If you are driving through Page in Arizona then Horseshoe Bend is somewhere that you have to take an hour out of your day to view... Here are my top 6 tips for visiting Horseshoe Bend.
When I got back to my car I was looking for something to do to fill the time until my tour around Antelope Canyon and en-route to the Glen Canyon Dam I stumbled across this little gem of a hike 'The Hanging Garden Trail'
Hanging Garden Hike
The Hanging Garden Trail is a 1.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located only five minutes drive away from Horseshoe Bend and is a great stop for getting away from the masses at Horseshoe bend.
The hike is uniquely marked out with stones either side of a small path guiding you and the small number of families walking their dogs in the right direction.
What was great about this trail was the feeling of being alone in the desert albeit just 15 minutes away from the car park and the main road, a real sense of easy to get to escapology.
The trail does have a couple of optional view points just off the trek and not to high up to get to which deliver great views across the dusty terrain and onto Lake Powell.
The hike does loop back on itself and will eventually take you back to the small car park.
My top tip however once you have reached your car is to drive an extra 5 minutes down the un-tarmacked which leads you down to a viewing area of the Lake Powell Dam (as modeled below from my Mustang hire car). Here you will find some public toilets and a great little area to pull up a deckchair, unravel a homemade sandwich, crack open a beer and relax with great views of the lake.
If you think the views of Lake Powell cannot be beaten from the eastern side of the lake then you would be wrong! Get into your car and cross the Dam to the western side taking the 'Lake Shore Drive' route towards Wahweap. Along the route their are multiple areas to pull over and take in majestic views similar to the one in the picture below.
I was unable to find any hiking routes along this road but quite simply the views demand to be taken in at a relaxed pace anyway :-)
The big tourist attraction in Page is Antelope Canyon formed by sandstone erosion, primarily due to flash flooding.
Due to the huge pull of people wanting to visit the canyons the area has been made into a tourist attraction and you are not able to access Antelope Canyon unless you are on an organised tour. For me this kind of takes away the appeal of visiting however as I was in the area it was a real must (and I got some cracking pictures for the Instagram).
There is loads of tour groups offering an Antelope Canyon excursion based on if you are a regular tourist or if you are a photographer, I decided to go for a standard tour and booked a late afternoon time as I was informed that the Canyons would be a little more quiet and it gives a unique lighting experience.
You will have probably noticed from watching my other Vlogs that I like to go places away from the crowds and even though I booked a time that was noted as being a little quieter than others it was still very busy in the canyons with lots of tours inside at the same time. If you are not a fan of busy tourist attractions then this may not be the stop for you.
The above being said, I was very cheeky and also lucky as I did manage to peel away from my group a couple of times and get some amazing pictures that would otherwise have some fat bloke eating donuts in the way (kind of ruins the ambiance).
Its also key to note that these pictures were taken on my smart phone, so yes it really does look this good in person and without any special high-tech or expensive cameras you can get pictures this good that will last you a lifetime.
My top tip for Antelope Canyon is to judge the groups of people when entering. In my case there were a lot of groups ahead and it seemed like there was a 3 minute gap behind so I managed to stay right at the back of the group to make the most of the empty slots (albeit for the 20 seconds or so). This for me was really important as I would have been absolutely gutted if I could not have taken these type of pictures.
So the question is - Is Antelope Canyon worth the big hype? Yes & No... If like me you like exploring and finding things out for yourself without masses of people around you then this is probably not going to be your cup of tea. If however you like a well organised tour with informative tour guides in a group situation then you are going to enjoy this unique location.
So all in all Page, Arizona is well worth 24 hours of your time and the itinerary above can all be easily achieved in a laid back day.
Hikers paradise? Maybe not but its a great stop gap between Zion & The Grand Canyon