Exploring Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon
By Kimberly Graf. Published on September 10, 2018
Chances are, you've seen pictures of Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon but the names don't sound familiar. These locations are often dwarfed by the closeness of the Grand Canyon - and overlooked by the crowds of people that swarm there.
But these two locations have their own charm, and definitely should not be missed if you're in the area. It's only about a two-hour drive from the Grand Canyon to Page, Arizona - the quickest way to take this trip is to go north from Flagstaff until you reach an area just south of the Utah border.
It's a pretty drive, as the area around Flagstaff is at a higher elevation. In the fall, you might see some changing leaves and evergreens lining the way. The area directly around Page, however, it still pretty sandy. It's not far to Horseshoe Bend, which is probably the first place you should go, as you will want to spend longer in Antelope Canyon.
Horseshoe Bend is a 270-degree twist in the Colorado River. The river makes a U-turn right at this location, which allows you to view both sides of the river from the vantage point on the sandstone above.
In the small loop of land made by the river turning, there is a tall butte that tours sometimes land on. The view from the canyon wall of the river twisting around this outcropping is a fairly popular picture - we're sure that you've seen it before!
There are no hiking opportunities, and if you don't choose to take a tour there is little else to see here, but it is definitely worth stopping to take a picture or two overlooking this stunning vista.
Antelope Canyon is a short drive away. This area is only accessible by guided tour, because it is situated on land belonging to the Navajo Nation. You'll have to pay the tour fee and a small cash fee to enter the Reservation.
The Upper Canyon is a little more popular and easy to traverse - we recommend this tour for people with a more restrictive mobility, though you should always check with your tour company to make sure that areas are accessible by wheelchairs and strollers.
The Lower Canyon tour is where Antelope Canyon really shines. Over this 1.5-hour hike, you'll be able to see one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the area - second only to the Grand Canyon itself! The walls of the canyon are sheer sandstone, twisted into impossible patterns above and around you.
You might recognize Antelope Canyon's unique geography from a Microsoft Office background - that is, in fact, where most people know it from. But nothing quite compares to the real thing. The walls seem to defy gravity with their whirling patterns, and all of it is solid. They are sand dunes wrought in stone and formed into beautiful whorls and waves.
When the sun comes through in the mid-morning it paints the canyon a beautiful gold color. In fact, the whole canyon is colorful. When you're walking on the floor of the canyon, make sure you wear shoes that can get dirty, because they will be covered by a fine gold dust by the end of it.
If you're going to embark on this journey, make sure to remember that there are a lot of stairs leading down into the canyon. You should keep this in mind before you book a tour. Also remember to bring plenty of water and free space on your camera's memory card - you're going to need it for all the beautiful views you're going to want to capture.
There's nowhere in the world quite like this, and nowhere in the world quite like Horseshoe Bend. If you find yourself going to the Grand Canyon, make sure to take some time out of your itinerary to go and visit these locations - it's more than worth it and you're going to absolutely love taking the detour.
After all, how many people can say that they've replaced their Office background with a picture from the same location that they've taken themselves? Not many! There are plenty of opportunities to take those photos on either of these trips!