After sitting around with my girlfriend trying to figure out what to do for the past few weekends, we decided to head to Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona. We didn't really have much of a plan, except to get out see the bend and camp somewhere cool. I didn't realize Antelope Canyon was so close and decided to add that to the trip. Though, I wasn't that excited about Antelope Canyon since I've seen 5,000 pictures of the canyon and felt it was just that. We'll get to that in a bit. As the trip got closer, the plan was to fly into Cedar City, Utah and drive to Horseshoe Bend through Zion National Park. Going through Zion would have added an hour or so to the trip, but we felt it would be scenic and worth it. We ended up missing our flight and couldn't get one until the next morning so we scrapped that plan and drove from San Diego straight to our AirBnB in Kanab, Utah. From Kanab, we drove about 2 hours to Horseshoe Bend.
Getting to Horseshoe Bend was pretty simple. The trail head is right off of U.S. 89. The hike itself is more like a stroll in my opinion. It's about 1 mile round trip and people were doing it in flip flops. Though, I'd still recommend shoes, flip flops on a trail looks sort of silly. Nonetheless, once you get to the site you're greeted by a majestic view that looks almost fake due to the magnitude of the canyon. The site was pretty crowded with people, still you're able to get unobstructed views and photos of the bend. I recommend getting there early or late in the evening so you have favorable lighting for photos. In my opinion, this view trumps Antelope Canyon (lower antelope) based on the magnitude of the scene. I didn't get to visit Upper Antelope Canyon, but I suspect it's similar to the lower portion.
However, the more I think of Antelope Canyon, the more impressive it becomes. The colors, curvature, and textures seem to be natures way of telling us that it's the ultimate artist. There's a photo opportunity around every corner and angle with lines that will lead out of your frame. Tours of the canyon must be booked through a company, but it was pretty easy to book and I believe you can even do walk ins.
Our plan was to end the day by camping at Lone Rock Beach, but those plans were blown away, literally. The winds were gusting up to 30 MPH and we had a tough time staking down our tent in the soft sand, which was a bummer because the area was beautiful. This is one of the easiest camp sites you can travel to and experience primitive camping. Basically arrive and pitch a tent wherever you want! There's a camping fee of course, but it's nothing crazy.
If you find yourself in the same situation as us, search for the closest BLM area for primitive or first come, first serve spots. Luckily, we found the White House campground, which offers semi-primitive camping. There are five total camping spots, but only two were filled when we arrived. This place definitely beats crowded campgrounds (i.e. south Zion campground).
On our last day we decided to drive through Zion National Park and scamper up some short easy hikes (Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion Kolob Loop). These hikes felt more like strolls to me, but they ended up in super scenic viewpoints. The viewpoint can get pretty crowed, but again, with plenty of cliff real estate, you don't really have to worry about people getting in your shot. If they do, they'll certainly go tumbling down the cliff.
A few last words, don't get discouraged if you only have 2 or 3 days to visit the area. In my opinion, it's better to go for a day or two than to not go at all! Let's not let the naysayers sway you away. Peace!