It is hard to believe that the picture above was captured by my iPhone.
It’s very rare to find a spot in nature where the real thing is just as beautiful as the National Geographic picture. Antelope Canyon is indescribably rewarding. One of the world’s most famous slot canyons, this natural wonder smoothed out by centuries of floods arches above your head in twists and spirals. The walls are lit with fiery colors as sunlight streams through cracks above. It’s a spectacular sight to behold, to say the least. The mysterious nooks and crannies are alternately filled with light and shadow as every second passes by. No picture of Antelope Canyon will ever be the same, as the lighting in the canyon changes in accordance to the sun’s position in the sky.
Though the Upper Canyon was packed with tourists, fanny packs, and tripods, I still tapped into a quiet reverence for these sacred grounds in between hurried family pictures and military-like procedures to allow everyone a chance at capturing sand thrown at a light beam. Our friendly, sharp tour guide Felicia, courtesy of Navajo Tours, was quick and efficient at pointing out billion-dollar photo spots and explaining how exactly these majestic formations came to be. She advised us to take as many photos as possible on the way in through the canyon and take in the beauty with our eyes on the way out. That’s good advice—it’s all too easy to be swept away in photo frenzy, and not record the one-way quarter-mile unforgettable walk in your brain’s memory drive.
Antelope Canyon was certainly the highlight of my trip to Arizona, but there are other equally awe-inspiring attractions as well. Before we visited Antelope Canyon, we hiked the .75-mile path off the main road to Horseshoe Bend, the Colorado River meander in the shape of its namesake through the Glen Canyon. It’s a 1,000-foot plummet over the edge of the cliff, and there are no handrails provided. A reminder: that Instagram post is not worth your life.
The view, though, is still breathtaking a couple feet away from the steep drop. Unintelligible etches mark the sides and layers of the canyon. Streaks of dark blue, green, and even yellow appear as the river makes its way around the rock plateau. The heat is intense and the hike is tiring, but the sight is worth it.
After Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, we drove two hours to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Less packed and quieter than the South Rim, this dramatic cut in the Earth features just as beautiful vistas as its southern sister. Tip: take a jacket with you—the wind was so powerful that the echoing in the canyon sounded like crashing ocean waves.
In the morning, visit Horseshoe Bend.
Book an Antelope Canyon tour at noon for the best lighting. The Lower Canyon is a more strenuous walk than the Upper Canyon.
Tour Length: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Tour Price: $40 per adult, $25 per child (age 0-12)
There is an additional $8/person charge to enter the canyon.
Drive to the North Rim, which is conveniently on the way to Vegas if you choose to spend the rest of your vacation there. Plan to stop at different scenic detours and admire the sunset.