Arizona

 

Antelope Canyon

Pictures of Antelope Canyon not only are among the most beautiful of the American Southwest in general, but they have also become a hallmark of Arizona as a whole. This despite the fact that this attraction, located near the small town of Page in Northern Arizona at the Utah stateline, remains hidden from view for many visitors. One reason for that is that the slot canyon’s pictures are much more famous than its name; the other, that the natural wonder is on grounds owned by the Navajo, who are restricting access and who are asking steep prices to visit. Entering the canyon, which is administered as a Navajo Tribal Park, is only allowed if accompanied by a Navajo guide - anyone not belonging to the Navajo people is not allowed to access the area alone. There are a number of providers offering excursions into Antelope Canyon. Tours are starting in Page or at the canyon’s entrance; advance reservations are highly recommended for the main travel seasons.

AZ Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon was so named after a herd of antelopes that supposedly lived in this area. However, in the language of the Native Navajo, the natural wonder has another name, meaning “the place where water runs through a rock”. In the Navajo’s belief, entering the canyon is a spiritual experience that should be absorbed by all senses. In a more exact description, there are two canyons - Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. For both of these, an entrance fee has to be paid separately. Both developed through erosion of the sandstone caused by springfloods, which in turn were caused by monsoon-like rains. These still occur sometimes, and when they happen, the canyons are immediately closed to the public.

The water not only  molded the canyons themselves, but also took care of painting the rock face with the characteristic lines and various shades of red. Together with the sunlight, falling in through narrow openings, fascinating effects are created that have been captured in thousands of photos. The best time to shoot impressive photos are the midday hours from March to October, when the sunlight falls in vertically and reaches all the way to the canyon floor. Of course, these times also see the largest visitor crowds.

Guests who have booked a jeep tour are transported to the Upper Canyon entrance at an altitude of 1200 meters above sea level. There is relatively easy, level  access here. Guests are allowed to stay inside the canyon for a maximum of two hours. Entering the Lower Antelope Canyon, located a few kilometers away, is a little more difficult as visitors have to pass through a narrow gap in the rocks and climb down metal stairs. The Lower Canyon is more narrow and not as deep as the Upper Canyon, but it is significantly longer. The two-hours limit applies here as well.

In addition to exploring the canyons, there are a number of other interesting things to discover in the area, but all other sections of the Tribal Park are not accessible without a Navajo guide either. Visitors are sometimes reporting recurring attempts by the providers to earn more tourist dollars and thus, some insignificant slot canyons nearby are declared to be unique natural wonders, although those do not come close to the magnificence of the Antelope Canyons.


 

 

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