Hidden away on Navajo land just below Page, AZ, and Lake Powell is an amazing complex of slot canyons known collectively as Antelope Canyon. This remains a hoped-for destination for virtually every landscape photographer on the planet, even though it’s long been a favored location for advertising backdrops and TV commercials. (Or, more probably, because of that over-exposure. Admittedly, my first introduction to Antelope came from, if memory serves, a Jeep commercial.)
You can’t freely hike these canyons. The story is that the potential for flash flooding is too high. I suspect it has as much to do with revenue. Which is fine — by and large, the Navajo aren’t rolling in excess cash. So the only way in is on a Navajo-led tour. And that’s fine, too. It’s an open truck ride over seriously wash-boarded and unmarked dirt roads and trails to the canyon entry. Once there, after some brief instructions, you’re free to wander.
If you go, be patient. It can get crowded, so you need to wait for your shots. Bring a tripod. You’ll need it. And try to go earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. The light’s better, I’m told.
There are actually two canyons, Upper (called Tsé bighánílíní by the Navajo, ”the place where water runs through rocks”) & Lower (Hazdistazí, or “spiral rock arches”). So far, we’ve only visited the upper canyon because it was a little easier to make a reservation and to get down into the canyon. Now that I’ve got better equipment, I look forward to going back again to visit the lower canyon. These shots were taken with a decent, but not spectacular, point-and-shoot.
Most of the photos I’ve seen of Antelope are bright and cheerful. Perhaps it was the conditions of the day and hour of our visit, but the Antelope we experienced could be a somewhat darker place. Still magical, but darker, nonetheless…