After The Toadstools, we were all ready to take a load off and drive for a while. Since we were in no rush to get to Horseshoe Bend, we decided to take a brief detour to Wahweap Bay, part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA). Wahweap is but a small introduction to Glen Canyon NRA, most of which is located in Utah. We’ll have to plan another trip devoted to Glen Canyon sometime soon.
Even though there are decent views of Wahweap Bay from the highway, we decided to drive into the recreation area to get a better glimpse. Wahweap Bay has a campground and a nice resort area in addition to a couple marinas and a beach. Zach walked down to the beach while Truman and I rested in the car. I wasn’t quite ready to get back in the sun. The bay was tranquil and serene, especially compared to the chaos we later encountered at Horseshoe Bend. Zach thought it would be the perfect spot to bust out a beach chair, a beer, and a good book. We’ll have to keep it in mind for another trip.
We decided to check out Horseshoe Bend before driving into Page for dinner. I didn’t have high expectations; I knew it would be crowded. Nothing could have prepared us for what we encountered. Cars were parked along the highway for at least a mile before we even made it to the entrance. The parking lot – which isn’t paved or nearly large enough for the traffic it supports – was packed with cars and people. Since most people were parking on the roadside, we decided to try our luck with the parking lot – good decision! We found a spot without a problem. Though dogs are allowed on the trail, we knew we could do it faster without Tru. He was already worn out from our previous excursions, and the temperature was more than cool enough for him to be comfortable in the car. So, we left him behind and started out on the sandy (ugh) 3/4 mile trail to the overlook.
There were seven (!) tour buses in the parking lot, so you can begin to imagine the number of people on the trail. It was astounding. I’m sure there are times when you can find relatively few people at Horseshoe Bend, but this was not one of those times. In fact, more fascinating that the view was the sheer volume of people. The National Park Service and the City of Page plan to begin construction on guardrails along the rim and trail improvements this winter making the viewpoint more accessible and much safer. Currently, there are no guardrails and visitors get dangerously close (in my opinion) in order to get that perfect selfie with the bend. You really do have to get right on the edge in order to get a full view of the bend. I wasn’t comfortable doing that given the crowded nature of the rim, so I had Zach take the photo for me. To get a nice full shot of the bend, you should use a fish-eye or wide-angle lens; I forgot mine in the car. Oh well. At a certain point, I don’t care about getting a perfect photo. It’s enough to have been there.
Horseshoe Bend was captivating despite the crowds, and it was a nice way to cap our day. Maybe we’ll stop there again sometime if it’s less crowded.