Read the full story from The Outline.
Five years ago, Horseshoe Bend saw only a thousand visitors in a year. But this year, over 4,000 people a day have come to see the bend, take selfies at the rim, and dangle their feet over the exposed edge. All this traffic has put a lot of strain on the attraction, or at least its parking lot. So on November 6, construction began on new parking amenities and a platform at the canyon’s edge complete with railing and signs to safely handle all the new visitors. Once complete, the bend will be a perfect tourist attraction with great parking, water, and shade. But the wild beauty that brought so many here in the first place will be gone.
Social media gets blamed for everything — but this time, it really is Instagram’s fault. Horseshoe Bend’s home, Glen Canyon Natural Recreation Area, also has the nation’s second tallest dam, boating paradise Lake Powell, and the world’s tallest natural bridge, Rainbow Bridge. It’s also littered with dinosaur fossils. But it is Horseshoe Bend that has captured the tourist hivemind. On IG, #glencanyon has only been used about 26,000 times, whereas #horseshoebend has 226,000 posts. Its geotag had over 200 posts in the last 24 hours as of this writing, while only one person geotagged Glen Canyon. The geotag for Rainbow Bridge hasn’t been used since Halloween.