Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
The most beautiful thing I’ve seen to date: Antelope Canyon.
Last week, Gabe and I made a relatively impulse decision to drive up to northern AZ after Christmas. I’ve been looking at taking a trip to Antelope Canyon for about a year now, as it pops up on every must-see AZ list; and with such amazing photographs being taken, how could it not. Recently my mom and I were at a farmers market when I met a photographer who had been to the canyon and many of his pieces were displayed at the market for sale. They were breathtaking. The light shines down so majestically, casting shadows and creating intricate lines along the canyon walls. I just had to see it for myself.
Through my research I learned:
- You cannot see the canyon without paying a fee ($8).
- It is on the Navajo reservation.
- To prevent vandalism and scribbling into the rocks, tour guides are mandatory for both upper and lower antelope canyon.
- The $8 fee is either included in your tour reservation, or if you’ve already paid it, then it can be taken off for most tour companies.
- Children under 13 are less expensive, and the lower canyon is less expensive than the upper canyon.
- Upper canyon tours are taken by jeep right up to the entrance to the canyon and from there you walk in at ground level. Lower canyon tours have a 10-15 minute walk before you get to the canyon and then you take a series of ladders to get down, with no vehicle travel.
- Make your reservations at least a day or two ahead of time, especially for the prime hours. We were there during a very busy week (between Christmas & New Years) and every single tour was sold out for that day (Sunday).
- The upper canyon has prime times for sunlight (late morning, early afternoon). The lower canyon does not have a more prime time than another.
- Tripods are not allowed in the canyon on regular tours, but there are special photography tours.
You can find a list of tour companies here, but we went with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours to see the upper canyon. We scheduled our tour for 1:00 pm on Sunday. Since this was one of the two peak hours (the other being 10:30 am) our fee was slightly higher than the 8:30 am, 3 pm & 5 pm tours, but I have to tell you, it was completely worth it. The photos that you see on this post only look as beautiful as they do, because of the peak sunlight hours.
The tour lasted approximately 1 1/2 hours, with 20 minutes of that being in the jeep. It was a bumpy ride down the street, through washboard, and down into the wash up to the canyon. Gabe and I each must have gotten several inches of air and held on without seatbelts – all part of the experience, I suppose! Once we reached the canyon, there were truckloads of people trying to get in at once. I should say now, if you are at all claustrophobic, I’m sorry but this is not the activity for you! The canyon has one entrance and one exit, with a place to get out on the opposite side for a few minutes before heading back. We learned that there are only 5 tour companies with permits, and each guide can only take 15 people. However, each company has multiple guides. When all the tours are booked – this equals maximum occupancy and not a lot of moving room. It was basically wall-to-wall people, one disadvantage of going at a prime time. If you don’t do well in mass crowds, the early morning or late afternoon tours are probably a better option. The footing of the canyon was almost completely flat, with just a couple tripping hazards, so it was not a strenuous hike by any means. There is no climbing up and down ladders, but you do have to be able to climb in and out of the jeep.
Walking through the canyon, our guide pointed out images of bears, presidents such as Lincoln & Washington, and Sitting Bull, in the cave walls. She was very enjoyable to listen to, taking pictures of everyone along the way and helping us get the best photos possible. We learned about the rust, effects of monsoons, and history of the canyon. I highly recommend Antelope Slot Canyon Tours! Whatever you do, come prepared with plenty of memory and battery on your camera, and ideally bring a DSLR. I left home too quickly and sadly forgot mine, which makes the photographs I did get even more impressive – they were all taken on my iPhone 5!
We had originally planned to do the lower canyon as well, and looked into using Ken’s Tours, but we ran out of time and decided we had spoiled ourselves enough for one trip. After our upper tour, the guide said she had never been to the lower canyon, but is sure it’s as beautiful, if not more beautiful than the upper canyon. Next time I’m in the area, I am definitely going to schedule a lower canyon tour… with my Canon Rebel! Add this beautiful hidden wonder to your bucket list, or you will surely be missing out!
We stayed in the Holiday Inn Express, which was clean and simple. It definitely wasn’t anything fancy and had very disappointing/ spotty (but free) internet. Also, the breakfast was wiped clean before we made it out there. However, there really aren’t a whole lot of options in Page and the only other one I saw that looked nice was the Courtyard Marriott.
Also check out nearby:
- Rainbow Bridge National Monument: NPS link
- Horseshoe Bend link
- Glen Canyon Dam: NPS link
- Lake Powell link
- Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument link
- Natural Bridges National Monument NPS link
A little further away (<3 hours):
- Grand Canyon National Park: NPS link
- Sedona link
- Canyon de Chelly NPS link
- Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument NPS link
- Walnut Canyon National Monument NPS link
- Wupatki National Monument NPS link