Antelope Canyon

 

It was well worth going over a hundred miles out of our way on our Spring Break road trip to stay one night in Page, Arizona and tour the Navajo’s Antelope Canyon.

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Living in canyon country and near Utah, we’ve hiked through many slot canyons, but what I saw and read online about Antelope Canyon made me want to visit.
We arrived at the tour office in downtown Page at 7:30 a.m. and were loaded into the back of a pickup just before 8:00. There were two long bench seats, back to back, in the bed of the truck. Those sitting on the end were actually hanging out past the bed, perhaps even past the tailgate. A metal gate and seatbelts that double- and triple-buckled us made the 15 of us feel somewhat secure.
We drove through town in this fashion, then north at highway speed, and, finally, down a wide, sandy wash. I’m guessing we were going about 70 mph as we glided through the sand toward the west. The driver would have to go fast to not get stuck in the foot-deep sand; there were no obstacles, nothing to run into; and, the guide later said he did seven of these tours per day so he had a strict schedule to adhere to. We traveled—again I’m guessing—about five miles down the wash. Needless to say, it was a separate highlight of the tour in and of itself as we leaned and laughed and realized we may never do anything like this again.

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Suddenly, the wash ended, blocked by a tall rock wall. And in the rock wall, a crack, the beginning of a slot canyon.

 

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The beauty and wonder of the canyon hit us immediately upon entering. The canyon is only accessible with Navajo guides, as this is a spiritual place for them. Our guide explained that there were seven companies that gave tours (all Navajo) and that 14 million people have visited the canyon. At $35 per visitor, it is good to know that the Navajo nation is able to make some money on this natural wonder.

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The thing about this slot canyon, which is one-quarter mile long, 125 feet deep, and ranges from three to 25 feet wide, is that the light within is constantly changing. Depending on the time of day, the season, and whether there are any clouds high above, the colors and stripes and textures upon the walls are always distinctively different.

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Our guide pointed out the images of several sacred animals, objects, and places as we passed through the canyon, such as eagles, grizzly bears, Monument Valley, and the sun. I tended to linger behind, going at my own pace, separating myself from the group, and thus missed most of what he pointed out.
He also told us where to stand and how to angle our cameras for certain photos. He demonstrated with his smart phone camera and showed us the shots to try to get. I was glad I was close enough to see how he zoomed in on some light entering high above and came away with “Monument Valley at Sunset.”

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We emerged on the other end of the canyon and, as we traveled back through, I took many more photos as it really did look different with the passing of the time.

 

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Like many places out West, Antelope Canyon is remote and takes some time to get to, but it was definitely worth it.