Antelope Canyon

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After our short and cold visit at the Grand Canyon National Park, we continued our road trip northwards towards Utah. In Page, a small and unimpressive town near Lake Powell, we stayed for a night because of two very good reasons: the Horseshoe Bend and the Antelope Canyon.

The Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located about 4 miles (6.4 km) southwest of Page – and a famous spot for (landscape) photographers and tourists. There was no information sign on the road but you could tell from the amount of cars and busses where the trail starts. From the parking area, you have to walk about 40 minutes until you reach the steep cliffs above the River. The overlook is 4,200 feet (1,300 m) above sea level, and the Colorado River is at 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level – that’s making it a 1,000-foot (300 m) drop. If you have no head for heights, so should definitely stay away from the drop-off.
We reached Horseshoe Bend late in the afternoon and were able to experience an amazing sunset including a sand storm.

On the next morning, we finally visited the spot I was dreaming of for a really long time: The Antelope Canyon! This canyon is a slot canyon and is located on Navajo land. It includes two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections, the Upper and the Lower Antelope Canyon. The Upper Antelope Canyon is more frequently visited by tourists because its entrance and entire length are at ground level and requiring no climbing. Another plus point for the Upper Antelope Canyon is that sun beams from openings in the top of the canyon are much more common there than in Lower. Therefore we decided to visit the Upper.

What I didn’t know until our arrival in Page: It’s not possible to visit the canyon on your own. The only way to get in there is to book a tour. There are mainly two types of tours: The normal 1.5 hours guided tour (approx. $ 50) or the extended photographic 2.5 hours tour (approx. $ 90). If you want to use a tripod for taking pictures, you have to choose the extended tour. For me on the photographer side, it was a though decision but in the end we choose the normal one – and I was really glad we did! First, the canyon is very narrow so there is not really so much space to place a tripod there. And second, there were tons of tourists walking trough the canyon although we visited it in the low season. Our guide also kept pushing us forward to make sure we made it through and back again within the 1.5 hours. And there was one photographer group during our tour and they didn’t seem too happy about their choice.

But besides the hustle, it was a really breath-taking tour: This incredible canyon has been created over many thousands of years by water and wind. Those forces have slowly carved and sculptured the sandstone into impressive forms and shapes. We had our tour at lunch time and so the sun was high up in the sky and light danced across the stone walls. It was a spectacle of color, light and shadow. To the Navajo, the canyon is a sacred place with many myths. Depending on your view point, you can see different figures formed by stone, color, shadow and light. Can you find the bear, the butterfly or the dragon’s eye in my pictures?

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