The location: Page, Arizona
Page, Arizona is a small town in northern Arizona situated at the southern end of Lake Powell near Glen Canyon Dam. In the 1950s and 60s, the Colorado River was dammed, flooding Glen Canyon and forming Lake Powell that stretches from Arizona into Utah. The town of Page was founded in 1957 as a housing community for workers building the dam and their families. Today the town draws more than 3 million tourists per year who come to visit Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Horseshoe Bend, and nearby Antelope Canyon.
The photo hot spot: Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is a meander in the Colorado River that winds in a U-shape around a tall canyon wall. In this particular spot, the sky reflects in the water making it a striking green-blue. The combination of the water color, rock formation, and aerial view make this one of the most photographed areas of northern Arizona.
As of spring 2019, the only way to see Horseshoe Bend is to pay to park in an official city lot. (Our national park pass did not get us out of the $10 fee.) Once parked, you hike .75 miles down a sandy path to the overlook area. You really can’t see the bend until you are at the very edge, which it makes the reveal rather dramatic.
Getting the best shot
Horseshoe Bend looks its best when the canyon is filled with light, so it’s not a good spot for sunset photos. (Head to Lake Shore Drive for good sunset shots.) We saw the world-famous meander in the late afternoon in early May and were happy with the quality of light. Even then, you’ll want to hang out for a while as the clouds move and the light on the water changes. Use a circular polarizer to capture the sky reflecting on the water in different lighting situations. To best define the U-shape, bring your widest angle lens and keep the surrounding canyon walls in your shot.
Other great spots to take photos:
Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell
Our family spent three to four days exploring Page, AZ. Looking for places to takes photos beyond Horseshoe Bend, we found several easy hikes and scenic drives with rewarding views. We drove along Lake Shore Drive, stopping at every overlook to take in the deep blue waters and red striped canyon walls of Lake Powell. We were there midday, but this would be a great place to shoot at sunset. (Note: Glen Canyon NRA charges a $30/vehicle fee to access the area, including Lake Shore Drive, but it was covered by our annual national parks pass.) We hiked the Hanging Gardens Trail—a short trek to lush plant life growing on a wind cave wall. The Glen Canyon Dam Overlook is a great place to shoot the river side of the dam. Lone Rock, a massive column of stone towering out of the river, made a lovely spot to take pictures and grill hotdogs.
The gear: Canon
These photos of Page, AZ and the surrounding areas were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, with a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L wide lens or Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L telephoto lens, each with a polarizing filter.
All images are copyright of Josh Schaulis and may not be reproduced or used in any way without written permission.