Antelope Canyon, one of the Mother Nature's greatest natural phenomenon, is located in the heart of the Navajo land near Page, Arizona. The awe-inspiring mystic beauty of these Canyons can leave visitors with the impression of a vast and serene art gallery with surprising masterpieces of colors set in stone.
Being a slot canyon it has exceptionally narrow passages, much deeper than they are wide and it is up to 150 feet tall. It is cut into the earth and has been formed over thousands of years by water rushing through the rock, primarily due to flash flooding that still occurs here. This makes it an artwork still in progress, exposing more exquisitely shaped and curved sandstone formations constantly over time. Wind too has played a part in eroding and sanding this majestic canyon making the corridors deep and smooth to form the swirling shapes.
Antelope Canyon is split into two sections. The Upper Antelope Canyon is called "Tse' bighanilini" by the Navajo people which means "the place where water runs through rocks". The Lower Antelope Canyon is known as "Hasdestwazi" or "spiral rock arches". These canyons are only accessible with a permit, and is a source of tourism trade for the Navajo on whose homeland it stands.
The shafts of light burst through the roof of the slot canyon onto the curved sandstone walls allowing sunlight to bounce off it, constantly changing patterns and shadows and illuminating its rich colors, bringing to life its hidden beauty. Beams occur most often in the summer months, as they require the sun to be high in the sky and the angle of its rays to be just right. The summer months themselves offer two different types of lighting, according to the time at which they are witnessed. The phenomenon does not happen so often in the winter, and during the winter season, the colors are slightly more muted, though no less magnificent.
Finally to summarize this experience - these immense canyons can undoubtedly envelop you in their swirling beauty and leave you with a tranquility that will entice you to come back for its transformative experience. These visual delights fit easily into the domain of art. They seem to be the idea of an immense painter, working with light and rock instead of with oils and each rock surface is a canvas for nature's own compositions.
The Upper Canyon is the more frequently visited as its entrance and entire length is at ground level and is a relatively easy walk. Some sections of the Upper canyons are wide and bright, while others are narrower and more cave-like, with no light reaching the sandy floor.
The “V” shaped Lower Canyon is longer, deeper and narrower with more swirly rock formations than the Upper Antelope Canyon. It requires more flexibility to transverse some of the tight canyon walls and must be climbed using several flights of metal stairways making it more challenging. Sightseers here can stretch out their arms and touch both sides in some places. Despite these limitations, the Lower Canyon draws a considerable number of photographers due to its towering carved translucent sandstone walls softened by reflected sunlight and punctuated by isolated sunbeams. It’s cathedral like atmosphere enlightened by nature, invokes a sense of the harmony and spirituality attributed to these canyons by generations of Navajos.
Antelope Canyon really is a photographer's dream for amateur and professional photographers alike. It also presents difficult challenges due to the way the light enters the area, the large differences in light levels, and the wide exposure range caused by light reflecting off the steep canyon walls.