Antelope, Rattlesnake & Owl Canyons: The Highlight of the Whole Trip
WHEN DID WE GO: August 7, 2017
WHY DID WE GO: USA Road Trip - en route to Horseshoe Bend/Grand Canyon from Mesa Verde
HOW LONG WERE WE THERE: 3+ hours
It's not even worth mentioning the hiccups of this day because the rest of it went so flawlessly that the hiccups were barely even noticeable.
ANTELOPE CANYON. This is by far the most famous of all the slot canyons in this area. You know those incredible light beam photos you see where it almost seems like you could reach out and touch them? Ya, those photos are taken here. In fact, in 2014, a black and white photo of Antelope Canyon's light beams sold for $6.5 million. At the time, it was the most expensive photograph ever purchased. Antelope Canyon's fame has originated from such Instagram-worthy photos and as such the touring business here is still relatively new. In fact, the tour group we toured with, which is one of the most established in the area, had only gotten their website up and running in the 6 months before we'd gotten there. Before that, it was first come first serve.
As you can see in the photos below (all of which were taken in Antelope Canyon), the colors and shadows and different shapes that you can capture are essentially limitless. Our tour guide must have said 100s of times, "All you need is a camera and imagination." See that photo on the leftof the collection below? They call that the shark. And the second image in? It's a heart. The walls of Antelope Canyon are also famous for the waves that can be seen in the top panel of images on the left above, as well as in the third (the one with me in it!) and fourth in the collection below. Incredible isn't it?
Important Note: Expect crowds in Antelope Canyon. This was probably what made it so that Antelope Canyon was actually not my favorite slot canyon we saw. There were so many instances where you had to stop and wait for tour groups and crowds to pass and sometimes people would walk through your pictures. For the most part the tour guides were really good about stopping their groups so that the groups in front of them could take photos, but accidents do happen. To get an idea of the sheer number of people that are at Antelope Canyon each day, just check out Google Earth. See all those cars parked outside the canyon? Ya. I don't make this stuff up.
RATTLESNAKE CANYON. This was by far my favorite slot canyon we visited. Why? Because it had all the incredible scenery of Antelope Canyon--the vibrant colors, the meandering slots, which were perhaps more striking than those of Antelope Canyon. It was all of the same as Antelope Canyon, but the bonus was - no crowds! Because we were the only people in the entire canyon. 8 people total compared to the the hundreds that teemed through the slots in Antelope Canyon. That was what was amazing about Rattlesnake canyon, and why it was my fave! There were also all sorts of fun adventurous ladders all over the place in this canyon, too!
OWL CANYON. Owl Canyon was a little bit different than the other two. It was still a slot canyon, but it was a lot wider and not nearly as winding as the other two canyons. But, even though it was different, I still managed to get some of my absolute best and favorite photos of the day from this entire day from this canyon. Though it would've been better if we actually saw owls in Owl canyon, but unfortunately no such sightings occurred. Womp womp.
Tour Company information.
Note that you cannot tour Antelope Canyon without a tour. So, this section of this review is VERY important.
We toured with Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours.
We waited a bit too long to book the Primetime tour, which is the tour you want to be on to get the infamous light beams in Antelope Canyon, but in hindsight, I'm actually super happy we didn't do that tour. We ended up doing a 3-canyon tour, which was more expensive, but definitely worth the money. You can find the tour that we did here. It was Tour 12 departing at 2:30pm.
What I really loved about this tour is that it was tiny. There were 7 of us plus our guide, meaning we didn't have to go in a 20-30 person group (gross!) and as such we didn't have to ride in one of those dusty open-air trucks. We got to ride in an Excursion! Win!
Also, despite the little "briefing" they give you before you leave about how our guides won't help us take picture and won't take picture of us, our guide did! I would guess that this is because we had such a small group that our guide could very easily help us take pictures and/or take pictures of the two groups that our 3-canyon tour encompassed.
Also, another bonus of this tour company is the fact that they even tour other canyons. According to our briefing, they are the only tour company that operates and tours the slot canyons other than Upper and Lower Antelope canyon. I believe that this has to do with a special agreement that they had with the Navajo. But they definitely have something very unique to offer (and it's another reason why I encourage you to do a multi-canyon tour).
I highly recommend this tour group! We had a phenomenal experience with them!