Driving from Sedona to the northeastern Arizona town of Page is very smooth and easy because you stay on one major highway for most of the trip. Entering Page gave me the impression of a small-town vibe with most businesses already closed as early as 9:00 PM and cellphone service down to 3G. Despite Page being “out of the way”, millions of tourists from all across the globe make this a necessary stop because of one major attraction: the Antelope Canyons. The canyons are part of the Navajo Nation, a vast area of deserts, canyons, wilderness and high mountains belonging to the Navajos, the second largest Native American Indian tribe in the United States.
Prior to my trip, I contacted the Navajo-owned and operated Dixie Ellis’ Lower Antelope Canyon Tours to make reservations. The check-in process is very disorganized, with two long lines and only one person to take care of the payments. Despite this one flaw, I like everything else about Dixie Ellis!! Because I made the reservation prior to the trip, I was immediately put with a tour group the moment I checked in. I think the best time to go is early in the morning. If you can do the very first trip, then that’s even better. I was able to get a 9:20 AM tour, and by 9:30 AM, we were already on our way to the canyons. They also accept credit cards, unlike the next-door neighbor that only accepts cash. The regular walking tour costs $28 per person, while the photography tour (only for those with SLRs/DLSRs) costs $50 per person.
There are two Antelope Canyons, the Upper and the Lower. I picked Lower Antelope Canyon over the Upper because it is less crowded, longer, the pathways are narrower and the fact that you have to go below the ground really appealed to me. After a 10 minute hike on red dust and sand, we arrived at the surface entrance of the Lower Antelope Canyon, where we were all instructed to climb down 5 flight of stairs towards the underground canyon. The moment I reached the bottom, I was immediately mesmerized by the walls and the sandstone formations.
It took millions of years and the forces of wind, water and extreme climates to create this natural beauty that has the power to hypnotize anybody that sets their eyes on its walls. As I slowly squeeze my way through the narrow passageway, I run my fingers against the cold canyon wall. The sun beams are peaking through the cracks overhead, shining on the walls to create a marvelous display of various colors, shapes, shadows and textures. It is no wonder that the Navajos consider the Antelope Canyons sacred and have a mystical bond to it- entering the red stone feels like walking into a cathedral, where the feeling of utmost respect for the environment and total serenity washes over you. Lower Antelope Canyon is ravishing beyond all means that it emits an ethereal sensation, so familiar to anybody who is fortunate enough to wander its path.
A 10 minute drive from Lower Antelope Canyon will take you to another must-see destination in Page called Horseshoe Bend. It got its name from the iconic horseshoe-shaped bend of the Colorado river going around a red rock canyon and can be viewed from the edge of a cliff. I fell in love with Horseshoe Bend for its lack of railings and the high risk of falling over a 1,000 ft drop to your death if you are not careful enough, the literal manifestation of living on the edge. There is nothing else I would rather do than sit there the whole day, not talk to anybody, breathe in the Arizonian air and just marvel at the awe-inspiring landscape right ahead.
Some photos by @flyg1o (Instagram)’
Related posts: The Red Rocks of Sedona (Day 1)
“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.”