Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument offer the chance to see some of the most amazing geological formations and magnificent natural landscapes in Southwest USA. Several rare species of birds and animals inhabit the canyons. Fossil evidence shows signs of prehistoric creatures that once roamed the region and signs of early human settlers are evident through arrowheads, the remains of ancient settlements and rock art.
The formation of Horseshoe Bend goes back millions of years. The meandering Colorado River slowly began to be trapped in a canyon when the Colorado Plateau began slowly to rise, resulting in a huge bend in the river, shaped like a horseshoe. This outstanding view of Horseshoe Bend can be reached by walking along a short sandy trail from Route 89, a few miles south of Page. The sandy trail leads to the very edge of the cliff, providing a sudden stunning view across the canyon and down to the bend in the river. Photographers love taking photos from this viewpoint in different light conditions, and sunset is a particularly spectacular time to visit.
The Colorado River provides another exciting way to see the canyon from below, by taking one of the guided boat trips from Page. Some of the local wildlife can be viewed from the river. Nearby rock art and signs of early settlements can also be seen on the shores of the Colorado, as if flows through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, where Horseshoe Bend is located.
Grand Staircase Escalante is the biggest land based U.S. National Monument, covering 1,880,461 acres of Southern Utah. About three thousand archaeological sites have been discovered here. Some rare species of fish survive in Canyon water courses. Many types of birds and mammals, reptiles and amphibians have also been recorded, including some endangered species.
The Grand Staircase itself is a formation of natural terraces, with cliffs of deep red Moenkopi sandstone, Navajo sandstone from sand formed in the Jurassic period and gray shale containing fossils of ancient marine creatures. Underground coal deposits are formed from swamp plants that once grew in extensive marshlands.
There are numerous hiking trails to follow in the Grand Staircase Escalante, but some remote parts of this National Monument are only accessible by four wheel drive vehicles that require an access permit. Special custom tours can take people into some of restricted those areas.
Our favorite walk:
Why we love it:
An easy 2 miles trail which children and adults love. Follow the wash until your reach an area dotted with rock formations resembling toadstools!
in this area a great place for a picnic and some dinosaur exhibits and education is the Big Water Visitor Center. Close to the Toadstool trailhead.