More About Antelope Canyon, Arizona

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Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Navajo Nation, Coconino County, near Lechee, Arizo Floor elevation 3,704 ft (1,129 m)
Length Upper Antelope Canyon: about 660 feet (200 m)
Lower Antelope Canyon: about 1,335 feet (407 m)
Depth about 120 feet (37 m)
Type Sandstone slot canyon
Age 8-60 million years

Navajo Upper Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the American Southwest, on Navajo land east of Lechee, Arizona. It includes five separate, scenic slot canyon sections on the Navajo Reservation, referred to as Upper Antelope Canyon (or The Crack), Rattle Snake Canyon, Owl Canyon, Mountain Sheep Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon (or The Corkscrew).

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means 'the place where water runs through the (Slot Canyon) rocks'. Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazí (called "Hasdestwazi" by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department), or 'spiral rock arches'. Both are in the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation. They are accessible by “Navajo” guided tour only. Navajo Tours Companies include; “Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours and Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours”. Both operating on the Navajo Reservation.

Lower Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon was formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone due to flash flooding and other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways eroded away, deepening the corridors and smoothing hard edges to form characteristic "flowing" shapes.

Tourism and Sightseers
Antelope Canyon is a popular location for sightseers, and a source of tourism business for the Navajo Nation. It has been accessible by tour since 1983 by Pearl Begay Family and 1997, when the Navajo Tribe made it a Navajo Tribal Park. Besides the Upper and Lower areas, there are other slots in the canyon that can be visited, such as the Rattle Snake Canyon, Owl Canyon, Mountain Sheep Canyon which is also part of the same drainage as Antelope Canyon. All visits are through two of licensed tour operators; Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours and Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours. It is not possible to visit the Canyon independently so be sure to book ahead of time. Antelope Canyon Hogan Bed and Breakfast is the closes' location to stay and recommended for a “Wellness Destination”

Photography within the canyons is difficult due to the wide exposure range (often 10 EV or more) made by light reflecting off the canyon walls. For several years, there was a specialized "photographer tour" of the Upper Antelope Canyon, where participants needed to have a tripod and camera. These were discontinued at the end of 2019 to improve the experience for the smaller number of people on the general tours.

Navajo Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon is called Tsé bighánílíní, 'the place where water runs through rocks' by the Navajo People in that specific area. It is the most frequently visited by tourists because its entrance and entire length are at ground level, requiring no climbing; and because beams of direct sunlight radiating down from openings at the top of the canyon are much more common. Beams occur most often in summer, as they require the sun to be high in the sky. Winter colors are more exposed and recommended because it’s not as busy. Light beams start to peek into the canyon March 20 and disappear by October 7

Lower Antelope Canyon, called Hazdistazí, or 'spiral rock arches' by the Navajo, is located several miles from Upper Antelope Canyon. Prior to the installation of metal stairways, visiting the canyon required climbing pre-installed ladders in certain areas.

Even following the installation of stairways, it is a more difficult hike than Upper Antelope. It is longer, narrower in places, and even footing is not available in all areas. Five flights of stairs of varying widths are currently available to aid in descent and ascent. At the end, the climb out requires flights of stairs. Additionally, sand continually falls from the crack above and can make the stairs slippery.

Despite these limitations, Lower Antelope Canyon draws a considerable number of photographers, though casual sightseers are much less common than in the Upper canyon. Photography-only tours are available around midday when light is at its peak. Photographers cannot bring a tripod.

The lower canyon is in the shape of a "V" and shallower than the Upper Antelope. Lighting is better in the early hours and late morning.

Date & Time

November 12, 2022

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