Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 1, 2012

Upper Antelope Canyon: Beauty

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:29 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Layers, colors, textures, light, shadow --
it all comes together in Antelope Canyon, near Page, Arizona. (11:46 am)

Hidden in a crack of the earth, deep in Navajo country, lies a slot canyon like no other. Millennia of floods and windblown sands have scoured a passageway 1/4 mile long, and up to 135 feet deep, that is in places barely wide enough for two people to pass. Light penetrates its depths at midday but leaves the sinuous chasm in shadows at all other times.

Navajos call this area "The Heart of the Canyon"

As far as the eye can see, sand defines this landscape. Antelope Canyon itself is made of lithified sand, sand with all the air pockets pressed out, sand cemented with calcium carbonate and pigmented with iron oxide, sand become rock after all these years. Its floor is deposited both by gentle floods that carry tons of sand into the slot, and by windstorms blowing it in from above.

Flash floods are common in canyon country, and are singularly responsible for shaping Antelope Canyon. Countless gallons of rushing sandy water enter the slot after a downpour anywhere in its watershed, impacting the walls at high velocity and dislodging new grains one by one. Every flash flood changes the canyon’s depth, taking out many feet of sand. In a never-ending cycle, new fill is restored with the next storm.

Humans are inexorably drawn to slot canyons. Their space is unlike any other I know, evoking  awe, dismantling hubris; one cannot enter without feeling small and vulnerable. I find them irresistible — except when there is recent or imminent rain. Antelope Canyon’s interior curves shout the power of erosion; its muted palette of desert colors whispers visual tranquility. Go visit this site.

A beam of light penetrates the narrow crack on the earth's surface at midday. Sand in the air defines its outline.


  1. Wow, Kathryn! Spectacular!


    Comment by Vern Lewis — April 1, 2012 @ 9:39 am | Reply

    • I only wish you could have been there with your camera!

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — April 1, 2012 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  2. Ranger Kathryn, How much does the Tribe charge for a tour of the canyon and does it cost more at noon when the sun is entering the canyon? I stayed the night in Page once while on vacation and loved seing the dam the next morning but at the time I didn’t realize that Antalope Canyon was just outside of town. Next time I’m out west near Page I will not miss it again.

    Comment by superdave0002 — April 1, 2012 @ 9:42 am | Reply

    • Our ticket for Upper was $35 off-season, $46 high season. We did not pay a surcharge for the midday tour but it is the first to fill up. These prices include the $6 tribal permit. Lower Antelope Canyon was a separate tour company, $20 plus permit.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — April 1, 2012 @ 10:12 am | Reply

      • 35-46 Wow……….maybe I’ll just look at the pictures

        Comment by superdave0002 — April 1, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  3. Mama Mia!
    This is the first time I’ve ever thought that a still camera might not be the optimum recording tool . . .

    Comment by leroque — April 1, 2012 @ 10:42 am | Reply

  4. I can’t believe those photos are not retouched, and can only imagine (barely) how you must have been feeling as you stood among those formations.

    Comment by Mom — April 1, 2012 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  5. Beautiful, amazing pictures. Another place I want to visit:)

    Comment by jkjfcfam5 — April 1, 2012 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  6. Beautiful, amazing photos–another place I want to visit:)

    Comment by jkjfcfam5 — April 1, 2012 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  7. That is beautiful…stunning What a creator God we have!!!!

    Comment by Kathy Lewis — April 1, 2012 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  8. Wow, gorgeous photos! You have such an interesting blog here. If you want to swing by and see if you are a match for our photography group/online gallery(it’s not for everyone), we would welcome your work! Really stunning.

    Comment by Broken Light: A Photography Collective — April 2, 2012 @ 10:04 pm | Reply

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