Monday, December 19, 2011

December Trip West - Day 6 - Antelope Canyon

It's day 6 of the December Trip West and I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do.  There were a few options that would be nice to do if there were some clouds and a few where it was best done on a clear day.  Since the forecast for tomorrow is for rain/snow and it's sunny and clear today I opted for Antelope Canyon.

I'd been to both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon before and just finished an exhibit of some of my Antelope Canyon images in downtown Minneapolis but I was looking forward to returning.  Both canyons are so awe inspiring it's hard to come to the area now and not stop for a few hours.

The car actually picked which one I'd visit first and that was lower.  Seems like I always do lower first partly because upper tends to be less crowded in the afternoon, not that crowding is a problem this time of year cause it isn't.  I'd read that the 4 hr photo pass at lower had been reduced to 2 hrs for the same $26.  But the shocker was each additional hr is another $20.  The guy at the booth said that it's just gotten to popular and since upper was twice the cost as lower everyone flocked to lower. He also said next year they were going to raise the cost at upper for photographers from $40 to $80 for the 2 hr photo pass. WOW

I could literally spend all day in lower.  I really like to take my time and sense a feeling for the place and photograph what comes naturally.  On the one hand I envy those that discovered Antelope Canyons before they were known to the public when they could spend all the time they wanted photographing, although traversing thru lower was no easy trip.  There are many drop offs that required ropes and climbing skills.  On the other hand, today you have to pay for limited time but there are ladders that make the canyon accessible.  As I expected the time went quickly but I'd paced myself to finish on time.

From lower I went directly across the street to upper.  Unlike lower which you can drive to, upper is a few miles up Antelope Creek and you must be taken there.  As luck would have it as soon as I pulled in there was a truck ready to head up.  I had tried to make arrangements to spend some extra time shooting in upper, beyond the 2 hrs, and was given an extra hr.  The lady owner said she would hang around an extra hour so I could say longer.  That was really nice of her.

A few vehicles were parked outside upper when we arrived.  There are 6 tour companies escorting tourists to and thru upper.  My "tour" was to be unescorted so I could photograph at my own pace.  Upper differs from lower in that upper is 'wide' at the bottom and narrow at the top, it is the reverse at lower, so upper tends to be darker.  I really like the darkness and if you see my Antelope Canyon "Grains of Sand" images you'll understand why.

As my 'guide' passed by with the other tour couple I asked if I could play Carlos Nakai on my iPhone.  He didn't know who Carlos Nakai was so I started playing his Native American flute music.  The guide said I should do what I wanted so for the rest of the time the canyon was filled with flute music.  Not only that but most of my 3 hrs in upper was spend alone with just the flute music within hearing range.  Gosh it is just so terrific.

I reached the opening at 4pm, the time my "tour" was to end and the lady was waiting for me.  She drove me back to my car then opened the gate so I could get back on the road.  So ended my 5 hrs in Antelope Canyon and what a 5 hrs it was.

It was about 4:30 and I was heading back to my room in Page.  Some clouds started rolling in and I thought there might be a nice sunset at Horseshoe Bend so I headed over there.  Thule seemed like he'd recovered from his 8+ mile journey to the Wave and back yesterday and was eager to hit the trail again.  As we crested the hill I could make out the bend up ahead and I noticed the sun was getting pretty close to the horizon so I picked up the page.

I'd been to Horseshoe Bend a few times and knew exactly where I wanted to set up my camera.  As I approached I noticed 2 other photographers and my spot was right between them, not that we were very close together.  Perfect, my spot was vacant and I was setup.  I chatted a bit with the lady photographer and found out she works in the same city I grew up in in California, small world.  We had a nice chat as the sun set.

It was a nice sunset and a nice way to end the day.



  1. What time did you go to lower antelope canyon? I am planning a trip in december and would love advice about the best time for the sun.

  2. What time did you go to lower antelope canyon? I am planning a trip in december and would love advice about the best time for the sun.