Antelope Canyon

I had heard about this place called Antelope Canyon on the outskirts of Page, so when we got there I had to do some more digging. It is what they call a slot canyon and there are two of them, an Upper Antelope Canyon and a Lower Antelope Canyon. Both of them on Navajo land about a ten minute drive out of Page.

I did some research, the Upper Canyon has these amazing light shafts and you can just walk into it, the Lower Canyon doesn't have as impressive shafts and you need to climb in. Both need bookings, with the lower one being cheaper and apparently less visited, so in theory, shorter queues.

There are two companies that offer tours, according to one person, the two owners are brother and sister. We went with Dixie Ellis, I booked a 10:40am tour, you're advised to show up 30 minutes early, so the next day, there we were. We mis-timed it slightly, just before we arrived, a bus load of tourists arrived, so suddenly the place was packed with tourists (Yes, I know I was one) so our 30 minute wait blew out.

At the parking lot, you get put into a tour group and introduced to your local Navajo guide who talks a bit, then takes you down to the staging area where you wait a lot longer (luckily there is shade) before you walk down some steps and gradually work your way back up towards the carpark.

There are a few surprising things, firstly the canyon is deep - for most of it, in the bottom you can't see the sky. It's narrow too with twists and turns everywhere. The guides do a great job of seperating out the groups so even though on the surface we were packed in, down in the canyon after you start going, it was only our small group of ten or so.

The canyon is very spectacular. Lower Antelope made it into some of the standard backgrounds for Windows, so you do feel like you've seen it before. As you can see from below, I took a lot of shots, but didn't have a tripod or anything fancy, but a couple of them are still good shots.

Coming from Australia and knowing quite a few Aboriginals and their connection to the land, I was curious to find out about the Navajo stories and what was the signifigance of the canyon. I was somewhat bemused to discover that it has no special signifigance. Apparently they use to use it as a hunting trap. A group of hunters would climb into the canyon, another group would scare up some antelope and drive them towards the edge, when the antelope lept over, the hunters below would try to get them. Then there was the slight problem you might have a dead antelope fall on you, so apparently they didn't try it often.

If you're in the area, I'd highly recommend it. It does get pretty warm though, so an early morning spot. Also subject to flooding, so don't go if there is a chance of rain. (They don't run the tours then anyway)

Antelope Canyon
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