The best natural attraction I have been to yet is the Lower Antelope Canyon, situated on the Navajo land east of Page, Arizona in the United States. There is a separate Upper Antelope Canyon as well just a few miles from the Lower one, and it is touted to be more photogenic (thus is expensive), but I found the Lower to be more adventurous.
The Slot Canyons were formed by erosion of Sandstone, mainly due to flash flooding, but also due to sub-aerial processes. As the water picked up speed and sand in the narrow passageways, it made the canyon deeper and smoother along the edges, thus forming the ‘flowing’ shapes in the rocks. Even today, during the monsoon season, this phenomena occurs, and the tour companies close-down the visits.
We had decided to cover Lower and Upper on separate days and bought our tickets with separate tour companies (you can’t go on your own).
This post is just about the Lower Antelope Canyon. It is reachable with five flights of steps of varying width. It is also longer (1.1 miles), shallower, narrower at places (but wide at top), and sometimes even proper footing can be a challenge (compared to its Upper counterpart). The canyon itself is V-shaped.As you make your way through the canyon, you can only marvel at all kinds of patterns formed by the natural processes. Add too it the numerous colors you are entertained to, and you are transported to another world! Just imagine how the force of water sculpted each section of the canyon.As you walk through, you will have to climb stairs to make your way out of the canyon.
Notes (for the Lower Canyon):
- The sightseeing tour ticket fees for both Lower and Upper includes the Navajo National Permit and their Tax. The current total price for Lower is USD40 per person and USD78 for Upper (for 10.30 and 1:00 tours, $10 less for 8:30 and 3:00 tours). We went with Dixie Ellis tours for the Lower Canyon (there are just 2 companies for the Lower, the other one being Ken).
- Book your tours at least a couple of days in advance since the preferred slots fill up quickly and a group has limited number of reservations (approximately 15) allowed with a touring company. There is a tour every 30 minutes with either company.
- The time it takes to cover the canyon is 1.5-2 hours. It takes about 10 minutes from the company booth to the entrance of the canyon and the wait to enter the canyon could be up to 3 hours during the peak season.
- The lighting is better in the early hours or late morning. Being narrow at the bottom and wide at the top, the Lower Canyon feels brighter and warmer than the Upper one.
- There are no photography-only tours for the Lower canyon (but is available for the Upper one).
- You can take your own camera and tripod without any charges. Your guide most probably will help you shoot the famous spots.
- The canyon being deep, most likely you would feel cold inside. It’s advisable to take a jacket or sweater along.
- The Upper and Lower being the most visited, some people think the adventure part has just about vanished from them. Worry not, there are hundreds of other slot canyons near-by. They are free, except for the standard Navajo hiking permit.
We also have one of our favorite shots from the Lower canyon 🙂