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Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon outside Page, Arizona. The Navajo name for Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazí, or ‘spiral rock arches.’ It was designated a Navajo Tribal Park in 1997.
Entry is by guided tour only since a slot canyon is a dangerous place to be if there is rain anywhere along the course of the canyon (and thunderstorms are surprisingly frequent in the desert.) Several tourists have died in flash floods in this canyon.
It was a cloudless sunny morning the day we set out to visit Antelope Canyon. We chose Lower Antelope because it is less crowded and less expensive than Upper Antelope.
The only tour operator here for years was Ken’s. The year we went, his sister had also set up shop, next to Ken’s in the parking lot. Hers had no line, so we went there.
Our tour guide was great, told interesting stories, gave tips on shooting photos, played the flute along the way and took family photos for us at several places.
The slot canyon itself is amazing. It was formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding. During monsoon season, rainwater collects in the basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it scours through the narrow passageways.
It is quite an arduous climb down steep stairs and ladders to the floor and then there are more stairs and ladders up and down along the way and places where you have to squeeze through narrow passages. The first multi-story, metal staircase by which we descended into the canyon was heart-stoppingly steep. I almost couldn’t bring myself to climb down until the guide told me there was no shame in climbing down backwards, as if it were a ladder (really, it almost was one!)
We went early in the morning and the canyon was cool at the bottom, but by the time we ascended, we were sweating and tired. The guides gave us a free water at the end of the tour…be sure to bring your own for the tour. I did see small children and elderly people make the trek just fine with some help from the guides and their families.
To see my other Glen Canyon National Recreation Area posts, please click on the links:
Location: Navajo Nation near Page, AZ
Designation: Navajo Tribal Park
Date designated or established: 1997
Date of my visit: 8/18/2014