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  • Denise Vasquez

How Accessible Is Accessible: Horseshoe Bend

Updated: a day ago


Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021


This morning I #woke up being #grateful for another day. With each #day comes new #challenges but also new #beginnings. All my #life, I had to #fight for my life, every day, just for #being a #woman of Puerto Rican descent. Now add living with an #injury, #CRPS, constant chronic #pain, and being permanently #disabled to my fight for my #existence.


If you’re reading this, don’t fret! I’m not the kind of #person to dwell on the past, feel sorry for myself, complain, or give up. For me, I see every #moment as an #opportunity to #learn to #grow and to #be happy. I continue to learn how to #do what I #can, with what I #have in the moment, to get what I want! There are certainly things in life I can not control, but I can be #aware and do the things that make me #feel #good and make me #happy in this moment! I can listen to my #body and ice, heat and #rest whenever I need to, I can #meditate and do paced respiration, I can do #yoga, #taichi, stretch, and #exercise, I can #cook for myself and eat non-inflammatory #foods, I can get #outdoors, #connect with #nature and do #photography. It is so important to be #mindful and notice what makes me happy, and it’s just as important to know what causes me #anxiety, and to remove those things from my life, because anxiety and #stress causes me more pain #mentally, #emotionally, #spiritually and #physically.


The #power of the #mind is a #gift I’ve never taken for granted. All of my life, whenever I had a #goal, I #focused my #thoughts and #energy on the things I wanted to #achieve. #Focusing my thoughts and #visualization, has always led me to doing things that make me happy which include being #outdoors, connecting with #nature, doing #photography, and #traveling.


Over the last three years, I had so many #goals, some of which I could #accomplish and some I couldn’t. I couldn’t just go where I wanted, to do what I wanted because of my injury, my disability, and my case...and on top of that, Covid-19 hit the #world and made things even more difficult. Even with all of the #obstacles put before me, I never stopped #imagining, I never stopped #believing, and I never gave up my #dream of being a #travel #photographer! I began #researching all the #places I wanted to go because that helped keep my mind focused on positive things, and as soon as I received proper medical treatment, learned how to manage the chronic pain, and Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, and my case was settled, I began making my dream come true!


While I was stuck at #home, I used the #time to #research places I had on my #bucketlist. Not only did my research help me #discover things, it #inspired me to #create The Disabled Photographer Project and my “How Accessible Is Accessible” #series.

One of the #places that has been on the top of my bucket list for many years is #Page, #Arizona. Page may be a small #town to many, but for me, Page is a very #sacred place. Page offers a peek into the beautiful #culture of the #Navajo Nation, and a #unique #connection to places like Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend. Unfortunately, #Antelope #Canyon was closed during my recent trip, but that will give me a wonderful excuse to #venture back!


Horseshoe Bend has been on my bucket list for many years. In the past, it was necessary to #hike through sandy #terrain to get to the #overlook, which made it impossible for me to get there with my #injury and permanent #disability. Over the years, I heard from different #photographer friends, that they completed an expanded #parking lot and #accessible #ADA #trail, so I made it a point to see how ADA #compliant and #accessible Horseshoe Bend really is!

#Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021


I am happy to report there was plenty of accessible parking spots and #restrooms near the trail head. And I am happy there were shaded rest points with seating along the way, BUT As I explain in my Youtube video, The trail is not #paved and not #flat! It is a .6 hike down a steep #hill from the parking lot to the overlook, and the trail is filled with gravel, sand, and rocks. so If you are #disabled, whether you are maneuvering a #wheelchair, rolling #walker, #crutches on your own, or with assistance, this #trail is challenging and not completely #safe. The hike back up the hill is even more challenging and I am grateful to my partner and #assistant Randy Martinez who was there to help me with my #wagon filled with my camera equipment and to do an #interview explaining the challenges he also faced along the trail.


I loved being at the #viewpoint, not only because of the #scenic thousand foot drop overlooking the #Colorado #River, but because I felt safe enough to set up my #manfrotto #tripod #Canon #camera and a variety of #Sigma #Art #Lenses to take in the view while #photographing #colorful #moments. What made me feel safe about the viewpoint? This area was fenced & paved! I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t have the same type of #pavement on the trail??? As a disabled person, for many reasons I mention here in my #blog, and in my video, I rated this trail a 6 out of 10 because I don’t think this trail is exactly ADA compliant!

With that being said, it is not impossible to do this trail if you are disabled, after all I did it and I have to admit that I am #thankful and #appreciative of #parks like this one that are making the #effort to #create #trails like this. I am so happy that after all of these years, I finally got to experience Horseshoe Bend! It took me a while to do the trail with my boyfriends’ help, and for me it was a little challenging at times, but totally worth it! I wouldn’t have been able to #experience this location if the park didn’t create this new trail. BUT as I mention in my video, there is still room for #improvement. Horseshoe Bend is a beautiful place that should be accessible and safe for everyone to visit. If you plan on #visiting here are other things you should know:


-Check the #weather & be mindful that the weather can change at any moment!

-They are open #sunrise to #sunset. Best time to #visit to avoid crowds is early morning.

-It cost money to get in and once you leave there is NO re-entry: Car or RV: $10 Motorcycle: $5 Commercial Van/Buses: $35-$140

-Bring & drink lots of water: there is nowhere in the park to get water

-Wear sunscreen, a hat and good walking shoes

-Pets are welcome if they are on a leash 6’ or shorter

-If you are disabled and traveling with an assistant, let your assistant know the trail is 1.2 miles round trip in gravely, sandy, rocky terrain, going downhill is steep, and coming back uphill is steep so they are aware.



*If you'd like to support The Disabled Photographer Project, you can make a donation by clicking on the Donate button below:


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The project is also currently seeking sponsors, grants, and ambassadorships. For inquiries contact Denise Vasquez denisevasquezphotography@gmail.com


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#Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCallyZDiOzSkVDqUjMYdOaw


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#TheDisabledPhotographerProject #HowAccessibleIsAccessible #Accessibility #ADACompliant #Disabilityrights #HorseshoeBend #PageArizona


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