Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Reservation

Yesterday I wrote about the Marble Canyon Loop.  Tom and I took several days to do most of the stops on the loop.  One of the most beautiful is stop #12:  Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Reservation.

Tom and I have hiked some slot canyons.  We did a lot of them in Death Valley and hiked a challenging one in Utah named “Little Wild Horse Canyon.”  Northern Arizona and southern Utah are full of slot canyons.  But everyone told us that we had to see Antelope Canyon in Page.

Antelope Canyon is located on the Navajo Reservation and is accessible only with a licensed Navajo tour operator.  I tried to get tickets when we first got here, but could only book a day in September.  I’m not sure if they reserve some tickets for walk-ins, but the selection for dates online was very small.

We did the Sightseers Tour with Antelope Canyon Tours.  They were great about reminding us of our reservation.  We got an email confirmation, then a reminder a week before, and another reminder the day of the tour.  The tour cost $45 apiece, but it was totally worth it.

We met at the tour office a half hour before the time the start of the tour.  They checked us in and gave us a ticket for boarding the truck.  Twenty minutes later, our tour guide, Rodney, ushered us into the back of the truck where all 14 of us buckled in.  We drove 10 minutes on paved roads, and then 10 minutes on deep sand roads to the mouth of Upper Antelope Canyon.

The trucks parked outside the mouth of the canyon, and then, one group at a time we walked into the canyon.  I was instantly awed by the size, color, and beauty of the rocks.  The canyon is Navajo sandstone, carved by the scouring power of water and sand in flash floods.  The flash floods only happen every five or six years, but they have carved impressive shapes into the rocks.

Tom took most of the pictures on this page with my iPhone.  Rodney helped everyone get their phone cameras on the right settings and set up the pictures for us.  I had the “good” camera and my pictures were mostly blurry because of the dim light in the canyon.  Rodney demonstrated the acoustics by singing us a Navajo traveling song.  We saw formations such as “standing bear” and “Abraham Lincoln.”  We were a little disappointed that Rodney didn’t tell us any Navajo stories, but Native Americans only tell stories during the winter months.

Tour guide Rodney
Entering Upper Antelope Canyon

There were lots of people in Upper Antelope Canyon at one time, but the “rooms” of the canyon make it feel like each group is alone.  Until another group has to squeeze by you to get out.  We were told to take pictures on the way in and to move as quickly and quietly as possible on the way out so we didn’t disturb other groups.

Upper Antelope Canyon is only a quarter mile long, so we were in and out of the canyon in an hour.  Because my camera wasn’t cooperating with the light, I turned it off and just took heart pictures.  I can look at these anytime in my memory.

Tom and I both agreed that Antelope Canyon went beyond our expectations and was well worth the money for the tour.  Ninety minutes after we set out, Rodney brought us back to the tour office.  The tour was short but very, very sweet.  I would love to take the tour again at a different time of day.  I’m sure it looks very different as the light changes through the day.