The magnanimity and magnificence of god’s creation cannot be expressed in mere words but only felt with the senses. That’s exactly what we felt when we visited the antelope canyons. It was a memorable adventure discovering the mysterious and haunting beauty of one of the most spectacular attractions of the Lake Powell area–Antelope Canyon. Located about 3 miles Southeast of Page in Arizona, the canyon was formed by centuries of erosion due to rainfall and flash flooding. The gushing water through sandstone openings washed out tunnels that expanded with time. The openings at the top of the tunnels let in enough light to create fantastic images.
Antelope Canyon includes two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew. The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazí, or “spiral rock arches.” Both are located within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo nation gates the road to the canyon and only authorized tour guides are permitted to enter. Guided tours are recommended because rains during monsoon season can quickly flood the canyon. Rain does not have to fall on or near the Antelope Canyon slots for flash floods to whip through, as rain falling dozens of miles away ‘upstream’ of the canyons can funnel into them with little prior notice.
The lower canyon was closed that day and so we had to go for the upper canyon. We decided to go with Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours. They are located off of Hwy 98 on the Navajo Reservation. We reached there at 7 am but learnt that they open at 8 am. We booked the 9 am tour which cost us 25$ per person. (Prices vary depending on demand and season.)The rush was incredible even in this wilderness.
The ride though rough through the sandy path on the mini truck jammed with people from different corners of the world was also incredible. You need to hold to something or someone during the ride in order not to fall off and also cover your mouth from the flying sand. If you wear contact lenses, take precautions to keep the sand out of your eyes. The ride is bumpy and speedy but fun. The view around is also fantastic with the barren curves of sandy rocks. The short ride through deep sand ends before a red-brown rock wall. On closer inspection you can see the narrow crack which gives entrance to a unique world in every respect.
Once inside the canyon we got lost in the stunning curves of the canyon. Everywhere we turned, there was color, texture, and light that begged for a photo. The colors are rich and deep in the morning and afternoon creating a mystical glow inside and the colorful sandstone starts to talk.
Our guide was awesome! He was knowledgeable about cameras and very patiently helped each tourist get the right pictures at the right spot. He helped us adjust our camera settings for optimum results inside the tunnel. Our guide even played a flute inside the canyon to demonstrate how the acoustics here are unlike anything you will hear anywhere else. He also described in details of how the canyon was formed, and instructed us on how to take some great photos even though the place was overcrowded.
A spiritual sanctuary indeed, here ethereal light rains upon mystical shapes and patterns in natural shades that only Mother earth could create to such splendid perfection. The sunlight filtering down the curved sandstone walls makes magical, constantly changing patterns and shadows in many subtle shades of color. Some sections of the canyon are wide and bright, while others are narrower and more cave-like, with no light reaching the sandy floor.
Antelope Canyon is a heaven for photographers and sightseers, and a source of tourism business for the Navajo Nation. Photographers with proper exposure can bring out the best in their creativity. Even for amateurs there’s a lot to explore in this magical world.
The breathtaking beauty and splendor of the place definitely cannot be captured in lenses or words. You need to experience it in first hand. If you are planning a trip to the Arizona, especially Page, this is too good a trip to miss.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain