Goosenecks State Park, Utah

Photo by Bob Wick/BLM

Where in the West Should I Go? • 52 Places to Visit in 2022

While Horseshoe Bend is an amazing sight to behold, it’s possible you’ve never heard of the perhaps even more astonishing Goosenecks State Park, named due to the deep meander of the San Juan River. (A meander is simply one in a series of curves in a river.)

Like Horseshoe Bend, the park offers a 1,000-foot vertical drop into the canyon below at many points, created by some 300 million years of erosion.

Goosenecks State Park has a day-use fee of $5 and camping is available for $10 a night on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s a terrific place to escape, with no amenities available. This primitive park was certified as an International Dark Sky Park in March 2021, so it’s an excellent place for nighttime photographs. 

There’s only one hiking trail in the park – the Honaker Trail. It was built in the late 1890s and early 1900s as a supply route for gold prospectors. The roughly 4-mile roundtrip trail goes from the canyon rim to the river below. 

For the experienced hiker, it’s not too terribly difficult. However, if you’re afraid of heights, you may want to avoid this one. There are a lot of parts of the trail that really hug the rocks and necessitate some careful navigating to avoid taking the quickest (and deadliest) way down – which is to say… falling. Just take your time and take in the views!