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Love at first sight...

in the Antelope Canyon

By Sylvie Berthiaume

First impressions: It is a very narrow gorge of red sandstone, in the belly of which we enter; then we walk into a labyrinth whose path is made of curves instead of angles; and, apart from the flat ground, all the walls which surround us, as well as the small openings on the sky are such as enveloping waves. A rock has never appeared so welcoming.

The lesser form billowing coupled with the slightest edge or spiral is worth a photo! Everyone is spontaneously endowed, as in a place of worship. We hear onomatopoeia of whispered exclamation… 

Frankly mystical experience

It is intriguing, inspiring and exciting even before getting to the entrance. By measure of conservation of the site, and so that it is quiet and pleasant for the visitors, we go there only in small groups of twenty people, accompanied by a guide worthy representative of the Navajo nation. The company who manages the site and offers guided tours is indeed headed by Chief Tsosie.

We have to climb aboard a long 4X4 which descends into the dried bed of an ancient river, surrounded by full sandy soil and cliffs. The vehicle leads us, 5 kilometers away, at the entrance of the admired site, and for cause. 

Inside, the guide invites us to follow him step by step: instruction followed in confidence and recognition.  

He knows the place so well in all its nooks and crannies that, while proudly giving the explanations, he keeps an eye on the proper flow of our group, to avoid that we encounter another small group, in order not to spoil the magic.

Desert flood…

The Antelope Canyon is located near Page, Arizona. It includes two gorges: The Upper and the Lower. The Upper is the most visited: It measures 400 meters in length, by 2 to 3 meters in width. 

For the Navajo people, this "Place of the Antilope" means "Where the water flows through the rocks". It is indeed the erosion during thousands of years that has created this gorge with these forms.

Even today, if it rains heavily, it cannot be visited, because the danger of flooding and consequently of drowning is important given that there is no system of fast water evacuation. The last time a flood occurred - which fortunately is very rare - the site had to close during five months.

The gigantic Lake Powell

Not far from there, the beautiful Lake Powell is the second largest artificial lake in the United States formed on the Colorado River by Glen Canyon Dam. The result is highly impressive: 300 kilometers in length, 3,100 kilometers of shoreline and 96 small canyons, gorges and caves.

It is also from Page city, that we can take a boat for a two-hour ride  to the famous natural Rainbow Bridge. We can also rent equipment for various water sports.

Arizona and Utah: Minimum time to enjoy at maximum

Visiting Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell can occupy one or two days.

But to see all of the main natural attractions of Arizona and Utah, as well as a few of their cultural aspects, it takes at least two, or even three weeks.

Personal car or guided tour?

Question of taste, of course. For more freedom, flexibility and fortuitous discoveries, the best option is by car. In the two States, the rental cost is economic. 

For more information, anecdotes, peace of mind and international meetings, day-tours are interesting, all the more that in the vast majority of cases, they are by small shuttles of 6 to 10 passengers. These are therefore excursions that may be described as "semi-private", therefore, very different of the detestable large tourist buses.

Having experienced both (car and tours) during this trip, we can say that the two methods of transportation are very viable.

 

Tips to see everything you want

The territory to discover being broad and popular, it is better to book about a month in advance, the car rental and entrance tickets to the national parks or the day-tours. Otherwise, there is a risk of missing certain visits you have been dreaming of for a long time.

With regards to public or private bus transportation, if booking well in advance is not always required, it is necessary to know that their schedules and the duration of journeys do not necessarily correspond with the opening hours of the national parks.

These tips come from our frustration and own fault, for not to being able to make it to The Arches and Bryce Canyon…

Follow us now to share the visions and thoughts that we have had:

  • circulating in the red and cinematographic Monument Valley

  • drifting among the colorful stone trunks of the Petrified Forest

  • leaning on the edge of  Horseshoe Bend

  • contemplating the Grand Canyon peaks, at sunset 

  • visiting the so distinctive cities of Flagstaff and Salt Lake City

 

Guaranted repetitive sighs.

 

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