Antelope Canyon derives its name from stories passed down from the Navajo, the original inhabitants of the land where the canyon is found. People have kept stories alive about antelopes grazing near the canyon in the winter. In addition to being one of the most visited places in the American southwest, Antelope Canyon has a rich history. Here are a few interesting facts:
The canyon is located in the small town of Page, Arizona. Some people might wonder what Antelope Canyon is without realizing they’ve probably already seen a picture of it. Tourism is the main economic activity of the area—Page receives approximately four million tourists annually. It's located in the Northernmost part of the desert, and when locals see a new face, they know that their final destination is most likely Antelope Canyon.
Visitors are only allowed to access the canyon in the company of an approved local guide. It's not uncommon to find large crowds at Antelope Canyon, as there are two types of tours—photography tours and general tours for those on a tighter budget. The canyon offers many opportunities to take perfect photos.
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The area south of Page flooded in the 20th century, which prompted the administration to construct the Glen Canyon dam to keep the Colorado River at bay. Workers needed a place to stay during the construction, so the government traded the Navajo land with another area, which became Page.
In regards to what Antelope Canyon is known for, it sits inside the largest territory managed by a native tribe. Tourism boomed in the 1970s when a local Navajo cattle owner met a European looking for a slot canyon. Upon realizing he could make money by charging visitors, he established a tour company that still operates today. Most early visitors were photographers, and tourists started flocking to the site when photographs of the canyon were published in world-renowned magazines such as National Geographic.
In 1997, a flash flood killed eleven people when they were touring the canyon; only the tour guide survived with serious injuries. After this, the local administration imposed strict measures on how visitors could enter the canyon, granting access only in the company of an approved local guide.
In 2009, Microsoft used some photos of Antelope Canyon for Windows 7 and captivated many individuals. Peter Lik can also be credited for making Antelope Canyon famous—it was there that he took the world’s most expensive photograph, sold in 2014 for $6.5 million.
Antelope Canyon's wonders do not end with arriving at the destination. It’s an adventure driving through the desert and sharing the natural wonders with the people you meet. If you want the privacy to explore alone, consider visiting on weekdays or in the off season months.