Hiking at our typical speed we’d ordinarily have blazed through the meager 600 foot length of Antelope Canyon in about two minutes. Instead, we spent closer to two hours ogling this Page, Arizona, slot canyon. We would have stayed even longer had our guide not kept us moving.
Unlike the far longer Buckskin Gulch trail that we explored on our own after paying a nominal fee, Antelope is on Navajo Land and requires a guide to enter. It’s worth the price of admission.
The “Upper Canyon” that we visited is known to the Navajo as Tsé bighánílíní, “the place where water runs through rocks.” It’s a description that is quite literally true. Annual monsoons in the area bring flash floods so powerful they carve sandstone into narrow, twisting and striated canyons. What’s left behind is rock so smooth and flowing it resembles the waves that gave it shape.
And then there’s light. From spring to early fall when the sun rises high enough in the afternoon sky, shafts of light find their way through the maze of twisting rock above and pierce the canyon’s near-perpetual darkness.
Elsewhere, the sun radiates diffuse light through colored stone.
And breathes living fire into cold and lifeless rock.