Northern Arizona contains the beautiful, highly-visited Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. The natural phenomenons are something I thought the painted-like canyons were overly edited in photos. But after seeing both places, I am happy to report that I was wrong. The beauty of these canyons are best enjoyed in person because it’s so raw and real.
The start of this summer, my friend, Victoria, and I ventured off to Page to see these phenomenons located in Najavo Nation. In this post, I broke up Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon (upper and lower), and even touch base on Lake Powell.
While the trip was originally suppose to have an overnight stay, we unfortunately had issues with our hotel and decided to drive back the same day. If you live in the Phoenix area, it is completely possible to drive up at 4:00am and then leave Page after sunset. The day was pretty long, especially since we only had two hours of sleep, but both sights are 100% worth witnessing at least once in your lifetime.
Before I go into the tips and several photos, I also want to note we planned on visiting Lake Powell but were only able to grab some photos in the distance. The lake has a $25 entrance fee and since our trip was cut short, we decided to save the lake visit for another day. Here are a few photos the clear turquoise waters.
The Upper Canyon
To book the Upper Antelope Canyon, you should look into doing so at least five months in advance. Summer is a prime time to see the canyon, and weekends sell out far before the summer begins. You can only see the canyon if you book a tour because it’s within Navajo Nation.
The Upper Antelope Canyon is $48 per person, compared to the $25 of Lower Antelope Canyon. Photography tours are over $100 and get you two hours.
The best time to see this canyon is around noon or when the sun is the highest. This is one of the most sought-after tour times, so if you reaaaally want this one then you will need to plan. Some photographers go to the Upper Canyon specifically for beams of light. I didn’t see the beams of light in the Lower Canyon but was still blown away.
The Lower Canyon
To book the Lower Antelope Canyon, you need to make a reservation online as late as the same week. If you’re hoping for a specific tour time, I would recommend booking farther out in advance.
While some tours take credit cards for the $25 tour price, Navajo Nation’s permit fees are cash only, so bring $8 per person. To stay on the safe side, bring enough cash for the tour price as well. The total cost will be $33 per person.
Despite that the tours have a tendency to run late, you will still want to arrive 20-30 minutes before your booked time. During peak hours, I read delays can run as long as 1-3 hours behind. Luckily for Victoria and I, our tour was booked to start at 10:20am and we only had to wait 30 minutes.
The lack of proper hydration is the most common cause for delays. We later found out that our tour group was delayed because some visitors passed out from the heat. As a reminder for outdoor activities, always bring water and hydrate in advance. I brought a Camelback because I wasn’t sure what to expect. Since I typically stay overly-hydrated, I ended up not needing water during the tour, but I felt at peace knowing it was available.
Although the tour guide said the best time to see the Lower Antelope Canyon is in the morning between 8:00-9:00am, the canyon was still beautiful during our tour start time of 10:50am. Before we climbed down the ladder, I could see the the sun softly illuminating canyon. The iconic shades of red and orange were even more vibrant in person.
Once in the Lower Canyon, the distance is roughly a mile and takes about an hour to walk through. You will want to wear closed-toed shoes because of the metal staircase and deep sand.
- I saw people wearing a variety of clothes: activewear, dresses and casual clothes. If you do wear a dress, I strongly recommend wearing fitted shorts underneath because there are multiple ladders.
- Bring at least 2 liters of water.
- Hydrate generously the day before and the day of.
- Due to extreme weather of a monsoon or severe heat, the tour will be cancelled.
- Bring a snack to eat before or after the tour, preferably one that won’t melt. Do not eat during the tour.
What makes Horseshoe Bend unique is it’s an area where the Colorado River bends in the shape of a horseshoe. The beautiful sight can be seen from the top of the 1,000-foot drop. Horseshoe Bend is open to the public and requires no reservations.
We specifically coordinated Horseshoe Bend towards sunset because it is one of the peak times to shoot. Some prefer sunrise but I was quite happy with our time there. I have seen photos of people visit the Bend in the afternoon and I have to say it looks harsh.
Getting the the lookout is relatively easy. Parking is free, but if it is full (which it most likely is), then you can park off to the side of the road. After you park, you will walk about 0.7 miles or so down to the edge of the cliff. Round trip, the trail is 1.5 miles.
When you’re walking around the edge, it’s important to closely pay attention because there are several small openings that lead to a high drop. We went out towards the edge but not the very tip. It was fun to explore the surrounding area and appreciate the different landscaping.
- Wear closed-toe shoes since there is deep sand and a lot of rocks.
- Again, bring water.
- Don’t die trying to get a photo… I saw a girl jump across a cliff to another cliff.
- If you plan on being at the Canyon for a while, take a snack. We were there for about an hour and a half.
- Be aware of the edge of the cliff. Certain areas could have a drop in between.
- Be courteous of others who also are there to get photos.
I’m grateful I could see this, and highly recommend everyone should see both places at least once in their lifetime. Please feel free to DM your questions to me at @HappilyPinkBlog. Happy Adventuring!