Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Antelope Canyon: You can't take a bad photo

We left Prescott, Arizona, Monday amid "Red Flag" wind warnings. As usual, the wind was to get worse (gusts of up to 45 miles an hour) as the day wore on. So we quickly got on the road and headed to our next stop: Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border. The wind "shoved" the side of our rig a few times as we drove, but the worst gusts didn't hit until afternoon. By then we were at our campsite at Wahweap Campground at Glen Canyon Recreation Area.

That night we went to a restaurant at the Lake Powell Resort where we watched Wisconsin play Duke in the NCAA finals. It was a very pro-Wisconsin crowd, including us. Guess we didn't cheer loud enough. 

But here is what this post is really about: Our Tuesday morning tour of Upper Antelope Slot Canyon on the Navajo Nation just south of Page, Arizona. 

We were part of a crowd that drove to a parking lot on the Navajo Nation, bought tickets, were put in groups of 14, assigned a tour guide, and climbed into pickup-truck-type vehicles with bench seats in the beds and tarps on top. Our guide was a Navajo named Lance, who said his grandmother owned the land we were about to tour. 

Slot canyons are created when water rushes through rock and wears part of it away. More water, plus wind, sand, and time help complete the job -- which is really never finished as erosion always continues. The day we were there, sand flew through the canyon several times. 

It was definitely not a private tour -- people filed in an out a canyon so narrow that sometimes you'd have to step into a groove so people could pass by. And it wasn't cheap -- tickets were $40 each, plus $8 per person for parking. But it was simply gorgeous. 

I usually put captions under my photos, but after the first few pictures below, words are not necessary. In all of the captionless photos, I aimed my camera toward the top of the rocks.  The colors, the shifting patterns caused by light breaking through from above, and the erosion-caused swirls and grooves were amazing.
Our Navajo tour guide Lance giving us instructions before he took us on a bumpy ride to the canyon. Hang on tight during the bumpy 3.5 mile ride, he said, and then be kind to the land when you get there.
People entering the slot canyon. Lance said a thousand people a day take the tour. Including the ride to and from, the tour took an hour and a half.
Tour guide Lance took this photo of Jim and me. Despite how it looks, there were dozens of people all around us. 
Our tour started at 10 a.m.  At 11 there was a special (and more expensive) photography tour and these folks were obviously part of it. Shortly after 11 a.m. is when beams of sunlight start to hit the canyon floor to beautiful effect. 


  1. Even Sandy, not a sports fan of any type, stayed up and rooted for her alma mater (until the last few seconds). I was hoping for an all Big Ten Championship Game, but then after Michigan State lost I figured a Big Ten champion was good enough. At the end of the game, stealing a line from one of your earlier posts, I was content to remember that it was only basketball.

    As for the crowds at the canyons, I must remind you that Glenn and Brice Canyons (a little further north) were the big field trips in which OSU undergrad geology students could participate. Had you just taken your geology classes a little more seriously (and not wasted your time on all that journalism stuff), you could have seen landscape like this without all the company. On the other hand, as your photography shows, more times than not, if a place has a lot of tourists, there is a pretty good reason.

  2. Amazingly, I agree with everything you said.