From Day Hikes and Parks to Antelope Canyon
After a long day hiking Zion, National Park and Bryce Canyon. We decided to spend the night in Utah, to then head into Arizona to cross off two more major highlights from the list: Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. This post isn’t about the former; however, you can check out photos of Horseshoe Bend here.
Turning Desire into Reality
Now that you’re back, let’s chat about Antelope Canyon. I still can’t believe that we went to one of the most unique and photogenic places in the world. It’s magical when you continually see photos of a beautiful place your social media feed. Have it generate so much desire for you to be there. Then months later you are standing right at that very spot.
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon (a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock) located in Page Arizona. The canyon is absolutely beautiful, it is definitely one of these must-visit spots on earth. Now HALT! I absolutely hated the entire experience! Here’s why and what you should know in order to avoid a bad experience:
Reality: If you’re coming from Horseshoe Bend like I did and enjoyed how accessible and Free it was to the public. Then, don’t expect to just waltz right in here. Antelope Canyon is in Navajo territory. Private land, so you can’t just find somewhere to park and head out to the canyon. It is not free. You need a Navajo tour guide to walk through the Upper or Lower part of the Canyon. In fact, there are only two tour guide companies which handle thousands of tourists each day. Furthermore, tours are arranged in time slots, that fill up quickly. Thereby, booking online or over the phone seems like the smart process. However, booking in advance is a bit pointless. Especially if you’re exploring other sites with your own car. More than likely you won’t arrive on time.
Expectation: You can capture amazing photographs like you see on social media!
Reality: Understand beforehand, that it’s a bit dark in there, occasionally you will run into a spot where the sun strikes through an opening, but there’s no enough light to capture a good handheld shot. So, you can’t just point your camera in any direction and expect to get a great photo, without the right setting you won’t get that orange glow of the rocks. Using Flash will also render the photo flat and void of any of the glowing orange colors of the rocks.
Expectation: You have ample time to explore and stage photos.
Reality: You don’t! One thing you might not know especially looking at pictures of Antelope Canyon is that it’s extremely crowded and hot down there especially during the peak time of the year. Don’t let strategically cropped photos of others fool you. You will be lucky to get three photos without a dozen other people in your shot. It’s also very difficult to capture a good photo while having a tour guides yell at you to hurry up. They’re not trying to be rude but need to make way for the next group pushing through directly behind you and the ones returning head on. Imagine the chaotic scene through these tiny tunnels. This leads into:
Two Tour Packages
There are two packages that you can get one of them is just the Standard guide through the canyon and the other is the Photo tour. We took the standard tour and regretted it because we felt rushed which made the experience miserable.
Standard Guide: Will consist of you, a group of 12 people with a guide who will quickly take you through the canyon, he/she will explain to you the ideal camera settings that you need for your phones and DLSR to capture the colors of the canyons. They have it down to a science. You will quickly, emphasis on the word ‘quickly’ run through the canyon the guide using a laser pointer to aim at key formations and points of interest to fire your camera at. They will volunteer to take the photo of you or for you, in order to speed up the process.
Photo tour Guide: is a more relaxed paced walk than the standard guide through the canyon. You are even allowed to bring a tripod to capture stabilized shots. Tripod are not allowed on the standard tour. So, you might have to spend a little bit more money to get the photo package. Worth every penny. 90% of the photos we took in the Standard tour were bad. Either there were too many people walking into the shot. Or the fact that they were high ISO /low aperture/ hand-held meant that they were fuzzy. So, if you don’t get the photo package I promise you you’re going to have a bad time. You aren’t going to get any of the photos you want, you’re going to be rushed. And you’re really going to regret even going out there especially given the fact that this is a long trip to take to an isolated area.
Expectation: Beautiful Sunbeams piecing through the canyon!
Reality: The sun has to be directly overhead to see any rays in the canyon, and this happens between 11-1pm. If you can book these times in advance then lucky you. Secondly, the beams only appear on camera by the guides taking a little shovel and sending dust into the sun spot. This is what creates the beautiful sunbeams effect that you see in photos. With that said, if you have a DSLR like I did, then don’t even think of changing lens in the canyon. With every guide holding a shovel, there’s dust flying everywhere. A solid wide angle zoom lens should be sufficient for all shots. The iPhone and Samsung phones were all capturing amazing shots.
The Ride to the Canyon Entrance
A few decent shots from our Standard Tour
A 15min ride back to the ticket both site