Antelope Canyon, Easter 2013
I was in the middle of a nine-day vacation in the Southwest. My wife, who was five or six months pregnant at the time, and my in-laws were with me. We flew from Buffalo to Las Vegas. We rented a van and hit the road to explore the Southwest the morning after our arrival. We had stopped in Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley, before spending two nights at the Lake Powell Resort.
We woke up Easter morning in our hotel and made the short drive to Antelope Canyon, which is just a few miles east of Page. Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Nation land in Northern Arizona. It is an extremely popular slot canyon among photographers. I am very interested in landscape and nature photography, so once I began planning our southwest trip I made sure to make it a part of our trip.
Once we arrived at the parking lot we had to pay a small fee to enter Navajo land. Then we each had to pay over $30 for a guided trip through Upper Antelope Canyon (guides are required). There are two slot canyons, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. They are both fascinating and extremely photogenic slots, but Upper Antelope Canyon is more popular and is supposed to be the best for photos, so that’s the one I chose for us.
I could tell that my wife and in-laws were wondering if our short venture into the canyon would be worth the money spent. Once some more people arrived, we piled into a pick-up truck. Since Ashley was rather pregnant she sat in the front seat with the guide. The rest of us sat on a pair of benches in the bed of the pick-up truck. We enjoyed a brief, but bumpy ride across the open desert to the entrance of Upper Antelope Canyon.
After we hopped off the truck we were led into a thin crack in a sandstone wall. It was dark and noticeably cooler inside the canyon. Once our eyes adjusted to the dim light we all knew we were somewhere special and the price of admission was well worth it.
The canyon was more than 100 feet deep, but only a couple of feet wide. Its walls were colorful and smooth to the touch. They were shades of orange and brown. When the sun crept above the canyon it illuminated the curvaceous walls. It was as if they glowed orange. Beams of light were tangible. Occasionally different tour guides would toss handfuls of sand into the beams to make them standout even more for photographs.
I loved my short time in the canyon. Upper Antelope Canyon is only around 600 feet long. Its floor was made of sand, and the trail was completely level so we were able to make our way through the canyon quickly and easily. I actually saw that as a bad thing. I wish the slot canyon was considerably longer. Each turn in the canyon brought more stunning and interesting sandstone formations.
I came away with some good photos, but it was challenging and a learning experience. I had to use my tripod and drastically slow down my shutter speed to let more light in. The worst part, both for photos and my enjoyment in the canyon, was the fact that it was so crowded. It was hard to move through crowds of people at times, because sometimes the space between the walls was only a foot or two wide. Despite the crowds generated from all the tour groups I have to recommend this place for everyone. I happily explored the narrow canyon until our group was ushered back to our truck.
Ashley and her parents agreed that our time in Antelope Canyon was definitely worth the admission. They liked the remarkable chasm almost as much as me. The fact that we spent our Easter morning in such an amazing place made the whole experience extra special.
Antelope Canyon has made it on to my list of Ten Places That Belong on Every Bucket List
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