In the fall of 2005 we headed for Page, Arizona to do a little sight seeing. The focus of the trip is to see Antelope Canyon, located just outside of Page on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Since we are spending a few days in the area we plan to tour Glenn Canyon Dam and take a guided tour of Lake Powell.
We are in the truck with the camper so we have the opportunity to simply find a spot off the beaten path and camp. Monty has always been good at finding the perfect camp spot and he proved to be up to the challenge again. We found a dirt road about ten miles outside Page and about three miles off the main highway. We were on a slight rise so we could see the lake and highway. The sandstone rock and a wash provided the perfect environment for us to climb around and play with Mattie. We had to avoid the old horse corral though, dogs like nothing better than to snack on dried horse droppings, YUCK.
The road ended just beyond the horse corral so we assume that was the purpose of this road. This was a Friday night and after we had dinner, took a walk and settled in for the night a car drove up our road and stopped at the horse corral. We thought that was a little strange, not another camper or horse tailer, just a car. Then head lights started appearing down the road like a parade, and pretty soon there was a gathering of about twenty- five Native Americans. They started a fire in an old barrel and after about two hours they put out the fire and headed back to town. I guess they were celebrating the end of the work week. It was the strangest thing!
We’ve driven by Lake Powell often on our way from Utah to Colorado, and we usually stop at the lookouts, the view from the highway has markedly changed over the years. Areas where we used to see water is now all just bottom land with grass and rocks. Hopefully the drought in the Southwest will end soon and the lake will be full again.
Our tour boat captain was the youngest female Native American captain in the country. She did an excellent job and it was interesting to hear the narration and enjoy the beautiful fall day. We left the marina and headed out past the dam and up into the narrow slot canyons. Lake Powell is unique because although there is a lot of wide open space for water skiing and jet skis the slot canyons on the sides are really the most intriguing part of the lake. We took the tour boat up several of the canyons and in some places we were almost touching both sides of the canyon walls. As I mentioned, the captain was excellent and we never even brushed the sides. We could clearly see the water levels on the walls and the Navajo Varnish on the rocks was beautiful.
Next stop Antelope Canyon, this a spectacular canyon formed by sandstone in the center of a usually dry wash. During the rainy season the water rushes down the wash and is blocked by the sandstone. The water forces its way thru the rocks creating beautiful swirls and smooth rock formations. As I mentioned this is on reservation land and you must have a guide to visit the canyon. The Native Americans take reservations in town and everyone climbs into jeeps for the ride up a dry wash to the canyon.
The entrance, is an unassuming narrow crack in the rocks, but inside it is bursting with rose, tan, beige and yellow sandstone rock. The window (opening in the sandstone) in the top allows light in and the walls reflect the light and marvelous shadows. The canyon itself is relatively short but spectacular. This is a photographers dream. It might be the most photographed canyon ever. For years we have seen pictures of it in magazines.
Sandstone Entrance to Antelope Canyon
Several years ago fourteen tourists lost their lives here when a flash flood from a rain storm twenty-five miles away swept thru the narrow canyon. They had no place to go and drowned there. Antelope Canyon is definitely a ‘must see’ place, but not during the rainy season.
The Glen Canyon Dam has an interesting visitor center, part of the building hangs out over the steep cliff side. From down at the dam it looks like some sort of space ship landing. The dam tour starts with an informational movie and then a guided tour down into the actual dam. The guide was good and it was interesting to learn how much material was used to build the dam and to see the big turbines that generate electricity.
We moved our campsite to a side canyon area near the Paria Canyon Wilderness area. Paria Canyon is a long slot canyon hike. Many people backpack through the area, taking a couple of days to travel from one end to the other. There were a lot of cars in the parking area. It is after the flash flood season and the fall weather is beautiful a perfect time to explore.
Once again Monty selected a perfect spot for us. This canyon was lovely, red cliffs and green trees and a long wash to walk in, it was wonderful.