We spent June 27th, day six of our family vacation to Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, exploring several attractions in the vicinity of Page, Arizona, one of which was Lower Antelope Canyon. It was the only day our family split up, and while Bill, Daniel, Jess, and I drove the 154 miles to Arizona, Jospeh and Julie stayed closer to our Airbnb in Washington, Utah where they enjoyed some local hiking.
Our first stop of the day was taking in the breathtakingly beautiful Horseshoe Bend. From there we drove the short distance to Lower Antelope Canyon, beautiful slot canyons located in Navajo Nation. Hasdeztwazi, the Navajo name for Lower Antelope Canyon, means spiral rock arches.
How Were Slot Canyons Formed?
Slot canyons have been in the making for millions of years as rain water from flash floods rushes across barren rock finding its way into the tiniest of cracks. As the water etches away at the rock surface, the space cut into those surfaces grows with each subsequent torrential downpour. Eventually, deep and often narrow canyons are formed, the result of millions of years of repeated storms.
These amazing canyons are never finished, and are always in the process of being enlarged due to the erosion caused by angry rain storms. As a result, flash flooding still occurs within the canyons and they should not be visited when there’s a chance of rain.
Finding Lower Antelope Canyon
It’s approximately a 10-minute drive from Page to Lower Antelope Canyon. From Page, take Coppermine Road south to Highway 98 East. Turn left onto Highway 98 and drive east approximately 3.5 miles. Turn left onto Indian Route 222 (Antelope Point Marina Road) and follow it for approximately a mile and then make a sharp left onto the gravel road that leads to Ken’s Tours.
About Ken’s Tours
Because Lower Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Nation, touring the canyon alone is prohibited. Tours run every 30 minutes and last approximately an hour – it took us 1:35:00 so don’t plan anything immediately afterward assuming you’ll wrap up your tour in an hour. Admission is roughly $50 per adult – general fee of $40, $8 Navajo Park permit, and a 6% Navajo sales tax.
Meeting Our Tour Guide
Once we arrived at the tour office, we checked in and browsed through the gift shop while waiting until it was time for our tour to begin. Once the previous group of tourists returned, we were called outside.
We were in a group of about eight people with Justin as our tour guide. I was surprised that our group was one of about ten to start the tour at the same time. As soon as Justin gathered us around, he gave us each a lens cloth to clean the lenses of our cameras/phones. He also gave us a few tips on improving the quality of our photos in the canyons which I thought was a really nice touch.
After a few more briefings by the guides we started our short hike along a sandy and rocky trail through the desert to the entrance to the slot canyons. It was 93° and with the hot desert sun beating down it felt much warmer, but not unbearable.
Our 1-mile hike took us in a northerly arch around the canyons and to a long covered waiting area which can be seen on the left on the satellite map below. Once in the canyon, my GoPro (affiliate link) had trouble picking up a GPS signal so a straight line is shown. We returned to where we started, but I failed to turn off my watch until we got to the parking lot.
We ended up staying in the shaded holding area for at least twenty minutes while we waited for the groups in front of us (we were group seven) to make their way into the canyon.
Getting Into the Canyon
Getting into the slot canyon required climbing down multiple sets of extremely steep stairs – some so steep that many people chose to turn around and climb down backwards like descending a ladder, myself included. And yes, that little boy rode down the stairs on his dad’s shoulders. It was a scary sight to see!
Famous or Familiar Faces
The longer than expected wait and scary descent into Lower Antelope Canyon was well worth the wait and the fright. Once inside, we were treated to sights far more beautiful than I expected. As we walked across the sand covered floor maneuvering our bodies through tight crevices and ducking to avoid hitting low hanging rocks, Justin pointed out familiar looking faces carved into the canyon walls.
The Lion King…
Gru from Minions…
Women in the Wind…
Seahorse… This one is tricky because the seahorse is not carved into the canyon wall, it’s formed by the opening to the sky and it’s blue!
Sights Along the Tour
I shot pictures with my iPhone, but Bill used his fancier camera and I often turned to see him shooting upwards, catching the beautiful light reflecting off the red, orange, and brown canyon walls. All the pictures in this post were shot by me.
This picture with other tourists helps show the magnitude of the canyon size and how crowded it was as we made our way through.
Of course, we needed to stop for a family picture with the Lion King in the background!
I’m sure Bill captured a far better picture of the light streaming in than this one I attempted.
A few times we had to use steps or ladders for moving from one level to another. Justin told us that prior to the steps being added, touring Lower Antelope Canyon was not for the faint of heart and canyoneering skills were a must.
Bill and I paused for a picture in a little round room in the canyon.
More often than not, we had to pause to let a tour group in front of us move on – kind of like traffic: hurry up, slow down. Here, tourist behind us are waiting for our group to move forward and I suspect that more than once, their wait was caused Bill trying to snap the perfect picture.
I thought this was one of the most beautiful sections of our tour through the slot canyons.
Scree can be found in slot canyons, too.
Another very pretty section…
As we made our way out of the canyon we had more stairs to climb, but there weren’t as many nor were they as steep as at the entrance.
Back out in the blazing sun, we asked Justin for a group picture
A More Famous Picture of Lower Antelope Canyon
Does Lower Antelope Canyon look familiar? It just might if you used Microsoft’s Natural Wonders screensaver Sandstone Waves for your desktop background/wallpaper back in the Windows 10, 8.1, or 7 days!
Final Thoughts on Lower Antelope Canyon
Even though it was a long drive from our Airbnb in Washington, Utah to Lower Antelope Canyon, I am so glad that we made the effort. We had a delightful time on the relatively easy hike. If you’re not claustrophobic and are in the area, I would definitely recommend taking the time to check out Lower Antelope Canyon.
- • Have you visited Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon, or any other slot canyons?
- • Were you able to see the faces I pointed out in the pictures?
- • Are you claustrophobic?