After sunrise at Horseshoe Bend, I still had four hours to go before the first of my Antelope Canyon tours. I was taking two tours, a group tour of Upper Antelope Canyon through Navajo Tours, and a photographer’s tour of Lower Antelope Canyon with Ken’s Tours. Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are pretty close to each other in Page, AZ, so luckily I would be able to relax for a while and not have to be on the move.
had been planning on hanging out at the Starbucks I had seen on highway signs, but it turned out to be a Starbucks inside a grocery store, with 2 tables, crap wifi, and no outlets. Not ideal. I ended up hanging out at River’s End Cafe, which was oddly enough inside an outfitter and rafting adventure shop. It was a good find though, I was able to edit photos for a few hours, use their wifi, and eat a delicious breakfast sandwich.
I also got talking to two college-age guys from California who were roadtripping the southwest on their spring break. This is when I discovered how important it was that I had booked both my tours weeks in advance — they were calling around trying to get on one, and they were all full up. We also found out that I had been able to get on one of the last photography tours of the season for Lower Antelope Canyon, so that was super lucky!
I went with an early afternoon tour of Upper Antelope Canyon, because I had read it was the best time of day to possibly catch the light rays streaming in. Still wasn’t a guarantee though, as the rays are mostly seen in the summer when the sun is high in the sky. After hopping aboard a truck with my group, we drove through sand about 10 minutes to the entrance to the canyon. Upper Antelope canyon is named such because you’re able to walk right into the slot canyon. And I could not have timed my tour better — when we arrived at the entrance there was a bit of a back log of groups trying to get in because, as we soon discovered, a light ray was shining into one of the first sections. By the time we looped back, the beam was gone. I feel so lucky to have witnessed it!
I’ll admit, it was really hard to narrow down these photos. Everywhere you look, it’s stunning. The canyon is orange sandstone, but the way the light hits make the shadows appear purple. It’s otherworldly. Our guide told us that the canyon had been discovered by a young Navajo girl in the 1930s, while she was shepherding sheep.
Upper Antelope Canyon is an out-and-back tour, so groups walk through the canyon, exit into the desert again, then loop back through the canyon again to get back to the vehicles.
After this tour, all I had to do was drive across the street to my tour of Lower Antelope Canyon. As I mentioned earlier, I was doing a special photography tour of this canyon. This means I was in a much smaller group (just me, two other women, and our guide Justin) and we were required to bring tripods. It was well worth it, as it allowed me to get much sharper images than I was able to in the upper canyon.
There was so much to photograph! Things felt a little hectic — as much as we wanted to stay in one spot and take it all in, we had to keep moving from chamber to chamber if we wanted to hit all of them within the time allotted for the tour.
Lower Antelope Canyon has an entrance and exit, unlike the upper canyon, and our tour started from the exit so we’d be able to shoot without clogging up the other tours too much.
Did you see the woman’s face, blowing out wind?
Our guide, Justin, helped us set up a few of the more famous shots. (The above picture is one of them — do you see the fiery waves?)
Do you see the guy on the stairs in the distance? Really gives a sense of the scale of this place, both canyons were much taller than I’d been anticipating!
There’s the ladder that took us back up top. The picture below is what the area looks like from above — so unassuming! You’d never guess that magical labyrinth was just a few steps away.
Because of the unexpected Utah-to-Arizona time difference, I didn’t time this last tour correctly to be back to my hotel in Monument Valley for sunset. However I did manage to do some shopping for gifts and souvenirs at the hotel’s trading post! I also tried my hand at astrophotography for the first time, from the comfort of my hotel room. I think it could’ve turned out better (there was some light pollution from the rooms and the moon was out) but it’s still pretty neat! I’d love to try again sometime, although I think I’d have to get pretty far from home in NJ to find a place without too much light pollution!
Arches National Park