My favorite stop on my road journey between Utah and Texas was kayaking to Antelope Canyon. I had intended to stop in Arizona to visit Horseshoe Bend, but we had heard so much about kayaking on Lake Powell that we opted to stay longer in the state. And it was well worth the effort! Here’s a rundown of our activities in Page, Arizona.
Hiking at Horseshoe Bend
We left Zion early in the morning to visit Horseshoe Bend before heading to Moab for the night. The road is flat and monotonous until you leave the Zion region. Until you get near to the Arizona border, that is! As you get closer, the terrain becomes more intriguing. Orange rock formations begin to appear, and expanses of water can be seen in the distance.
On our journey into Page, Arizona, we passed through the Glen Canyon Dam, which generates Lake Powell from the Colorado River and a steep valley that leads to Horseshoe Bend a few miles down the road.
When we arrived at Horseshoe Bend, we paid $10 to enter the park and began our journey. The trail is well-kept, and there are a few covered seats along the way if you need to take a rest. Strollers and wheelchairs may readily reach the area. Temperatures were exceeding 100 degrees at 11 a.m. in August, and there was minimal cover. Fortunately, the walk from the car park is only.7 miles, and you can view the gigantic rock structure cut into a horseshoe shape by the river for 270 degrees relatively soon.
We ascended the cliffs, took a few shots (while remaining socially far! ), and then returned to town. It was rather nerve-wracking to be standing on a 1000-foot cliff. Horseshoe Bend was a fun side trip, but we were more looking forward to the kayaking ahead. We stopped for a brief lunch at Canyon Crepes, then continued on to our next destination.
Kayaking at Horseshoe Bend
Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River that straddles the Utah-Arizona border. Glen Canyon National Park is in charge of Lake Powell. The lake is completely encircled by the park. The National Park admission charge (which we paid $30) applies to all activities in the park. The payment is valid for 7 days and can be done at any park admission station.
Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks rented us a twin kayak for $50 for the day. We drove 20 minutes to the Antelope Point launch pad in Glen Canyon National Park, where they strapped the kayak to my car using pool noodles.
We rent a twin kayak so that we can paddle faster together. I did notice several automobiles with two boats hooked on the roof, though! We launched our kayak into the emerald waters of Antelope Canyon. We paddled for around 30 minutes to get to the entrance and another hour or so to reach the end. We paddled around 3 kilometers in one direction. We passed by several kayaks and a few motorboats along the way. People would periodically drive over to the side and locate a spot to dock their boat and swim. To avoid creating a wake, the motorboats had to go at a speed of less than 5 mph. We had much of Antelope Canyon to ourselves, so it was mostly serene.
Kayaks and paddleboards for Lake Powell
When set against the pink and orange rocks, the water color was magnificent and vivid blue. It was also the ideal temperature for a mid-kayak swim to cool down. Mother Nature is awe-inspiring.
Hiking at Antelope Canyon
The water dries up towards the end of Lake Powell Canyon, allowing you to haul your kayak onto the shore and go for a trek. The canyon, which was formerly home to herds of pronghorn antelope, now falls inside the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation and attracts nature enthusiasts. We entered the very tight slot canyon after about a half mile. The walls were just a few feet broad but ten times that tall. The vivid orange, pink, and purple light of mid-afternoon flowed in. We strolled across pink sand and saw flawless wave patterns cut onto the canyon walls. Before returning, we hiked around 2 kilometers.
Because the hiking entry was blocked, we were really fortunate to be able to kayak to a location where you could trek the canyon. The Navajo Nation contains the iconic Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, and Antelope Canyon, as well as part of the Four Corners area. When we arrived in August, the Navajo Nation was experiencing an outbreak of COVID and was under lockdown.
Kayaking Antelope Canyon took 1.5 hours there, 1 hour hiking, and 1.5 hours paddling back. Before driving to Moab, we left off our kayak at 5 p.m. Keep in mind that Kyle and I (well, really Kyle) are both quite capable kayakers when arranging your vacation. The gentleman at the kayak desk estimated that it would take us 2 hours one trip.
What to Bring When Kayaking
When it’s 100 degrees outside and everything you own may fall into the water at any minute, you’ll want to pack carefully and carry just the essentials onto your kayak. This is what I had with me when I went kayaking in Antelope Canyon:
- Reusable storage bags—for my phone and car keys, as well as any other items I leave in the vehicle.
- 2L dry bag—I make sure everything I’m taking fits inside; it’s fantastic since it connects to the boat and will stay attached if you flip it.
- Baseball hat—I wear my HOU Hat wherever I go.
- croaky sunglasses
- Hand sanitizer – restrooms are either non-existent or filthy. This natural solution appeals to me!
- Again, there were no tissues due to a scarcity of restrooms.
- Coola White Tea Face Sunscreen My personal favorite is sunscreen.
- Lip balm with Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
- Water bottle – I adore my insulating Swell! Bring one water bottle for every hour you’ll be out in the sun.
- Nuts, granola bars, and fruit were among the snacks we brought.
Tips for kayaking at the Horseshoe Bend
There are few important tips to keep in mind when you are coming to the Horseshoe Bend for kayaking. Let’s quickly explore the most prominent tips out of them.
- Come early as much as possible
With Page, Arizona as your home base, a ten-minute drive to the Horseshoe Bend viewpoint is all it takes. When you arrive, stroll a 0.6-mile one-way route to the picturesque viewpoint, where most people spend approximately an hour. The beginner-friendly route is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers and is open from sunrise to dusk.
The most popular times to visit the overlook are from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., so schedule your visit around these hours to avoid crowds. Summers are also significantly less busy than spring and fall.
What’s better? Plan your visit to coincide with the dawn. Yes, getting up before the sun comes up is a chore, but it’s well worth it when you realize that you’ll have the place virtually totally to yourself, save for a few committed photographers. Sunrise is already one of the greatest times of day to shoot the bend, as the rising sun gradually illuminates the canyon walls. (Please note that RV and van drivers are not permitted to camp or stay overnight in the lot.)
- Grab a paddle.
You can really kayak your way around Horseshoe Bend along the Colorado River, 1,000 feet below the renowned overlook, for a fresh perspective. Sure, you don’t get the bird’s-eye perspective, but you can get a taste of what it’s like to be within the curve. You may paddle around the bend on a stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or canoe, depending on your preference.
It’s a beginner-friendly day trip that starts approximately five miles downriver from Horseshoe Bend at Lee’s Ferry. If you have your own gear, hire a boat driver from Kelly Outfitters to take you (and your belongings) to the mouth of Glen Canyon Dam, which formed Lake Powell, about 7 a.m. (If you’re short on cash, other outfitters like Kayak Horseshoe Bend provide rides and rentals.) You’ll then paddle back to your car with the river for around 15 kilometers. Around mile 10, you’ll arrive to Horseshoe Bend, where you may gaze up at the little people at the viewpoint above. If you don’t want to spend the entire day paddling, your boat driver can drop you off further downstream to shorten the trip.
Pay attention to specified pull-off areas along the river that include hiking trails, petroglyphs (complete with explanatory signage), beaches, and plenty of wildlife. You may carry camping gear aboard your canoe, kayak, or paddleboard and spend the night at any of the five first-come, first-served camp sites along this section of the river if you’re seeking for a longer, more difficult trip.
- Get to the skies
You may also experience that spectacular vista while avoiding the throng completely by taking a helicopter ride above Horseshoe Bend. In the area, there are a few helicopter tour companies, and several of them provide excursions that cover not just Horseshoe Bend, but also Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.
A fast 20-minute helicopter trip, such as the one offered by Papillion Grand Canyon Helicopters, will set you back roughly $170. It’s costly, but well worth it when all you have to do is sit back and take pictures while your pilot discusses the region’s rich geological and cultural history.
- Get the help of a local guide
There’s no better way to learn about the region’s history, geography, and ecology than to rely on the expertise of a knowledgeable guide. Though these tours are currently on hold due to COVID-19, Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Tours, an outfitter that also offers visits to nearby landmarks like Antelope Canyon and Alstrom Point, can teach you about Horseshoe Bend and take you to a private overlook site where you can take in the views without the crowds.
If you’re planning a longer or more adventurous vacation, you may schedule a variety of specialist guided excursions to learn more about the stunning vistas at Horseshoe Bend. Kelly Outfitters, for example, offers guided fly-fishing excursions down the river, and they’ll even teach you how to fish if you’ve never done so before. Wilderness River Adventures also offers a guided rafting boat tour of Horseshoe Bend, albeit these trips are currently on pause due to the epidemic.
Northern Arizona and southern Utah provide stunning scenery for road trips (RV rental, anyone? ), but you can also travel straight to Page (daily connections through Las Vegas and Phoenix) or fly to Flagstaff, Arizona, then rent a vehicle and drive north for 130 miles. Flying into Las Vegas, which is roughly a five-hour drive away, is also an option.
Many people sleep in tents and RVs in campgrounds across the region, but if roughing it isn’t your style, check into Amangiri, a private 600-acre five-star resort approximately 20 miles away in southern Utah. Consider renting a houseboat and camping on the lake at nearby Lake Powell for a more adventurous stay.
Horseshoe Bend is a popular tourist attraction in northern Arizona, and it’s simple to see why if you’ve ever there (or seen the photographs on Instagram). It’s the spot where the Colorado River bends 270 degrees to form a stunning horseshoe-shaped canyon, giving the impression of gazing through a fisheye lens. Make sure that you follow this guide and come to kayaking. Then you will be ready to secure the best experiences that are coming on your way. You will also fall in love with the returns that you can get out of the time that you are spending at the Horseshoe Bend.