June 13, 2023

You’ve seen it in photos: swirling red sandstone walls aglow with light, like the inside of a conch shell or a Himalayan salt crystal lamp. Shafts of light that pinpoint, like Indiana Jones’s amulet beam, precise spots on the sandy floor. This is Antelope Canyon, as graceful as its pronghorn namesake.

Antelope Canyon conceals itself within a sandy, Mars-like landscape, on Navajo Nation land near the town of Page in northern Arizona. The canyon was high on my must-see list, and after careful planning and securing a reservation as soon as our preferred date opened, we arrived in late April for a tour. We’d chosen a tour time as close to midday as we could get, when the overhead sun briefly beams into the narrow, twisting slot canyon on cloudless spring and summer days.

To enter the canyon you must book a tour with an authorized Navajo tour company. We used Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours. They assigned us to a group of 10 to 12 people, and a guide drove us a few miles along a sandy wash in the jouncy bed of a covered pickup truck to the canyon.

That jagged crack in the rock behind our guide is the opening to Upper Antelope Canyon. At a different location, you can tour Lower Antelope Canyon, which requires descending metal ladders to reach the canyon floor.

Looking back through arabesque rock walls

And now let’s enter this cathedral of stone, sand, and light.

Water wrought this beautiful place. Desert flash floods poured into cracks in the soft sandstone mesas, carving meringue-like ridges and peaks, and ultimately creating Antelope Canyon’s rippled passageways. Floods continue to sculpt and scour the canyon today, and they can occur unexpectedly, from rain that falls miles away upstream. Eleven tourists drowned in a surprise flash flood in Lower Antelope Canyon in 1997. Safety measures spurred by that tragedy have kept tourists safe since then.

Walking through Antelope Canyon is a transcendent experience. The crested, striated canyon walls glow red, pink, and orange all around you.

Shafts of light lase the sandy floor.

Our guide snapped a few photos of us on D’s phone camera. My Nikon was sealed in a Ziploc bag with a hole cut out for the lens, my homemade attempt to keep sand out of the camera body.

Sand sifting down into Antelope Canyon

Powder-fine sand hisses into canyon chambers from the slot high above and swirls delicately through the air, making the light almost tangible. Then too, it showers you with fine red grains and gets in your eyes, ears, and clothes. The views are worth the sand bath though.

A seashell glow

A scoured log rests high on a canyon wall, presumably stranded after a flash flood.

Water-sculpted light tunnels

I was awed by this place.

This is all illuminated by natural light.

D. taking a photo

Near the end of the canyon, the walls narrow, and you’re compressed into the meringue folds.

A “bench” carved by water

Sand sifting down from the world above

And then we blinked our way into bright daylight again. Looking back at the canyon crease, you might never know it was there. Was it real or a dream?

Up next: Dramatic views at Horseshoe Bend and Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona. For a look back at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

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Digging Deeper

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. Season 7 starts in August. Stay tuned for the lineup!

All material (C) 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post Beams of light set Antelope Canyon aglow appeared first on Digging.

Red sandstone walls glow like the inside of a conch shell. Shafts of light spotlight the sandy floor. This is Antelope Canyon. … Read More
The post Beams of light set Antelope Canyon aglow appeared first on Digging.Read MoreDigging

June 13, 2023

You’ve seen it in photos: swirling red sandstone walls aglow with light, like the inside of a conch shell or a Himalayan salt crystal lamp. Shafts of light that pinpoint, like Indiana Jones’s amulet beam, precise spots on the sandy floor. This is Antelope Canyon, as graceful as its pronghorn namesake.

Antelope Canyon conceals itself within a sandy, Mars-like landscape, on Navajo Nation land near the town of Page in northern Arizona. The canyon was high on my must-see list, and after careful planning and securing a reservation as soon as our preferred date opened, we arrived in late April for a tour. We’d chosen a tour time as close to midday as we could get, when the overhead sun briefly beams into the narrow, twisting slot canyon on cloudless spring and summer days.

To enter the canyon you must book a tour with an authorized Navajo tour company. We used Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours. They assigned us to a group of 10 to 12 people, and a guide drove us a few miles along a sandy wash in the jouncy bed of a covered pickup truck to the canyon.

That jagged crack in the rock behind our guide is the opening to Upper Antelope Canyon. At a different location, you can tour Lower Antelope Canyon, which requires descending metal ladders to reach the canyon floor.

Looking back through arabesque rock walls

And now let’s enter this cathedral of stone, sand, and light.

Water wrought this beautiful place. Desert flash floods poured into cracks in the soft sandstone mesas, carving meringue-like ridges and peaks, and ultimately creating Antelope Canyon’s rippled passageways. Floods continue to sculpt and scour the canyon today, and they can occur unexpectedly, from rain that falls miles away upstream. Eleven tourists drowned in a surprise flash flood in Lower Antelope Canyon in 1997. Safety measures spurred by that tragedy have kept tourists safe since then.

Walking through Antelope Canyon is a transcendent experience. The crested, striated canyon walls glow red, pink, and orange all around you.

Shafts of light lase the sandy floor.

Our guide snapped a few photos of us on D’s phone camera. My Nikon was sealed in a Ziploc bag with a hole cut out for the lens, my homemade attempt to keep sand out of the camera body.

Sand sifting down into Antelope Canyon

Powder-fine sand hisses into canyon chambers from the slot high above and swirls delicately through the air, making the light almost tangible. Then too, it showers you with fine red grains and gets in your eyes, ears, and clothes. The views are worth the sand bath though.

A seashell glow

A scoured log rests high on a canyon wall, presumably stranded after a flash flood.

Water-sculpted light tunnels

I was awed by this place.

This is all illuminated by natural light.

D. taking a photo

Near the end of the canyon, the walls narrow, and you’re compressed into the meringue folds.

A “bench” carved by water

Sand sifting down from the world above

And then we blinked our way into bright daylight again. Looking back at the canyon crease, you might never know it was there. Was it real or a dream?

Up next: Dramatic views at Horseshoe Bend and Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona. For a look back at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. Season 7 starts in August. Stay tuned for the lineup!

All material (C) 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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