Southwest Road Trip: Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River – one of THE classic southwest photo locations. And in my ignorance, I didn’t even know I was there until I practically fell into it.

I was heading into Page, AZ with no grander plans than to just spend the night and head out for Utah the next day. But as I neared the city limits, a sign came into view: Horseshoe Bend, Next Left. “That’s here?!” I exclaimed, “Oh man, can’t wait to go check it out.”

Since night had already fallen by the time I arrived in Page, I decided to stay around in town for a day, see what was what, and then head out to the bend the next night at sunset. Upon checking into a cheap motel and discovering that Antelope Canyon was also in town, I decided to extend my stay further, but that is another story.

Let me then jump ahead to the next evening and my attempt to see the bend. I say attempt because at about three in the afternoon, the clouds dropped to a ceiling of 100 feet, and began releasing a squadron of snowflakes. I ventured out to the bend anyway, all the while wishfully thinking that the clouds might miraculously open as the sun was setting. Yeah right.

If anything they only sat down harder as I tried with futility to make them disappear through the power of my mind. In fact the clouds were so thick I could barely even see to the bottom of the canyon. Disappointed but not discouraged, I returned to the car as darkness fell and vowed to return again in the morning.

Fast forward to the next morning and I am up at 0’dark-thirty and watching the clouds sprinkle still more snow down over Page. According the the local weather report on the teevee, the ceiling was even lower than the night before. So with a great harrumph I went back to bed.

Upon waking the second time, I noticed the clouds were beginning to break up a bit, so even though I was headed for Bryce Canyon that day, I figured I could still check out the bend before I left town. I thought it would still be cold and the ground snow-covered when I got there, so I put on my full boots, fleece, pants, and over-trousers snow ensemble and I headed out.

But by the time I got to the bend, the sun had come out and the snow was melting quickly. Nevertheless, there was still a nice dusting on the peaks in the distance, and a neat sprinkling of low clouds out there as well. Not wanting to create yet another photo of the classic Horseshoe Bend view, I headed off around the northern side of the canyon to see what I could find.

Ultimately I was stopped near the far edge of the bend by a massive side canyon. I took a number of photos along the way, but this one ended up being my favorite, for the symmetry of the water, how it isn’t the archetypal Horseshoe Bend shot but it still shows off the great curve in the right, and how you can see deep into the canyon on the southern end of the bend.

The magnificence of the place is hard to do justice to in a photo.  Nevertheless, be on the lookout for this one to be debuting large at my next art show.

Short video below with some highlights of my visit to Horseshoe Bend

~Josh

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