Antelope Canyon—the top travel destination in Page, AZ

Antelope Canyon—Navajo Nation Sandstone Slot Canyon

There is no doubt that the main attraction in the area is the Antelope Canyon. And for good reason! Renowned for its undulating walls and light beams, Antelope Canyon was named after the pronghorn antelopes that once roamed the area in abundance (more numerous than bison). The pronghorns are indigenous to North America, and are more closely related to the giraffe rather than to deer or antelopes. Nowadays, they can still be seen in the American West but their numbers vastly decreased from 100 million to about 13,000.

The Navajo people believe that the Holy People created the canyon and that the canyon is a spiritual site, home to the spirits of their ancestors. According to Navajo tradition, Antelope Canyon was created as a way of connecting with nature and the spirit world. It’s a place of balance of natural forces and a place of great power. It is necessary to approach it with respect and humility. To protect this special area as well as its visitors, guided tours are mandatory, and there are many wonderful Navajo tours available.

Day 5: Lower Antelope Canyon

The Navajo name for Lower Antelope Canyon is Hasdez twazi’, which means “the spiral role arches.” Located within the Le Chee Chapter of the Navajo Nation, the canyon has a V-shape and several sets of staircases to maneuver. The best time to visit this part of the canyon is between 10:30 am and 12:30 am when there is more light available and the colors are more vibrant.

We chose Dixie’s Lower Antelope Tours to guide us through the first part of our journey. The tour company was born out of Dixie’s love for her native land and sharing its beauty with others. It continues today through Dixie’s family and friends.

An energetic Navajo man who went by Nike guided us through the narrow and winding canyon, swiftly showing us the best camera settings to capture the highlights: the heart of the canyon, the Windows screen saver shots, the Navajo Chief, and even Spiderman. My advice? Look up! The canyon’s layered walls weave and twist—a testament of the changing winds and water flow. The silica in the iron-rich red rock catches the light trickling from above and creates beautiful artwork at every turn.

Upon exiting the mile-long canyon, we had another surprise waiting for us: dinosaur footprints! Dilophosaurus, to be specific, a two-crested 7,500-1,000 pound meat-eating lizard that roamed the Earth about 200 million years ago, during the early Jurassic times.

Helpful tips: wear hiking shoes instead of your fashionable sneakers and be prepared to climb up and down a few metal staircases. Leave your bag at home, as bags are not allowed in the canyon. Bring your camera but leave your tripod or selfies stick behind. You can carry a plastic water bottle if you wish. And don’t be that tourist who takes selfies on the stairs! Be respectful of this sacred Navajo land and its amazing beauty; immerse yourself in the moment, while taking away with you only great memories.

Day 6: Upper Antelope Canyon

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse’bighanilini, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” This A-shaped canyon stands above ground at 4,000 ft and has walls towering 660 feet above the streambed. The best time to visit this area if you want to get the famed “beam of light” photo is between May and September. The best time of the day is when the sun is directly above the canyon, between 11 am and 1:30 pm.

We chose Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours for this part of the guided tour. Shortly after we checked in, our friendly guide loaded us up in a high-profile truck and trekked over sandy terrain for 10 minutes to the slit in the sandstone that marks the entrance to the Upper Antelope Canyon.

We meandered through the narrow opening, taking in the reverent and quiet vibe of our surroundings. The stingy light made for moody color displays showing a more austere yet harmonious side of the canyon.

Our guide took us on a bonus excursion into another close-by slot canyon, pointing out the large boulders and branches deposited inside the canyon by powerful flash floods. He shared with us videos of the latest flood, something you should definitely be careful about—always check the weather before heading out into the desert, especially in the late summer months, which is monsoon season.

Helpful tip: If you have a semipro or pro camera, invest a few dollars into a plastic cover to protect it against the dust. By the end of the trip, I had a good layer of red sand all over me.

After yet another amazing experience visiting the Antelope Canyon, we rewarded ourselves with a hearty meal: amazing BBQ from Big John’s Texas BBQ, complete with tasting all three of their sauces: sweet, traditional (mild), and hot.

(This blog post has been written and published for The Canyons RV Resort and Cabins).

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