How Long To Hike Horseshoe Bend In Arizona

The Grand Canyon is a bucket-list vacation for many. One of the must-do hikes while out there is Horseshoe Bend, which sits in Glen Canyon, so close to the Grand Canyon, people often mistake it as part of the same. Its iconic view of the Colorado River snaking around the rock formations is unforgettable. But the hike is usually longer than it seems on paper.

Most people budget 1-2 hours to hike Horseshoe Bend in Arizona. The route is only 1.5 miles round trip. However, both the views and the heat add time to a walk that would typically only require 30 minutes. Horseshoe looks its best in the mornings to early afternoon.

Horseshoe Bend is a wheelchair-accessible hike on a graded path. Pets are also allowed, provided they are leashed. However, it isn’t the distance or the terrain that makes this hike harder than it appears. Most people are unaccustomed to hiking in the heat. Even short walks such as this require hikers to bring lots of water. But Horseshoe is worth every drop of sweat. 

How Much Time Does It Take To Hike Horseshoe Bend?

Visitors to Horseshoe Bend typically spend 1-2 hours on the 1.5-mile round trip hike. While the length of the path is not far, people enjoy spending time admiring the view and taking photographs. Also, both the crowds and the heat can slow people’s average walking time.

Most of the hike is unshaded. There are two shade shelters along the route for people to take a break from the sun’s glare. However, these can also be crowded. Thus, hikers must wear sunscreen and hats and bring lots of water. Also, it is advised to avoid walking during the hottest periods of the day.

Please keep the heat in mind when bringing a pet. Leaving them in the car is, obviously, not an option. But leashed pets doing the walk will not only need to be kept well hydrated but may require foot protection. In addition, the hot path can be incredibly hard on their paws. Thus, choose the time of day carefully or find a safe place to leave them for your visit.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To Hike Horseshoe Bend?

The best time of day to hike Horseshoe Bend is morning to early afternoon. Not only will this be cooler, but it is also when the Horseshoe down below isn’t obscured by shade. These times will give you a nice clear view of Horseshoe and the Colorado River’s brilliant color as it snakes around the rock formations.

However, many people enjoy timing their hike to Horseshoe Bend for sunrise and sunset. The exact times will depend on the seasons. The park, itself, operates between sunrise and sunset. Thus, the park is at its fullest between 9 am to 11 am and 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.

Photogenically, early mornings are a prime visiting time to Horseshoe, as the sun will be at the photographer’s back. There are now guardrails at the lookout point. These can easily be avoided at the photographer’s risk. It is a 1000-foot (300 m) drop, and the sandstone is known to crumble around the edges. Visitors have died from getting too close.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Hike Horseshoe Bend?

Spring and fall are the optimal times of year to visit Horseshoe Bend to avoid the weather extremes. July and August are typically Arizona’s hottest and wettest times of the year. Also, they can be the most jam-packed due to school being out.

For those wishing to avoid crowds, visit mid-week when school is in session. Be sure to avoid schools’ spring breaks and national holidays. The park is open during winter. This can be an underappreciated time of year to visit. However, be aware that parts of the Grand Canyon will be closed. Also, the trip does take careful planning due to areas of snow and ice.

Does Horseshoe Bend Have Fees And Parking?

Horseshoe Bend does have a fee to hike. You can confirm the rates, opening times, and latest rules and regulations by visiting the Official Horseshoe Bend Information page.

Those who visited the park prior to 2019 will be pleasantly surprised to discover the parking lot has been expanded. This has been a particular boon to disabled visitors and those driving larger RVs. Disability parking has been expanded and is located near the trailhead. In addition, larger RVs now have their own separate lot.

Commercial operators also have improved conditions, with easy in-and-out angled parking. 

Please note that parking along Highway 89 is illegal.

Is Horseshoe Bend Wheelchair And Stroller Accessible?

Horseshoe Bend’s upgrade in 2019 has made the hike accessible for both wheelchairs and strollers. However, most of the trail is grated rather than paved. Thus, some styles of wheels will find this easier than others.

What’s Another Good Hike Near Horseshoe Bend?

Antelope Canyon is less than 5 miles from Horseshoe Bend. These slot canyons are on Navajo Nation land and are a stunning sight to behold. However, do note that to protect the beauty of these canyons, people are not allowed on their own and must be part of a guided tour.

What’s The Best Time Of Year To Visit Antelope Canyon?

Most visitors hope to see the light beams shining through the famous “slots.” To achieve this, visitors must come between May and September. However, those willing to miss the lights will find the tours less crowded. On the upside, these visitors will witness how the walls change colors, a sight obscured by the light beams during peak season.

How Long To Hike Antelope Canyon?

Antelope Canyon tours take between 1-2 hours. There are two different canyons: Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope. Upper Antelope is the one with the famous light beams, and its tour typically takes 90 minutes. Lower Antelope has the “Corkscrew” and is intriguing but has the more challenging terrain.

Conclusion

Horseshoe Bend is a fantastic sight. Its hike is accessible to wheelchair users, as well as strollers and pets. However, despite it being a pretty short walk, visitors should allow time to enjoy the views and being slowed by the crowds. Also, the heat slows people down and has made some very ill. Do pack and drink plenty of water to ensure a pleasant experience.