The American Outback: Horse-Shoe Bend, Arizona

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona is quite possibly one of the most naturally beautiful places in America. But it’s also one of the least recognised places. I showed the above picture to several Americans who thought it was a secret I had discovered on one of Sunday afternoon treks. Short of being hailed the next part-time Columbus, I informed them it was in fact one of their own country’s most stunningly beautiful secrets – so secret in fact most Americans are not aware of it.

One day I decided to drive from Lake Powell, Arizona to the Southern end of the Grand Canyon. On the way, we stopped by Horseshoe Bend. What is the most amazing thing of all – natural beauty and stunning scenery aside, was the fact that I was not prepared for it. When you arrive at Horseshoe Bend, you are quite literally in the middle of nowhere. (Well, you are in Arizona, darling.) From the car park you initially arrive in, there is a walk up a small hill and down to the canyon below. (3/4 of a mile walk to be exact but it feels like five..hundred.)

Walking along the sand, panting in the humid air and wondering, “where the hell am I?’ all I could see for miles was sand. Having dehydration induced flashbacks to the movie, “Wolf Creek” I struggled on hoping our car would start when finished. The sun was searing my skin, I wasn’t told about this ‘detour’ trip and thus, didn’t bring any water. I kept walking. As we approached the end of the walk my friend said, “OK, promise me you will not look. Close your eyes.” The above photo is what I saw before I shut my eyes. I was not aware of it but I was standing at the edge of a cliff with my eyes closed. “Open them,” he said. And this is what I saw.

I am hardly ever speechless, in fact I can run my mouth harder than Lance Armstrong can pedal but for once I was silent. The walk and dehydration and feeling light-headed was worth it. The immenseness of it, the unexpectedness of it, the burnt orange against the turquoise coloured water  – made you feel especially insignificant in its uniqueness and rawness. It was truly breath-taking. We sat for an hour and admired the beauty of it, talked with friends (aka fought over the last drops of water) and took photos. As we left, I turned around once more but it was gone. Once you have left the cliffs edge it disappears once again below the earth as if you’d never seen it. A truly remarkable American treasure.

Horseshoe Bend is one of the most stunningly beautiful sandstone and rock formation in the entire US. Located in Arizona, within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is off Highway 89 south of Page, roughly four miles from the Page/Lake Powell area in the Northern part of the state. There are no admission fees. I would suggest that you bring with you a bottle or two of water, sunscreen and a camera. And watch the 500 feet drop.

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4 comments

  1. neville johns

    thankyou from an old dude who is unable to do what you are doing ,great shot of that view.so thoughtful and so appreciated

  2. Wow I’ve never heard of this place before and it looks beautiful. How long is the drive from Phoenix to this place. Is there more fun stuff to do around there??

    Iam going to rent a house in Phoenix, for a month and I’m looking for activities that are around this city.

    Thanks.

    • Hi!, sorry for the late reply. It would be about 3 and half hours. Its closer to Page, Arizona or the FLagstaff area. I used to live in Page and it was only about 20 minutes from there, we drive there after a visit to the Grand Canyon. The place is amazing! I hadn’t heard of it either, but it truly is beautiful. Have fun in Phoenix!

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