2010: Lake Powell

Antelope Canyon


The not-to-be-missed tourist experience in Page, AZ, is a trip to Antelope Canyon. This part of the country has many slot canyons -- narrow, winding cracks in stone -- and Antelope Canyon is the best known, the most photographed, and the easiest to access. Of course, that also means it's the most crowded.

You can't drive yourself to Antelope Canyon, for several reasons. For one thing, it's several miles down a rough road that requires four-wheel drive. For another, it's on Navajo land, and the tribe controls the access. So the way you get there is to pay a fee to one of the licensed tour companies. The tour guide drives you there and back in an open-air pickup truck, and also guides you through the short distance of the canyon.

I had my reservations; I'd read some internet complaints about the rough truck ride to get there, and I worried about how my back would hold up. Also I'd seen people saying that the tours are crowded and rushed, and that due to the lighting conditions you need a tripod to get any decent pictures. However, the consensus seems to be that's it's a sight worth seeing, so we decided to go.

Janet, our tour guide.

There are multiple offices in downtown Page offering tours, most of them within a single block. Each tour company has certain times of the day allocated for their tours, so that the narrow canyon isn't overrun at certain hours. We chose an office that advertised a tour at 11 a.m. and hoped we could just walk into it; no such luck. They sent us across the street to a different company -- Overland Canyon Tours -- and that turned out to be quite the stroke of luck. They had a group going out in about an hour. Our tour group was small, our guide Janet was exceptional (except for her NASCAR driving skills), and we got much more time in the canyon than some of the large herds we saw barreling through.

Janet got us there like safari trucks get you to the lions. As it turns out, the ride is more swervy from side to side than up-and-down bumpy, primarily because it's like sledding on a sand dune. Once we got into the canyon, Janet was excellent at pointing out the best photo ops and at keeping other people's heads, arms, and cameras out of our shots. No small feat.

Because of what I'd read about the difficult lighting, I was skeptical that our little Kodak pocket cameras would be of much use; but as I often have, I underestimated this little marvel. I'll let the pics do the talking. Sure, there are more professional shots out there of Antelope Canyon; but these are mine and I'm happy.

Ready for the return ride! The next herd lines up.

Janet gave us about 90 minutes in the canyon and the opportunity to take several hundred photos, which is probably twice what the big groups get. She got an appropriate tip, and here's a tip for you: if you're going to tour Antelope, go with Overland Canyon.