Just south and west of the heart of Page the Colorado River has incised a perfect loop, some 800’ into the layers of sandstone that cap this high desert plateau. Known as Horseshoe Bend, this has become a must see photo site, and though it can get busy there are plenty of superb vantage points to shoot from. Drive south from Page on Highway 89 and watch for the sign, park in the lot and start your walk up the sandy hill. There’s a ramada and viewpoint there, but the real vista awaits you at the edge, overlooking the wide sweep of the river. The round trip walk is about 1 mile parking lot to rim, and bring water, as the return slog up the hill is exposed to afternoon sun and there are no services here.
To encompass the entire curve of the Colorado below your feet you’ll need a very wide lens, 16mm at least on Full Frame cameras. You can also stitch together several wide vertical images to take it the abyss at your feet, but for this you’ll need a tripod. Smart phone shooters can use Panorama mode to take it all in with one smooth left to right capture.
I find mid-morning into twilight as the best shooting window, as the sun rising behind your back doesn’t light the river til many hours after sunrise. Sunset can be magnificent, and my favorite time of year is the late summer monsoon season, when magical clouds fill the huge sky over the horseshoe. If you care to stay after sunset, you can shoot the stars over the bend, and make a composite image that thrills, but don’t forget a flashlight!
This is still a free site, no permit required, and I hope it stays that way. Bring friends, pack some water and snacks, and pack it out. If we keep this site clean and untrammeled then perhaps it will stay wild and open and free…