Antelope Canyon is the jewel of the American Southwest, IMHO. Its beauty is impossible to describe but I will try. It is a wondrous magical natural desert cathedral that is forever changing with light as the sun moves across the sky. The light filtering down illuminates the swirling smooth sandstone canyon walls and creates a myriad of gorgeous colors and patterns. This canyon is simply one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The experience of being there and seeing the dancing colors and feeling the smooth sandstone underneath your fingers as you trail them along the walls is very uplifting and spiritual. This is a place every person should visit before they die to see the fantastic work of Mother Nature. I have been there twice, once in the fall of 2000 and then again in the spring of 2004, and I long to go back again.
Antelope Creek enters Lake Powell about 3 miles east of Page, Arizona at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, and for most of its course it flows through a wide sandy wash that's not particularly scenic. But it does flow through 2 sections of narrow slot canyon carved into rock and this is where the fun begins. The Upper Canyon is the most visited because you can simply walk into it and walking through the canyon itself is very easy. It is about 120 feet deep, a few feet wide, and about as long as a city block.
The Navajo called the upper canyon Tse' bighanilini meaning "the place where water runs through rocks." They called the lower canyon Hasdestwazi or "spiral rock arches." Pronghorn antelope used to roam this area and that is probably why settlers named it Antelope Canyon.
Lower Antelope Canyon is longer (about 1/2 mile) and deeper (about 150 feet) and you must climb down into it using ladders. The floor of the canyon is rocky and uneven and sometimes muddy. The passageways sometimes get trapped with debris that can be hard to get around or over. Visitors here must also be accompanied by a guide.
The absolute lowest part of the canyon, where it enters Lake Powell, can be explored quite easily via boat. Click here for a few photos showing the canyon as it enters the lake http://www.tarol.com/roadtrips_ut_04_lake_powell.
Visits to Antelope Canyon start in Page, Arizona, which is right on the border of Arizona and Utah near the Glen Canyon Dam where Highways 89 and 98 meet. In Page there are a couple of companies that provide tours to Antelope Canyon. I've found that this is a most convenient option as for about $25-30 you can book a 2-hour tour with a friendly guide that will do all the driving for you and tell you about the canyon. You can book longer tours for more $$. This is the link to the tour company that I have used before http://www.antelopecanyon.com
You must have a permit and a guide to visit Antelope Canyon since it is on Navajo Land. During busy times (typically April through October) there is a booth right at the entrance to Antelope Canyon along Highway 98 about 5 miles east of Page that will sell you a permit and where you can book a guide, but I've found the easiest way to obtain a permit is to book a tour through one of the companies in Page.
Please note, slot canyons should not be visited if there is any chance of rain in the area! In 1997 11 people were drowned during a flash flood in Lower Antelope Canyon. It was closed for many months but finally re-opened.
If you wear contacts, you may consider glasses for the day. The fine sand sometimes blows fiercely through the canyon and will irritate your eyes to no end. You may also want to bring a sweater since the temperature inside the canyon is typically 20 degrees cooler than it is outside. Bring plenty of water, of course, as this is a desert.
Be sure to bring your camera and a tri-pod. The light is dim so hand-held shots will most likely turn out blurry. Bring a camera that has manual settings so you can turn off the flash and allow for longer shutter-speeds. And finally, if you wish to photograph sunbeams entering the canyon, book your trip mid-day during the summer months. In the fall, winter, and spring the sun is at such an angle that you won't get direct sunbeams inside the canyon.
More photos here http://www.tarol.com/antelopecanyon.html
The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com