing, at the time of year you’re traveling it’s a good idea to stay at an RV park with electrical hook-ups. March is in that transitional zone between winter and spring and nights are still quite cold. There is one improved RV park at the Grand Canyon, Trailer Village, and one outside the park ~7 miles called Grand Canyon Camper Village. In Page, there are two improved RV parks as well, Page/Lake Powell Campground, which is in town, and Wahweap Campground, which is near Lake Powell. The latter is inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, so an entrance fee will be required.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

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