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Antelope Canyon - Upper, AZ

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Guide 28 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Hotevilla
3.9 of 5 by 14
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,100 feet
Elevation Gain 17 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1-2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 0.59
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
17  2017-10-21 DbleDutch
10  2016-03-19 Chriskup
15  2014-09-30 AZWanderingBear
4  2014-06-06 AZLOT69
35  2014-06-02
Canyon X Antelope Canyon Tour
16  2014-03-08 cw50must
10  2013-06-27 Lucyan
56  2013-05-10
Northern Arizona Trek - May 2013
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Navajo Nation Reservation
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, May → 10 AM
Seasons   Spring to Summer
Sun  6:12am - 6:24pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Photo Experience
by Randal_Schulhauser

"Tse bighanilinil" is the Navajo name for "The Crack" - a renowned slot canyon that has become akin to a religious pilgrimage for serious photographers. How did this come to be?

In 1931, 12 year old Suzie Tsosie was herding sheep between Manson Mesa and Kaibeto. This was very much a deserted land in 1931. Present day Page Arizona did not yet exist until 1957 and Lake Powell did not begin to fill until completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1966. As Suzie was searching for a lost sheep, she discovered a quarter mile long, twisting, water carved crack in the sandstone.

Before 1980, individuals required special permission from the Navajo land owners to gain access to the slot canyons. As fame grew, so did the requests for access. The prospect of commercialization began around this time.

The Tsosie family still owns this land today and operates Antelope Slot Canyon Tours catering to tourists, but specializing in satisfying the wants and needs of serious photographers.

In 2006, I pull into the parking lot located on the south side of Hwy 98. It's mid-morning on a Sunday in February and my truck is the sole vehicle in the parking lot. I meet a Navajo Guide at the booth and he explains to me that the cost for a guided 1 hour tour will be $20. A specialized photographer's tour lasting about 3 hours will be $50.

I'm guided by Delvin Tsosie - a not-to-distant relative of Suzie Tsosie. We hop into Delvin's SUV for a 3 mile bumpy ride along Antelope Canyon Wash. At the entrance to "The Crack" my selfish thoughts of having the entire slot canyon to myself evaporate with the sight of additional shuttle vehicles. Delvin explains to me that clients can also arrange to be picked up at their hotel in Page.

As I walk into the slot canyon, my mind recalls some past treks to the Paria River, particularly Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch. Delvin indicates that we will first travel the Upper Antelope Canyon in its entirety - about 250 yards. We encounter multiple photographers - all armed with tripods and lengthy aperture exposures! I feel like I'm running a gauntlet with aperture exposure times acting like traffic signals - red light start of 30 second exposure, green light as camera beeps signaling the end of exposure. With a rare overcast, lighting is tricky in the slot canyon today. A tripod appears to be a MUST to accommodate the lengthy exposure time. I snap-off my quick shots holding my breath trying to keep a steady hand. I'm sure these pros are mildly amused by these efforts from a pure amateur!

When we emerge out the south end of the slot canyon, Delvin indicates that he'll point out the features and photo angles used by the pros. Over the years of guiding them through this canyon, Delvin has picked up a few tips and he'll share them with me today. He also gives me a geology lesson explaining how this canyon was formed. Unlike ordinary erosion in which rocks of differing composition and hardness are chewed away at various rates forming a V-shaped channel, the uniform sandstone found in this area is removed straight down. Once a channel is first formed, all water will funnel into the channel and continue this downward removal pattern. A single storm is capable of removing a foot or more of sand from the canyon. The Upper Antelope Canyon measures 120 feet high and ranges in width from about 3 to 20 feet. Viewed from above ground, the canyon may only measure a foot or two across.

We re-enter the slot canyon from the south and Delvin starts to point out where to stand to capture the best features. As the lighting changes with passing clouds, so does the canyon, as if by magic! I snap off photo after photo hoping to get a couple of "keepers". We continue to make our way towards the north exit from the slot canyon. I shoot away thankful for having a 1 Gigabyte flash card installed in the camera. As we emerge, I glance at the time on my GPS. Exactly one hour has passed. We climb back into Delvin's SUV for the return trip to the parking lot. On the trip back Delvin explains that there are literally hundreds of slot canyons he's taken clients to photograph. Canyon "X" is particularly popular along with a couple of side canyons we drive by. We talk about Waterholes Canyon and some of the "name" photographers he's had for clients. Back at the parking lot I count 5 vehicles awaiting the next tour. Timing is everything I remark to Delvin thanking him with a well deserved tip!

The "Tse bighanilini" is a must-see for anyone appreciative of the natural wonders in Arizona. The "Hasdeztwazi" located across the highway is unique in its own way. I can't recommend one over the other - they're both spectacular. Take your time to enjoy the sights with your own eyes and a little less time through the lens of a camera. Although this isn't a hike in the classic sense, it's a must-do all the same. Enjoy!

2010-05-05 Anonymous writes: The Antelope Canyon Navajo Tour company is operatedd by the Begay Family, for about 20 yrars. My name is Dalvin Etsitty and not Dalvin Tsosie, We opersted from the entrance of the Tribal Park.My grand mother Pearl Begay was the person who was credited for finging Upper Antelope Canyon. Resd your website and see that you ran into the Chief, that is how his story sounds, new company. Thank, Dalvin Etsitty

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2006-02-27 Randal_Schulhauser
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Antelope Canyon - Upper
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Positive entry first; beautiful canyon, incredible geology and a true melting pot of World culture, as people from many Countries were touring this place. Now the negative stuff! This place was a complete zoo and it was apparent the cultural diversity of the visitors can be very frustrating for the people organizing the trips. But, yelling "no bags, no bags" to an Italian speaker or someone from China, who clearly does not know what your saying has to be handled better. The ride to the canyon was interesting. The canyon its self was really cool. The cattle call/meat market lineup was not cool! My guide was informative, yet condescending while barking out orders, to keep moving. On the way out, 3 other tour companies were trudging their clients through, barking at us as we left, "don't stop, you had your turn, keep moving, no more photos, come back and pay again" What a joke!

    Money is the game here and they are making plenty. 11 vehicles plus 14 people each at $40 per person = $6,160 per trip. They run about 7-8 trips per day which totals $43,120 per day and they run 7 days per week for a total of $301,840. Not bad!

    Yet, when I asked the guild who benefits from the income, they said "I don't know, not us" "Two guys own this company!" Too bad, I'm sure the guides are making very little, compared to the companies massive haul. Just my opinion :stop:
    Antelope Canyon - Upper
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This has been on my bucket list for years. We finally were in the area with time to get it done. By making early reservations we were able to get on the prized tour at about noon. Us and about 300 other people. There were easily 20 some vehicles at the entrance, our vehicle contained 15 people plus the guide. It looked like the start of each group was being staggered by 5 minutes. The sun was popping in and out from between a partially cloudy sky. The return trip is again back through the slot canyon. So with all those people it's next to impossible to get a picture showing the ground without another person in the picture. You quickly learn to only shoot high. A few groups were people that had paid for a "Photographer's tour" for about an extra $35 they got to sit or stand on the floor with camera on tripod while all the other people were walking around the group. Then every time the sun popped through the clouds people were trowing handfuls of sand into the air so the shafts of light would show up. The dust level in the entire canyon was enough to cause a person with healthy lungs to cough. Getting a crystal clear photo was out of the question.

    Okay it sounds like everything was terrible with the experience. It wasn't. The place is beautiful. It is something not to be missed. But the pictures you see done professionally are not close to what you can get and see with either the traditional or photographer's tours. They are somehow taken without the sand in the air, masses of people and the colors have been enhanced a bit to a lot. The fantastic shapes are really what you see.

    Next time I'd try X Canyon to see if it being less popular resulted with a better situation.
    Antelope Canyon - Upper
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Last stop on our 10-day odyssey through the Southwest. We'd done Lower Antelope in the morning and did the Upper just after lunch. It was very crowded, but most of the good photography is straight up. Our guide was very helpful in pointing out opportunities for good photos. Had a much better time than we anticipated after seeing the crowds. Such a beautiful place.
    Antelope Canyon - Upper
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Northern Arizona Trek - May 2013
    Sarah’s Grad and Northern Arizona Trek - May 2013

    4 days
    3 nights
    791 miles by truck
    110 miles by boat
    324 digital images
    1 Master’s Degree celebration
    1 Slot Canyon
    1 Natural Bridge
    1 Vintage Mary Colter designed hotel
    1 Mother’s Day

    With my daughter Sarah’s graduation from ASU with a Master’s in Clinical Speech Pathology, my parents made the trek down from Canada to celebrate the achievement. Considering that Mother’s Day would be over the weekend, a road trip was in order :next:

    Friday May 10th
    11am to 3pm Sarah’s grad @ ASU
    3pm drive from Ahwatukee to Flagstaff – 161 miles, 2hrs 26min per Google Maps
    Fairfield Inn Flagstaff, 2005 South Milton Road, Flagstaff, AZ – Confirmation #85054171 & 85054171
    5pm – 9:30pm Lowell Observatory 2nd Friday Science Night, 1400 West Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff, Arizona
    ASU Clinical Speech Pathology :next:
    Marriott Fairfield Inn, Flagstaff AZ :next:
    Lowell Observatory :next:
    Beaver Street Brewery :next:

    After Sarah’s graduation ceremony held at Wells Fargo Arena on the ASU main campus, friends and family gathered at our Ahwatukee home for some good eats and an opportunity to personally congratulate Sarah. As the day wound down, it was time to head out on a road trip to Northern Arizona to take in some sights my parents only thought they could view through other people’s photographs. First destination – Flagstaff AZ to catch the “2nd Friday Evening Event” at Lowell Observatory on Mars Hill. The evening event was just about to wrap-up when we arrived 9-ish, but we still were able to walk the grounds and see the various telescope installations. Checked into the Marriott Fairfield Inn – rooms were scarce since NAU grad ceremonies were also on this weekend! Had time for a late evening stroll to Beaver Street Brewery – a Flagstaff visit requirement…

    Saturday May 11th
    8am drive from Flagstaff to Page AZ – 192 miles, 3hrs 15min per Google Maps (note Hwy89 closed at Echo Cliffs)
    Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas, 100 Lakeshore Drive, Page, AZ 86040 - Confirmation # 80002356H
    Upper and/or Lower Antelope Slot Canyon guided or self-guided hike
    Mars Hill :next:
    Hwy 89A Kachina homage :next:
    Tuba City Dinosaur Tracks :next:
    Upper Antelope Canyon :next:
    Glen Canyon Dam Overlook :next:
    Horseshoe Bend Overlook :next:
    Wahweap Marina Walk – Glen Canyon NRA :next:
    Lake Powell Resort & Marina :next: ... tions.aspx
    Big John’s Texas BBQ, Page AZ :next: ... beque.html

    After our complimentary breakfast at the Flagstaff Marriott Fairfield Inn, we checked out and returned to Lowell Observatory to trek around the grounds in daylight – quite the contrast from the previous evening’s “stumble in the dark”… We met “Big John” performing some of the morning chores around Lowell and he invited us into the Pluto Observatory for a private tour prior to the official visitor opening at 9am. “Big John” was a fount of information giving us the history of the site, including all the construction obstacles and the competitive nature of the academics in the race to discover planets in their predicted mathematical location. Once we’d had our fill of astronomy, we hit the road towards Page AZ. After an obligatory stop at my favorite Kachina site (kicking myself that I failed to take a geocoded photo with my iPhone), we bounced our way up Highway 89 towards the detour around the sinkhole (check out :next: and ... lapse.html ), via Hwy 160 through Tuba City to Hwy 98 near Cow Springs to approach Page AZ from the SE. This detour easily adds another hour onto your drive from Flagstaff to Page. We elected to do the Upper Antelope Slot Canyon tour rather than the Lower Slot Canyon, only because of the flat terrain. I recalled multiple ladders and rock butt slides when exploring the Lower Antelope Slot Canyon. Our Navajo Guide, Frankie, was full of facts about the canyon formation and pointed out the mostly unnoticed features within the slot canyon. Unexpectedly, Frankie is quite the digital photo buff and helped set up shots for most of the visitors. He knew my Canon cameras beyond any of my abilities. After Antelope Canyon we drifted into town to find a late lunch/early dinner joint – Big John’s Texas BBQ fit the bill. We checked into our rooms at the Lake Powell Resort and Marina (NPS Annual Pass came in handy once again to gain entrance into the Wahweap section of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area), freshened up prior to some sunset exploration around Glen Canyon Dam and Horseshoe Bend Overlook.

    Sunday May 12th
    7:30am to 1pm boat tour to Rainbow Bridge – confirmation # 80002356O
    2pm drive from Page AZ to Winslow AZ via Hopi Lands – 241 miles, 4hrs 22min per Google Maps
    La Posada Hotel, 303 E 2nd St, Winslow, AZ 86047 - Confirmation#72185 for Rm115, #72184 for Rm125
    7:30pm Mother’s Day dinner reservation at Turquoise Room in La Posada per Jonny
    Lake Powell boat tour to Rainbow Bridge :next: ... idge-.aspx
    Rainbow Bridge via Lake Powell :next:
    Walpi Hopi Village :next: and
    La Posada Walking Tour :next:
    Turquois Room :next: Mother’s Day, 3 people, $235 including tip…

    Mother’s Day – Up at dawn to catch an early breakfast and check out of our hotel rooms prior to boarding our Rainbow Bridge tour boat at 7am :next: . Besides our Captain’s Derek and Theresa, I think I may have been the only other Arizona resident on that boat that day. Had a chance to chat with visitors from France, Germany, and England – many who had seen the bridge on previous vacations. Interesting that there was instant recognition by our fellow boaters – we all were on the Upper Antelope Canyon trek the day before and were all staying Saturday evening at the Lake Powell Resort! I failed to note the time extension for the tour :next: “The Castle Rock Cut is currently closed due to low lake levels. This tour will last approximately 7 - 7.5 hours total.” Hopefully this won’t impact our 7:30pm dinner reservation at the Turquoise Room in Winslow AZ… The lower lake levels also tacked on an additional half mile for the hike to Rainbow Bridge (hope I didn’t burn out my parents’ wheels tackling Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend the day before). Mission accomplished :next: . Upon returning to Wahweap Marina, we grabbed some cold refreshments and jumped in my F-150 for the backcountry tour through Navajo and Hopi Lands. Didn’t have enough time to stop at Coal Mine Canyon ( ), but we did have just enough for a drive-by of Old Oraibi and Walpi on the Hopi mesas. We arrived at La Posada in Winslow before 6:30pm – plenty of time to freshen up prior to another gastronomic gem served up by Chef John in the Turquoise Room :next: and ... _McClendon’s_farm_prepare_for_Mother's_Day_Special_Event/ . After dinner we had a chance to explore the eclectic La Posada then sit out back to do some trainspotting…

    Monday May 13th
    8am drive from Winslow AZ to Ahwatukee via Mogollon RIm – 183 miles, 3hrs 16min per Google Maps
    La Posada Walking Tour :next:

    Mother’s Day – The Day After… Gathered at 8am in the Turquoise Room for morning breakfast (don’t know where I found the space for breakfast after that huge Sunday meal) and a daylight stroll around the hotel grounds before taking the Hwy 87/Mogollon Rim route home through Payson.

    More photos to follow... ;)
    Antelope Canyon - Upper
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Completed a 986.7 mile round trip to Navajo Lands this past weekend. Journey included a series of mini-hikes to Navajo National Monument (Betatakin), Mystery Valley, Monument Valley, Upper Antelope Canyon, and Lower Antelope Canyon. Some had the required Navajo Guides (many thanks to Rosie, Delvin, and Brandon for their excellent insight and commentary!).

    Paid $20 for a 1 hour guided tour by Delvin. Save receipt for $5 Navajo Lands Permit required also at Lower Antelope Canyon. Fantastic experience and highly recommended.

    Have to thank Darrell (AZ-OUTDOORSMAN) and Suzie (SUZAZ) for their tips preparing for this trip...

    Permit $$
    Special Use

    Navajo Park Entrance $8 + Tour Fee + Optional Photography Tour
    Note: most if not all fees are cash

    Tour Companies

    Navajo Nation Reservation
    Navajo Permits & Services

    Map Drive

    To hike
    From Phoenix: Take Hwy I-17 north 146 miles to Flagstaff. From Flagstaff, take Hwy 89 north 133 miles to Page. From Page, take Hwy 98 east 3.3 miles to the intersection with Antelope Point Road (GPS coordinates 36o 53.848'N, 111o 24.363'W). The parking lot for the Upper Antelope Slot Canyon will be on the south side of Hwy 98. If you pass the Navajo Generating Station, you've traveled too far!

    My GPS noted 296.8 miles traveled from my home in Ahwatukee to the Upper Antelope Canyon trail head parking. Travel time was just over 5 hours. GPS coordinates for the entrance of "The Crack" are 36o 52.056'N, 111o 22.867'W.
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