Search for dazzling shafts of light between narrow canyon walls
The sprawling Navajo Nation has no shortage of magical places, but the most photogenic might be Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, located just outside Page, Arizona. They are a testament to the power of water and time, as over the years, flash flooding has created deep, gorgeous passageways—called slot canyons—that you can walk through.
The name comes from an era when antelopes ran wild in the canyons, but the only animals you’ll see these days are other human beings. The 600-foot-long stretch of Upper Antelope Canyon, which is also known as the Corkscrew, is the more popular of the two canyons. The walls can reach 120 feet, and it’s easier to access; exploring the half-mile Lower Antelope—or the Crack—requires walking up and down metal stairways. Visitors to Upper Antelope are also more likely to see beams of sunlight, which are prized by photographers. (Slower snappers will want to know that there’s a two-hour limit in each canyon.)
As you might expect, both canyons have long been considered spiritual places by the Navajo. You may only visit with a guide—there’s a list at www.navajonationparks.org—although that’s as much because flooding remains a possibility, and rain doesn’t have to occur on the site for water to come rushing through the canyons.
While you’re in the area, check out Rainbow Bridge, a stunning 275-foot-tall rock bridge over man-made Lake Powell. It, too, is sacred to the Navajo, so in order to hike to it, you need a permit from Navajo Parks & Recreation.