New barrier to protect people and environment at Horseshoe Bend

- Horseshoe Bend is beautiful, but potentially deadly, and now, a new barrier is going up to protect the land, as well as the people who go there.

The unique site, located about four hours north of Phoenix, has grown tremendously over the past five years, and now, it's time to take action on public safety.

"It's one of those kind of experiences that grabs every one of your senses," said Mary Plumb, the Public Information Officer for Glen Canyon National Recreation Center. "It's on people's bucket list now. This is a place they have to see."

Hundreds of people make the trip out to see it. In fact, for the last few years, about 1.4 million people per year have stopped by. With all those people comes that many more pictures, but it's the kinds of photos being taken that may have people you on edge.

Quite literally on edge.

"I like the height, so I like being as close as I can to the edge," said visitor Keith Piesco.

The bold and brave step right up to the rim to snap a photo. Sadly, one man got too close to the edge and fell to his death. That happened back in May.

"He was trying to take a picture at the time of his accident," said Seth Cutchen with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office.

Plumb says the last time something like that happened was eight years ago.

"We had one in 2010, where a visitors was standing on the edge of a rock that overhung and broke off, and the visitor went off with the rock," said Plumb.

It's been years in the making, but now, the City of Page and the National Park Service are switching things up by adding a new trail that will be ADA accessible, and eventually getting rid of the current path. They are also adding a viewing platform that is equipped with a protective railing, for those who prefer a barrier between them and the cliff.

"Small safety platform for viewing, and also really great with people with families with small children standing at the end of an 800-foot cliff," said Plumb.

The viewing platform is expected to open up in June, and the new trail in January. A visitor facility will be built near the entrance, with some shade structures along the way. Lastly, the city will expand the parking lot.

Plumb says the additions will help protect the environment, and improve visitor experience.

"Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is now becoming known as a world-class destination for people all over the world, and Horsehose Overlook is one of those things dragging that visitation," said Plumb.

For those who like the thrill of toeing the brim of a cliff, that will still be an option, as the railing only covers 100 feet.

The City of Page is working with the National Park Service to come up with a fee to pay before entering the park, but that has not yet been set in stone.

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