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An Intricate Dance of Light and Shadows: Antelope Canyon

DestinationCouopns.com Blog Archives

April 19, 2016

I live close to Antelope Canyon. Just a 4 hour drive. Why I have never stopped there I'll never know, but this time I did and it was magic. An intricate dance of light and shadows showcases the effects of flash flood water erosion on Navajo Sandstone. Antelope Canyon has only been accessible to the public since 1997 when the Navajo Nation declared it a park, prior to that it was apparently a hang-out for Navajo teens. There are two parts to the canyon: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Both must be accessed separately through separate Navajo tour companies. Here's the skinny ...

Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon
For most visitors, Ken's "Guided Tour" is the best way to go. The entrance is a 200 yard sandy walk from Ken's Tours located near the mouth of the slot canyon so it's very convenient - just park and go. The hour long tours cost $20 adult/$12 kids plus $8 for the Navajo Park Permit. Tours run every 20 minutes and there are an average of 12 people in each tour. Book your tour online as early as possible as tours fill up quickly. Tip: If you cannot reserve a tour at the Upper canyon between 10:30 - noon, I recommend you do the Lower canyon at that time when the sunlight transforms the canyon into a glowing marvel.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon is a half mile long and 120 feet deep. It is accessed by a series of somewhat steep stairways that descend into the slot canyon. The steel ladders are anchored into the canyon walls which vary from 3 to 25 feet. Ladders over 8 ft. have handrails in place, but if you are physically compromised, please get more information from Ken's Tours before embarking on this adventure.

Lower Antelope Canyon
Formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone from rainwater during monsoon season (July to September), the waters pick up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways, sculpting this slot canyon into incredible formations. The guides are very knowledgeable and willing to offer tips on camera (phone) settings, where to take stunning photos - and offer to take photos of you in the canyon. All these photos were taken on my iphone and have not been retouched in any way (as I have no idea how to do it).
Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope canyon is located on private Navajo land and must be accessed with a local guide. I used Antelope Canyon Tours (located in Page) and rode in a comfortable 4x4 truck about 7 miles - 3 miles of which is off-roading through deep sand leading into the canyon entrance. The 1.5 hour tours cost $50 adult/$22-30 kids. Tours run about every hour and there are a maximum of 12 people in each tour. The 10:30 - noon time slot is the most popular, and the most crowded. Photographers want to capture the beams of light coming down from the top of the canyon, consequently you should book this time slot up to 1 year in advance. I chose to do the tour at 3:30 when it's less crowded and was not disappointed.
Upper Antelope Canyon
The entrance to Upper Antelope is at ground level and you stroll from it's lowest point to the top of the canyon where the flood waters funnel into the canyon. It's an easy walk that almost anyone can do it. This ever-changing environment is constantly rearranging itself as the sand floor changes in often dramatic elevation changes of up to 6 feet or more in one monsoon. Tour companies pay close attention to weather activity and close the canyons if there is any possibility of rain.

Whirlpools caused by the rushing water create corkscrew caverns in the walls. Swirls of imaginary sculptures that only nature can create are hidden throughout the canyon. We had an amazing Navajo guide that pointed out faces, a bear, sunrise at Monument Valley, a heart, an antelope, wolves, dragons and candle sticks, George Washington's profile in the layered sandstone. If not for her we would have missed these amazing anomalies. Both canyons are amazing, but if I had to choose just one, I'd go to lower canyon in the morning, then head to Horseshoe Bend in the afternoon!

Upper Antelope Canyon

Road Tips: Arizona does not do daylight savings time, so check out the local time. We showed up for our tour an hour before it started, as we didnít know this. Bring water. Use the restroom before you go as there are no facilities.

How to get there: If you are in the Phoenix area, Detours now offers a fantastic tour to Antelope Canyon which includes Horseshoe Bend, Lee's Ferry, Navajo Bridge, Lake Powell and Mile Zero at Grand Canyon.

More Things To Do in Page: Page Arizona is a great stop-over for folks heading to the South Rim. Stay the night! From the depths of Antelope Canyon to a helicopter landing right on Tower Butte at 5,000 feet above sea level  - take the time to witness Mother Nature's most unique formations! Spectacular views can also be had by taking a fixed-wing flight to Rainbow Bridge one of the Worlds largest natural stone arches and over Lake Powell, the second largest man made lake in the United States.

For more information on Page/Lake Powell visit http://www.visitpagelakepowell.com

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