Antelope Canyon and The Wave Trip 2017: Mistakes To Avoid!

Our trip experience in May.  Hopefully someone can learn from our mistakes…

We originally planned on doing a photography tour in one of the Antelope Canyon slots, but everything ended up being sold out on the date that we were there so we decided to wing it.  The drive from North Ogden to Page, Arizona took about 6 hours.

On the way through Kanab, Utah we found the best coffee shop, “Willow Canyon Outdoors”. This great little shop not only fulfilled our coffee need but we were able to peruse through a selection of books, outdoor gear and clothing while we waited. It was a perfect opportunity for Ange to find a hat that was all her own (she normally steals mine).

 

 

After our quick stop in Kanab we made it to our hotel in Page about 5 pm on Friday. Page is a great area; plenty of places to eat and see.  There was also the added bonus of the Horseshoe Bend trail head being 5 minutes from our hotel. We decided to enjoy the rest of our day there and stay to watch the sunset.  It is a short, easy, but very popular, 1 mile hike to the site.  There must have been about 100 people there. There were even 2 groups of people taking bridal portraits.

 

 

 

The next morning we drove the 1 hour back to Kanab to put in for The Wave lottery at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument visitor center. We were so excited as we strolled in at 8:30 (right on time to put our names in the lottery) because the parking lot was empty. We might have a shot! That is until the park ranger at the counter reminded us that Arizona and Utah are on different time zones during the summer. We missed the drawing by 30 minutes! Lesson learned: Be aware of the time changes (or stay at the Comfort Suites that is next to the visitor center).  The Wave permit lottery happens every morning at 9 am. The park rangers start taking names at 8:30 am. If you are lucky enough to be one of the 10 to have your name drawn (apparently there are upwards of 50-90 people each day depending on season) you receive your permit for the following day. Ie – Saturday’s drawing is for Sunday’s permits.

Kicking ourselves for this oversight we headed back to Arizona for our tour of the Lower Antelope Canyon at noon.  This tour cost us $25 per person and we booked it online the day before.  When we got to the parking lot it had gotten really windy and in this sandy area we were quickly covered in grit. I recommend bringing hats, bandannas, desert scarf, & sunglasses to keep sand out of your eyes. And yes, you will get sand all over your camera equipment, so make sure your have a filter for your lenses.

There were about 15 people in our group.  Our tour guide, Darren, was very knowledgeable, talkative and funny. We learned a lot about the Navajo nation’s history as we waited our turn to descend the ladders into the slots.  The beginning of the tour started with a descent on a steep, steel ladder to get to the slot. As we walked we gradually climbed ladders up and eventually come out of the slot to the topside.  It was about a 1 mile hike, took an hour and a half, and was breath-taking! We had plenty of light and a great tour guide, what else can you ask for?  Along with entertaining and informing us along the way Darren would help people in our group find the best settings on their camera phones for the best pictures and would gladly take any photos you wanted. Using my Nikon D750, 90% of my pictures turned out great!

 

 

 

After we went back to our room to recharge, we were off to our 5 pm Upper Antelope Canyon tour.  We met at a parking lot/gift shop in Page where they shuttled us to the site.  I felt like I was in Jurassic park for moment, out looking for dinosaurs.  This tour cost us $52 a person.  There was about 20 people in our group.  Our tour guide on this tour wasn’t as talkative but he did point out all the great photo places with a laser pointer.  This tour was much shorter and was an out and back, where the lower canyon was a full loop. The lighting during this tour wasn’t very good but that could have just been because the sun wasn’t directly over the slots like it was at noon. Using my backup camera, The Nikon D7000, only 10% of my pictures were keepers.  This tour didn’t allow flash or tripod which was too bad because they had an awesome sand fall in the middle.

 

 

If I have to pick , my favorite is the Lower Antelope Canyon tour!  I would really like to go back and do the Photographer tour  in the near future.

After this tour we got a restaurant recommendation and headed back to Horseshoe bend to stargaze.  Even with our headlamps we were a little leery of the ledges but we had a fun time and there definitely weren’t as many people this trip.

 

When Sunday came we were ready for a tourist detox so we headed to the minimally populated Buckskin Gulch trail. Supposedly there is a beautiful slot canyon with some water in it but we didn’t make it.  We parked at the Buckskin Gulch trail head and hiked for an hour and never found the slot entrance.  We had to head back because we only had 2 hours to hike that morning.  Come to find out it is a 4.4 mile hike to get to the slot canyon.  Long story short, if you want to see the slots canyon at Buckskin Gulch start at Wire Pass parking lot.  Make sure to bring cash or checkbook to pay the $6 per person permit fee.

 

When we do it again we’ll remember:

  • stay at the Comfort Suites in Kanab, Utah for easy access to the The Wave lottery
  • buy photographer tour passes for Lower Antelope Canyon far in advance
  • visit Horseshoe Bend
  • hike The Wave (or hike Buckskin Gulch starting at Wire Pass parking lot, if I didn’t get The Wave permit).

 

Overall it was an amazing trip for our 10 year anniversary!  Learn from our mistakes and go out and explore!

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

×