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The world is full of natural wonders that leave an indelible memory. This is the case for Antelope Canyon, a jewel located near Lake Powell in Arizona, USA. This magical place, which means place where water flows through rocks in Navajo language, is probably the most photographed gorge on the planet.
All those who have had the chance to admire it speak of a singular moment of unreal beauty whose shades of orange, ochre and red are revealed in contact with the light. So, how to get there, how to visit it and what is the best period? In this article, I tell you more about this exceptional destination.
About the Park
Unique places often have amazing stories. And when it comes to Antelope Canyon, it’s not legend, but fact. In 1931, a young girl from the Navajo Indian tribe searches in vain for a lost sheep. When she finds it, she does not know yet that she has just made a major discovery. The slot canyon has been carved out of the sandstone for hundreds of years by the water of the Arroyo River and the wind. Two very narrow gorges can be visited, the Upper Antelope at 1200 meters of altitude and the Lower Antelope. I have only one advice to give you, do not forget to recharge your cell phone or camera batteries and open your eyes wide, the trip is simply fantastic.
How to get there?
The Antelope Canyon sites are located opposite each other near the town of Page. I recommend that you follow the routes described below if you are coming from the City of Angels or the City of Sin.
From Los Angeles
For the bus, it takes 4 hours and a half to get to Las Vegas and then 5 hours to get to Page. The last part of the journey is by cab. By car, it takes more than 9 hours to drive 884 kilometers. From Los Angeles, the road takes you through the south of Mount San Antonio before reaching Las Vegas. The rest of the route is detailed in the following lines. There are daily flights from Long Beach to Page in 4.5 hours with a stop in Phoenix.
From Las Vegas
If you are staying in Las Vegas, the local bus picks you up at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. 5 hours later, you will be in Page. Then you have to take a cab for 20 minutes. If you have a car, the trip will be shorter. It takes about 4 1/2 hours via I-15 N and US 89 S. You will pass through Moapa Valley, Bunkerville, St. George, Colorado City, Kanab, Big Water and finally Antelope Canyon.
Entrance fee and reservation
You must first pay $8 to enter the reserve, children under 8 years old are free. For the canyon itself, the price is certainly high, but I assure you that you will get your money’s worth.
You should plan on a budget between $50 and $120. The highest price is for the most spectacular moment when the light comes to illuminate the rock. Children between the ages of 4 and 12 pay about $30. Because of the high number of tourists, I can only advise you to reserve a time slot for your visit.
Time to visit
For Upper Antelope Canyon, the tour begins by 4X4 on a 7 kilometer sandy trail. You arrive at the entrance of the canyon and cross it on foot. On a length of approximately 200 meters and 2 to 3 meters wide, the rock takes on the appearance of a gothic cathedral.
As for Lower Antelope Canyon, it is less touristic, but not less spectacular. From the entrance, visitors are invited to walk in small groups. The 400-meter long rift has several sections with differences in level. To see the crack, you have to take metal stairs. The tour is accompanied by a Navajo guide, a native tribe that owns the reservation.
Once you have visited the Antelope Canyon, I recommend you to go for another 45 minutes round trip hike without any difficulty and free. Horseshoe Bend is a meander of the Colorado River, whose physical characteristic is that it looks like a horseshoe (hence its name). From the hill on the other side, the view is extraordinary, the emerald green water of the river bringing even more depth to the ochre cliffs.
The reservation where the Rainbow Bridge is located is a tribal park of the Navajo people. It is a place worthy of the greatest westerns and is home to the largest natural bridge in the world. Measuring 84 meters long and 90 meters high, it was carved out of the riverbed. Located on the left bank of Lake Powell, it can only be reached by boat or by a 2-day hike.
Hanging Garden Trail
An easy hike that starts from the parking lot, it takes between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes to cover the 2 kilometers round trip. I have the feeling that it is necessary here to take your time to admire all the landscapes and the panoramas on the Lake Powell.
Where to stay in Antelope Canyon?
I imagine that you want to experience the Navajo way of life. In that case, the best option is to book a tent in a Native American camp near town. Sleeping in an unspoiled natural setting allows you to watch the sun set and rise. In the evening, you will have the opportunity to share your journey with other campers around the fire. The facilities are basic with an outdoor shower, but there is no doubt that you will have a great adventure. Almost all accommodations are located in Page. From luxury hotels to mid-range hotels, you will also find accommodation solutions for small budgets such as bed and breakfasts or motels.
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Weather and Climate: When to visit Antelope Canyon?
The best months are between April and September. To get the most out of the show, it is best to choose the period between 11 am and 2 pm. When the sun is at its zenith, vertical in the sky, it lights up the interior of the canyon. In any case, the beauty of this place is such that you can plan a visit at any time. There are obviously fewer people in the morning and late afternoon. At this time of year, Arizona’s temperatures range from 32 to 48 degrees, so it’s very warm and dry. The months of November through February are colder with an average of 4 to 24 degrees.
What to do around Antelope Canyon?
I recommend you enjoy a relaxing time on a boat on Lake Powell. Wahweap Marina is located 5 miles from the center of the town of Page and offers trips on the lake. The cruise offers a closer look at the rock formations as the boat weaves through the very narrow defiles. The shortest cruise lasts about 1 hour 30 minutes. For the budget, count on $30 to $115 for a scenic cruise with an excursion to the Rainbow Bridge.
To immerse yourself in the Navajo world and culture, a visit to the Village Center Heritage is a must. With dance demonstrations, educational programs, and a recreated village to tell you about the customs of this fascinating Indian people.
I think that this trip in the mythical west is absolutely exceptional, the faults of Antelope Canyon are of a striking beauty which will not leave you indifferent.