The world famous beam of light in Arizona’s Upper Antelope Canyon. Photo by Travis Burke.
Starting next month and ending in September, one of the most popular natural phenomena to photograph will begin appearing: the famous beam of light that cuts through the Upper Antelope Canyon near the Arizona-Utah border. Indeed, when I snapped the above photograph, I was one of 20 people scrambling to get the same shot, and more people were waiting their turn outside the alcove, belying the peaceful feeling the photo exudes. This beam of light is one of the reasons why the Antelope Canyons are widely regarded as the most popular slot canyons in the American Southwest. But there is more to these canyons than this light beam, especially if you venture to the Lower Antelope Canyon, which isn’t as widely traveled but still boasts the same sensuous colors and unique textures. Check out my photo gallery of the lower canyon below.
To get into the lower canyon you have to slip through a crevice, and this canyon requires a little bit more climbing over rocks, squeezing through tight spots, and walking down uneven terrain than the Upper Antelope Canyon, which may be why it’s not as popular. Photo by Travis Burke.
After you squeeze into the canyon you’re met with a metal ladder to help you get to the bottom. Before the ladder was installed travelers had to rappel to the bottom, and there wouldn’t be any way to get out of the canyon at the opposite end without a ladder. Photo by Travis Burke.
The canyons sit on Navajo land and all travelers are required to pay for a pass to visit them, and the price varies depending on which tour company you use. Experts advise travelers to use a tour guide when visiting the canyon, as there is a danger of flash floods; in 1997 11 tourists died during one such incident. Photo by Travis Burke.
Everywhere you look in the canyons, the light hits the rocks differently, so I find myself constantly spinning around, taking everything in from all directions. Photo by Travis Burke.
Flash flooding has carved these Navajo sandstone canyons over the millennia, giving them their wave-like appearance. Photo by Travis Burke.
The Antelope Canyons are listed on many travel bucket lists, and they’re definitely worthy of this fame. Photo by Travis Burke.