Seeing Horseshoe Bend with your own eyes is a breathtaking travel experience. But there's nothing worse than having no option but to pile in a 50-person tour bus and nudge hundreds of strangers to see one of your personal bucket list destinations. So, is it possible to avoid that and see Horseshoe bend by yourself?
Short Answer: Yes! It is possible to visit Horseshoe Bend without a tour or guide
Many visitors to Horseshoe Bend make a point to see the neighboring Antelope Canyon, which requires you to book a tour through a certified Navajo tour company. This creates confusion when going to visit Horseshoe Bend, with many visitors thinking you also need a guided tour, when in fact, Horseshoe Bend can be a self-guided tour.
Travelling to Horseshoe Bend Solo
Upon arrival at Horseshoe Bend, you will first pass a booth to enter the large, newly expanded parking lot at the Horseshoe Bend trailhead. The cost for parking (the only associated cost for Horseshoe Bend) is $10 per vehicle. Note that it is not possible to walk to Horseshoe Bend from Page, as it’s off a busy highway a few miles from town. At the top of the parking lot is the trailhead for the path to get to Horseshoe Bend.
The trail from the parking lot to the bend has recently been altered to go around a large hill instead of over it, so you no longer have to worry about the long uphill portion many past travelers have had to endure. Instead, the new trail is a roughly 1.5KM long well-groomed trail that will take you about 15-20 minutes to walk there and back. There are several signs telling you to stay on the path, but there is no need to feel trapped, once you get to the bend you are free to roam around however you want.
Related Reading: Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon-2021 Update
Once you reach the bend, you will probably see many people crowded around the railing at the main lookout point. As a solo traveler, this is where we’d advise you to immediately go to the right side of the bend. Not only is it less crowded, the photography opportunities are better, and you get to do as much hiking and exploring of the rim as you’d like!
Horseshoe Bend is technically open 24 hours, but they won’t let cars in the parking lot past sunset. Once you’re in, you can spend as much time exploring the rims as you’d like! We suggest allotting at least an hour and a half at Horseshoe Bend.
There are benefits to taking a tour to Horseshoe Bend
Even if you have an aversion to traveling with groups, there are definitely some benefits to traveling with a small group to Horseshoe Bend.
The first is timing. Planning your day in Page can be tricky when it comes to choosing the right time for Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Local tours set up your timing so you get to see these natural wonders in their best light, literally!
Related Reading: Is Horseshoe Bend Part of the Grand Canyon (It's Complicated)
Second, small-group tour guides know everything you need to prepare for summer (or winter) in the area. Whether it's knowing which areas to avoid, carrying extra water or umbrellas for the intense summer sun, you know when you’re traveling with a group and guide, somebody will always have your back in emergencies.
Last, when visiting natural wonders, nothing enhances experience more than local knowledge. Why is Horseshoe Bend so famous? Has it always had this many visitors? What local lore is there about the surrounding area? Has anyone ever fallen off the edge? The answers to these questions given by tour guides will heighten your experience from just seeing Horseshoe Bend, to understanding and appreciating.