Horseshoe Bend

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Horseshoe Bend is less than 5 miles from Antelope Canyon, and is a must do if you are in the area. If it free to visit, and is only a .75 mile hike to the overlook.

Horseshoe Bend is a meander in the Colorado River that forms a horseshoe shape. Just 7 miles upstream from the beginning of the Grand Canyon, it is a great way to see river. (It is also a great way to get a selfie with the Colorado River, which is almost impossible from the South Rim. )

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22 Responses

  1. Hi Alley,
    All the comments here are so helpful! I’m planning a trip for spring break for our family (2 adults, 2 kids: 10 and 8) in early April 5-10, 2020. We have only 5 nights. I was considering the following and I’d love your input:
    Day 1: arrive in Vegas 10 am, drive to Zion and explore, stay in Springdale
    Day 2: drive to Bryce, explore Bryce and some of Zion, stay in Springdale
    Day 3: Drive to Page, Explore Horseshoe Bend and area, stay in Page
    Day 4: Antelope Canyon tour, drive to South Rim, explore, drive all the way to Vegas: Stay in Vegas
    ( I think I need some help with day 3-4 and what tours to take or what to see; should we do both Upper and Lower canyons?)
    Day 5: drive to Hoover Dam, explore Vegas
    Day 6: explore Vegas, fly home at night.

    Thank you, Nitsa

    1. Hi Nitsa!
      Your plan looks good, until you get to day 4: there, you’re proposing to cram in too much driving into one day.
      It takes approximately 3.5-4 hours to drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim. I know that Google maps gives the drive time as 2.5 hours, but that’s wheels turning, no stops. That rarely happens because the drive is very scenic and you will want to stop frequently to take pictures, especially between Desert View Point and Grand Canyon Village. There are over half a dozen named viewpoints of the Grand Canyon along this portion of the trip, all with different distinguishing features and perspectives on the canyon. After that, you’re facing at a 4.5-hour drive from Grand Canyon Village to Las Vegas? No thanks.
      A better plan would be to tour Antelope Canyon in the afternoon on Day 3, hit Horseshoe Bend first thing in the morning on Day 4, stay overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim, then continue on to Las Vegas, stopping at Hoover Dam, on Day 5.
      Trust me, your kids will thank you for not subjecting them to 9-10 hours in the car!
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  2. Hi Alley,
    Planning on visiting southwest in April. Would like to visit Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Bryce and Zion. Coming from NJ. Was thinking of landing in Flagstaff, AZ to start the tour. Rent a car to drive the rest. Then fly back from Vegas to NJ. Or vice verse. But it seems it might be easier from Vegas. I believe Page,AZ is an option to land. Looking to trip out there from April 9-18. I would like to include Grand Canyon as well if possible. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    1. Hi Antonio!
      In general, Las Vegas, NV, and Phoenix, AZ, tend to be the most popular “staging cities” for an American Southwest vacation. While you are correct in that there are smaller commuter airports located closer to the main attractions you wish to see, flying into them may not be all that convenient, or cost-effective. In my years of experience helping tourists plan trips out here, I’ve found that people who do opt to fly into secondary airports such as Flagstaff, AZ, Page, AZ, or St. George, UT, end up in hindsight wishing they’d “bitten the bullet” and taken the longer drive out of the major airport. Here’s a video that explains things in further detail – the footage is a bit dated, but the core principles remain the same: Which Airport is the Closest to Grand Canyon National Park?
      What you might look into doing is flying into Phoenix and out of Las Vegas (or vice versa). That would allow you to include Sedona in your trip plans, which is an incredibly scenic area that you would love!
      Given your time frame, you could do something like this:
      April 9: Land in Phoenix, drive to Sedona (~2.5 hours), overnight in Sedona
      April 10: Take Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, spend rest of the day enjoying hiking, exploring, shopping, wine tasting, spend 2nd night in Sedona
      April 11: Drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hours), overnight at Grand Canyon
      April 12: Drive from Grand Canyon to Monument Valley (~4-5 hours factoring in possible stops on East Rim/Desert View Drive, Cameron Trading Post, Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks, etc.), backcountry tour in afternoon, overnight in Monument Valley
      April 13: Drive from Monument Valley to Page, AZ (~2.5 hour drive), tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page
      April 14: First thing in AM, visit Horseshoe Bend, take Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip, 2nd night in Page
      April 15: Drive from Page, AZ to Bryce Canyon (~3 hours), stop at Glen Canyon Dam, Big Water Visitors Center, Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos en route if desired, overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      April 16: Take Bryce Canyon scenic rim drive in AM, drive to Springdale, UT in PM, overnight in Springdale
      April 17: Use free hop-on/hop-off shuttles to visit Zion Canyon area, 2nd night in Springdale
      April 18: Drive back to Las Vegas (~3.5-4.5 hours depending on progress of construction on I-15), optional detour to Valley of Fire State Park, fly home
      Before you commit to that plan, check rental car drop-off fees. Some outlets charge a pretty hefty price for dropping vehicles off in different cities from where you pick them up. If you find this to be the case, you could always fly in and out of Las Vegas and still include Sedona in your trip plan, you’d just be looking at a longer drive on the front end of your trip.
      Start looking into lodging and Antelope Canyon tour availability right away. Don’t be surprised to find in-park lodging to be sold out already. You’ll probably find that to be the case in Monument Valley, where there aren’t many hotels to work with as it is. If you find that the area is already booked, you could simply visit Monument Valley as a day trip out of Page, AZ, and spend a 3rd night there. It’s ~4 hours round trip to drive from Page to Monument Valley, but with a well-planned day and an eye on the clock, it’s doable. Bear in mind that Monument Valley is in a different time zone than Page, AZ, at that time of year (they’re 1 hour ahead), and be sure that you avoid driving back to Page, AZ, after sunset. Once the sun goes down, it gets really dark, and deer, elk, free range sheep and cattle, and even wild horses tend to move about at night, which raises the risk of a collision. On Page, AZ, time, sunrise occurs just before 6:00 AM and sunset takes place at around 7:00 PM at the time of year you’re visiting; move that up 1 hour for MV time (7:00 AM and 8:00 PM respectively).
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

      1. First off Happy New Year and thank you very much for the information. Any experience with Yavapai Lodge? That’s the only one available for Grand Canyon.

        1. Hi Antonio, and Happy New Year to you!
          In fact, I do have some first-hand experience with Yavapai Lodge, but admittedly, awhile back in the past. It has since been acquired by Delaware North Corporation and upgraded to include both conventional 2 queen rooms, as well as rooms designed for families with a combination of queen and bunk beds.
          However, none of that really matters in the scheme of things. The most important thing is that if you book Yavapai Lodge, you will be inside the park, which always the best place to be. Yavapai Lodge is situated approximately 1 mile from the canyon rim, and conveniently located to souvenir and grocery shopping, with a food and beverage outlet and tour desk on-site.
          In the time it takes to debate whether this Grand Canyon hotel will be suitable for your family, though, rooms could get booked up. I know, I used to work in their reservations office (back when it was Fred Harvey/AMFAC, and yes, that dates me) and saw it happen more times than I could count!
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  3. Alley,
    All the comments here are so helpful! I’m planning a trip for next spring break for myself and my 3 kids (14, 12, and 10) in early April 2020. We may have only 5 nights. I was considering the following and I’d love your input:
    Day 1 – Fly into Phoenix (maybe catch a Diamondbacks game if we’re lucky. Schedules not out yet!). Phoenix hotel for 1 night
    Day 2 – Drive to Grand Canyon, maybe a Pink Jeep tour? (I’ve done one in Sedona, not sure if it’s great for Grand Canyon, though). Grand Canyon lodge for 1 night
    Day 3 – Ranger-guided hike at South Rim. Drive to Page, AZ. Night 1 in Page
    Day 4 – Upper Antelope Canyon early morning tour. Would also like to do the rafting on the Colorado River around Horseshoe bend — I’m not clear if that’s included in the boat tour I’m seeing on this site? Also — is it worth checking out the Lower Canyon also? Night 2 in Page
    Day 5 – Drive to Zion. Take a guided family-friendly canyoneering tour. Drive back to Page for our final night.
    Day 6 – Drive all the way back to Phoenix and fly home.

    Too ambitious? Other options I haven’t considered? I’d appreciate any input you may have. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Lori, and thank you for visiting our site! Kudos as well for doing your trip planning well in advance.
      Your tentative itinerary looks pretty fun, still, I’d recommend making a couple of modifications for the sake of convenience.
      First off, you mention that you’ve been to Sedona before, so I assume that’s why you’re leaving it out this time around.
      I did some research and it appears that the Arizona Diamondbacks 2020 season opener is scheduled for April 5th, vs. the Boston Red Sox.
      At the Grand Canyon, it is not necessary to take a guided tour. The South Rim is a very easy area to self-tour, and a good chunk of your sightseeing of the Grand Canyon will actually occur on the drive to Page (or from Page… more on that in a minute). Most of the overlooks are open to private vehicles, except for the ones on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive, which are served by a free hop-on/hop-off shuttle line. If possible, book your Grand Canyon lodging inside the park, or Tusayan, just 7 miles South of the park so you can easily enjoy sunset and/or sunrise on the rim of the Grand Canyon!
      For the Page, AZ, leg of your trip, the boat tour on this particular site isn’t the one that goes through Horseshoe Bend. The trip you’re looking for is the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip. During the month of April, the 1/2-Day Float Trip departs once daily at 11:00 AM with a 10:00 AM check-in, and concludes at 3:30 PM. As to whether you should tour both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, they are both beautiful, you would just need to be sure that neither slot canyon tour overlaps with the float trip on either side of it. Upper + Lower Antelope Canyon “bundle” If you opt to tour just one slot canyon, and your family is physically fit enough to handle Lower Antelope, I’d recommend going with that. Full Video Walk-Through of Lower Antelope Canyon
      On Day 5, where you propose to visit Zion as a day trip from Page, AZ, that’s doable, but you must keep a close eye on the clock. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the country due to lack of artificial lighting on local roads, and the possibility of colliding with a deer, elk, free range cow, or even a wild horse. It typically takes ~2 hours to drive from Page, AZ, to Zion, but that’s wheels turning, no stops. That rarely happens, since it’s a very scenic drive, and you’ll want to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves along the way, such as the Big Water Visitors Center, Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos trail, and Moqui Cave, just to name a few. So a 2-hour drive could easily turn into 3.5 or even 4 hours, unless you resist all temptations to stop. Another thing to keep in mind is that while Utah DOES observe Daylight Savings Time, Arizona DOES NOT. So, you’ll “lose” an hour traveling between Arizona and Utah, but “regain” it as you travel back to Arizona. Sunrise in AZ occurs at ~6:00 AM in early April; sunset takes place around 6:45 PM. Taking all that into consideration, that wouldn’t give you much time to work with in Zion, which is an amazing park that really deserves 3-4 days time to fully enjoy.
      If you’re open to making some changes, you might consider flying into Las Vegas instead of Phoenix. Las Vegas occasionally hosts some Spring Training games, if catching a baseball game is a non-negotiable element of this trip. If not, you’d probably find Las Vegas to be better poised to make this itinerary work. Your schedule would look something like this:
      Day 1 – Fly into Las Vegas, catch a spring training game, overnight in Las Vegas
      Day 2 – Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hours), overnight at the Grand Canyon
      Day 3 – Ranger-guided hike at South Rim. Drive to Page, AZ (~3-3.5 hours factoring in stops), night 1 in Page
      Day 4 – Antelope Canyon early morning tour, 1/2-day Glen Canyon Float Trip, either spend 2nd night in Page, AZ, or drive to Zion and overnight in Springdale, UT.
      Day 5 – Early AM drive from Page to Zion, or get early start out of Springdale, UT, for Zion National Park tour.
      Day 6 – Drive back to Las Vegas (~3.5 hours), fly home
      If you prefer to keep Phoenix as your staging city, and depending on your tolerance for making a longish drive at the beginning of your tour, you could do something like this:
      Day 1 – Fly into Phoenix, catch baseball game, overnight in Phoenix
      Day 2 – Drive from Phoenix to Kanab, UT (~6 hours), overnight in Kanab.
      Day 3 – Drive from Kanab to Zion Ponderosa Ranch (~1 hour drive), take canyoneering tour, spend 2nd night in Kanab.
      Day 4 – Drive to Page, AZ (~60-90 minutes), check in 10:00 AM for 11:00 AM float trip, take afternoon tour of Lower Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page.
      Day 5 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3.5-4 hours factoring in stops), overnight at South Rim.
      Day 6 – Drive back to Phoenix, fly home.

      Sorry to ramble on for so long, but hope that’s given you some things to think about. Please don’t hesitate to hit us up again if you need further guidance!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley,

        We’re planning to make a short trip to AZ October 19-14. I have a 12 yr old daughter & a senior mom. We haven’t been to AZ before but my husband is a photographer by heart. Can you recommend best sites to see (including the antelope canyon) for this short a time, please? We’re flying from chicago to Phoenix & Planning to do an Airbnb for our stay. Thanks much!!

        1. Hey Theresa,
          Unfortunately, your query has a typo in it: “October 19-14.” If you meant October 19th-24th, assuming that the 19th and 24th are travel days, you could do something like this:
          October 20th – Drive from Phoenix to Page, AZ (~5-6 hours), tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page.
          October 21st – Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hours), overnight at Grand Canyon
          October 22nd – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Sedona (~2.5 hours), overnight in Sedona
          October 23rd – 2nd day/night in Sedona
          October 24th – Drive back to Phoenix (~2.5 hours)
          If I’m mistaken about your trip plan, please let me know ASAP.
          Alley 🙂

          1. Is it easier to fly into another airport from Ohare then Alley? So, we can go to antelope canyon with less time to drive? Tnx!

          2. Hi again, Theresa,
            Thank you for the clarification of your plans.
            The typical flight from Chicago to Phoenix takes a little under 4 hours. Ditto for Chicago to Las Vegas. There are other airports you can fly into that would put you closer to Antelope Canyon, namely, Page, AZ (PGA). Contour Airlines runs flights from Phoenix and Las Vegas to Page, which is just minutes away from Antelope Canyon. Upon landing in Page, AZ, you could rent a car with Avis (they are the only on-field rental car outlet). Contour Airlines’ rates are surprisingly competitive, but there are possible disadvantages to going this route. For one, at present, Contour does not have any downline baggage agreements with other airlines, so, assuming you flew into Phoenix, you would have to claim your bags off your flight form O’Hare, then transfer them to the Contour Airlines counter for re-checking. Another possible disadvantage is scheduling, as Contour typically offers only two daily flights to Page, AZ, from Phoenix or Las Vegas.
            Assuming that October 9th and 14th will be travel days, that leaves you with four full days to work with for your trip. If you were to fly into Phoenix, you could spend 1 day in Page, 1 day at Grand Canyon South Rim, and 2 days in Sedona.
            Hope that helps. Feel free to hit us up again if we can be of further help!
            Alley 🙂

  4. Hello,
    We’re signed up for a package tour of the Upper, Lower, and Boat tours of Antelope Cyn in late June. We were planning on wearing shorts but I saw in the video that a lot of people were wearing jeans. Perhaps it’s cooler in the canyon due to shadow? In any case, I was wondering what your recommendation on clothing was. Also, on the boat tour do you have the option to do any swimming or is it all in the boat?

    Thanks for your help & info

    1. Hi Grant, and thank you for this excellent question!
      The videos you most likely saw were filmed in early spring, hence the majority of people are wearing warmer clothing. In late June, plenty of people tour Antelope Canyon in shorts and are perfectly comfortable doing so. The interiors of both the slot canyon, and the waterside canyon tend to be cooler than the outside air, which is a welcome change, but you should still be comfortable wearing shorts. If in doubt, you might want to purchase a pair of convertible cargo pants before heading out on your trip. These long pants easily turn into shorts, and back again. That way, you can be prepared for virtually any weather condition, and adjust for your personal comfort level.
      RE: swimming on the boat tour, conditions in the Antelope Canyon arm of Lake Powell usually aren’t conducive to it. Ultimately that’s at the discretion of your boat captain.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  5. Hi Ryan! This might be an ambitious question to ask, but I saw all your great suggestions regarding itineraries. My husband and I are planning on a trip in late Sept.-we can spend up to 2 weeks. We will probably fly into PHX and would like to hit Sedona, antelope Canyon and a boat trip on the lake, and whatever else we should see in that area,North Rim of the Grand Canyon-we have been to the south rim and then going to the national parks in Utah. Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyon lands and Capital Reef. Do you have a suggestion for the order of our stops. Because of the huge cost difference in returning a car at a different location, we will have to make a loop. We will do some hiking in the parks, but not too ambitious-we are in our late 60s-70’s. Maybe about 5-6 miles a day. Thanks for your thoughts! Beth

    1. Dear Beth and Bob,
      Hello and thank you for visiting our site!
      With 2 full weeks, you should be able to hit all the sites on your “wish list” fairly easily. Ultimate 14-Day American Southwest Itinerary
      As to the order in which you make the stops, availability of lodging at Grand Canyon North Rim will by the “lynchpin” around which the rest of your plans revolve, and evolve. Since the North Rim only has a few lodging options, you’ll need to get on that ASAP. If you can’t find availability inside the park at the sole hotel, Grand Canyon Lodge, your next best options will be the Kaibab Lodge and Jacob Lake Inn respectively in order of proximity to the park. If those are full — and it’s quite likely they are — you might have to stay further away, such as in Kanab, UT or Page, AZ, and visit the North Rim as a “day trip.” Grand Canyon North Rim Lodging
      Using Phoenix, AZ as your “staging” city, you could do:
      3 days – Sedona, AZ
      2 days – Page, AZ (Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon Float Trip and/or Lake Powell Boat Tour)
      3 days – Moab, UT (Arches/Canyonlands)
      1 day – Torrey, UT (Capitol Reef)
      1 day – Bryce Canyon
      2 days – Zion National Park (lodging in Springdale, UT)
      1 day – Grand Canyon North Rim
      1 day – Flagstaff, AZ
      Or, you might reverse the order of these in order to get the longer drives out of the way early on. Again, the availability (or lack thereof) of North Rim lodging will probably be the most significant determining factor in how you plan your trip.
      Hope that helps! For more trip planning information, visit our sister site,
      Best wishes for safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

    2. I so badly want to see so much of the southwest, i was fixed on the grand cayon or arches NP,but the more i look,the more interesting things i see and want to do.I live in PA, not sure if i would drive or fly.But defenitely need lodging for 2 adults,2 children,8 and 16. Id love to see Antelope,Lake Powell and possibly anything else close to that area.Should i work with a travel agent?

      1. Hi Jovita,
        First off, travel agents are not as easy to find as they were in years past. Even if you do manage to find one, chances are they have not travelled to the area themselves, and may unwittingly give you incorrect information. I’ve been in this business a long time, and can tell you my share of horror stories!
        Fortunately, it is very easy to plan a trip to the American Southwest by doing research online. I recommend the Travel Forums of Trip Advisor to start with. I myself am a contributor to these, and you’ll find lots of helpful, experienced folks very willing to share their insight and expertise! There are also numerous groups on Facebook where you are welcome to bounce ideas off people.
        Coming from PA, you’ll probably want to fly to Las Vegas. Otherwise, you’re looking at a 3-5 day drive, each way, which can be fun for those with the time and inclination to take on such a trip, but not so much for those unprepared for long days on the road.

        If you want to see Arches, Canyonlands, and the “Utah Mighty 5” as well as Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend, you’ll want to allot at least 2 weeks out here. Ultimate 14-Day Grand Circle Itinerary
        Phoenix can also be used as your “staging city” if you wanted to add Sedona to your itinerary; another option would be to fly into Phoenix, then out of Las Vegas, or vice versa. Before you commit to that, however, make sure one-way rental car drop-off fees won’t be prohibitively high.
        Hope that helps. Please feel free to ask further questions if/when you feel the need to!
        Good luck and safe travels,
        Alley 🙂

        1. Hi Alley,
          I am planning to visit las vegas, Grand canyon,Antelope canyon, zion & Bryce national parks with my wife.
          I will be reaching las vegas on oct 14Th and retrning on Oct 19Th.
          Note: I can’t drive and so i am completely depending on bus/shuttle transportation between the visiting sites.
          Can you help me with any suggestions of transportation and how can i plan my trip to go good.
          I just thought your previous responses to others were helpful and posting my comment.

          Thanks & Regards,

          1. Hi Shabs,
            Not being able to self-drive will limit the options you have for visiting the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion, and Bryce. Guided tours are out there, but remember that you will be at the mercy of their schedule, and there will be very little room for “doing your own thing.”
            Viator consistently has a good selection of tours that cover most if not all of the attractions on your wish list, like this 5-Day/10-Canyon tour. You may need to take two separate tours in order to accommodate them all. MaxTour has a well-rated 2-day tour from Las Vegas that covers Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon.
            According to recent customer reviews, two companies you might wish to steer clear of are TakeTours and Tours4Fun. I have personally never worked with these companies, but consistently negative feedback tells me that your hard-earned money would be better spent elsewhere.
            Hope that helps you get started in your planning. Good luck and safe travels. If you choose either one of these guided tours, or something else entirely, please let us know how it went so we can advise future travelers to the area on what works and what to avoid!
            Alley 🙂

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