Continuing our week-long visit to Arizona. Read the last write-up here.
The thing about the tiny town of Page, Arizona is once you’ve driven that far north from Scottsdale, your mind continues to wander farther north — to the Arizona-Utah border. And once you get into Utah, there’s a whole other chapter of national parks and natural beauty to explore. So you see, visiting Page can be somewhat dangerous. It’s a jumping off point for hundreds of other things you didn’t initially plan on doing.
I had to reel myself back in a few times and remind myself that there wasn’t enough time left in Arizona to venture outside of Arizona. In fact, we were debating on whether to make the trip to The Wave, a scenic site located on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes near the Arizona-Utah border.
Unfortunately, time wouldn’t allow for a drive there. According to Google Maps, we would’ve had to drive up into Utah and back down south to get to The Wave, making for a two-hour drive — not to mention the time it would take to hike to the actual location of The Wave. We were due to be back in Scottsdale that evening for dinner with our friend, Kevin, before flying back to St. Louis. So we decided to pass on The Wave but managed to squeeze in an attraction located right under our noses in Page — Antelope Canyon.
I heard about Antelope Canyon for the first time while doing some research on VisitPageArizona.com. It is considered the most popular and most photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest. It exists on Navajo land less than 10 miles from the city of Page. But unlike our Horseshoe Bend excursion, a tour guide is required to visit Antelope Canyon. The terrain leading up the canyon entrance is pretty rugged too. Your car will thank you for booking the excursion through an official tour company.
That’s how we saw Antelope Canyon — through Antelope Canyon Tours. We called a day in advance and booked an 8am tour. We awoke all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed that morning, grabbed breakfast, checked out of the hotel and drove a couple miles away to the Antelope Canyon Tours office. From there, we boarded a truck with a covered back for passenger seating and endured the bumpy ride to the canyon entrance.
At the entrance, our tour guide explained how the canyon was formed. The area is susceptible to flash flooding, and over time, the rush of both water and wind shaped the sandstone rock into what it is today. When seen from the surface, the canyon looks like a slash. But inside, is an amazing palette of reds, oranges and yellows and light bouncing in from the top of the canyon at all different angles. It makes for stunning photos, if you can get your camera settings right. (Bump up your ISO, slow your shutter speed, open up your aperture, turn off your flash and set your white balance to cloudy.)
It took a while to get my camera settings right. And even still, there were a number of them that came out blurry. A tripod would’ve helped tremendously, but even if I did have one, there wasn’t much time to set up and take the perfect shot. Our tour guide was practically running us through the canyon, knowing that other tour groups were following closely behind us. At least he was nice enough to take a few pictures of us though.
The tour lasted about an hour and a half, and sadly, our tour guide really did seem to be pushing us along at a pace we weren’t entirely comfortable with. Seeing something so spectacular like that, you can’t help but stop dead in your tracks and ignore the person who’s telling you to keep it moving.
Aside from that, our Antelope Canyon tour was undoubtedly my favorite activity of the whole trip. Probably because it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. And I wasn’t expecting any of it. I had barely scratched the surface of what the canyon was about when I stumbled upon it on the Page tourism website before the trip. So much of what I experienced during the tour felt like a total surprise. Sure, one could say the same about the Grand Canyon. But I feel like I grew up knowing about the Grand Canyon. I knew what to expect when visiting it. Antelope Canyon was really more of a true discovery. It was the perfect way to cap off our vacation before driving back to Scottsdale and flying home to St. Louis.
Of course, we were greeted ever-so-happily by The Bear when we arrived at my parents’ house to take him home. He even curled up into Mikey’s arm the whole way back to our house. What a sweetheart.