Upper Antelope Canyon

The Lore

Upper Antelope CanyonIn the middle of the Desert in Northern Arizona, there is a Canyon that is so narrow at the top that light barely squeaks in. With walls that are as high as a Cathedral! With luck, a shaft of light beaming from the Sun high above, will shine down almost as if it came from Heaven. This very spiritual place is on sacred Navajo territory. In fact, you can not venture here on your own! You must go with a Navajo guide. I think they would scalp you if you tried to go there on your own! With good reason, though. The white man has done considerable damage to these fragile canyon walls over-the-years. In the Eighties, a group of photographers who ventured into the canyon on their own, were killed by a flash flood that flushed through the canyon. Another group that was shooting a movie drilled holes into the canyon walls for their lighting supports. These events caused the canyon to be closed, except by reservation. No pun intended! The Navajo Tribe has a pretty sophisticated operation to control the access. You need to make an appointment, months ahead. You meet at their office in Page Arizona. They caravan you to the entrance in four-wheel-drive SUVs, through locked gates. All you see is desert, there is no hint and all-of-the-sudden, an opening in the boulders ahead! You step out of the vehicle and walk the short distance into this "Hole-in-the-Wall". You are awed by something so Spiritual and Extraordinary, you just stare for a while! Wow! That is Phenomenal!

Facts and Location

Upper Antelope Canyon 2Upper Antelope Canyon is near the city of Page in the middle of Northern Arizona. It is on Navajo Land and you have to have permission to go there! Even then, you need to be with a Navajo Guide. The best way to research this phenomenon is on the Internet. This is one place where you need to do your homework and know your equipment. It is dark and sandy inside. And, there is not much time. You need to be prepared to jump out of the vehicle and be ready to shoot when you enter. This means your camera is all-ready mounted on the tripod and fitted with the lens and accessories you want to use. You do not want to change lenses inside as the sandy dust is thick. This dust is actually a blessing as it allows for the shaft of light as well as some of the unusual colors. The colors you see on my images are real. Navajo Sandstone is a reddish-purple and turns orange when bathed in sunlight. The time of the year is very important here. You do not want to venture here during the rainy season! These slot canyons are flushed with water every time there is a rainstorm that will drain into it. Due to the narrow walls, the water torments through treacherously. The Navajo actually will not let you go here during unsafe times.

Research and Gearing-Up

Upper Antelope Canyon is one Phenomenon that requires allot of research in order to capture the optimal image. Look at the work of other photographers who have been there and read whatever they may have to offer. This will prepare you for something truly Spiritual. The Navajo guides are very knowledgeable about the Canyon and how best to shoot it. They have had allot of experience. Everyone that ventures here has to go with them. You need reservations months ahead, and then some. For this venture you want to pack light. The canyon is narrow and you have no room for a backpack. One would think a headlamp would be a good idea, but a headlight in the dark canyon full of photographers is a real No-No!

Here's a list of my equipment that I brought into the canyon:


The Prize

The Prize of Upper Antelope Canyon is a truly One-of-a-Kind Image.In the images show on this page, I am shooting with my 12-24mm wide-angle Sigma zoom lens. The walls of the Canyon are very high and you would not be able to capture the entire view with a non wide-angle lens. In the lower picture there is a "tumbleweed" stuck in the canyon walls. I have another image where there is an actual tree-trunk sized log jammed in the walls and appears as if were a toothpick! the size is incredible! To photograph in this canyon is truly a phenomenal experience!