Horseshoe Bend is an iconic natural attraction. It draws people from around the world to catch a glimpse of its astounding views. As its name implies, Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River. It’s located near the town of Page, AZ and can be found near the equally incredible Antelope Canyon.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Horseshoe Bend, you’ve likely seen photographs of it on social media. It’s one of the most widely photographed locations in the United States, and for good reason. It’s free to visit, the sights are indescribable, and the effort you’ll exert getting on the trail is minimal.
Many, like myself, have enjoyed the stunning shots you can capture hanging over the edge. Before the Horseshoe Bend construction, visitors could essential dangle off the staggering edge of the cliff which stands a thousand feet above the rocks and river below. Historically, there has been no protective rails to protect visitors from potentially slipping and falling. All of that is about to change.
On November 6, 2017, construction began to make improvements at the rim of the Horseshoe Bend Overlook. Contractors are installing rim safety railing, closing half of the rim viewing area to public until construction is complete. In addition to the rail, two shaded benches will be added as well as a new trail to improve ABA accessibility. These renovations intend to aid in the growing concern over the risk of visitors inadvertently falling as Horseshoe Bend continues to increase in popularity.
The move to build railing around the site is mostly meant to improve safety and accessibility for all, however many adventurers aren’t happy with the decision. First, tourists are upset half the rim is shut down, with some booking their trip to Page prior to the construction announcement. In turn, this makes a trip to this destination much less fulfilling than it would’ve been had construction not been taking place. Others have voiced concern over the potential quality of their pictures they can take here, stating they will no longer be the same with some of the edges blocked off now by railings.
In addition to upset over blocked views and current construction, visitors are voicing discontent about the proposal of a fee booth. A fee of $10 for a two-day pass is currently on the table for Glen Canyon tourists who do not have a parks pass. The idea must be approved by the National Park Service, however a Glen Canyon representative said initial talks have led her to believe a federal approval will likely take place. If the idea passes, this will be the first time visitors will have to pay to see Horseshoe Bend.
Our take on the Horsehoe Bend construction is this: everyone will have an opinion on this matter—whether good or bad—because it’s controversial. On one hand, the changes are being made to help protect the general public. A number of people have died at Horseshoe Bend, and the urge to nab the perfect Instagram picture seems to only be progressing. Forcing people to take a step back due the protection of rails may help save lives.
Looking at the situation from an alternate point of view, it also seems almost futile to put safety railing up when people can still climb to the edge simply by venturing a little further down. They may not get the same vantage point as captured on camera before, but you can guarantee when there’s a will there’s a way to get equally as dangerous pictures.
As for the proposed fee, if it goes back to helping maintain the area and the National Park Service in general, I’m all for it. The amount you’d need to contribute to see the sight reportedly won’t be too outrageous, and National Parks are also proposing an increase in cost so this seems pretty in line with other changes to come.
If you do visit Horseshoe Bend after construction, my advice is to always stay safe. If you feel uncomfortable at any point trying to get “the right photo” don’t go through with it. Take a step back and I assure you your picture will be equally as spectacular. Or, start a new trend by standing near the railing. You’ll be some of the first to capture it.
Do you have any strong thoughts or feelings on the Horseshoe Bend construction? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!