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2019 Utah Travel Blog (Big Water area, Antelope Canyon)

Written by Jeff Drake
5 · 15 · 19

The last leg of our trip takes us to Big Water, Utah. This town is near Page, Arizona, which is home base for all things that are Antelope Canyon. And this was our primary target! As I mentioned previously, Antelope Canyon is on Navajo land, which means the Indians control the canyon and everything else that goes on in their land. To preserve the land and no doubt, to ensure a steady revenue stream (who can blame them?), they limit the people who can visit the canyon by enforcing the rule that only guided tours are allowed, guided by a Navajo, of course. (By the way, there are two Antelope Canyons, an upper and a lower. You want to do the upper canyon, as this is the canyon known for the very special lighting). There are two types of tours into upper Antelope Canyon – the basic everyday tour and the “photographic” everyday tour.

Just so you know, the beauty was all around the area, not just in the canyon.

Big Water area

Big Water sights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mentioned earlier that we had read about the tourist crush that can be experienced during a tour of Antelope Canyon and were concerned about it. Fortunately, the Indians were concerned too and did something about it. I don’t necessarily like the way they did it, but it is certainly better than a tourist free-for-all!

As you shall see, the canyon is a rather remarkable place for photography. You see pictures on the internet of some very cool Antelope Canyon shots, with light beaming down from cracks above and making very cool shots for someone lucky enough to capture it – especially so if you can capture it with no one else in the picture! This is something that would be hard to do if you had one long line of tourists walking single file ahead and behind you. Ugh!

In an apparent effort to satisfy those who are really, really, looking for that special photograph of the canyon, the Indians have set up a separate tour just for photographers. The standard sightseeing tour costs around $65 per person. But the special photographic tour costs $125 per person! Oh, and there are some other restrictions, too. If you are on the standard tour, you cannot wear a backpack, women are restricted to small purses, you cannot bring a camera bag, you cannot bring a tripod. It is painfully obvious that they are really trying to push people into the more expensive photography tour. To go on the photography tour according to the website, you have to bring a DSLR or some kind and tripods are encouraged. I actually contacted them about this. They agreed that my Canon SX60 would be fine to bring. LOL. I guess they are trying to see if you dropped a wad on a good camera, interpreting that as meaning you are a “serious” photographer.

I wondered about how they do these two tours? There’s only one canyon that people are really interested in, the upper. Do they give the photography tours their own private tour within the canyon, while the rest of the unwashed masses watch? Am I going to get mad about this? As it turned out, my worries were for naught. In the end, I couldn’t really see how the photography tour got any big advantage over the standard tour we were on.

The Navajo guides (ours and the others we saw) are really good at their job. The slot canyon twists and turns, which makes hiding a crowd pretty easy actually. The crowd moves around the turn, we all stop and take turns shooting the part of the canyon we are in (looking like there was no one else around, or just a few people), and then move on to the next photo opportunity. Yeah, you have people telling you periodically to move it, but the canyon is so stunning and the photos so great, I didn’t mind. The photography tour seemed to do the exact same thing! I’m glad I didn’t pay for that tour.

Oh, by the way, the Navajo guides are also good at something else – photography! You’d think they do tours of this place for a living! Lisa and I both had one of the guides grab our phones, go into the camera settings and make a couple changes, which immediately made better photos! I was amazed! And they took photos of people in just the right places (like they knew, or something), and would create some great shots by picking up dust from the floor and throwing it into the air to catch the light. I noticed when we arrived for the tour that all the guides wore coverings over their mouths fro dust. Now I know why. But I am really glad they did that!

I hope you enjoy these few pictures of Antelope Canyon:

 

 

There are so many more photos of Utah to share, but they will have to wait for their own slideshow. I hope you enjoyed this travel blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.