Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is one of the most stunning natural attractions in Arizona. This lends to its popularity as a tourist attraction. In fact, no other slot canyon in the American Southwest gets more visitors on an annual basis, and since tours are so popular, there is a two-hour time limit for visitors in each of the canyon's two main sections. These sections are known as Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.

Arizona's Antelope Canyon is located in the north central part of the state. To the near west is the city of Page, and it's not too far north to the Utah border. This is Navajo country, and the surrounding area is known as the LeChee area. As for Antelope Canyon's origins, it was formed naturally over a long period of time, with flash floods and wind being responsible for much of the dynamic landscape. This landscape is a mix of swirling sandstone, and rock arches and other formations are common. At certain times of year, beams of light flood portions of the canyon, only adding to the splendor, and it's easy to understand why this is such a coveted destination for photographers.

Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon, or Tse'bighanilini, as it is known to the native Navajo people, is the most visited portion of Antelope Canyon. Set at an elevation of approximately 4,000 feet above sea level, this section was partly formed by a stream, and today, the canyon walls rise as high as 120 feet above said stream. No major hiking or climbing is required to reach the entrance to Upper Antelope Canyon, and therein lies much of the reason for its popularity. Also helping to make Upper Antelope Canyon a more popular tourist destination than Lower Antelope Canyon is the fact that beams of sunlight enter in with more frequency. Mid-March to early October is when the light beams occur, with summer being the season when they are most common. The name Tse'bighanilini, it should be mentioned, translates to "the place where water runs through rocks."

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon is known to the Navajo as Hasdestwazi. This translates to "spiral rock arches." Swirling sandstone formations once again characterize much of Lower Antelope Canyon, and while the casual sightseer is less common, photographers are drawn to the area just as much as they are to Upper Antelope Canyon. Part of the reason why Lower Antelope Canyon doesn't get as many casual sightseers as Upper Antelope Canyon is the fact that a certain amount of climbing is required to get in and out. Metal stairways are in place for the more technical parts, and the hiking overall is more difficult than in Upper Antelope Canyon. This doesn't mean that you have to be an expert hiker to navigate the V-shaped Lower Antelope Canyon, however, and since the terrain is every bit as stunning as it is in the Upper portion, tourists are encouraged to give both sections equal consideration.

Antelope Canyon Tours

Upper Antelope Tours
Upper Antelope Tours

An Antelope Canyon tour can make excellent additions to any and all northern Arizona itineraries. Both portions are simply amazing to explore, thanks largely in part to the effects of light, shadows, and the varying colors of the sandstone. Anyone hoping to enjoy such a tour should know that it is necessary to book an authorized guide. The tour prices include a Navajo Park Permit, which is required for any non-Navajo member who wishes to enter the region in general. The place to go to get necessary tour info is the Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park Office. This office is found just three miles south of Page along Coppermine Road, also called Navajo Route 20. 

While in the Antelope Canyon area, visitors might consider a tour of the Rainbow Bridge Trail or a tour of one of the two East Waterholes areas, both of which are also part of the larger Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park. In nearby Page, a variety of fun activities can be arranged, such as boating excursions on Lake Powell, and accommodations are available. Also found in the general region is the Grand Canyon, and as you might imagine, many tourists include a stop there as well when in the area.

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