Both Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon are iconic photography subjects, and professional and amateur photographers from around the world come to Page, Arizona, in the northern part of the state, to capture them. Horseshoe Bend is exactly what the name implies, a bend in the Colorado River that resembles a horseshoe with a striking land mass in the heart of the shoe. Tall canyon walls go straight up from the rivers edge and beautifully frame the winding river. Antelope Canyon is on the Navajo Reservation and is a meandering, sandstone, slot canyon that has been dramatically sculpted by water over millennia. I saw photos of these places many years ago and since then have wanted to not only see them, but also photograph them. As we were leaving the balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we checked the atlas and saw that we could alter our route to take them in.
The overlook for Horseshoe Bend is a little over a half a mile from the parking area. As you walk up toward the rim you begin to see the canyon open up to a hole that is enormous and about 1,000 feet deep. The green-shaded water of the Colorado River flows into the picture from the right side of the canyon, sweeps around a pronounced “U” track, and exits to the left. You cannot help but tentatively walk up to the edge of the rim, as there are no guard rails and parts of the sandstone rim are brittle and could crumble if you went out too far. Most stay a couple of feet back, or lay down on their stomachs and inch up to peer over the edge. These seemed like pretty good viewing strategies to me.
Both sections of Antelope Canyon are narrow, beautifully sculpted and winding slots in sandstone, and the only way to get into them is on a Navajo-guided tour. For both the Upper and Lower sections, I signed up for extended photography tours that lasted around two hours, verses the usual one-hour tour. The tight quarters and an almost constant stream of individuals walking through the canyon, made it very difficult to set up my tripod and capture photos that were void of people. Fairly cloudy conditions also somewhat diminished the brilliant sandstone colors that you would normally see on a sunny day. Irrespective of the challenges, it was still incredible to finally see the canyon and photograph the beautifully carved forms as I walked through the deep slot. Below are photos taken in both the Upper and Lower sections of the canyon, as well black and white images that show the shading, depth and form of the flowing rock.
Seeing both Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon and photographing them, was certainly worth the wait.
Click on photos to open gallery in Flickr –