“There’s no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this…” unknown
So let me start this by saying, both Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon have been on my bucket list for waaaay too long and I’m so freaking happy that I finally got to see them! The pictures almost don’t do them justice… they were such beautiful, spiritual places. Going there also inspired me to start documenting some of the beautiful places around Arizona! Over the next year I’ll be posting using #ExploreAZ. So let me get into all the nitty gritty details of our trip up north to Page, AZ all in one day (I seriously don’t recommend doing this in one day but that’s all we had).
Wyatt and I have been into hiking for years and would pretty much go somewhere new every weekend pre babies. Unfortunately, since babies it’s been considerably less than I’d like. We had plans to do both Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend last fall but we didn’t have anyone willing to watch our two little terrors overnight at the time so we decided to postpone instead of taking them with. Now that I’ve gone myself I know that you could totally do these hikes with kids but I definitely think it’s preferable not to. There aren’t any railings or guards at Horseshoe Bend and I know Harper loves to tear off running in a moments notice so I think I’d be too distracted and freaked out to even get close enough to see the view. Upper Antelope Canyon, which is the portion we hiked, could totally handle kids but it gets super crowed in there with all the tours and I think it’d be the same lack of enjoyment worrying about everyone bumping into you etc.
So for this trip I went with four other gals that I work in the salon with, luckily all of them enjoy hiking and we all get along great so it made for a fun road trip. Horseshoe Bend is about 4 hours north of Phoenix without much traffic so if you have a tour reservation make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get up there. It’s a pretty easy drive other than you’re in the mountains and definitely have to pay attention, but it’s so pretty as you go through Flagstaff and Camp Verde that there’s plenty of sightseeing.
You don’t have to have a tour guide Horseshoe Bend but I know several of the companies up there do combined tours of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend if that’s your thing. We loved getting up there with time to spare for relaxing, moving around, and for taking as many pictures as possible haha. There’s a trailhead with bathrooms right off the highway and it’s about a 1 1/2 mile roundtrip on the hiking distance. It’s a super easy hike that is well maintained but there are some hills so I’d definitely recommend wearing tennis shoes or hiking boots. I also mentioned that there are no guard rails of any sort so if you’re scared of heights (ME!) be prepared, 1,000 feet is definitely a long way down! The girls totally laughed at me as I crawled on my hands and knees to the edge but there was no way I was going to miss out on that view. You look down on the Colorado river and it was so neat to see boats that far down. Once you’re done here you can hike back out and drive on into Page, AZ which is only about 10 more minutes north.
Page is super small compared to Phoenix but you can tell it gets a lot of visitors due to Lake Powell and all of the hiking destinations that are close by. We stopped here and had lunch at burger placed called Slackers that was pretty good. FYI if you go visit, none of the restaurants outside of fast-food open before 11am. We ended up having some time to waste which was fine because there are some neat trading posts and shops that have a ton of original Navajo weavings and things. Page is also where we needed to meet up with our tour later on. We used the Antelope Canyon Slot Tours company and we were happy with them, but I could tell that some of the guides were better than others.
Upper Antelope Canyon
You meet at the tours shop location and they bus you out to the opening of the canyon in a caravan. You cannot go into the canyons without a tour guide so don’t plan on trying. We did the Upper canyon tour that started at 1 pm which was a little later than we wanted but the prime time photography tour at 1030 am was already full when we booked. We would’ve loved to do both the Upper and Lower canyon tours but we were tight on time so we just flipped a coin to pick. The tour is about 1 1/2 hours and don’t forget that you have to arrive 30 minutes early. There’s literally nothing out there so make sure you bring water etc. They don’t allow backpacks or tripods (unless you’re on the official photography tour) but they were fine with the Camelpacks that we brought. 100% bring your camera if you have one! The guides will help you get your settings tuned into the canyon because it can be a little tricky and they’ll also point out some of the most iconic spots in the canyon for you. It’s crazy to see all of that sandstone that’s been shaped by the water and the wind for so many years. There’s literally sand pouring down on you in spots and the way the light hits the walls in completely unreal. It’s a very easy hike with no elevation changes and it’s an out and back style hike. This was such an amazing experience… the Navajo believe that these canyons are sacred spots and if you’re open to it I think you can feel such energy here. The whole time you’re in there it’s like the air is quiet and I definitely ended up whispering a lot. And then you emerge into the light and the world again when you finish and I almost felt changed. I don’t know if that’s weird or if the other girls felt the same but I honestly felt something bigger than myself when I was in there. I’m so grateful for the Navajo guides and the fact that they allow these tours to happen.
The way home was for sure a little rough, driving 4 hours then hiking and being in the sun does not make you want to sit in the car for another 4 hours haha. But we blasted some music and powered through and we were home by 7 pm. Longest. Day. EVER! But so so worth it. I think it would be awesome to go up there with a night or two that you’re able to stay. You’re so close to Utah that you could totally drive up to Zion, drive another hour and see The Wave or head a little west and visit the Grand Canyon. I’m so excited that this trip got me wanting to hike and explore my wanderlust again… I needed it.
Peace out friends, have a great weekend!