Antelope Canyon may not be one of the seven wonders of the world, but it is definitely worth seeing. The canyon has been formed over many, many years by water flowing through the land. There is an Upper and Lower part of the canyon, though the Upper Antelope Canyon is where most of the famous pictures have been taken. The native Navajo tribe call the Upper canyon ‘Tsé bighánílíní’, which means “the place where water runs through rock”. The Lower canyon is known as ‘Hasdestwazí’, meaning “spiral rock arches”.
Antelope Canyon was named after the many herds of antelope that roamed the lands around the canyon.
Over the course of many years, water ran through the canyon, sometimes flooding it, to carve out the organic shapes of the canyon located in Page, Arizona. Some of the floods were flash floods, moving the sand and carrying it up and out of the canyon. The floor of the canyon has both risen and fallen, with the floods carrying the sands with it. Some of the tour guides have even seen the floor rise up about twelve feet from where it usually sits. In some parts of the canyon you can see uprooted trees that got washed into the canyon with the floods. The walls tower over the stream bed at 120 feet above.
In the early years, Antelope Canyon was open to the public. Many people went in and looked. But others caused permanent damage. While walking through the canyon, you can see stray bullet mark high up in the wall. Because of this, the canyon was closed to the public in 1997. It is now required that all visitors must take a guided tour to ensure that the canyon is preserved for future generations to view and to help conserve the native Navajo culture and property.
There are many parts of the canyon that are iconic such as The Corkscrew and Dragon’s Eye. They are scattered throughout the canyon and can be seen looking up or at the walls of the canyon. Many famous pictures have been taken here, including one that sold for $6.5 million. The best time to go is spring and summer to see the light beams enter the canyon.
To help preserve the canyon, the tours ask that you do not bring backpacks or large bags so that they won’t scrape or disturb the walls of the canyon. It is also encouraged that you use your camera on your phone on the “vivid warm” setting while taking pictures!
While on the tour, there are many places to stop on the way through to take family pictures as well as scenic pictures, including a few iconic spots. The tour through Upper Antelope is ¼ mile in and the same ¼ mile back. The tour for Lower is one mile round trip.
(All pictures above were taken in the Upper Antelope Canyon, photographed by the author)