Even if you are unaware, you have likely seen photographs of Antelope Canyon near Page in northern Arizona. Antelope Canyon is a bucket list destination for serious photographers (which we aren’t) and slot canyon hikers (which we are).
Antelope Canyon was formed by flash flooding through Navajo Sandstone.
Unfortunately eleven tourists were killed in the lower canyon in 1997 due to flash flooding. These deaths contributed to the area being named a Tribal Park shortly thereafter and the requirement to utilize Navajo guides. The potential for flash flooding is monitored very carefully.
The first problem we encountered with Antelope Canyon was whether to book (well in advance) an Upper or Lower Canyon tour. For no particular reason, I chose the Upper Canyon, “The Crack.” I booked about a week prior to our late September trip and still had limited options.
We were transported to the site in four wheel drive vehicles.
An interesting entrance to the Upper Canyon – walk right in!
There are about 12 people in a tour group, but there are dozens of tours in the canyon at the same time.
The tour guides are awesome, knowing just where and at what angle, to take photographs. Some of the views have been named to reflect something similar outside the canyon. This opportunity was called monument valley.
We enjoyed our tour so much that we inquired about a walk up tour for the Lower Canyon. (We had seen limited “cash only” walk up opportunities at the Upper Canyon.) At about 11:00 am, we got the last tickets for the last lower canyon tour at 4:00.
With hours to wander, we ventured to other sites near Page. First was the Horshshoe Bend of the Colorado River, the same river that formed and traverses through the Grand Canyon.
Then we went to Antelope Point Marina and enjoyed a boat tour of this section of Lake Powell.
We enjoyed three house boat vacations on Lake Powell many years ago and, while at the marina, decided to take a look inside the new houseboats available for rent.
At 4:00 we connected with our tour guide. Unlike just walking in the Upper Canyon, this time we took the stairs and descended into Lower Antelope canyon, “The Corkscrew.”
There were sets of stairs throughout the tour which could be problematic for some.
There are so many interesting features in the sandstone.
Like before, our tour guide knew when and how to get the best pictures, mostly with cell phones. Only two of us on tour had regular cameras and Randy’s phone photos, taken by the guide, were often better than those from my real camera (on automatic settings), also taken by the guide. If photography had been the primary reason for this adventure – not knowing how to use my camera would have been a real problem!
One “photography tour” is offered each day, presumably allowing more time at the best time of the day for light angles. On the day we were there those tours were at about noon. (Our tours were early and late.) If photography is important to you, take that into consideration and book even further in advance!
Although not a real problem, we would be hard pressed to pick a favorite between the canyons . Both are amazingly beautiful, just different. The Upper Canyon is taller and has wider openings. The Lower Canyon is truly a corkscrew. Both of our Navajo tour guides were great!
Our biggest Antelope Canyon problem going forward – The bar for future slot canyon hikes is very, very high!