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Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Friday, May 8, 2015

"A Curious Ensemble of Wonderful Features..."

One "attraction" that has been on my bucket list since we set out on our journey over four years ago has been Antelope Canyon in AZ. The pictures I've seen from this canyon have been amazing, and we've wanted to experience it for ourselves. The closest town to Antelope Canyon is Page, AZ, and I reserved five nights at Wahweap RV and Campground on Lake Powell. It is a short, 140-mile ride from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and we had a beautiful day for the drive. Of course, our GPS Samantha was screaming at us because we took Highway 64 out to Highway 89, rather than driving back down to I40 which would have added an hour and a half to the drive. We had driven 64 along the rim to the Desert Watchtower and saw that it would be fine for towing the trailer, so we ignored Samantha :-). If anyone happens to be traveling towards Page on Hwy. 89, it is now re-opened after the landslide that took out part of it last year. No need to take the bypass any longer.

Wahweap RV and Campground is in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, right on the shores of Lake Powell. There are 90 full hookup sites, 112 dry camping sites, and 6 group camping sites. Run by the concessionaire Aramark, the campground is nicely laid out, paved roads and sites, and very clean restrooms, showers and laundry facilities. We were in loop D, which was hardly even half full while we were there, and we never had any other campers directly next to us. We did like this campground, it was quiet and clean, and would recommend a stay here. We did feel like we jumped straight from the ice box to the frying pan however; it was sunny and HOT during our stay here!

Early in April I had booked a tour of Lower Antelope Canyon with Ken's Tours. The canyons are on Navajo Nation lands, and you must go through the canyon with a guide. There are two different canyons, Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope, run by different companies. In my research, I had read that the Lower is usually less crowded, as you must enter the canyon on a series of steep ladders, where you are able to walk in to the Upper Antelope Canyon. Ken's Tours also had very high ratings on TripAdvisor, so I decided to take that one. I had also read that the best pictures come mid to late morning due to the position of the sun, so we took the 10:00AM tour. They take groups out every twenty minutes. Once we arrived to check in, we could see it really wasn't necessary to have a reservation, almost everyone else there were walk-ins. Maybe it would be busier as the summer season progresses.

Checking in, we paid our fee of $28.00/each ($20.00 for the tour, $8.00 Navajo Park fee)and headed off. Side note: If you check out the Ken's Tour website, you'll notice there are two different types of tours: general and photographers. We are on the general tour. I would have loved to have gone on the longer, smaller photographers tour, but they are very strict about who goes on it and that the proper equipment is used, ie, SLR or DSLR camera. Being that ours is DOA at Nikon, we were not able to take that tour. I do have an spare Nikon D50 body, but I have been mostly using my Nikon Coolpix on this spring trip. Since we didn't both have a DSLR, I didn't want to take separate tours. For these pictures, I used the D50 camera with a Nikon 12-24mm wide-angle lens. One of our guides, Larissa, was also extremely helpful in recommending the proper settings and pointing out special areas for pictures.
We headed out, a group of about 15 people and two guides. It was a short, maybe 1/4 mile walk across slickrock to the ladders leading to the canyon.

One of our guides waiting for the group to gather before heading down.

The ladders heading down. 

A totally different world. 

Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time, the passages eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing the hard edges , making the "flowing" shapes.

Lower Antelope Canyon is called Hazdistazi,"spiral rock arches", by the Navajo. In 1997, the Navajo Nation declared the lands a Navajo Tribal Park, and are only accessible via a sanctioned tour company.

Al was in deep conversation with our guide Larissa during our hour and a half tour.

This is called the "Rocky Mountain Sunrise" shot

We were lucky enough to catch some light beams coming down.

The Twin Peaks.
All too soon it was time to leave this wonderland of sand, stone and light. All of my Lower Antelope Canyon pictures can be seen here at Flickr.

After this incredible experience, we headed back to the campground for the afternoon. It was extremely hot  with the sun beating down on you, and we just relaxed at the campsite in the afternoons. We had an early dinner, as another one of our "must-do" items for the area included sunset at Horseshoe Bend.
Horseshoe Bend, one of the highly prized photo sights in Arizona, is a horseshoe shaped meander of the Colorado River. We reached this viewing point by hiking a 3/4 mile trail up and over a pretty large hill of sand. There were a lot of people there besides us :-). It's a little dicey up there as well, there are no railings to protect viewers from the 1,000 foot drop over the edge. I'm not really as close to the edge as it looks...the miracle of a wide-angle lens :-). It did make for a beautiful end of the day, and I will say it was quiet....most folks there seemed to feel the reverence such a site deserves.

Our next day was slightly less exciting, although interesting adventures. We spent the day at the Carl Hayden Visitor's Center, about ten minutes from the campground. This visitor center is set at the Glen Canyon Dam, The dam was completed in 1964 by the Bureau of Reclamation, and created Lake Powell. This project provides necessary water and electricity for people throughout the southwest. Today the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is managed by the National Park Service. We signed up for the 45 minute dam tour.
Glen Canyon Dam is 710 feet high above bedrock, the second highest dam in the United States behind the Hoover Dam.

Lake Powell, formed when the Glen Canyon Dam was built here across the Colorado River. Lake Powell's surface area is 266 square miles when filled.

The generators at work inside the dam.

Now, I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding the building of the dam, it's necessity and efforts to dismantle it. Those arguments can be read here. Since we are in the area, I wanted to visit the area and see the exhibits and movies. It was very interesting, and not meant to provoke any political discussion :-).

Our last adventure in Page was rafting on the Colorado River below the dam. No whitewater, just a quiet float trip. While in the Grand Canyon, Al was quite interested in the multi-day rafting trip. I saw on the NPS website an entry for rafting trips with Colorado River Discovery. Where he would like to do the whole canyon raft one day, that is not a possibility for this trip :-), but I saw this company offered half day floats out of Page. So we booked a morning float, and we had a great time.

The raft trip departed from the base of the dam. Our shuttle had to drive two miles through the access tunnel on the right side of the dam to get there, and then we had to wear hard hats for the short walk to the rafts since the walkway went under the bridge!

It was another beautiful morning. As we floated along, our river guide Alyssa talked about the geology and history along the river.


The canyon walls surrounding us are between 700 and 800 feet high. If you were floating through the Grand Canyon itself, these walls would be FIVE times higher! Can you imagine?

The canyon behind our guide is full of wrecked autos. Apparently many years ago, kids in the area thought it was great fun to take junked cars and push them over the cliff edge into the canyon below. Hard rains will still to this day wash car parts out into the river. 

This rock formation is called "the monk'....do you see it?

It was so calm and peaceful just floating gently down the river. There are plenty of spots along the sides for camping, and families boat up river and camp quite often. The river is very popular with the fly fishermen as well.

We stopped at a beautiful sandy "beach" for a short time.

The reason for the stop is a wall of ancient petroglyghs a short walk from the shore. 

You can click on the picture to enlarge it to see the petroglyphs.

This lizard was hanging out on the rocks near the petroglyphs, posing for his photo shoot.

Back in the rafts, we floated down and around Horseshoe Bend; two nights ago we were on top f those cliffs, taking pictures down!

A final shot, and we were motoring our way back upriver, and back to the dam. It was a really nice float trip, and we would recommend this trip to anyone visiting the area. 

Our last day in Page, Saturday, was a rest and chore day. We had had problems with our Directv receiver box, and had a replacement box sent to us. Al picked that up at the post office, and got it up and running. Now, that actually sounded easy, but happened in a roundabout fashion. Directv will only send the receiver to the address of record; in our case, Homosassa Florida. Luckily, we had changed the address two years ago to Florida, as we had originally had it put in when we were still in New York. THAT would have caused all sorts of major issues. So, it was shipped to the house in Florida, and Al's sister had it mailed to the Page AZ post office under general delivery. It actually worked quite well; we had never used general delivery before and were happy it worked the way it should. We also needed to have an oil change done for the car, so Al took that down to Walmart and waited for that, while I packed up our laundry and got that task done. It was really cheap here at Wahweap; it cost me three dollars for two loads! 

Sunday we headed out of Wahweap, saying a fond farewell to Page AZ. Our next destination is Zion National Park, where we are staying for a week. So stay tuned and see what adventures we found here :-)

The quote for my title was from Major John Wesley Powell, describing Glen Canyon during his famous 1869 expedition down the Colorado River.

9 comments:

  1. Didn't know there was a lower Antelope tour. I'll have to do that some time. I especially liked your Rocky Mountain Sunrise pic.

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  2. Wonderful Features indeed!!! What beautiful places to visits and your photos are outstanding!!! Glad you are enjoying your trip and seeing so many WONDERFUL places:o))

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  3. Beautiful pictures! You visited some great sites -- I'll have to put that area on my list for when we get out west again!!

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  4. Great blog Karen--you nailed the sunset photo at Horseshoe Bend.

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  5. I'd heard that the really good pictures were on the photographers tour but clearly you got great ones on the general tour. Really glad to know that. Your pictures are fantastic. What a wonderful day that was. The sunset is a perfect way to complete a day I would sure like to duplicate. Not much of a fan of the flooding of Glen Canyon.

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  6. I'm a long time lurker, but this post has prompted me to comment. Looks like you folk will be following my bucket list trail this Spring, so I will definitely be following along. What an amazing week and your photographs are stunning! Thank you for sharing.

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  7. Great Pictures. This post is featured on this months edition of 7N7 at journeylinks.blogspot.com :

    CozyBeGone, HereForNow, Tumbleweed JimDee, RoamingFree2010, Wish Upon an RV Star, Along the Way with J and K, Steve and Dianne's Most Excellent Adventure. Check it out!

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  8. Antelope Canyon in now on my short list for sure, great pictures guys. Enjoy Zion!!!

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  9. Thanks for this post - I did not know there were two Antelopes. We've been in Page TWICE now and events have conspired to keep us out of the canyons. Maybe the third time will be the charm. Are you in Zion now? The weather has really taken a turn for the not better!

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