24 Hours in Page | Arizona
24 Hours in Page| Written by Brian Callender | Photography by Julie Boyd
In what has quickly become an annual tradition, Julie and I hit the road at the end of December in search of adventures in the Southwest.
With winter weather making most of our favorite destinations either inaccessible for hiking, or fully functioning ski resorts, we turned to the desert for a second consecutive year.
At the end of 2017, we spent time in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and planned to visit the three additional National Parks in Utah on this trip. Before venturing into Utah, we stopped in Page, Arizona, a small town on the border between the two states.
24 Hours in Page: Getting There
Page is located at the very northern tip of Arizona, nearly in the center-most portion of the state. Because of its location, you can expect do some driving from whichever airport you decide to fly into. From either Phoenix or Las Vegas, the drive is about 4 hours, and just under 300 miles.
We decided to go the Phoenix route and spent a night in Flagstaff, which is about halfway from Page, making the drive much shorter. This also allowed us the opportunity to visit Sedona beforehand. Coming from Las Vegas, we recommend staying in St. George, Utah, or making a side trip to Zion National Park.
24 Hours in Page: Visiting Lake Powell
Lake Powell is the quintessential summer destination, so visiting it in winter, amidst the government shutdown meant there wasn’t much for us to do. We spent some time driving around to various viewpoints and enjoying the eerie solitude while walking through the Lake Powell Resort. On a future trip, we would love to hike to Rainbow Bridge or Reflection Canyon.
24 Hours in Page: Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is an immensely popular destination (over-popular, thanks to social media) along the Colorado River. From our hotel in Page, the parking lot is just a short ten minute drive, followed by a 0.75-mile walk to the overlook. When we first arrived in Page, we noticed the parking lot for the trailhead was full, and the only option was to park further down the road and be shuttled back to the main lot. From the research we did, we decided it would be best for both avoiding crowds and doing photography to arrive early in the morning.
We woke up at 5:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day and drove straight to the trailhead. There were a couple of other cars in the parking lot, but we were the first ones to hit the trail. With the recent snowfall, we were happy to make the first tracks out to the viewpoint, followed closely behind by a few other early risers.
Catching the rising sun over a snowy Horseshoe Bend was easily one of the more memorable experiences from this trip. The calm atmosphere and beautiful dawn light confirmed that this was the best time to visit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the crowds started to file in, and we took that as a signal that it was time to pack up and leave. For a location this popular, we HIGHLY recommend getting there for sunrise as the overlook was crowded within an hour of our arrival.
24 Hours in Page: Slot Canyon Tour of Secret Canyon
Coinciding with a visit to Horseshoe Bend, the other big ticket item on our list for our trip to Page was a slot canyon tour. While Antelope Canyon is easily the most popular and well-known slot canyon in the area, we were not able to get a reservation on short notice. Julie had tried calling a tour operator who was less-than-friendly, and was told they did not have availability (despite it showing so online).
On a whim, I decided to walk into the Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Tours office, as we had stopped in their parking lot while we plotted our next step. I spoke with Tim, who was friendly, and offered me a couple of options for a tour the next day. After chatting it over with Julie, we decided to go with the dual Horseshoe Bend/Secret Slot Canyon tour at 10:00 a.m., giving ourselves a second visit to Horseshoe Bend in one day.
Following our morning visit to Horseshoe Bend, we arrived for our tour and waited alongside a family of four who would also be joining us. One of the aspects that immediately attracted us to this particular tour company was that they only take small groups of 15 or less out at a time. For Julie and I, the smaller the group, the better, particularly since we are not big fans of tours, and generally like to see destinations at our own pace. We piled into the open air truck, which had plastic covers around it since it was 20+ degrees outside, and were on our way at 10:00 a.m.
The ride out to Horseshoe Bend took a bit longer than our trip earlier that morning thanks to their ability to drive nearly all the way to the edge of the overlook. Their special access viewpoint is just to the west of the main overlook, so it was nice to see the bend from a different perspective. More importantly though, our small group of nine, including two tour operators, was no doubt far less people than were at the main overlook at that same time.
After everyone had taken the opportunity to snap photos to their heart’s content, we were back on the road, this time headed to Secret Canyon. As the exclusive tour company for Secret Canyon, we were assured to be the only ones at this canyon, something Julie and I were very excited about. The drive was a bit bumpy as we headed down a dirt road that had seen a fresh dusting of snow the night prior, but we felt comfortable with Tim knowing the area so well. Once we had covered the six-mile drive and arrived at the entrance to Secret Canyon, it was time to head in and see how much snow had made its way down the canyon walls.
We spent about an hour in the canyon exploring it from end to end. It’s truly incredible to see how these canyons are shaped, and the way the light hits the walls at different angles throughout the day. Before long, it was time to jump back in the truck and head back to the Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Tour office. Julie and I had such a great experience on this tour, and we highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to see two amazing destinations in Page without the crazy crowds!
Have you been to Page? Let us know about your trip in the comments!
More tips and inspiration for Southwest Road Trips:
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