Wind your way through the sacred, kaleidoscopic maze of the Navajo in Arizona.
Centuries ago, herds of pronghorn antelope roamed freely in and around Antelope Canyon, which provide today’s English name for the location. Over hundreds of years’, water ran through sandstone in Arizona creating awe-inspiring slot canyons that will leave you breathless. These beautiful slot canyons are on land belonging to the Lee Chapter of the Navajo Nation, just outside of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
There are two canyons: The Upper Antelope Canyon is known by the Navajo as ‘Tsé bighánílíní’, which means ‘the place where water runs through rocks’. The Lower Antelope Canyon is known by the Navajo as ‘Hazdistazí’, or ‘spiral rock arches’.
To the older Navajos, entering Antelope Canyon would have been like stepping into a cathedral. Before going into this place they would likely pause, getting into the frame of mind to prepare for protection and respect. This type of reverence allows them to exit with a brightened feeling of what Mother Nature has to offer. They would feel in harmony with something greater than themselves. This was quite a spiritual experience.
It isn’t known when the Antelope Canyon was first discovered, but local Navajos who have lived here for generations say that the canyon is a place where cattle once grazed in the winter. The canyon has a history of flash floods and can flood from rainfall miles upstream of the canyons, racing through them with little notice. This poses danger for visitors, which is why since 1997, the canyon requires entry permits and exclusively guided tours.
The Canyon is a very popular location for sightseers and photographers. It is the most-visited and most-photographed canyon in the Southwest of the United States of America. The famous beams of sunlight stream down from openings in the top of the canyon. They are best captured during the summer months when the sun is highest in the sky, but the winter months offer different colors of light on the canyon walls.
The canyons offer different experiences and trips to each of them must be booked separately. In Lower Antelope, visitors will climb up stairs and ladders while some areas have tight spaces to scramble through. In Upper Antelope, the floor is flat and there are a few narrow sections. It is in this canyon that the light beams may appear more dramatic, and for more guaranteed stunning photographs, this canyon would be the way to go. Lower Antelope is visited less by tourists, is less expensive to visit and provides longer tours. Both offer incredible views and unforgettable experiences.