The morning we drove out of Moab to Springdale, Utah to see Zion National Park, we cruised along US Highway 191, 163, and 160. Later that day, we merged with US Highway 98, passing by the town of Page in Arizona. Page is one of those American towns that will etch in one’s memory because of the colossal Navajo Generating Station, a 2250 megawatt net coal-fired power plant located in this Navajo Indian Reservation. Its three tall flue gas stacks, as tall as 775 ft (236 meter) and listed among the tallest structures in Arizona, can be seen even from miles and miles away. It felt apocalyptic approaching the mega structure, reminiscent as a matter of fact, of the city I grew up in, Toledo City on the western side of Cebu island.
But our attention quickly averted from the gigantic power plant to the buses unloading tourists on the side of Highway 98. What was the curiosity about in the middle of Arizona desert? It seems odd, possible but still odd, to be here for a Navajo Generating Station tour.
We wondered but did not bother to stop only to google later that those tourists were there to see the Antelope Canyon! How did we miss that?
After 3 days spent in Zion National Park, my husband could not resist my puppy eyes when I mentioned that I deeply want to see Antelope Canyon, so instead of driving Southwest to Las Vegas, we drove 120 miles Southeast from Springdale, Utah back to Page, Arizona. It was the best decision ever! Even at the first glimpse of the canyon, we knew it was ALL WORTH IT!
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon on a Navajo land in Page, Arizona. It was formed by erosion, mainly by flash flood waters carrying sand, rocks, and other debris that sculpted the soft sandstone, thus forming these natural corridors. This canyon was named after the herds of pronghorn antelope that roamed freely in the area. Antelope canyon includes two individually separate sections called the “Upper Antelope Canyon” or “The Crack”, and the “Lower Antelope Canyon” or “The Corkscrew”. The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means “the place where water runs through rocks” while Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazí (called “Hasdestwazi” by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department), or “spiral rock arches”. It is very important to note that the Antelope Canyon is protected by the Navajo Parks and Recreation (became unavailable to the public in 1997) and by law, only authorized tour companies can take visitors to the canyon. It is NECESSARY to have a native Navajo guide to see this canyon.
LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON
There are different tours offered at the Antelope Canyon, including a photography tour. We used Ken Tours to do the general tour of the lower antelope canyon which runs every 20 minutes, with each tour lasting an hour. We stayed at their waiting lounge for a couple minutes before they called us in together with the rest of the tour group. And the breathtaking adventure began.
HIDDEN TREASURE. One surprising thing about the canyon is when viewed from above ground, no one will realize the treasure hidden underground. Unlike other canyons which we look up or we look down unto, on a plain sight, Lower Antelope Canyon looks nothing until we arrived at a crack, a tiny space that measures only about 2 feet across which we immediately descended through a metal stairways.
CLIMBING and SQUEEZING and lots of it! Another surprise was the abundance of climbing, so be prepared. I learned that Lower Antelope Canyon is called Hazdistazí, which means ‘spiral rock arches’ by the Navajo, so climbing definitely makes a lot of sense now. Some parts of the canyon can get really narrow so hold tight and squeeze in! With all the climbing and flabbergast, hydrate with enough water, wear the proper footwear, and watch your head.
SAFETY and FLASH FLOOD HAZARDS. Some passageways can get really narrow so watch your head. The beauty of Antelope Canyon will make you forget the possible dangers awaiting at canyons like this one. Because of this slot canyon’s narrow dimensions, it can be dangerous when weather is not permissible. Within minutes, a rain can drown the canyon in flash floods. Deadly flash floods have occurred at this canyon and it is always advisable to check the weather reports and forecasts. Pay attention to your Navajo tour guide.
BRIGHT ORANGE. The very moment I turned my back to the canyon as I descended the metal stairs, everything turned bright orange and I love it! I glanced at my husband and I may have heard him say that I made a good call on this one!
FACES: What adds fun to the tour of the Lower Antelope Canyon is the faces that we can make out of the rock formations. I missed a lot of the “faces” but my husband luckily caught some good ones. Can you see the faces from our photos below?
WOW. Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographic and most photogenic sights we have been to. Thank God for digital cameras because every inch of this canyon is picture-worthy. Out of respect to our tour group and tour guide, we have to take all the beauty and wonder in a snap, otherwise I guarantee that my husband and I will stay at Antelope Canyon for an entire day and would ascend out of the canyon still craving for more. This canyon is magical, grand, breathtaking, glorious, mesmerizing and incredibly out-of-this-world beautiful. Believe me, you have to see Antelope Canyon in person, and when you do, bring a plentiful supply of “WOW” because you are going to utter it a lot, just like the rest of us.
AND DONT FORGET TO LOOK UP!
As soon as we ascended out of the Lower Antelope Canyon, our tour guide showed us a dinosaur footprint! How amazing can that be?
Enjoy our video!