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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Horseshoe Bend in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Horseshoe Bend in 2024

What's the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend?

The best times to visit Horseshoe Bend are during the shoulder seasons (October-November and March-May) or at sunrise for optimal lighting and fewer crowds. Fall, specifically September to October, offers ideal temperatures and warm water.

Be mindful of the high season from mid-March to mid-October, as parking becomes scarce and accessing the overlook may take longer. Nighttime visits are also great for stargazing, with the park open around the clock.

Horseshoe Bend is a supernatural panoramic spectacle inside Glen Canyons National Recreation Area. The area covers 1.25 million acres of waterways and backcountry geological wonders stretching from southern Utah to northern Arizona.

Even though this alien-like mars-on-earth destination attracts nearly 2 million visitors each year, you’ll still want to be a part of the magic without feeling like just a number. But while this area is chalk-full of natural beauty, when is the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend? Here’s our take.

The Overall Best Time to Visit Horseshoe Bend

Woman sitting cross-legged on the top of a rock overlooking Horseshoe bend during the best time to visit, the morning


The best time to visit Horseshoe Bend is during the shoulder season (October through November and March through May), or during the early morning hours.

During the shoulder season, the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds. This means you’ll be able to enjoy the views without having to compete for a spot to take a photo.

When you arrive at the Horseshoe Bend at sunrise, you will likely encounter unbelievable photo opportunities with softly glowing lights that amplify the Horseshoe’s desert scarlet hues as the sun positions itself to heat the canyon.  

On the contrary, the sunset at Horseshoe Bend is a blend of variety: scarlet, emerald, layered textures coloring miles of 984-foot panoramic canyon shelves.

And since the park doesn’t have designated park hours, stargazers can find good company underneath the stars after the evening twilight. However, the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend is in the Fall, between September and October.

The water feels warm, and the temperatures are cool. The high season starts mid-March and leaks into mid-October — that means that the parking lot will not have available spaces, and you’ll need to reserve more time to access the overlook.  

Cheapest Time to Visit Horseshoe Bend

The cheapest time to visit Horseshoe Bend is during the shoulder season, which is October through November and March through May. During these months, the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds, which means that hotel rates and airfare are typically lower.

Hiking trails nearby worth considering adding to your homemade tour include the Hanging Garden, Dam Overlook, and the Old Navajo Bridge. The Hanging Garden Trail is a kid-friendly out-and-back trail at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

The trail has easy-to-follow markings along the desert path that lead to an unusual formation of spring-fed green vegetation and cool temperatures.

The Dam Overlook trail is an easy 10-minute, out-and-back trail with beautiful views of the Colorado River moving through Glen Canyon 1,000 feet below the overlook. Although this trail is relatively easy to hike, you won’t want to wear sandals.

The overlook descends an 80-foot organic sandstone staircase. The Old Navajo Bridge trail is the best wheelchair, stroller, and kid-friendly trail near Horseshoe Bend to view the historic Old Navajo Bridge, New Navajo Bridge, and Glen Canyon.

You’ll run into the bookstore and visitor center when you travel west of the bridge. And east of the bridge has indigenous vendors excited to share their art and culture.

Depending on where you’re starting your destination from, the cheapest way to access Horseshoe Bend is to fly into Las Vegas and road trip 5 hours to Antelope Canyon, just a 15-minute drive to Horseshoe Bend.

Or begin your trip to Arizona. You can access the overlook from the Grand Canyon in 2.5 hours or take a 3-hour drive from Sedona.

Least Busy Time to Visit Horseshoe Bend

Woman in a Mennonite-style dress lying face down on the rocks overlooking Horseshoe Bend

Lissandra Melo/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Horseshoe Bend is during the off-season (December through February). During these months, the weather is cooler and there are fewer tourists.

However, keep in mind that some businesses in Page may be closed during the off-season. Another way to avoid the crowds is to visit Horseshoe Bend early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Most people visit Horseshoe Bend between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, so if you can arrive outside of these hours, you’ll likely have a more enjoyable experience.

Here are some specific recommendations for least busy times to visit Horseshoe Bend:

Weekday mornings: Arrive before 9:00 AM to avoid the tour buses.
Weeknight afternoons: Arrive after 5:00 PM to catch the sunset without the crowds.
Off-season mornings: Arrive anytime before 10:00 AM to enjoy the cool weather and the empty overlook.

And before you go, remember to adhere to leave no trace practices, leaving the destination just as you found it to help promote wellness for humans and the planet.

Worst Time to Visit Horseshoe Bend

The worst time to visit the Horseshoe Bend is in the Summer, between June and August– This is because the desert temperatures are at their hottest.

However, the water is quite warm. But if you’ve only got time for a summer vacation, remember to dress like you’re in the desert: head protection, loose cotton or linen clothing, UV sunglasses, sneakers, and sunscreen.

Horseshoe Bend has an average summer temperature of 97 degrees Fahrenheit without shade.

That means you’ll want to protect your head and eyes from harsh sun rays. And if you tend to overheat, cotton clothing paired with a good grade of sunscreen will help protect your skin from sunburn.

In addition, sneakers can keep your feet nice and cool without exposing them to sunburn. However, since the desert doesn’t necessarily reach frigid temperatures, the winter season attracts the holiday-getaways seeking warmer southern temperatures.

So when traveling through Horseshoe Bend in the winter, be mindful of the chilly sweater weather, early morning icy roads, and crowds of international visitors.

Things to Consider

Slot Canyon in Page, Arizona, pictured with sun beaming in from the rim during the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend

Lissandra Melo/Shutterstock

Before making your way down to Horseshoe Bend, Arizona, to experience sculptural layers of paranormal canyon formations, there are a few things that you need to know.

First, the Horseshoe Bend doesn’t belong to the national park service, so you won’t be able to use a National Park Service pass in place of the small entrance fee for all passenger vehicles and motorcycles.

If you arrive during the busy season and the parking lot is full, you may have to return later when the lot has open availability. And if you’re a traveling nomad, you’ll want to reserve a tour or rent a car to visit the overlook.

Unfortunately, Horseshoe Bend does not allow drop-offs or side-of-the-road parking. Second, Horseshoe Bend lives in the desert, so you’ll want to have desert essentials handy just in case you squeeze between two trails of tourists for long periods.

Our top tips include:

  • Remember to grab your sunglasses or a big umbrella — the open desert can be bright.
  • Wear sunscreen and a brimmed hat. You won’t find much shade on the desert trails
  • Wear hiking boots. The sandstone can be too slick for sandal traction.
  • Pack at least 1 liter of water and a light snack. The summer season reaches over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lastly, when you’re not rushing to tour Glen Canyon, book an overnight stay at one of the hundreds of Page’s best accommodations, such as the Lake Powell Resort or the luxury Hyatt Place Page.

But if hotels and motels are not your favorite choice of stay, you can find a campsite at the Wahweap campground, Lee’s Ferry campground, or Page Lake Powell RV park.

Frequently Asked Questions

Man in hiking boots holding a camera and looking over the scenic overlook during the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend in Utah

Belikova Oksana/Shutterstock

Are you still considering Horseshoe Bend as your must-see travel destination? Check out these frequently asked questions to help you book your new favorite travel destination hassle-free:

How much time do you need at Horseshoe Bend?

Reserve at least 90 minutes to explore Horseshoe Bend. This reservation will give you enough time to capture photographic memories, maneuver through the crowd, and bask in the view.

How long does the Horseshoe Bend hike take?

The hike to Horseshoe Bend overlook begins at the parking lot south of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center off US Highway 89 and takes about 40 minutes or less to trek. The trail is a 1.5-mile wheelchair, stroller, and kid-friendly out-and-back trail.

That means the Horseshoe Bend trail is a single trail with the same start and end location. And you don’t have to worry about leaving your pets in the car. Dogs can tour the overlook with their owners on a leash.

Can you see Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon in one day?

You can see Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon in one day when you plan your trip. However, it isn’t easy to tour both locations on a freestyle itinerary. Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon are only 2 hours away.

However, you can quickly lose track of time when you start your trip later in the day and want to bask in the beauty. To see both natural landmarks in one day, begin your trip in the Grand Canyon, Page, Flagstaff, or a nearby city.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Horseshoe Bend?

Whether you’re a tourist on vacation, a photographer scouting for the perfect location, or a stargazer trying to catch shooting stars, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Horseshoe Bend. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!