Having seen some really awesome photos of Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, I decided it was time for a road trip! Fortunately, both of these natural wonders are located just a couple miles from each other in the little town of Page, AZ.
There’s plenty to check off the bucket list all in one region! Page is in the very northern part of Arizona, close to the Utah border. It surrounds the southern shore of Lake Powell and is about an hours drive from the North Rim of The Grand Canyon.
The Antelope Canyons consist of two separate upper and lower sections. They are slot canyons which were formed from millions of years of flash floods sculpting the sandstone creating smooth flowing walls. The canyons are a photographer’s paradise; when the sun beams into the canyon it reflects the canyon walls creating a beautiful display.
A few important things to know before going…
The canyons are on the Navajo Indian Reservation and to see them you must take a guided tour. The many different tour companies located in Page are all run by the Navajo.
Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon are two completely separate tours. I choose Upper Canyon because it seemed to be the most popular one.
While there are many different options of tour companies, all the tours are almost identical, except for the longer and more detailed photographers tour. So if you’re taking the general tour, it doesn’t make a difference which company you choose.
All tours last around an hour, except the photographers tour which is longer and allows you more free time to walk around.
During the tour, the group walks single file to fit through the narrow canyon with other groups following close behind. It can be crowded and there’s not a lot of space to stand around or explore on your own.
There’s no need to worry about not capturing the best shots, your tour guide will tell you what and where to photograph and how to get the best picture. They will also show you some of the really cool shadows that are cast into the canyons and throw sand up to make awesome visual effects against the canyon walls!
Although I was surprised by how short the canyon was, it was definitely worth seeing!
Next stop on the road trip….
Horseshoe Bend is a section of the Colorado River just 4 miles from the Glen Canyon Dam. It’s a section of the river that has a natural 270-degree curve which is visible from the rim of the canyon.
This you get to experience at your own pace. It’s free and there’s no tour necessary. After you park it’s a short 3/4 miles to the edge. The walk is up a large dirt hill, so tennis shoes come in handy!
When we approached the rim I was speechless… It’s truly just untapped nature for the taking. You can stand right on the edge and stare over… No handrails to hold you back.
The rim of the bend is huge, so you can walk either direction to spread out from the crowds and find your own spot. We came right before sunset, which undoubtedly is a popular time.
Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam are just a short drive from Horseshoe making a convenient third stop on your road trip itinerary!
Lake Powell is actually the second largest reservoir in the US. Its shape is really unusual, it’s like a maze of semi-submerged small red rock islands creating canyons all over, surrounded by water giving a huge contrast against the sandstone. With almost no vegetation nearby… It looks like a lake from another planet!
Just a two-hour boat ride on Lake Powell brings you to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, one of the world’s largest natural bridges.
Dining options in Page can be a bit limited. I asked a local what the most popular restaurant in town was and she replied, “Denny’s.” Since Denny’s wasn’t what I had in mind for dinner, I relied on Yelp to find something yummy!
Not far from Glen Canyon Dam is Lake Powell Resort on the marina. They have The Rainbow Room for a fancier dinner option or the Driftwood Lounge for a more casual option. Both have an incredible view of the lake! The sunset here paints pink and purple over the sandstone surrounding the lake…it’s worth planning this sunset view into your trip. The resort is definitely one of the nicest options in the Page area.
Lake Powell Resort is also a great option for staying the night! But for the more outdoorsy, there’s camping and house boating on Lake Powell as well.
What are some of you favorite American road trips?!