Wednesday, October 5, 2016

USA 2015 - Day 12 (Part1): Lower Antelope Canyon Tour

standing between wave-like walls of the Lower Antelope Canyon, carved by flows of water for centuries
On Day 12, we left Grand Canyon at Tusayan, Arizona and headed north to Page for another canyon tour. At the Grand Canyon we had the view of the natural landscape from the top looking down into the abyss and across the horizon. In Page, on the other hand, we had a different view and experience of another famous canyon, the Lower Antelope Canyon, this time from under the cracks of the earth our view was from the depths of the canyon looking up to the top of the canyon walls and into the sky. And before we made our way to Zion which was the final stop of the day, we visited the Horse Shoe Bend which was on the way.


Address: If you search using Google Maps it will show the location as Indian Route 222, Page, Arizona 86040 United States.

Getting there: Driving directions taken from Ken Tours leaflet - Approximately 6 miles east of Page, Arizona. Take Highway 98 toward Kaibeto. At the Upper Antelope Canyon turnout, turn left on Navajo Route N22B (Antelope Point Road) for about quarter of a mile. The entrance sign is on the left.

Our driving experienceBearing in mind the ordeal of one of the guests at the hotel whom we were waiting in line with at the reception during our check in the night before (they were stuck on the road for almost 3 hours along State Hway 89 from Page as the road was being cleared of snow), we hoped for a better weather as we made our way to Page on the same route. We even planned for an alternative route, just in case.

Hway 89 was a long stretch of barren highway. Right in front of us was endless road leading to a mountain range that we couldn't seem to reach. Our only prayer then was for a vehicle or two to keep us company on the road at all times. And we did have one or two at some point. At one time we were cruising at the same speed as the pick up truck just ahead of us. After a few minutes, we noticed a police car behind us. We checked the speedometer and realized we were driving at 85mph on a 55mph hway! So okay, we thought we were in trouble. My husband pulled over with caution on the side of the road but the police car drove past us and chased the pick up truck instead. We were out of the woods? Apparently, we were not because as we drove back into the hway we noticed another police vehicle, this time an SUV, and we were signaled to pull over.

We waited for the officers to walk to the car. They politely informed us that we were speeding and asked for license and registration. We cooperated and were given a paper indicating we had to show up at a courtroom somewhere in Page, Arizona at a specified date. Alternatively, we could call a designated number to settle our case (Read: PAY UP). After explaining to us the details and giving us our speeding violation citation, we were sent off with a warning to take caution as the road may be icy. Safety before anything else because according to them although there was no sign of snow, the road may still be icy from the night before.

We didn't really notice that we were driving that fast. I was actually telling my husband just before we were flagged that it looked like we were only running at 30mph. The landscape was so bare - no trees nor buildings to give us an inkling as to how fast we really were moving, the long stretch of road seemed to have no ending. The only consolation we had was knowing that at the end of this route we were going to be rewarded with picture perfect natural scenery. That's how it usually is when we have long road trips. The longer the trip, the more remote the area, the better the views as it is most likely to be untouched or is less visited by droves of tourists.

And so we continued our journey to the Lower Antelope Canyon, wary of the speed limit this time around. We grabbed some takeaway food to eat while waiting for our tour. Few miles to the place and we found ourselves driving into unpaved road all the way to an unpaved parking lot. That was our stop.

Tour Details: There were two options to explore the Antelope Canyons. Let me summarize the pros and cons of each based on my research:
  1. Lower Antelope Canyon - less crowded; short walk to the canyon entrance; begins at ground level then need to climb up and down ladders as you explore
  2. Upper Antelope Canyon - more famous of the two; jeep ride needed to take you to the entrance; quite crowded; short compared to Lower Antelope Canyon; completely level walk from start to end
With the above info we chose to go for the Lower Antelope Tour. We didn't want to compete with a big crowd. We wanted to take a sort of leisurely walk in the canyon and enjoy the view. So I booked online for a late morning tour so we wouldn't be in a rush to get there.

We booked our Lower Antelope Canyon with Ken Tours KEN TOURS. 
  • website:
  • email:
  • call: (928) 606-2168
  • cost: USD20 per adult, USD12 per child. Additional USD8 per person for Navajo Park Permit (this is separate from the National Parks and the annual pass cannot be used)
Photos and experiences to share: We arrived at Ken Tours office way ahead of time. Our tour was supposed to be at 11am but since we were early I asked if there were still slots left for an earlier tour. Luckily, they could still accommodate us for the 10:40am schedule before the rest of the tourists came through the doors and took the remaining slots. We still had time to eat our takeaway food while waiting for our group to be called.

We were all too excited to begin our tour. When our group was finally called we cleared our tables, had our last bite of our sandwiches and final gulp of water then followed the tour guide assigned to us. He belongs to the Navajo Tribe, as do the other guides at Ken Tours. He shared with us a brief history of the Lower Antelope Canyon as well as the importance of this and the visitors to the Navajo Parks.

Here were some of the photos taken during our tour, every step of the way:

Looking over the path to get to the entrance to the Lower Antelope Canyon. We were blessed with good weather as it was not too hot nor raining. It was also not the peak season so we did not have to wait for hours to get to the canyon entrance.

Closer to the entrance, the terrain changed from flat to spirally and we could see the cracks on the earth. One of these cracks was the entrance to Lower Antelope Canyon.

We were given final instructions and warnings before we made our descent. Although it was a good weather, we were informed that flash floods do happen and we had to be alert. There were several emergency exit points with escape rope ladders along the way inside the canyon and the rule is move as fast as you can when he yells for it.

To the right of the entrance was this gaping hole in the middle of nowhere, created by changing seasons and weathers, of Mother Nature's relentless forces of wind and water.
Our first glimpse of the Lower Antelope Canyon from the main entrance. From the top we could see how deep we were going to go down to. Not for the claustrophobic nor those afraid of heights.

These were the first set of steel ladders that brought us deeper into the earth. They were quite steep, nonetheless, safe to use. Since there were not many of us in the group, and there were only a few groups during that time, we didn't need to rush down. We took our time and took in every moment we stepped closer to the bottom of the canyon.

First leg done. On to the next one. We still had time to take photos while waiting for the people ahead of us to clear the steps.
 From the bottom looking up to where we came from and into the clear blue sky.

We reached the bottom of the canyon and began our journey inside the Lower Antelope Canyon. There were some tight spaces that we had to squeeze through, only good for one person or two.

This one was formed like a lion's head. One of the many more prominent shapes/figures sculpted into the sandstone by thousands of years of erosion.

Going up the steel ladders to reach another segment of the Lower Antelope Canyon. This one was actually quite steep but Ira didn't have any problems going up on it. It's like an obstacle course for him. We were probably 20 to 25 feet down in this area.

More spiral works of nature wowed us as we got ourselves up that ladder into the next segment of the canyon. How beautiful are these sandstone carvings created over thousands of years by wind and water? 

Another spot to take family photos. Big area enough to accommodate us and we even had natural light as our spotlight!

  A quick shot before we walked through the bends and curvatures of the sandstone walls.

This photo has a funny story to it. Our guide showed us a photo on his phone of flowing sand from the canyon walls. It was mesmerizing. We imagined it would come from way up the top of the canyon walls flowing down to the canyon floor. Then showed us where it was and how it worked. The sand flow actually came from the curve from the sandstone shown above. He poured some sand behind and it flowed down like a waterfall. It's not as magical as seen on his phone though. Below was our experience in creating our own sand flow.

Moving on....

We continued our walk and here were some of the photos we've taken squeezed in between sandstone walls or posing with a backdrop of wave-like sandstone structures.

 Another tight squeeze as continued our tour of the canyon.

We were really lucky that we went on a non-peak period. We can often stop and take photos with no other people in the background. 
An arch formed from thousands of years of water flowing inside the canyons.

Like being cradled by this cove of a sandstone.

wondering how far down they were 
and how far up should they climb just in case there was a flash flood

feeling the curvatures of this part of the canyon

A closer look into the shapes, structures and carvings of sandstone walls and the varying light intensities at different segments of the canyon....
Our guide leading the way into the swirly sandstone canyon walls

I could imagine the flow of water through these canyons during a flash flood. It's amazingly brilliant how these swirling structures were formed and yet it's also saddening to know that the same force of nature that created these can also cause danger to the people who are visiting the canyons.

take a peek at the peak of these sandstone walls

a nice lounging area

One of the bigger areas in the canyon which also has these holes carved out of sandstone.

one of the areas with colorful play of lights and shadows

This photo took some climbing, jumping and sliding on our part as the area we were standing on was naturally carved from a bigger slab of sandstone.

 goes to show that from time to time the sandstone get eroded and fall down to the canyon floor

look at what we found...
dried bush which can be used to sweep off sand

an hour into the canyon was almost up,
here we were getting ready to get back to the top

we walked as slowly as we could, not wanting to leave the place just yet

but there it was, looming just a few feet away, the exit for Lower Antelope Canyon

As we popped our heads out into the ground, we wanted to walk a few steps back
and explore the canyon once more. Sadly, the rest of the other groups were walking just behind us and making their way out, too.

Satisfied, happy Lower Antelope Canyon explorers. We would do it again, maybe in another season, to see what difference it makes to the lights and shadows and colors down there.

I highly recommend a visit to the Lower Antelope Canyon. It's a different activity for the family. It's like caving but with natural light beaming down on your all throughout your journey.

First part of Day 12 was done just before midday. Now off to Horse Shoe Bend just a few miles away.

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