"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: 

26 Responses

  1. Hi Alley,
    I was planning to make a quick stop to horseshoe bend next Saturday 7/11, but since most areas seems to be closed, I was wondering if this also applies to horseshoe bend?
    If it is open, is there anything else that also remains open around the area?

    1. Hi Mar,
      You’ll be glad to know that Horseshoe Bend is open! In fact, it’s one of a few attractions in Northern Arizona that never closed.
      Unfortunately, another popular attraction in Page, AZ, is closed until further notice: the Antelope Canyons. Since touring a slot canyon tends to be on the “must-do” list for most visitors, we recommend you consider a couple of beautiful slot canyons that are not bordered by Navajo Indian Tribal Lands, and therefore, not affected by the recent extension of the closure: Wire Pass Canyon (between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT) and Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, UT.
      Wire Pass Canyon is a photogenic two-part slot canyon that is short enough for intermediate-level hikers to enjoy, yet offers the option to delve further into Buckskin Gulch for those wanting more of a challenge. The walk to the entrance of the initial slot is via a typically dry streambed, which typically is through deep sand. An 8-10’ drop a short distance into the slot canyon is one reason why Wire Pass Canyon may not be appropriate for those traveling with young children, the elderly, or individuals afraid of heights. As the canyon walls become higher and closer together, they suddenly open up as the second slot connects with the Buckskin Gulch. If you’ve had enough at this point, you can simply turn around and head back to your vehicle. If you’d like to explore further, you can easily make a half-day hike out of the immediate area around the confluence with the Buckskin. Look for some bighorn sheep petroglyphs dating back hundreds, maybe thousands of years! Access to Wire Pass Canyon and the Buckskin Gulch is off US89 between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, on the House Rock Valley Road. Hikers are required to pay a self-permitting fee at the kiosk by the trailhead. Fair warning: the House Rock Valley Road is unpaved! While it is accessible to 2WD vehicles much of the time, if recent weather has brought any moisture whatsoever, the HRVR can turn into a muddy, impassable mess. Parties in rental cars should think twice about attempting this road since off-road driving is strictly prohibited by most rental car companies. A guided tour will get your family to Wire Pass Canyon and back in one piece, and turn you onto features you might have missed trying to find your own way. Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT based companies offering guided tours to Wire Pass Canyon and the Buckskin Gulch include:
      – Detours American West, 480-633-9013, http://www.detoursamericanwest.com
      – Paria Outpost & Outfitters, 928-691-1047, http://www.paria.com
      – Grand Staircase Discovery Tours, 928-614-4099, http://www.grandstaircasediscoverytours.com
      Red Canyon aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon is a family-friendly slot canyon is located between Kanab and Mt. Carmel Junction, Utah, approximately 90 minutes from Page, AZ. With twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons, this short but memorable walk features classic slot canyon scenery (including the occasional light beams in the summertime), as well as some unique features such as ancient “moqui” steps, and “Shaman’s Needle,” a pencil-thin stone column located in a small sub-drainage near the canyon’s entrance. While a guided tour is not required to get to Peek-A-Boo, we strongly recommend that you consider taking one, because while the walk through the canyon itself is usually not difficult, the drive to get there can be. 4WD vehicles with adequate clearance are a definite must, with tire pressure lowered to accommodate potentially deep sand. If you’re driving a rental car, forget it! You will void your insurance the minute your tires part with the pavement, which means you’d be on the hook for a very expensive rescue, should you need one, and have to foot the bill for any damage you’d sustain. For those who would prefer to explore Peek-A-Boo in the safety and comfort of a guided tour, there are several reputable companies to choose from in Kanab, UT, including:
      – Dreamland Safari Tours, (435) 412-1790, http://www.dreamlandtours.net
      – TC Tours, (435) 668-5262, http://www.slotcanyontourskanab.com
      – Kanab Tour Company, (435) 644-5525, http://www.kanabtourcompany.com
      – Forever Adventure Tours, 435-644-5700, http://www.foreveradventuretours.com
      – Grand Circle Tours, (928) 691-0166, http://www.vermilioncliffs.net
      The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area/Lake Powell is, for the most part open, except for a few select facilities such as Antelope Point Marina, Antelope Point Public Launch Ramp,
      Antelope Point Marina Business Launch Ramp, overnight camping along the Beehive/Ferry Swale road network, National Park Service Headquarters, Carl Hayden Visitor Center, and tours of the Glen Canyon Dam. For more information on what is open and what isn’t, visit the official National Park Service web page for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  2. Alley,

    Your website is simply amazing, and provides the best information. I am currently working on my grand 5 Day July Itinerary for major spots in Arizona and Utah. I am a little concerned about the level of activity for Day 3 of my trip. Could you advise?

    -Hit the road no later than 7am from South Rim straight to Horseshoe Bend. (Are the restrooms at Horseshoe bend operational again?) (Also, would there be any use in carrying an outdoor blanket to find an area to sit down with a view?)
    -Allow for 1 to 1.5 hours at Horseshoe Bend for Hike.
    -Packed Lunch.
    -1.5 hour Antelope Canyon Tour at Antelope X @ 12:20. (I can modify the reservation if you recommend).
    -Head to Antelope Point Marina between 2pm and 4:30pm. (Allowing some leeway time here.)
    -Paddleboard to Navajo Canyon & Stay on Water until Sunset.
    -Head to Hotel in Evening and return overnight Paddleboard rentals in the morning.

    It feels so great to know I can receive quality advice from an expert. Greetings from Huntsville (Rocket City), Alabama!

    1. Hey Stephanie, and thank you for your compliments on our site!
      I sure wish I knew if your visit was planned for this July or next July, because that would make a world of difference. Assuming we’re talking about this July, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but some of this may not happen for you.
      The Antelope Canyons have been closed until further notice by order of the Navajo Tribal Council. Officially, they are supposed to reopen July 6th, but we are already hearing talk of the closures being extended due to new cases of COVID-19 cropping up in Arizona and elsewhere. The Navajo Indians have been hit disproportionately hard by this virus, so we don’t blame them one bit for erring on the side of caution! If our predictions come to fruition, you’ll need to formulate a “plan B.” If visiting a slot canyon is on your must-do list (and rightfully so!), Red Canyon aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon (not to be confused with Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Escalante, UT!) would be the one I’d recommend to most visitors. This beautiful slot canyon, with twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons, is located near Kanab, UT, ~1 hour from Page, AZ. It’s a short but fun walk featuring classic slot canyon scenery (including the occasional light beams in the summertime), as well as some unique features such as ancient “moqui” steps, and “Shaman’s Needle,” a pencil-thin stone column located in a small sub-drainage near the canyon’s entrance. While a guided tour is not required to get to Peek-A-Boo, we strongly recommend that you utiize one, because while the walk through the canyon itself is usually not difficult, the drive to get there can be. There are several reputable companies to choose from in Kanab, UT, including:
      – Dreamland Safari Tours, (435) 412-1790, http://www.dreamlandtours.net
      – TC Tours, (435) 668-5262, http://www.slotcanyontourskanab.com
      – Kanab Tour Company, (435) 644-5525, http://www.kanabtourcompany.com
      – Forever Adventure Tours, 435-644-5700, http://www.foreveradventuretours.com
      – Grand Circle Tours, (928) 691-0166, http://www.vermillioncliffs.net
      Even if, by some miracle, the Antelope Canyons reopen by the time you visit, the agenda you’ve planned out isn’t realistic, unfortunately. For one thing, the Navajo Tribe has opted to close AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ, which is an integral component of the shortest and most logical route between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ. As a result, you now have to drive all the way back to Flagstaff, AZ, then North on US89 to Page, AZ. This extends what should be a 2.5-3 hour drive to a 4-5 hour drive. That would cut it somewhat fine for a 12:20 PM Antelope Canyon X tour. You should probably plan on getting out of Grand Canyon a little earlier than 7:00 AM if at all possible. Antelope Point Marina also may not be open by the time you visit due to the fact that it is on Navajo Indian Tribal land. If doing a kayak tour is something you really want to do, which I don’t blame you one bit for, you might reconsider touring the waterside of Antelope Canyon and set your sights on Lone Rock Canyon. Granted, it’s less “slotty” than Antelope, but the variety of experiences you can have while exploring this area will more than make up for what it lacks in classic slot canyon scenery. Lake Powell is known for its many side canyons, some of which are so narrow, they can only be accessed by kayaks or SUP. Lone Rock Canyon is one such canyon. From world-famous Lone Rock Beach, even first-time kayakers or SUPers will have a blast paddling across Wahweap Bay and getting up close and personal with towering cliffs and massive rock formations. As you glide between sandstone walls that come closer and closer together, you feel as though you’re in your own world, leaving behind the commotion of the motor boats, jet skis, and other watercraft too big and noisy to enter this place. Water level permitting, you might beach your kayak or SUP and explore the land-side of the canyon on foot. You’ll treasure this unique experience, and remember it, in the words of one TripAdvisor reviewer, as the “cherry on top” of your trip to Page, AZ, and Lake Powell! In the right weather conditions, you can take a short climb up to a small but safe ledge and jump into the cool, clear water. Kayaks and SUPs can be rented from several outfitters in Page, AZ, for those who prefer the DIY approach. For optimal safety and educational opportunities, we recommend a guided kayak or SUP tour conducted by one of several licensed tour companies.
      – Kayak Lake Powell, 928-660-0778, http://www.kayakpowell.com
      – Lake Powell Hidden Canyon Kayak, (928) 660-1836, http://www.lakepowellhiddencanyonkayak.com
      – Lake Powell Adventure Company, 928-660-9683, http://www.lakepowelladventure.com
      – Lake Powell Paddleboards & Kayaks, 928-645-4017, http://www.lakepowellpaddleboards.com
      The next morning, plan on hitting Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise to take advantage of cooler temperatures and fewer people, then run your paddleboards (if you go that route) back to your tour outfitter’s before heading on to your next destination.
      Hope that helps. Please feel free to write in again if you need to bounce other ideas off me. Maybe I’ll take advantage of your expertise if my travels take me to Huntsville!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  3. Dear Alley how are you ?
    my name is “9” from LA
    I have a question and need advise
    if today 5/I plane to visit horse shoe 5/8/20 Head out from LA around 12:00-12:30 Pm

    1. Dear 9,
      It takes approximately 9 hours to drive from LA to Horseshoe Bend. Departing from the LA area around noon would put you in Page, AZ, at night, so best to plan on getting a hotel here, then hitting the overlook the next morning. Page, AZ Hotels
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Dear Alley, is the horseshoe bend open at the moment? I don’t want to drive 7 hours if they have blocked off the entrance to the trailhead.

        1. Hi Neiva,
          The Horseshoe Bend Overlook remains open, and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area/Lake Powell is scheduled to begin a phased reopening of facilities such as lodging, restaurants, and activities in the days and weeks ahead.
          Nevertheless, there are a few things you should keep in mind before committing to your trip: the Antelope Canyons, another popular attraction in Page, AZ, are closed and expect to remain so until June. There are also over 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (including over 100 fatalities) in Northern Arizona, and the Navajo Reservation has been hit particularly hard. They are asking that travelers avoid that area altogether if possible.
          In addition, many other popular attractions in the area such as the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, and Monument Valley may be partially or completely closed. With all that in mind, we strongly recommend that you seriously consider whether your visit is 100% necessary at this time.
          If you do decide to come, please follow social distancing and personal hygiene protocols as outlined by the CDC and WHO:
          – Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use >60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
          – Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
          – Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
          – When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or do so into your elbow. Dispose of the tissue and wash your hands again.
          – Practicing social distancing (stay at least 6′ away from other people) and avoid congregations of 10 or more people. In the office, keep 6 feet of separation between yourself and others to reduce the potential spread of infection.
          – Use virtual tools instead of holding in-person meetings.
          – Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
          – Most importantly, if you experience flu symptoms or any serious infection or virus, please stay home to avoid exposing others.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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 🙂

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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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