If you have seen those incredible photos of the slot canyons with the beam of light then you have glimpsed Antelope Canyon. Located on Navajo land just east of Page, Arizona, it includes two separate slot canyon sections upper and lower. The more visited canyon is the upper canyon known by the Navajo as Tsé bighánílíní, which translates as “the place where water runs through rocks.”
The Antelope Canyon slots were formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic ‘flowing’ shapes in the rock.
I was lucky enough to have another visitor for my stay around Page. Jerry is also my partner in our travel group Journey’s with Loomis & Jones where we gather two groups of travelers each spring to venture down to beautiful Loreto, Baja California Sur. You can check out photos from some of our past journeys on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Journeys-with-Loomis-Jones-519603878092325/
I believe this is the first time that Jerry and I have spent any time together where we were not busy with logistics and group dynamics. It was good to just hang out and experience the “awe” that is out there!
Access to Antelope Canyon is restricted by the Navajo Nation and entry can only be with one of the guided tours offered. These restrictions help with both the protection of the canyon from vandalism and the safety of the visitors. Rain during the monsoon season (even dozens of miles away) can quickly flood the canyon with little prior notice.
In order to have the full experience we booked both the upper and lower canyon tours. The upper canyon is the most popular and most photographed slot canyon in America. It is easier to access and generally is narrower at the top and wider at the bottom than the lower canyon that is more v-shaped and requires several flights of steep stairs to access. Both were incredible examples of natures work of art where around each bend in the canyon you were greated by beautifully sculpted sandstone in wonderous colors and patterns.
Although the famous “beam of light” does not occur in the winter (the sun is too low in the sky to shine directly into the canyon) the patterns of light on the walls were stunning and provided many opportunities for great photographs.
The Navaho guides were amazingly knowledgable in how to get the best photos including camera and phone settings as well as were to stand for the best shot. They were also able to share geology, history and bits about their culture.
The number of people they shepard through these canyons must be in the millions every year and the Navajos are doing a good job of managing the huge demand and the protection of the resource.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Antelope Canyon it is definitely something that should go on your list. Bring your camera and be prepared to be “awed”!
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” –Henry David Thoreau