The American Southwest Part 3: Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend
After exploring the Grand Canyon's South Rim, the five of us piled back into our trusty Jeep and made the trek two hours north to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.
Antelope Canyon can be a dangerous place during flash floods, so the only way inside is with a guided tour -- we chose the one hosted by the Navajo. It was our understanding that during non-peak light hours (peak hours are when the sun shines through the top of the canyon and creates spotlights) the tour would be $25. We would have gladly paid the $40 for peak light, but our driving schedule wouldn't allow it.
You can imagine our surprise when we arrived and were told the tour was $40 plus the park entrance fee of $8, for non-peak light. We tried to politely explain the prices we saw on their pamphlet, but the disgruntled Navajo woman instead made us read their fine print out loud. Prices were subject to change.
Okay, fine. We came this far, we weren't going to bail. We handed over our cash and decided to make some lunch while we waited for the next tour to begin. The land around us was flat for miles and we could see storms rolling through in the distance. We knew flash floods would promptly cancel our tour and the glaring "NO REFUNDS" sign made us sweat.
I asked the man collecting our tour money if we needed to worry about the weather. He sort of laughed me off and said the storms were going in the other direction, which didn't really ease our worries.
Not ten minutes before our tour was scheduled to begin, we were hit with a monsoon. Big, icy-cold rain drops pelted us. Surely, this would cause a flash flood, our tour would be cancelled, and we'd be out $40 each.
Time and time again on this trip, things just managed to work out. Antelope Canyon may have been the first example of this. As the tour groups assembled, the sun emerged and the rain stopped. We met Jaz, our awesome young tour guide. We stuffed ourselves in the back of a covered pick-up and rumbled through what looked like Tatooine.
The canyon was every bit as beautiful as I imagined it would be, even without peak light. One thing we didn't expect -- it was sandy. Not just on the ground, but pouring down through the top of the canyon. I'd suggest a hat.
The most impressive thing about Jaz was her ability to capture the perfect photo with any camera or phone. No matter the device, she knew the settings to get the shot. Which wasn't easy, the canyon is a lot darker than the above photos appear.
After making our way out of Antelope and shaking the sand from our heads, we doubled back about 15 minutes to see Horseshoe Bend. I've seen photos of this spot before, but nothing really prepares you for seeing it with your own eyes. The bend is a meander of the Colorado River and you get a breathtaking view at 1,000 feet up.
In one day we saw the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend. We were overwhelmed. We were also dirty, tired, hungry, and in need of our first camp site. But I'll leave that for another post.