Writing this blog is so funny to me because I’m actually from Arizona (born and raised), and have spent the majority of my life there. The fact that I haven’t been to these beautiful little gems in Arizona boggles my mind. I think growing up I was MUCH LESS interested in traveling and seeing sights than I am now. My mom would take us on trips that I would DIE to go on now, but I really didn’t appreciate it at the time. Funny how that works. I just want to rewind and be like OK MOM – I’m ready for all those forced family vaycays (HAAA!). It’s amazing how much changes with time and age. One of Matt (my husband) and I’s favorite things to do now is plan little adventure getaways. Before we have kids (God willing), we want to adventure a little more. It’s just something we LOVE to do and always have. We like to have our little bucket list and tackle as much as we can, while we still can. We had been eye balling Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon for a while now. It just kept coming up in different places. I saw a photo on my Instagram feed one day and from that point on it just kept coming up time after time. I thought, “OK THIS IS A SIGN,” we need to go!
We were conveniently going to be in Phoenix for a wedding, so we planned the trip on the back end of that. It’s not like we wouldn’t have done it from L.A. but that drive is quite a bit further. From L.A. to Page is about 10 hours. If you fly into Phoenix it’s about a 4 – 4.5 hour drive north of there. Our only 2 goals in Page were Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. There really isn’t a whole lot to do in Page (if I’m being honest). It is actually minutes away from Lake Powell which is a popular destination during the warmer months because you can do water sports/house boats/fun summery activities. The good news is you can knock these 2 things out easily in one afternoon or morning. To my surprise, neither of these locations took a lot of physical work to get to. I didn’t research a ton before going because we are more the type to “wing it” or figure it out when we get there (which actually worked this time lol I wouldn’t recommend this approach for everything).
We arrived Friday at sunset, which ended up working out so well! We had full intentions of just getting rest on Friday night and tackling everything Saturday morning/afternoon. We didn’t realize how seriously CLOSE everything was in Page. Any hotel you stay in is less than like 5-6 miles away from everything (including horseshoe bend/antelope canyon). Once we checked in, I immediately said to Matt “Lets go see horseshoe bend at Sunset.” I was just way too excited but I’m so freaking glad we went at that time despite being a bit tired from traveling. I HIGHLY recommend seeing it at sunrise or sunset. It’s beautiful no matter what time you go, but now seeing it in both daytime and sunset – sunset takes the cake! The colors of the canyons pop and the water just glistens.
The two above photos of horseshoe bend were at golden hour/sunset. Once the sun actually goes down behind the canyon – it’s MAGICAL. Just one of those truly breathtaking views. A picture doesn’t even really do it justice in my opinion…but if you think the photos are pretty – it actually is that pretty in person. The only downside I would say is that at the times we went there were large crowds. But I feel like at a place like this – you are bound to find crowds no matter what time. Photographers are pretty much always there during the prime hours with all their equipment set up. You really have to get up to the ledge to get that FULL view shot so people are less inclined to do that which is why it can appear as though you are alone on the ledge. If you took 5 or less steps back from where I was – there’s about 100 people easily near the edge of the canyon but not quite there. It’s crazy because our tour guide for antelope canyon (which I’ll get to in a second), told us that someone bought a photo of horseshoe bend for 6.1 million! GOOD LORD – that’s insane. No wonder all the professional photographers are out at all times trying to get that money shot haha.
Ok onto more FAQ’s if you are actually reading this to plan your trek, here are some things to know. It’s only a 3/4 mile (felt like even less than that) trek to the overlook. For some reason in my head I totally thought it was going to be a long hike to the overlook, but definitely not the case. It is manageable for most people. Not steep, not too rocky – just a beginner level trail I would say. There is only one parking lot so you won’t get confused. From there – just follow the crowds there’s no way in hell you won’t find it trust me! In regards to the best photo opp – also go where the crowds are. If there’s an empty ledge and you think “oh hey lets go there – nobody is there.” There’s a reason nobody is there. You will roll up to the ledge and realize there’s a rock or something obstructing the full view. It will make more sense when you get there, but try to just walk straight out from where the trail drops you. Don’t go too far to the right or to the left because it really isn’t the same view. Other than that, enjoy! People are super friendly so if you want to get a cool photo, don’t be afraid to nudge your way in there. I mean…. YOLO… you want to have documentation of this beautiful site!
This was when we came back Saturday during “hot light” hours in the afternoon. As you can see, the confidence level increased on the “ledge photos,” but the color just wasn’t as good.
Matt’s like – “I’m cool just standing here.” He gets so nervous when I walk out to the edge and try to do a handstand or yoga pose. Thanks for dealing with my risky shenanigans Matty 🙂
So Saturday was dedicated to Antelope Canyon. We knew nothing going into this. Totally thought we could walk up and find the canyon and explore around. Also not the case! Because it is an indian reservation you have to reserve a tour to get into the slot canyons. I have read a few blogs that say you can drive up but you still have to wait to be driven into the slot canyon regardless of if you make a reservation or not. Sometimes the wait time can be between 2-3 hours in high season – which kinda sucks. On Friday night, we asked a receptionist at the hotel about making reservations and she just kinda laughed and said “you guys really should or should have done it already.” We totally thought we were going to be SOL. Turns out most of these companies were completely booked out for a Saturday tour but we knew this was our only day to do it. Enter “Slot Canyon Hummer Adventures.” Now let me preface this by saying Matt and I are the last people to book a hummer tour to a canyon. We would sooner walk the distance and just walk up to the canyon by foot. This was THE ONLY company with any reservation left. And we didn’t want to chance the “drive up” approach and have to wait for a really long time. We called right when they opened and they had 2 spots left on the 8:45 AM tour to secret canyon. We were slightly disappointed they only had secret canyon tours left (which the guy insisted was so much better than upper/lower antelope canyon). BUT HE WAS SPOT ON. On their website it says this about the secret canyon tour:
“This adventure starts with a 3 mile drive to the desert for an 8 mile offroad cruise through waterholes canyon. Then out for a 200 yard nature hike to secret canyon slot, where you and 10 or less people will have the time to photograph and explore one of the longest slot canyons to be toured on the Navajo Nation. You will have an hour in the canyon and back out for a hike and offroad ride back to our office. Transportation to and from is in one of our BIG BAD HUMMER H1’s.”
It was exactly how it sounds but better. Here’s why I’m so glad we did this and seriously feel lucky we got a spot on a secret canyon tour in the H1. First, there are ZERO, I mean ZERO crowds. You are literally driven into secret canyon with maybe 8 other people but on our tour there was only 6. It was so private/exclusive and freaking incredible. The tour guide was a super cool guy, and driving in that H1 was badass. If you’ve ever been on Indiana Jones at Disneyland – it is 100% like that. You drive through completely unstable terrain and feel like you are on an actual ride. I actually laughed to myself in the Hummer when Matt and I were just going to try and drive this road in our car (LOL – not only would it have been illegal but we would have made it maybe 2 miles in before having to turn back).
Once parked, the walk to get to Secret Canyon took maybe 10 mins mins or less. When you get there, your tour guide literally says – “OK ENJOY!” You get to adventure into the canyon for an hour with just 6-8 other people. Compared to upper/lower antelope canyon there are tour buses/groups running every hour on the hour – so there are always crowds. Having to navigate around the crowds while trying to take some cool kind of artistic/athletic pictures would drive me nuts. Having this private experience and really being able to get the most out of the canyons was incredible! I would pay for it 10 times over. There is a reason this company is more expensive but for very good reason. You will probably never go to upper or lower antelope canyon and find only 6 people wandering around. Secret Canyon is rated just as high online as upper and lower. Our tour guide also told us that the Secret Canyon is much longer so we had the luxury of going further and exploring inside the canyon. With 6 people, you pretty much get your own private space in the canyon to take as many pictures as you want. I’m telling you there are 100’s of people at upper/lower antelope canyon so there’s no way we would have been able to spend as much time taking pictures without getting a bunch of people in the background. Here’s just a few photos from inside. I’m telling you – it is every little bit as magical as photos show online. Just freaking breathtaking. The rock is so beautifully created with that wave-like texture and ahhhh. I’m day dreaming about it as we speak.
I was in awe of just how beautiful it was. I knew it was going to be super cool, but there aren’t many words to describe it…you just have to go see for yourself! I would not waste your money on any other tour company! Go on the private secret canyon tour because you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t mind crowds, long wait times, and waiting your turn to take one photo – then by all means – go on any of the other tours. But Hummer Tours was the way to go here (and no we did NOT get paid to write this NOR did we get the tour for free). I am not a travel blogger haha! Just a fitness entrepreneur with a large hobby for checking things off my bucket list. Now the next question. Is there anything else you should check out in Page? The short answer is, not really. Our hummer tour guide actually recommended 2 other places to check out that to be honest weren’t NEARLY as cool once having been to horseshoe bend and the slot canyons. But should you be interested in checking out the Glen Canyon Dam, go to the visitor center near the dam and you can see any view of the dam right from the visitor center at NO COST. Also, Mile 552 has an overlook of the dam that is decent but again nothing out of this world if you are comparing to the others. Of course in the summertime I would highly recommend some of those water sports on Lake Powell or doing a boat tour through the canyons because I hear that is pretty cool! We just weren’t as interested because it was a little chilly especially during the early morning hours/later evening times. I also highly recommend going back to the horseshoe bend parking lot at night and bringing a blanket to set on top of your car (dress warm if it’s fall/winter). The stars are FREAKING UNREAL! Maybe it’s because I live in a huge city and haven’t seen stars for YEARS. But the visibility of every star and galaxy right from this parking lot is WILD. We actually were up in Page the weekend of the Orionid Meteor Shower so we did get to see some shooting stars. Something I seriously would have attempted to see in L.A. but probably would have had zero chance of visibility. This trip aligned so perfectly.
I’m telling you, traveling is an investment in yourself! If you are thinking about going somewhere, just do it. You won’t ever regret it. Will you maybe have to work a little harder to save up some money? Sure! But you won’t leave the trip thinking “Gosh I wish I wouldn’t have spent that money.” Trips like this motivate me to work harder. They re-energize my soul and recharge my battery. So to that I say, go out and find your next weekend adventure….and make it happen!
Love you guys,