There are many reasons to visit the state of Arizona: the Grand Canyon, the red rocks of Sedona, ‘Flag’ aka Flagstaff, etc. Two sites that are also getting some attention are Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend – located in and run by the Navajo Nation.
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. It’s very narrow to walk through but at the right time of day when the light fully shines in it’s absolutely spectacular. The only way to visit is to book a tour with one of the Navajo-run tour companies. We used Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours. Our tour took us to the most crowded of slot canyons in the area – Upper Antelope Canyon. There are also tours of the lower Antelope Canyon as well as more private yet rugged canyons like Owl, Rattlesnake and Mountain Sheep.
At our appointed time our group was assigned a guide and loaded onto a jeep for the drive out to the canyon. Once there we waited our turn to start our walk in. This would be the time to mention that one main feature of Antelope is that is is CROWDED.
Not only is this a popular spot for regular tourists but it’s also popular among professional photographers who sign up for photography tours that allow them to bring in their equipment – tripods, special lenses, etc. The rest of the crowd cannot bring in a bag since years ago someone tried smuggling in a relative’s ashes.
Our guide was quite knowledgeable and knew many cool phone camera tricks to catch shots like this these:
As much as I enjoyed the knowledge of the guide and the beauty of the canyon if I had it to do over again I would take the time to do some of the smaller, less crowded canyons.
After lunch in the town of Page we started back to our home base of Flagstaff with a stop at Horseshoe Bend.
Horseshoe Bend is technically a canyon that the water – in this case the Colorado River – is still moving through. It costs $10 to park at the visitor center then it’s a short walk to the edge of the canyon. Once again you will run into massive crowds. Many will be exhibiting ‘ledge lunacy’ – the practice of posing as close to the edge of a canyon as possible to catch a selfie that makes them look daring.
As beautiful as Horseshoe Bend is I found myself watching the behavior of those afflicted by Ledge Lunacy as much as I was enjoying the beautiful view.
Crowds notwithstanding, you have to work hard to be annoyed when surrounded by such natural beauty. This day reminded me that we often create our own attitude – we can spend the day fuming about the idiot who blocked our perfect photo op or we can remind ourselves that we are all equally drawn to the beauty and wonder of nature. Choose your day.