The Best Part About Horseshoe Bend Isn't the Sunset: It's the Stars


Although Horseshoe Bend is a popular spot to watch the sunset, most people leave too early to see one of its greatest features: the stars.

Horseshoe Bend is one of the most iconic places in Arizona, if not the Western US. If you've ever been, you know it gets very crowded around sunset with everyone trying to take pictures of the sun before it sets behind the row of ridges to the west. 

What people often overlook (no pun intended) is because Horseshoe Bend is so remote, there are few city lights. This means the stars are unbelievably bright a couple hours after sunset and are worth waiting around for. Personally, I enjoyed the star gazing more than I enjoyed the sunset, because the hundreds of people that are there leave a couple minutes after, afraid that they wont be able to find their way back to their cars. But not are more adventurous, more curious, and are going to wait it out. 

So here's how to do it:

1) Bring a couple flashlights, a sleeping bag, a pillow, maybe even a sleeping pad. 

2) If you have a camera capable of long exposures, bring it and a tripod.

3) Go ahead and come around sunset if you want to see it, or come 30 minutes after, there will still be plenty of light to hike down to the bend.

4) Wait at least an hour after sunset, maybe two to let the stars come out and the sky darken.

5) Enjoy.

6) Once you are done watching the stars (look out for shooting stars) and taking the pictures, simply turn on your flashlights and be aware of the ridge. If you need to, pull up Google Maps to find the trail to the bend (its on there) and just follow it back to your car. The trail is very easy to find and very noticeable, it's not difficult to backtrack. 

Optional: I personally enjoyed camping on Lake Powell and waking up to watch the sunrise, but that's up to you. If you are already over in Page, you might as well!

Enjoy the stars!

Published: September 13, 2016

Matt Van SwolStoryteller

Matt Van Swol is a self-taught landscape photographer, writer, and nuclear scientist for the US Department of Energy. After personally struggling with depression for many years, he is passionate about showing others t...

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