With walls reaching over one hundred feet from the floor, Antelope Canyon is one of America's most stunning examples of a slot canyon. Typically found throughout the southwestern United States, these canyons form over millions of years and boast some of the most stunning sights to be found anywhere. Antelope Canyon is situated in Page, Arizona just miles from the Utah border and right next to Lake Powell.
Due to the position of Antelope Canyon, Navajo tours are the only way to see this natural wonder. This is because it’s located on a reservation of the Navajo People, a large Native American tribe.
Despite its seeming isolation, this incredible destination is still accessible—you can even plan a tour of Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas. In this article, we’ll examine Antelope Canyon and the surrounding area, as well as take a look at some of the best Antelope Canyon tours that you can take to see the canyon in all its glory.
What Is the History of Antelope Canyon?
According to popular lore, white settlers first learned of Antelope Canyon during the great depression in the 1930s. A girl working nearby found a crack in a wall and decided to follow it, finding what we now know as Antelope Canyon. Native peoples in the area have known of the canyon’s existence for quite some time.
Geologically speaking, slot canyons are formed when an initial crack in the ground is filled by flash floods. The water trickles down into the crack, begins widening it, and over eons, the rock is carved away bit by bit. Eventually, the sandstone walls of Antelope Canyon became smooth and geologic patterns emerged, showing millions of years of rock accumulation and layers.
Antelope Canyon and the Navajo
The Navajo Nation was recognized in 1868 by a treaty with the United States government. Over the years and through 1934, it expanded, and now encompasses much of Northeastern Arizona, as well as a large section of New Mexico and some of Utah.
The Navajo believe that Antelope Canyon is a sacred place. Previously, local families guided tours to the canyon, but with tourism growing rapidly, the Navajo Nation decided to make Antelope Canyon a Navajo Tribal Park in 1997. Since then, all tours to the canyon have been guided by Navajo Tribe members in accordance with park policy.
Touring the Canyon
Just because there are no major cities nearby does not mean that touring Antelope Canyon is difficult. It's only a short trip from Las Vegas, two hours north of Flagstaff, and four hours north of Phoenix.
The canyon is divided into two primary sections: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Your guide should take you through both sections, allowing you to take photographs. It should be noted that no tripods are allowed on the tour so as not to disrupt the people walking through it.
Because the canyons themselves were formed by flash flooding over the years, it's important to note that the park may be closed for everyone’s safety if it is raining. Fortunately, Antelope Canyon’s location in the desert tends to make that a rare event!
Antelope Canyon and nearby Lake Powell make for a fantastic getaway. Just a few hours drive from a handful of major cities, and you’ll find yourself in a magical place where you can see millions of years of history carved into the walls.