Why Antelope Canyon Tours Require A Guide

Antelope Canyon

When adventure tourists begin planning their national parks visits in the American southwest, they will generally plan on going to the regular spots that are seen in photographs online and in movies.  The most popular is the Grand Canyon, and is followed by Zion and Bryce as well as other national parks in the area.  One of the more overlooked areas is Antelope Canyon, probably because it is not a national park but instead is a protected area on land owned by Navajo Nation.  Antelope Canyon is one of the most spectacular slot canyons in the world, and is sometimes included on professional tours of parks in the area.  If you plan on doing a self guided tour, however, you are out of luck with respect to seeing this natural wonder.  This is due to the fact that Antelope Canyon is only available by guided tours provided by professional touring companies.  The reason behind this decision by Navajo nation was the same reason that created the canyon itself, flash flooding.

While you wander through the narrow passages of Antelope Canyon in Page AZ, your first impression will most definitely be how un believably beautiful the canyon is.  The walls are smooth and flowing, colored in red, brown and yellow and are so high that sunbeams are created the peer down from the sky to the canyon floor.  Photographically the area is considered quite difficult due to the wide exposure range it presents.  Typical photography from inside the canyon will either be too light or too dark in portions of the frame due to the fact that sunlight is only available through the very top of the slot and as sunbeams that have managed to make it to the ground.  This creates extreme brights and shadows, but if photographed correctly will present an otherworldly look.  The second thing you will probably be wondering about is "how did this get here?" The answer is flash flooding, and water eroding the sandstone walls of the canyon as it picks up speed rushing through.  This flash flooding over centuries has dug the slot from the stone, creating a path that can be traveled literally through the rock itself.  This flash flooding is also quite dangerous, and as a result of numerous tourists dying or being injured over the years, the decision was made to control the tourism by only offering admission to professionally guided tours.

The professional touring companies that are allowed to provide tours through Antelope Canyon agree to heed all warnings from the National Weather Service as well as those posted by the curators of the area.  Although there have been railings and other safety measures installed within the canyon, a flash flood can still easily kill as it creates a nearly unmanageable situation.  There is also little warning of the flood, as sometimes flooding is created by thunderstorms miles away on days when it appears to be clear within the area itself.  This is why it is crucial to only tour the canyon during times when there is absolutely no chance of a flash flood.  This type of requirement can only be managed effectively by professional tour companies.

If you are interested in experiencing this completely unique area, contact an adventure tour company that provides tours of southwestern national parks and ask if Antelope Canyon is included in any of them.  You will generally find that this area is offered as part of multi-day tours of other national parks that surround it.  It is an experience that is not to be missed, and make sure you bring your camera to try out your skills.

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