Arizona Through Slot Canyons
Antelope Canyon, located in Page, Arizona, has quickly become an iconic landmark of the Southwest. The multi-colored sandstone pictures surfaced on Instagram and took the internet by storm. Everyone, from hikers to all levels of photographers were asking, "Where is that place?"
There are two locations to tour, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. Each one is distinctly different even though each consists of Navajo Sandstone walls, full of specs of quartz that reflect sunlight. The quartz is rounded, etched, and worn but captures light and bounces it down the slot canyon walls to create the photographs' prismatic colors.
The Navajo name for Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazi, which means 'spiral rock arches.' You would never know to look at it from above. How do you enter this magical slot canyon to see these rock arches? Would you believe it's literally by stepping into this crack (Pictured left)? Once you start to walk in, the trail leads you to a couple of ladders bolted to the canyon walls. Upon reaching the bottom, you will be eager to begin your 1/8th of a mile-long hike to the exit, but you won't want it to end. Formations like The Woman In The Wind, The Eagle, The Turtle, The Whale (Pictured below), and Arizona Sunrise will all fill you with wonder and amazement.
The Navajo people know Upper Antelope Canyon as Tse bighanilini which means 'the place where water runs through rocks .' Flash floods created by funneling monsoon waters etch the canyons from as far as Le Chee Rock, fifteen miles away. The direction of water flow is how Upper differentiates from Lower Antelope Canyon in naming, even though Upper is to the South directionally.
Upper Antelope Canyon guides will take you by Jeep to the opening of the canyon. This one is on flat ground, with no stairs or ladders to enter. It is an out-and-back hike, with
several rock formations to enjoy in both directions. Included are the Genie Lamp, Bear and Honey Pot (Pictured to the left), and Sunset Over Monument Valley, but Upper Antelope is where guides will show you the beams of light. By throwing sandstone into the air, the dust catches light beams streaming from above. Make sure you book your tour from May through October between 10 am and 1 pm to get these photo opportunities!
The good news is, you don't need an expensive camera to get these types of shots. Believe it or not, your phone is probably going to be more than sufficient! The Navajo Tour Guides are excellent at telling you how to set up your phones before entering the canyons. They even have extensive knowledge of several different types of cameras. Guides usher people through the canyon pretty quickly to keep all tours on track, but they do take time to show you incredible rock formations and exactly where to stand to get the best shot.
If you are in the area, also check out Horse Shoe Bend, Lake Powell by boat, and (if you like to kayak) consider the Horse Shoe Bend Kayaking Tour. Lake Powell offers a fabulous boat/hiking tour to Rainbow Bridge within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. No matter what your interests, Page provides an abundance of options for your stay. Whether you vacation here for a week or just a weekend, this is a destination to add to your bucket list.