A drop of sweat shone brightly on my forehead. It was only 8 am…
The air was still heavy with the heat of the previous day. Such a surreal moment for a Belgian girl who considers everything above 25°C (75F) as a hot day.
With the AC on full blast, we drove through the dusty landscape with a cloud of pink dust in our trail. We were heading into the right direction, right? There was little wildlife, heck any life, to be seen along the way. Rickety wooden signs were our only guides through the desert.
Relieved, we saw the first hand-painted wooden signs to Lower Antelope Canyon. We ended up at a seemingly abandoned parking lot somewhere in the middle of the Navajo desert. This would be the starting point of one of the most beautiful canyon walks in North America.
“Where are all the tourists?” I asked one of the guides that walked up to greet us.
Apparently not many people venture to find the Canyon on their own, but rather book a tour near Page and let Navajo guides take you to the slot canyon in a truck. When I remembered the dust clouds our little car created, I was happy we didn’t ride the trucks. Eating sand while being covered in a layer of sweat would only have resulted in me looking like a giant brownish/reddish cacao dusted truffle. And not the good kind…. The kind that’s already melting into a gooey paste.. You get the idea ;-).
One by one we slipped below the surface, disappearing into a small crack in the pink stone soil. If I hadn’t paid attention, I would have walked by the entrance without noticing. I followed Kristof and the rest of our little group into the dark depths of the canyon until we were met by the most gorgeous pink and orange canyon walls. I had never seen such vibrant streaks of colour, except in paintings!
Squeezing myself through tiny openings and narrow passageways, I discovered new colours and patterns about every 10 meters (33 feet). Thank goodness for yoga! Depending on the position of the sun and clouds, the canyon walls change from vibrant pink to soft orange, deep brown and violet blue. Needless to say that I ended up taking a massive amount of photographs.
After about an hour of ooh and aws, we had to resurface and leave this magical Wonderland behind. It was back to getting used to the meanwhile even warmer upper ground temperatures.
With a few more sweat beads on my brow, we hopped back in our car on our way to new adventures… covered in sweat, dust and… smiles!
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Is it worth it?
Absolutely! Antelope Canyon is one of the highlights of our USA road trip and I’m so glad we decided to overnight in Page to discover the canyon and nearby Horseshoe Bend. The price tag at the time we visted was about 30$, for the prime time tours. We took the 10am tour of Antelope Canyon and were able to enjoy the most beautiful light on the colored sandstone waves. Try to go on the 10am, 11am or 12am tour as the light tends to penetrate the canyon better which makes for some spectacular sights and photo’s!
How do I get there?
Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed canyons and of course it makes totally sense that a trip across the south of the USA would be incomplete without a visit to Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon lies in gorgeous Arizona and you could easily include it on your way between Zion National Park and Monument Valley or Grand Canyon National Park. We spent the night at Page, including nearby Horseshoe Bend in our itinerary.
Do I need to book a tour? Or can I do it myself?
We’ve visited the Lower Antelope Canyon without joining a tour. Well… we didn’t join a full on tour that picks you up at your hotel in a truck and drives you to the entrance of the canyon. However, it is important to know that you can not enter Antelope Canyon without a native Navajo guide. We took our own car and headed to the entrance of Lower Antelope Canyon, where we simply paid our entrance fee and joined a guide and a small group of other tourists. We went in June and it was extremely quiet. No need at the time to book a tour in advance.
There are two departure points for tours: Upper Antelope Canyon (“The Crack”) and Lower Antelope Canyon (“The Corkscrew”). We only had enough time to do one, we chose Lower Antelope Canyon, as we were heading to the Grand Canyon but wanted to take a detour via Momument Valley.
To do it yourself, take Highway 98 East from Page (direction Kaibeto), until the junction with Route N22b (shortly before the junction you will drive past the parking lot of Upper Antelope Canyon). Turn left at the junction and after about 300 metres you will see the parking lot for Lower Antelope Canyon on your left hand side. You can buy tickets at the fee booth.
Our expectations for our visit to Lower Antelope Canyon were pretty high. We had already seen so many gorgeous pictures… we were expecting something special. And boy, we were not disappointed! The shapes of the walls, the colors, the sunlight that constantly brushes different parts of the canyon and seemingly changed its shapes all the time… *sigh*
There really only is one option for you now… you have to include this beauty in your USA road trip itinerary right NOW!