The Colorado River runs nearly 1500 miles from the northern part of Colorado down to Baja California, and is one of the major rivers on the western half of the US. Near the northern border of Arizona just outside the city of Page, the river makes a 270º meander that will eventually form an oxbow lake at a place known as Horseshoe Bend. This particular meander is very well known amongst photographers as it is one of the few bends that provides an overlook that is readily accessible, and it is very deep (1,000 feet straight down from the overlook to the surface of the water below). Ever since I first saw other people’s pictures of Horseshoe Bend, it’s been on my bucket list of photography destinations.
This past weekend Christine and I were headed down to hike the Grand Canyon with her father and brothers-in-law, and we took the time to stop by Horseshoe Bend to see it in person. We arrived about 40 minutes before sunset, and made the short hike down to the edge of the overlook quickly. I’ll be honest, the pictures you can find all over the internet of this thing really don’t do it justice: There is no guard railing, the ground is rocky and very uneven, and the vertigo I experienced standing at the edge and looking down was so strong my palms and feet are beginning to sweat and I’m feeling a little light-headed just thinking about it.
It’s an amazing place, with a wonderful view – and LOTS of other people there to enjoy the vista:
Most everyone was friendly, and I chatted with a couple from the Seattle area on my left and another couple from Zürich, Switzerland on my right. While I got all set up to shoot, Christine made herself comfortable and took this shot of me at the edge – it’s one of my favorite pictures of me shooting anything, ever:
I shot a time-lapse of the sunset:
From which I pulled this single shot as my favorite sunset view of the bend:
We decided to come back the next morning when the light would be different to shoot a wider panorama from a slightly different viewpoint. I created this image by attaching my camera to a monopod, then walking as close to the edge as I dare and lifting the monopod as high over my head as I could. With the camera elevated more than 10′ off the edge, I then shot around 30 images while rotating the camera left, right, up and down. The shot at the beginning of this article is the result, and while it is not terribly unique amongst shots of this famous location, it is mine.
If you ever find yourself near the small town of Page, AZ, do yourself a favor and pull into the small parking lot at the trailhead for Horseshoe Bend. Hike out to see the view, and you’ll be amazed.