Instagrammers Now Have To Pay To Snap Selfies At This Grand Canyon Landmark
Instagrammers keen to snap a selfie at a Grand Canyon landmark will now have to pay a fee for the privilege.
Horseshoe Bend is a dramatic rock formation in Arizona's iconic Grand Canyon National Park where the mighty Colorado River takes a sharp U-shaped turn.
Now, visitors will be charged about $14 to access the once-fee-free spot and pose for photos -- and they have social media to thank for the fee.
The stunning location is an Instagrammer's dream and the visitor stats prove it -- in 2018 alone nearly two million people visited the landmark according to Arizona Public Media.
But it hasn't always been that way. Lonely Planet states Horseshoe Bend was previously "only popular with locals", but as word about its beauty spread -- courtesy social media, of course -- it has become one of the most Instagrammed locations in the US.
Since then, the picturesque spot and the surrounding Glen Canyon National Recreation Area have become so crowded with people, cars and tour buses that authorities have had to step in.
To access the overlook and take their perfect selfie, all visitors must now pay to park in a designated parking lot near a newly-built entrance station.
The fee is $14 for passenger vehicles, $7 for motorcycles, and between $50 and $200 for commercial buses depending on passenger capacity.
If all of the 300 or so parking spots are full then sorry, but you'll be asked to leave and come back another time -- officials say this is an attempt to address heavy traffic in the area and reduce the tourism footprint.
The entrance fees will reportedly go to helping preserve and upkeep the site and the surrounding area.
In 2018, the influx of tourists also sparked safety fears and prompted the construction of a viewing deck with a railing to protect people from the 300-metre drop to the river below.
Safety before selfies
The national park isn't the only one to tighten security in the wake of snap-happy -- and sometimes reckless -- visitors.
New Zealand train company KiwiRail has been forced to close the open-air carriage on its Coastal Pacific tourist train after noticing an increase in passengers endangering their lives to snap selfies.
The company took action after noticing people risking life and limb to capture the picturesque view on camera -- despite the number of signs and announcements pointing out the dangers of doing so.
"We have seen passengers leaning out with selfie sticks, iPads and their bodies, often unaware of an approaching tunnel which could cause a tragic incident for themselves, and others in the carriage," KiwiRail group general manager of zero harm Katie McMahon told Stuff.
KiwiRail said they would review the design of the outdoor viewing carriage -- which is largely open to the elements -- and are considering introducing glass windows, rails or some sort of barrier.
They hope to have a solution in place shortly but in the meantime, the carriage will remain closed.
The move follows a landmark study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care that found 259 deaths were caused by taking a selfie under risky circumstances between 2001 and 2017.
Feature image: Getty.