Amazing Photo Opportunities
Await Visitors in Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is one of the most popular and most photographed slot canyons in the American Southwest. Once eclipsed by the Grand Canyon, it is now a well-known area, and fewer people these days are wondering “where is Antelope Canyon?” This is partially due to social media, which helped propel it into the spotlight.
Believed to be created by a powerful, rushing waterfall, Antelope Canyon was discovered by Navajo tribes thousands of years ago and was eventually named after the many antelope that gathered in the area, particularly during winter. If you enjoy traveling and taking photographs, you will not be disappointed by what you find in this region.
Where is Antelope Canyon?
Antelope Canyon is situated east of Page, Arizona, on route 98. It is surrounded by a panorama of natural beauty, including the outstanding rock formations for which it is famous. The road to the Canyon is gated by the Navajo Nation and only authorized tour guides with their groups are allowed to enter. Other natural wonders are also located nearby, such as Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend.
Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon
Two regions make up the area, which are the upper and lower portions of the canyon. They are named for their geographical locations and each has something unique to offer travelers and photographers alike. The upper canyon belongs to the Navajo Nation’s LeChee Chapter and its elevation is approximately 4,000 feet. The canyon’s walls rise about 120 feet above the stream bed. It is a favorite among photographers, but both portions of the canyon are worth seeing, regardless of whether or not you plan to take pictures.
Lower Antelope is also part of the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation. To the untrained eye, this canyon appears to be little more than slated rock with normal formations and hills. However, when visitors descend the five flights of man-made stairs, the vista of this unique cavernous canyon suddenly appears in all its splendor. Smooth rock in various sculptures and patterns adorn both canyons, making each one a worthwhile destination.
Choosing a Tour
Tours through both the upper and lower sections of the Antelope Canyon must be booked separately, and each offers specific photo opportunities. Depending on the type of experience you are looking for, you may choose to prioritize either the upper or lower canyon.
Lower Antelope Canyon is usually less crowded, as tourists have a tendency to gravitate toward the higher canyon. It is also longer and features tighter spaces within its walls. Additionally, a tour to the lower canyon is less expensive than a similar tour through the upper canyon. However, because it is less crowded, you may be able to get the desired pictures in a shorter length of time and without having to specifically book a photography tour.
Upper Antelope Canyon is more frequently visited by tourists and photographers, and its walkways are much wider within the canyon than those seen in its lower counterpart. Touring this canyon is a bit more expensive than touring the lower canyon, but the shafts of light are far more dramatic, and therefore a top choice if your primary goal is stunning photographs.
If you are only going to visit one canyon, you should also consider mobility when making your final decision. In Lower Antelope, moderate scrambling is required to navigate tight spaces and climbing some ladders and stairs is necessary. Upper Antelope has only a few narrow sections and the floor of the canyon is primarily flat. Therefore, the upper canyon is a better choice if mobility is an issue. Whichever sections you choose, however, outstanding photo opportunities await.
According to many visitors, as well as a significant number of photographers, Antelope Canyon’s light beams are what makes it so unforgettable. As you may have suspected, these light beams only appear for a short period of time at specific hours of the day. However, when they shine through the openings at the top of the canyon, they are a sight to behold.
Planning your visit around the appearance of these magnificent light beams is highly recommended. The best way to ensure you book the appropriate excursion is to speak to someone at a tour guide office and inform him or her of the time of year you plan to visit. In most seasons, the best time to see the famous light beams is between 10 AM and 12 PM, but the canyons are still a mystifying destination even if it is not possible to catch the light beams.
Another natural wonder in the area is known as the “sand pouring effect.” The feeling this phenomenon gives is similar to how you may imagine feeling if you were trapped at the bottom of a huge hourglass. This effect occurs when sand is blown from the top of the canyon into the base by strong winds. Of course, there is no guarantee this will occur while you are on your tour, as it depends on natural elements. However, if you are lucky enough to experience the pouring sand effect, it is something you will never forget.
When planning a trip to Antelope Canyon for the purpose of taking pictures, you should consider a photography tour. Otherwise, you may struggle to keep tourists and vacationers out of your pictures or find it difficult to set up your equipment during peak hours.
In addition, many non-photography tours prohibit the use of tripods, which essentially takes away your chance to acquire professional quality shots. Fortunately, there are many photography tours from which to choose, and these are available in both the upper and lower canyons.
Naturally, photography tours are a bit more expensive than excursions designed for sightseers and vacationers. However, if you are serious about getting great shots, you are sure to find the investment well worth the return it offers. Additionally, professional tour guides are well-informed with regard to where the best angles and locations are for shooting pictures. To ensure you get the best photographs, bring a tripod and a DSLR camera on your photography tour if possible.
Kayaking at Antelope Canyon
Although many people now know that Antelope Canyon is one of the country’s most photographed slot canyons, numerous individuals still do not realize that kayaking is available in a portion of the canyon. If you are interested in combining your photographic adventure with some kayaking, you can begin your trek five miles north of Lower Antelope Canyon near Powell Lake. From there, you can kayak through approximately 2 1/2 miles of Antelope Canyon, enjoying the sandstone walls with all their interesting twists and turns as you go along.
Nearby Areas for More Great Photo Opportunities
Fortunately, there are additional areas located nearby that are perfect for taking photographs or simply soaking up the panoramic scenery of the region.
At the beginning of the Grand Canyon National Park is one of the “small wonders” of the Southwest, Horseshoe Bend. Named after a curve in the Colorado River, it is found approximately 140 miles from the northern and southern rims of the Grand Canyon, but a mere five miles from the Grand Canyon National Park.
From Horseshoe, you can take exceptional photos from the edge of the canyon, as you can see both the river and outstanding rock formations in the surrounding area. This creates the illusion of being in the canyon, even though you are still quite a distance from the rims. Booking a tour is not required to visit the area, and this makes it particularly fun if you are the type of traveler who enjoys making spur of the moment decisions.
If you are planning to visit different areas surrounding the canyon, you should add the beautiful Lake Powell your itinerary. Once a massive dam, the Lake is now a modern-day oasis surrounded by Glenn Canyon’s 700-foot high sandstone walls. The Lake is a terrific place for taking spectacular pictures or indulging in a broad range of water sports, including boating, water skiing, fishing, sailing and swimming. Located near Page, Arizona, on Manson Mesa, the Lake community consists of approximately 6,000 friendly residents who thrive on tourism and welcome photographers and vacationers to the area each year.
When to Visit
Although the regions mentioned above are beautiful any time of the year, many individuals prefer off-season travel to the canyons, especially for photographic tours. From October to early May there are less snakes and scorpions, it is not nearly as hot, and of course it is less crowded than the peak season of mid-May through September, and this makes it easier for you to seize good photo opportunities.
After visiting the unforgettable Antelope Canyon, you are sure to realize why it is a photographer’s dream, as well as a highly popular tourist attraction. Regardless of your specific objectives when visiting this area, a trip to Antelope Canyon will never be forgotten.