Sunset at Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Horseshoe Bend

Date of visit: Wednesday November 11th, 2015

Attractions/Places of Interest:

One of the most iconic and photogenic locations in Arizona – Horseshoe Bend. Wrapped around by the Colorado River, this 270° curve was carved by the river over the course of millions of years, giving it its horseshoe shape.

The hike up to the bend from the parking lot located right on top of US highway 89 is a quick one – only half a mile (and another half mile back). As you walk towards the bend you walk uphill through sand and rock, so wear proper hiking shoes for comfort!


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Photo and Travel Gear:

The gear necessary to capture the best this spot has to offer comes at no surprise. Bring a sturdy tripod and the widest lens you own! I highly, highly recommend a graduated ND filter here as the sky is nearly always a few stops brighter than the canyon. Shooting multiple exposures from the same spot on your tripod and merging them into an HDR is also something I recommend experimenting with here as from what I see in many photos posted online by other photographers the dynamic range of this location is usually on the extreme side.

Unfortunately, we weren’t blessed with the nicest of skies during this sunset. I did my best to bring back as much detail from the blown out sky as possible, but it is far away from the epicness that was witnessed during sunrise in the Grand Canyon a few days before. Regardless of atmospheric conditions, this is a beautiful spot that everyone should add to their bucket list.

The gear I used included my Nikon D600 and Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 . This setup was mounted on my Sirui tripod and Induro BHD2 ballhead. Shooting right into the sun gave me a lot of issues with lens flare, and not the nice artistic type. I really wished I had a higher end piece of glass like the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 with nano-crystal coating.

I also had my Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 which I did not end up using here. If I did not have a SWA lens like my Tokina, I would make do with the 24-70 and most likely take a stitched panoramic shot.


We ended the night at Jacob Lake Inn, a very nice and clean hotel with a great location that was affordable. It was not extravagant, but served perfectly fine as a place to stay for a few hours before heading out for a sunrise hike the next morning to Point Imperial on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.