Arizona is home to the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, crazy desert wildlife, and very hot summers.
Images of Antelope Canyon have been seen in many movies and travel photos. This photogenic natural place is very popular among travelers’ collections of Arizona photography. Let us show you why.
There’s a good chance you’ll find a gorgeous picture resembling this one available as one of the wallpaper options on your laptop or smartphone. It’s the beautiful Antelope Canyon! If you couldn’t before, by the end of this article, you’ll be able to impress your friends with all kinds of Antelope Canyon knowledge! We can’t promise you won’t be planning a getaway to see this wonder in person after learning about how truly amazing it is!
Double awesome! People sometimes call Upper Antelope Canyon “The Crack.” The Navajo people have their very own name for the upper canyon: “sé bighánílíní.” That’s a mouthful, but it simply translates to “the place where water runs through rocks.” The other half of the duo is simply Antelope Canyon, or “The Corkscrew.” The Navajo name for this one is “Hasdestwazi,” meaning spiral rock arches.
Why you might ask? Well, there are two important reasons! First off, the upper canyon is much easier to access. The whole thing is at ground level, so thankfully, you won’t have to do any climbing to check it out. The second reason people often visit the Upper Antelope Canyon is that the lighting is much better. Images of Antelope Canyon are best in brighter lighting. More often here than in the lower canyon, beams of sunshine stream down from the top of the canyon and illuminate the walls. The best lighting comes in the summer when the sun is high in the sky. In the winter, the sun isn’t at a high enough angle to light up the different hues of the canyon in the same way.
Back in the day, even though the lower canyon is shallower than the upper canyon, a visit to the lower canyon meant you would be climbing along with ladders! These days, sturdy, metal steps have been installed, and ensure that you won’t have to work too hard. If you’re a little more adventurous, head here prepared for long, narrow pathways, sometimes with uneven footing, and several flights of stairs at the end! Photographers make the trek here more than casual sightseers, so you know it’s worth the effort! Plan your excursion during the morning for the best light.
You might not expect it, but photography here can be rather challenging. That’s because of the wide exposure range. Images of Antelope Canyon can be hard to come by. For those of us who aren’t professional photographers, what that boils down to is that the beautiful sunlight that reflects all around the walls of the canyon, lighting it up and bringing out the different hues, also makes it very difficult to capture on camera. In fact, photographers have been coming here to photograph the canyon for so long that it is commonly known that light beams in the Upper Canyon make their first appearance on March 20th, and disappear again on October 7th each year! How cool is that?
The simplest answer is water. Antelope Canyon is made up of Navajo Sandstone, which erodes during flash floods. During monsoon season, water can rush through the canyon, picking up not only speed but also sand particles as it travels. Each time this happens, the canyon becomes deeper and wider. These waters also smooth out the rough edges of the canyon, which gives the rocks their “glowing” appearance.
A day here will surely leave you in awe, but, it’s important to always put safety first. The canyons are ever-changing, and flash floods are always a concern. In the past, the canyon has been shut down for months after damaging floods. Even if it isn’t raining in the immediate vicinity, waters from miles away can build up and rush down the canyon unexpectedly. In 1997, before safety improvements were made, eleven tourists were tragically killed when they were taken by surprise during a flash flood. These days, safety ladders, nets, and an early warning system ensure that you can visit the canyon safely!
Antelope Canyon lies on Navajo Nation land, so you’re required to pay an entrance fee. People are generally required to go on a tour to experience this beautiful place. An authorized tour guide will make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience. Don’t worry, because there are tons of options for what time of day you’d like to visit the canyon, and how long you’d like to spend there. Be sure to make your reservations well in advance, though, because there are passenger limits, and Antelope Canyon is a very popular destination!