Originally we planned on staying just one nigh in Page in order to restock and such before heading on to Monument Valley. I decided to look into the possibility of another visit to Antelope Canyon near town. It’s a slot canyon – that is, a winding, narrow path through sculpted sandstone formations. We visited Upper Antelope Canyon 2 years ago and while that was nice, it was so over run with people that photographing was not a pleasant experience. I’m glad we did it, but will probably not return.
Lower Antelope is a much different story. Located just down the road from Upper canyon, it is WAY less traveled. No reservations are required. If you are a photographer, no guide is required and you can wander the canyon for 2 hours on your own. The fee is only $26 per person. There were maybe only 20 other people in when we were in. At upper, it was probably hundreds.
We got to the parking area around 10:15 and were briefed by the young Navaho man. After paying, we were guided to the entrance by another young man who emerged from a car that was vibrating from the heavy bass of his booming stereo. He, like most of the Navaho we’ve met, was friendly, slightly shy and easy going. As we walked to the entrance he mentioned how, because of work, he hates Mondays. He went through his spiel about manners in the canyon, talked about the flash flood 20 years ago that killed a bunch of tourists who entered the canyon without waiting for their guide. He brought us to the entrance, then left us on our own.
The canyon is only about 1/4 mile long and once we reached the end, we could turn back and retrace our steps. The non-photo people had to exit at the end of the canyon trail and return above ground. As it turned out, we spent the entire 2 hours just going one way. So many opportunities presented themselves that it just made sense to take more time making good images just going one way. We were both pretty tired by canyon end, so I don’t think we would want to retrace anyway. It was pretty easy walking most of the way. At several steep drop-offs, steel ladders were embedded in the stone to aid in navigating down. It got quite narrow in many places, but still easy to move. The actual photo opts were maybe not quite as spectacular, but having more time to photograph, I think, made for much better seen images. I would definitely do this canyon again – maybe starting at a slightly earlier or maybe later time. The sun created some hotspots that were difficult to deal with and an earlier or later timeframe would mean different sun angle inside the canyon.
It was a terrific day and a terrific experience this time around. I’d do this again. To finish off the afternoon, we treated ourselves with burgers and beer. Now it’s off to Monument Valley for a day or two.