Leaving Tuba City, we headed to Kanab, Utah. We planned to spend several days there, visit Zion National Park, get some laundry done, and give Jake a chance to get some work done without trying to squeeze in the hours at night after a long drive.
About halfway there, we saw a sign for Horseshoe Bend, the famous overlook into a section of the Colorado River, snaking around a bend, and creating the shape of, well, a horseshoe. We knew it was nearby but we didn’t realize we’d be passing right by it on our way to Kanab, and we just had to pull off. After all, we’d been seeing pictures of it regularly as we had been researching the Southwest for more than 2 years now. Suddenly, it was right there.
We pulled into the parking lot, which was small and crowded and saw people streaming in and out of the sandy uphill path toward the bend. There was a sign cautioning that the heat was extreme, there was no shade, and all visitors should bring water, wear hats, wear decent shoes (no sandals), etc. Really we thought? That bad? How far is it? Maybe we’ll just run up and take a quick peek. We’re relatively young and healthy. We won’t stay long. It’ll be fairly easy for us, I’m sure.
Jake scrambled up the path to scope it out. He agreed, it was far enough (1.5 miles round trip) and super hot that this would not be great for Isaiah or Scout. But the bigger kids could do it with him. So I sent them up with a bottle of water. When they got to the end of the path, they were extremely hot, exhausted, and wishing for shade, of which there was none. Also, Jake didn’t want to get anywhere near the edge with the kids so he called me and we switched places. I brought Scout and Isaiah to him and he came back with Lucy, who had had enough. Dylan and Eli waited in the sweltering heat for me. I got there as fast as I could – nearly sprained my ankle on a sand covered rock, but finally connected with the boys and made it close enough to the edge that we could appreciate the amazing view down into the canyon.
It was, like almost everything we’ve seen in the west, much more impressive than you think it’s going to be. It was bigger, more beautiful, more majestic. The drop was intimidating at a thousand feet. There were tourists from all over the world crawling all over the place. We ignored them and soaked in the natural beauty instead.
I took a couple of pictures of Dylan and Eli near the edge as they wilted, and we discussed the minuscule amount of water left in our bottle. It must have been 100 degrees but it might as well have been 120. I told the boys to crawl under the one large rock that was making a dash of shade and hoped that neither snake, nor tarantula would greet them. A very nice lady asked me if I wanted a picture that was better than the mirror-selfie I was attempting, so I said sure. I got closer to the edge than I would allow the boys to get and she got a pretty decent shot of the scene.
I was a little worried about the kids getting sunburned, and I felt bad for them knowing that there was no break from the heat. I gave Dylan my hat. I told Eli to tie his shirt around his head to give his face a sun break, even though that would expose his chest and back. After a brief respite, we walked back, rationing our sips of water every 30, then 50, then 100 paces. When we finally made it to the car, we were sandy, exhausted, thirsty and very hot. But it was definitely worth it. And we promise to take the caution signs more seriously next time.