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“Serious Photographers Should Avoid”
Review of Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon
Ranked #4 of 20 things to do in Page
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Located near Lake Powell, this "slot" canyon is considered sacred by the Navajo.
Reviewed August 3, 2011

I have visited the Antelope Canyons on the Navajo Indian Reservation just outside of Page Arizona at least a dozen times over the past 20 years to take photos in this unique canyon. What used to be a beautiful experience has turned into a nightmare based on my recent trip in July of 2011. What used to be a peaceful, relaxing place to enjoy has now been turned into a Disneyland like attraction that is packed with tourists - and I mean packed. We booked the photography tour through Antelope Canyon Tours. A dozen of us we put into an open-air vehicle and driven to the entrance of the canyon (20 minute ride). On arriving, there must have been 20 other similiar vehicles parked outside the entrance. If each vehicle carried 10-12 people, you can do the math. The canyon is only about a quarter of a mile in length so you can imagine how crowded it was to have between 200 and 300 people walking through it. We actually had to take turns taking photos because it was so crowded. It was almost impossible to get any photos of the canyon without other people being in your pictures. Because of the time of year, the sun creates beams of light on the canyon floor in various locations. The tour guides, in order to enhance the beams, toss dirt and sand up into the beams. Nice idea, but your camera equipment ends up covered with dust and sand. I had to take my camera to get it professionally cleaned once I returned home. All in all, it is still a beautiful place, but because of the hordes of people being run through it, it was a miserable experience. I would never recommend this tour to any serious photographer. It is too bad that the tribe appears to be more interested in collecting fees than it providing an enjoyable experience.

Date of experience: July 2011
65  Thank SteveinTX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 29, 2011

I really hadn't heard about Antelope Canyon, until arranging a smooth water rafting excursion on the Colorado River. It is a slot canyon on Navajo land that offers stunning scenery and photo opportunities. It was well worth the trip. It is a somewhat bumpy jeep ride 40 minutes from Page, and must be booked via an authorized Navajo guide\tour company.

Date of experience: July 2011
4  Thank pathfinndr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2011

The Antelope Canyon is the most unique natural beauty I've experienced. We went to the lower canyon in late April and it was relatively quiet. Two of us bought the photographer pass which gave us 2 hours to spend in the canyon, which was just enough for us to take our time to walk through the canyon to and fro, with time to take plenty of photos. We are serious photographers and we took our time setting up tripod and waiting for people to pass, which only happened a handful of times.

You may want to bring a plastic bag to cover your camera if your gear is not weather-sealed. The bottom is quite sandy - sand stayed inside my shoe for quite a while after the trip.

The canyon is quite accessible - within minutes of Page, so you don't need to join a tour if you have a car. That way you'll also be able to take your time and enjoy the place at your own pace.

Date of experience: April 2011
23  Thank Victor_35_Countries
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2011

Antelope Canyon is beautiful, and very interesting.

Unfortunately, you are only able to see the Canyon as part of an organised tour. We had a good time and our tour guide was very knowledgable, but the sheer number of people meant that you were herded through the canyon, with a stream of people in front and behind you.

The tour was centred on photo taking points, which was great, but it would have been interesting to also know more about the canyon.

Overall I would say that it is worth a trip, but unfortunate that you are not able to explore on your own.

Date of experience: July 2011
4  Thank Boris1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 27, 2011

I'm not going to repeat all the rave reviews of the exquisit beauty of the (these) canyons which have already been posted here by many others but instead will discuss the tour we took with particular attention to the serious photographer.

Let me start by stating that I am a serious photographer. I have won several national photo contests with landscape photos. I shoot with high end DSLR cameras and pro quality lenses along with other supplies that fill a back pack and weigh in at around 30 pounds (and my wife refuses to carry for me - go figure). In other words, I'm not a cell phone or Point and Shoot snapshot shooter. I take my time to get good results. As such I researched several Antelope Valley tour operators before deciding to go with Navajo Antelope Canyon Tours (which I'll just call NAVT) at http://navajoantelopecanyon.com/index.html.

We would only be in the Page area 1 day so I decided to make advance reservations rather than figure it out when I got there as some other posts in this web site suggested. Prior to selecting this operator I contacted 3 others. I can't remember the 3rd but the other one was Chiefe Tstosie (sp?).

NAVT is owned and operated by Carol Bigthumb. I'm not sure of the details of land ownership in the Navajo tribe but according to our guide (Carol's son - I can't recall his name) their family have lived with these canyons as their backyard for generations. In fact (according to the guide) one of the canyons was named by Carol when she found one of her stray sheep in it (Mountain Sheep Caynon). I don't know if this is unique to Carol's family or if that entire area had been communally owned by the entire tribe giving them all the same "this is my backyard" story.

Anyway back the tour itself. NAVT takes you in a Chevy Suburban and limits each tour to 6 or so people (their web site says 8 guests with 2 guides). Our particular tour had a total of 4 plus 1 guide. The other tours we saw put you in the back of a pickup truck on installed benches and have a dozen or more per tour (some take multiple truck fulls as a single tour (photo attached). The other tours give 1 to 2 hours in the Canyon. The NAVT half day photo tour is 5 hours, most all of it in the canyons. We meet at 8:00 am and are in the canyons before 8:45 and get done around 1:30 or 2:00 as I recall.

NAVT offers two photo tours; a half day and a full day. The morning portion of both is the same and includes 3 of the slot canyons. The afternoon shoot adds 2 more canyons. We did the half day as we had to get on the road to Monument Valley. The morning shoot always includes Upper Antelope which is the famous one with the light beams. The other two canyons seem to vary. In our case our communications indicated the other two would be Rattlesnake and Lower Antelope. When we got there they had switched to Rattlesnake and Mountain Sheep. The stated reason was that it was no longer required to have a guide in Lower Antelope so one could go there on your own whereas you can only go to Mountain Sheep with a guide. If requested, Carol will give you a pass for Lower Antelope that reduces the park fee if you go the same day but you still pay for parking as I understand. If you add the afternoon for the full day tour they include two more canyons.

All the canyons were magnificent in their own right and in Rattle Snake and Mountain Sheep our tour was the only tour in the canyon. We never saw another soul. This gave plenty of time to set up the tripod, work the scene and try various things that in the crowded Upper Antelope would not be possible or practical.

We did Rattle Snake and Mountain Sheep first, then went over to Upper Antelope to be there for the famous "light beams". Our guide knew the time table for each tour of each of the other operators that go to Upper Antelope and timed our arrival there just as one of the big tours was leaving and about 20 minutes before the next big one arrived. This gave us a good 15 to 20 minutes in the canyon with relatively few other people around. Of course at the "Peak" time of the light beams several other tours had joined the frey as it were so things got a bit crowded. Unfortunatly the weather was somewhat overcast and there were no light beams that day. After the other tours left we had some relative quiet time again during which a break in the clouds came by and we caught some light patterns on the floor (photo attached).

Our guide, a photographer in his own right, was excellent in both letting you work the scene on your own, but then pointing out perspectives or angles you may not have noticed. He was also very good at helping those that needed it with technical issues. In the crowded Upper Antelope canyon he was very adpet at blocking other people from wandering into our shots which allowed us to get some people free photos. In all 3 canyons we visited I felt we had as much time as needed. I never felt rushed to "move on".

I don't know how different the experience would be during peak season (we were there mid May) Other than the cloud preventing us getting the "Beams" shot it was a great tour. Well worth the extra cost.

You can see more photos from this tour at http://www.danhartfordphoto.com/page-slot-canyons. All photos copyright 2011 DanHartfordPhoto.

Date of experience: May 2011
43  Thank Califdan69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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