By Tony Suba
Get ready for the one of the most brilliant creations of nature you will ever experience. Yes there is a great deal of geological science behind this natural treasure, but let’s not deflate the stunning beauty this magical place beholds talking science stuff. Not yet anyway. There are two canyons that combine to create Antelope Canyon. An Upper and a Lower Antelope Canyon. Each is equally as beautiful as the other, yet each has its own unique characteristics. More about that later
Regardless of which canyon you visit, Antelope Canyon is not only the most popular slot canyon in America, but one of the most photographed spots in the country. It is a photographer’s dream. That alone will send a signal of its unimaginable beauty and intrigue. It is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation and its People consider the canyon as a sacred and spiritual place. A serene place of quiet reverence. When you enter Antelope, feel the aura of past civilizations.
Essentially Antelope Canyon is like a vibrant underground cathedral of irregular geometrical shapes and color. Every step you take through its winding corridors exposes depths of exquisite contrast and degrees of brilliance. Cracks at the surface cast intermittent beams of sunlight that seem to be preplanned spotlights by nature. As the suns rays gradually change during the course of each day, depth of colors change from very brilliant to pastels of artful significance.
If you wandered across this desolate flat land, you would never know the canyon existed until you came upon its entrance. As a slot canyon, its startling beauty is entirely underground. It was carved by flowing waters. Rainstorms would create flood-waters that found narrow openings that would permit torrents of water to enter those openings. Over millions of years rushing waters gradually eroded through soft layers of sandstone carving infinite shapes of form comprised of an almost endless array of color, both brilliant and pastel.
Combined with the forces of water, wind and climate extremes contributed to the cathedral of formations which are essentially a collection of petrified sand dunes. During heavy rain storms in the area, the erosion process continues in modern day. Each new flash flood, very slowly creates new shapes while polishing existing ones. Today, when rainstorms in the area threaten flooding, the canyons are closed to entry.
UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON.It is the most visited by tourists and can become crowded during peak season. It is wider, flatter and a easier walk. Unlike the Lower Canyon, there are no stairs to climb making it more convenient for those with limited walking ability. It has a much wider entry making it easier for photographers to carry bulky tripods. There are more crack opening at the top permitting more light penetration reveling a more vibrant fantasy of color.
LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON. Equally as beautiful, but more narrow and fewer ceiling openings. There are many stairs that must be climbed to reach lower and higher levels making it a more difficult trek for those with limited walking ability. It is less crowded for those reasons. If you have claustrophobia, the Lower Canyon is not the choice.
The largest crowds are during peak season from April to November. The slowest season is from November through March. The best photo-taking opportunities are mid-day when the sun is overhead leading to more sunbeams casting into the canyon. The rainiest months are generally August and September. If serious rainstorms occur in the area that could conditions of possible quick flash-flooding, the canyon could be closed to all entry.
Silver Spur offers private group tours to Antelope Canyon from Sedona, AZ and Flagstaff AZ. The private tour also includes a visit to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center located on the right on the cliff edges overlooking Glen Canyon Dam and the Colorado River next to Glen Canyon Bridge with views of massive Lake Powell. A tour into the depths of Glen Canyon Dam is an options. The tour also includes a short trek to Horseshoe Bend, one of the most popular attractions in Arizona before returning back to Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona. For more information visit our Tour of Antelope Canyon Page from Sedona or Flagstaff