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Way_North Dec 3rd, 2007 07:27 AM

Lower Antelope Canyon and my 88 year-old grandfather
We are going in mid-March to Arizona and meeting in Page, AZ with my 88 year old grandfather and his wife. They are going to be on a hiking independent trip (not Elderhostel) near Sedona and Grand Canyon. From what I read access to the Lower Antelope Canyon is a kind of challenging. I would like someone who actually went there to give me description of his/her visit. My grandpa is in a great physical condition, he hikes, scuba, snorkels, exercises every morning but I still worry about his safety. His wife is an outdoor person too but large. Is the entrance to this canyon very narrow? We'll be visiting the Upper Antelope Canyon but I don't think we need to worry about this one. Thank you

Bill_H Dec 3rd, 2007 10:36 AM

The 'entrance' is a slit in the rock that you slide into. There are a couple of pour-offs that have ladders (stairs) so they'll have to back down those carefully, one is about 8 ft and the other about 15 ft or so. Can probably access the first 60% of so of the canyon OK if you can handle these drops but there are some narrow parts lower in.

I would just drive up there and say to the Navajo at the entrance 'I'm 88 years old and not sure I can do this, can I try it out first and pay you if I can do it?' The Navajo are traditionally very respectful of elders and I'm guessing they would laugh and say 'sure, let me give you a hand'.

The Upper part is level but sandy and dark. I'd carry a flashlight.


lifelist Dec 3rd, 2007 11:17 AM

Yup, the entrance to Lower Antelope is rather narrow. I'm a big guy, and had to take off my backpack to squeeze through. As noted, there are a number of ladders and stairs to climb/descend. I think if you can climb a regular ladder, then you can navigate the canyon, though the ladders in the canyon are rather narrow. Also, the canyon narrows quite a bit towards the end before ascending. However, if you can squeeze through the entrance, you should be able to make it all the way.

Myer Dec 3rd, 2007 11:29 AM

Which begs the question.

Why go to the Lower Canyon and not the Upper if age/size is an issue?

I went to the Upper Canyon and the sun shining down in the canyon was spectacular.

The hardest part was bouncing in the truck on the way to and from the entrance.

Is the Lower more spectacular? I don't know. But the photos you see all over the web look exactly like mine.

Make sure you take a tripod and a plastic bag to keep your camera during the truck ride. Dust.

You can check out my photos at:

Select the Bryce, Zion, etc trip on the lower right side of the page.

You'll have to get thru Bryce and Zion first though.

Bill_H Dec 3rd, 2007 11:41 AM

<b>Is the Lower more spectacular?</b>

It's very different from Upper ... the walls are lower and the rocks lighter color so you get more reflected light early and late.

I used to go up there a lot before it got too commercialized, I could rent a ladder from a local and go in, lugging the ladder to the two pour-offs, and have the place to myself. I liked this much better than Upper, where you could (back then) drive to the entrance and there were usually tour groups wandering around.

There are seven images from lower Antelope on this page, some shot early or late when the light at Upper was non-existent ...


easytraveler Dec 3rd, 2007 03:00 PM

Bill_H: Wow! Double Wow! Those are absolutely fantastic pictures! Thanks so much for sharing!

Way_North - have each of them bring a flashlight, better yet a miner's light which will leave their hands free. There are dark spots where there may be a protruding rock or it may be a bit slippery from minor moisture.

Also try to get inside the canyons as close to noontime as possible. Best light at that time.

Bill_H Dec 3rd, 2007 03:44 PM

easytraveler, thanks for the kind words ... you wrote <b>Also try to get inside the canyons as close to noontime as possible. Best light at that time.</b>

This is true for the upper canyon because the walls are darker and higher, but the lower canyon has nice light all day (somewhere), at least in the spring and early summer when I've been there. I used to shoot at Lower until about 11 AM, then to to Upper for a couple of hours (when it's best), then back to Lower for the afternoon.

Harder to do that now with the tighter restrictions, but for sure see Upper mid-day.


ellen_griswold Dec 3rd, 2007 04:28 PM

WOW is right! Bill, those are truly spectacular pictures. THANK YOU so much for posting.

We did the upper antelope canyon last summer and loved it, but our photos aren't even good at best. Well for me they're good b/c i captured the family in them :) But there were so many people and even when we had a clear shot, they came out somewhat blurry.

And now i want to see the lower canyon too, as i really had no idea it was so different. I also LOVED the safari photos, especially your cheetahs. Please let us know when you post something else. Thank you again.

spirobulldog Dec 3rd, 2007 06:35 PM


I have looked at your pics before. But, I looked at them again today. I have never said WOW to you before, but it is deserving so WOW,those are really nice.

Bill_H Dec 4th, 2007 05:59 AM

<b>I also LOVED the safari photos, especially your cheetahs. </b>

Ellen, please say 'hi' to Clark for me ... if you enjoy cheetah pics here's a gallery dedicated to them ...

<b>Please let us know when you post something else.</b>

Trips to Kenya and Tanzania coming up in the next few months ... :)


Way_North Dec 4th, 2007 06:50 AM

Wow! I'm so surprised with all answers, descriptions, ideas. Thank you so very much to each of you and, Bill, one more WOW!!! What a great collection. Your photos of the Antelope Canyon helped me understand why people like my gramps have a list of places they just have to see. He has some great pictures from his safaris in Africa. Enjoy yours! Antelope Canyon looks like a breathtaking place. 4 of us will be going to the lower canyon and it looks like this canyon has a narrow entrance with ladders but after all, although a 88 year- old, he still hikes 3-4 times a week all year round so I shouldn't worry about him.

Bill, how would you suggest I carry my tripod down to the canyon since the entrance and passages are so narrow and some shorter ladders don't have any railing. What would you do?

lifelist, your vivid description helped me out a lot. Two weeks ago my gramps climbed tree to cut some branches. I guess I don't need to worry.

Myer, great pictures. Wow! Thank you for sharing them. What time of the year and of the day did you visit the Upper Antelope Canyon? Btw, how long was the bouncing in the truck on the way to and from the entrance? I'll make sure I have a plastic bag for my camera. I have a hard time to keep my camera free of dust as it is. I never had this problem with my regular SLR

easytraveler, I like your suggestion of a miner's light. Do you think each of us should have one?

Thank you Bill, lifelist, Myer, easy traveler, ellen_griswold

asdaven Dec 4th, 2007 07:00 AM

I reccomend the upper canyon. It is easy and is the more famous section. Although, if you want an adventure and less crowds go to the lower. I went on the Navajo Tour. People gripe about bouncing around in the truck. It is actually an attraction in itself. It is not too bad. Just hold on and it only lasts 5-10 minutes or less. It's fun and very beautiful. Enjoy your trip!

Myer Dec 4th, 2007 07:03 AM


I was there about the 8th of June of this year and it was about 1-2PM. I had just been to Horshoe Bend and then drove over to the canyon.

The ride in the truck was about 10 minutes but you feel every bounce. Not too bad.

Bill_H Dec 4th, 2007 07:42 AM

<b>Bill, how would you suggest I carry my tripod down to the canyon since the entrance and passages are so narrow and some shorter ladders don't have any railing. What would you do?</b>

I have a LowePro camera bag that fits on my back and I would carry all the lenses and bodies in with that, then I had a vest that would hold most of the lenses (these images were shot with medium format film cameras). So when I got in I'd put the camera on a tripod and stash 3-4 lenses in my photo vest (I had no zoom lenses ... with modern digital gear and zoom lenses you can get by with less).

For the tripod I used a Bogen bag (one of those blue ones you see everywhere), this has a strap for carrying. There is a lot more blowing sand in Upper than Lower (because Upper has a sand dune near the top slit) but I still liked to keep the gear covered when not in use.

Usually I would just drop the gear bags somewhere near the keyhole arch and take a spot meter and wander up and down the slot, looking for no more than 3 stops difference between the 'glowing' rocks and the darker ones. Less than three stops and the light was too flat for interesting photos; more than this and the film could not hold detail in the highlights and shadows. Usually had to do a fair bit of walking and waiting to get the right balance (the glowing rocks), which would occur in various spots for maybe 10 minutes max. The best 'glowing' spots changed weekly, depending on the angle of the sun.

I'd try to arrange it so you're in Upper mid-day when the light is shining directly in, and you're in Lower either before or after mid-day (or both if you have time).


Way_North Dec 4th, 2007 07:47 AM

Myer, thank you. You know, I enjoyed all your pictures of the Antelope Canyon but for some reason #64 really took my breath away.

Way_North Dec 4th, 2007 07:58 AM

Bill, thank you. I sent last night a link with your photos to my grandfather and not only he loves them all but now he wants to know more about the &quot;Last Light - Swirling Sandstone.&quot; I guess his list of places to travel to is still expanding. I hope you don't mind sharing where is this place, where were you positioned, what time, when and anything else.

Bill_H Dec 4th, 2007 08:20 AM

<b>now he wants to know more about the &quot;Last Light - Swirling Sandstone.&quot; ... I hope you don't mind sharing where is this place, where were you positioned, what time, when and anything else.</b>

There are mail-to links on my Africa page where you can send me an email for more info ... basically the swirling rock photos and the shot of the stick in a pocket of water were taken at Coyote Buttes, which is in the Paria - Vermillion Cliffs wilderness area about half way between Page (where Antelope Canyon is) and Kanab. You can Google on it for info (it's famous among photographers, especially &quot;The Wave&quot;).

There are a couple of potential hassles for your grandfather ... first, you have to get a permit because it's so popular. Dunno the current situation but last time I was in there they had 10 spots/day available on the internet (which usually went within seconds of coming available), and you could also just stand in line at the Paria Ranger station and try for one of the 10 walk-in permits (if more than 10 showed, which is unlikely in mid-March, they drew straws for spots). So it takes either planning or luck to get a permit.

The other hassle is that it's a decent hike to get in and there's no trail. I think it's almost 3 miles but not simple level hiking. Not a Grand Canyon death march, but not flat either. Sounds like he could do this hike if someone carried his heavy photo gear. Of course the best times for photography are early and late so you need to be hiking before or after sunrise, ideally. The shots you mentioned were taken right at sunset and then I hiked out in the dark (but I know the way well).

Anyway, hope this helps ... there are a lot of other good photo places near there. The two 'Chinle formation' shots were taken near the abandoned movie set called Old Pareah, which is easy to access with a car and near Coyote Buttes, and the entrance to one of the greatest slot canyons in the world, Buckskin Gulch, is from the same parking lot you use for Coyote Buttes.


Bill_H Dec 4th, 2007 08:42 AM

Just a couple of other photo galleries from really skilled photographers of this Paria area ... check out 'the wave' shot ... the 'swirling rock' images you mentioned from me were taken about 100 yards to the left of this.; ... Michael is a pro photographer with galleries in Sedona and Springdale (near Zion) ... most of these were taken at Coyote Buttes ... if this link doesn't work try


easytraveler Dec 4th, 2007 08:47 AM

Hi, Way_North!

Good morning! I was just slowly savoring Bill's pictures again - they're so beautiful! :)

As to the miner's light and whether each of you needs one, really, that's up to you.

My miner's light does double and treble duty - it's a flashlight, it's a reading light, it's whenever I need a light. I've used it in all sorts of situations: going to the bathroom at a campsite (sure nice to free up the hands to carry toiletries!), going up stairs in Europe when the timed light goes out, reading in the middle of the night when my partner's asleep, and, of course, going through the dark spots in Antelope Canyon!

Mine is fairly bright, cost about $80 and has about 3000 hours of life. The lamp is adjustable to variable levels of brightness and the head also swivels.

You probably don't want such an expensive model but can get away with something in the $20 range. Be aware, however, that the less expensive lights give off less of a beam, has way less intensity, tends to die out after a few minutes of use, the head may have less flexibility, etc.

If you want to get one to use like mine - for all-around purposes - then I'd suggest getting the more expensive models.

I'm getting excited for you and your Dad just reading these posts! You wouldn't have room in your luggage for one more person, would you? :)

Myer Dec 4th, 2007 09:36 AM


Thanks. Glad you liked the photos.

Actually, #64 is probably one of my least favorite photos as it caught too much of the actual sunlight rather than the reflections.

But it did give some interesting colors.

Antelope Canyon wasn't the only amazing place. Other than Grand Canyon (my fault since I didn't hike down at all) every place I visited was amazing.

Ten minutes from Antelope Canyon (on Rt 89) there's &quot;The Best Dam View&quot; just noth of Rt 98 and just south of Rt 98 there's Horseshoe Bend.

Horseshoe bend is a hot 3/4 mile fairly level walk to the viewpoint looking down.

There's no screen, fence or barrier. Just straight down.

I was afraid so I lied down on my stomach and crawled to the edge.

Also, Cathedral Rock at sunset in Sedona. The Rock turns bright orange.

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