The Fire and Water of Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon, Slot Canyon, Light Beam, Page, Arizona

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.

Upper Antelope Canyon, Slot Canyon, Landscape, Page, Arizona

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.

Upper Antelope Canyon, Slot Canyon, Landscape, Page, Arizona, Wave, Rock

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.

Upper Antelope Canyon, Slot Canyon, Landscape, Page, Arizona, Light Beam

Elsewhere, the sun radiates diffuse light through colored stone.

Upper Antelope Canyon, Slot Canyon, Landscape, Page, Arizona, Light, Color

And breathes living fire into cold and lifeless rock.

Upper Antelope Canyon, Slot Canyon, Landscape, Page, Arizona, Light, Fire, Color

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32 Comments on “The Fire and Water of Antelope Canyon”

  1. lindaripperphotography January 11, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    Stunning Images…


  2. karinschiller January 11, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    WOW….marvellous pictures from a phantastic canyon. I am really impressed of the shapes that lights and shadows throw onto the rock. You had a wonderful excursion – thank you for let us taking part. Best regards, Karin


  3. gdmkimages January 11, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    This place is definitely on our list of places to visit next time we get the chance to visit the US.


  4. chris13jkt January 11, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    It’s a great place to shot beautiful and unique pictures. I have to put it in my list about places to visit.


  5. Animalcouriers January 11, 2013 at 9:23 am #



  6. Jane Lurie January 11, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    These are spectacular! What a wonderful experience. Need to put it on my photography bucket list. Great job!


  7. Luddy's Lens January 11, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Man, these images are bee-yoo-tiful! Look at that light! What an extraordinary place.


  8. katrinamillen January 11, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Amazing Photos 🙂


  9. trail-hike-life January 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Crazy cool.


  10. wnattawan January 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Brilliant shots. What a wonderful place on earth! This place is deserved a visit twice or more. Thank you for sharing.


  11. writecrites January 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    Stunning photos. I long to photograph here. Who should I contact about a guide?


  12. Expat Alien January 12, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    awesome photos… look like O’Keefe paintings…


    • Brian January 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Quite the compliment. Thanks.


  13. earthriderjudyberman January 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    Incredible photos. Thank you for sharing, Brian and Shannon.


  14. Bron January 13, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Hello and happy new year! I humbly just wanted to let you know I’ve given your amazing blog a ☆ for the Blog of the Year 2012 award:

    (I don’t expect you to do the rules bits, I really just wanted to let you know how great I think this blog is, tis all. 🙂


  15. sarah knipping January 13, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    I have nominated you for a Blog on Fire Award! If you would like to accept here’s the link to my post: 🙂


  16. eric.rial January 14, 2013 at 1:43 am #

    This has been on my Bucket List for a bit. Time to start a plan to move it to the done section. Great pictures, thanks for the inspiration.


  17. Rachael January 14, 2013 at 4:25 am #

    These are some of the nicest shots I have seen of this spectacular place. I have heard that it can get so crowded there is little hope of setting up a tripod. How did you find it from a photography standpoint? And what motivated you to leave out the Lower canyon? Just thinking ahead as this is on my list for our next trip to the SouthWest, possibly Easter 2014.


    • Brian January 14, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Hi Rachael,
      It’s true that Antelope Canyon is crowded and photography there is challenging. We took a “photography” tour from the guys linked above in the comments section and would recommend that. It’s pretty much the same tour except it is longer (you’ll appreciate the extra time) and the guide tries to hold the masses back from your shots.

      Even then, you’ll have limited time to set up your shots. My advice is to be very familiar with your camera gear before going so you won’t spend all your time fiddling with camera settings. Also you’ll often have to use a fairly narrow tripod stance to avoid blocking the entire canyon or having people trip over it, so it might be worthwhile to practice a bit with your tripod too.

      But don’t sweat it too much, the canyon is extremely photogenic.

      As far as the lower canyon goes, we skipped it only because of tour prices. We felt that paying for one tour was probably good enough for us, but would have loved seeing the lower canyon too if it were included in our tour.

      Happy travels,


      • Rachael January 14, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

        Hi Brian
        Thank you. That’s really helpful. Perhaps a monopod would be better. I am looking forward to seeing the other places you got to in this favourite (for me) part of the world.


  18. diningnirvana January 14, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    These photos are absolutely gorgeous – a wonderful advertisement for the canyon. When do you think the best time of year to go is? If you answer Rachael’s questions – you’ll also answer the ones I haven’t mentioned 🙂 Cheers from Australia.


    • Brian January 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      We didn’t research the best time of the year for Antelope but my understanding is that anytime during the summer when the sun is high enough to create light beams is a good time. Late spring and early fall are probably pretty good too and you’ll beat the worst of the desert heat then as well.


  19. Journey Photographic January 14, 2013 at 6:54 am #

    Beautiful! Another place on the bucket list…


  20. suesilver January 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    Great Photographs! Thank you for stopping by my blog,also. I’m glad you like it. I am keen to check out all your photos. Great Blog! Thank you.


  21. Arizona girl January 24, 2013 at 3:54 am #

    Wouldn’t it be fun to spend the whole day there, just watching the light shift? I’m glad you guys had the opportunity to experience such a small but magical piece of the planet!


  22. timothywpawiro January 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm #


    Did u take a photo of yourself under that ray of light? 😀


  23. transplantedtatar March 17, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Wow, you captured the light beams! What time of year did you go and was it very crowded? We’ve been there in October, too late for the light beams — but still an awe-inspiring place.


    • Brian March 17, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      We were there in mid-October. Just in time to catch the last few rays of light into the canyon.

      It was indeed crowded. I think it always is.



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