In late May of 2021, we spent five days in Page, Arizona. We really liked the town. It felt welcoming and was a community with amenities we needed. Additionally, there were many natural venues we wanted to visit nearby. Number one on our list of “must-do” attractions was Antelope Canyon. As far as slot canyons are concerned, it might be the most famous and photographed place in the state.
Unfortunately, upon our arrival to Page, we quickly learned the famed place was closed due to Covid restrictions.
The pandemic created an unforeseen problem for us as we traveled Arizona. Most popular destinations were closed if they were located on Navajo Nation land. This was the case for Antelope Canyon.
We were so disappointed until we learned we could kayak to it.
There is an access point to the canyon on the shores of Lake Powell that is controlled by the park system and open to all visitors by water.
As we talked with locals, we learned there was an “upper” and a “lower” Antelope Canyon. The upper canyon was totally closed. However, we could access and hike the lower canyon if we were willing to paddle to it.
Heck Yes! Let’s Kayak
The following morning it was a frigid forty-eight degrees, and we were standing in line to pay for our kayaks at the local outfitter. We felt energized and anxious to get on the water.
The clerk ran through her list of safety protocols, answered all our questions and showed us the map of where we were going. Thirty minutes later, we were on the water in our 2-person kayak paddling through smooth lake water.
The distance to the canyon was about two miles from our starting point at the public boat ramp.
I was worried about the temperatures being so chilly but knew it would warm quickly in an hour or two. The challenge was to stay as dry as possible.
Gail was concerned about the wind.
We were told starting early was a good strategy because mornings are generally calm on the lake that time of day. However, we were warned the longer we stayed at Antelope Canyon the stronger the wind would be kayaking back to the ramp. Paddling into a headwind in rough water is no fun and hard to do.
They were right on both counts.
At the end, we were able to keep our clothes dry on the trip, but we could not avoid having soaked sandals and really cold feet!
The wind? It was definitely stronger paddling back, but we powered through it together. We even bragged a little between ourselves on how well we did.
That said, we were happy to get back when we did.
The Walk to Antelope Canyon
While still in the boat, we noticed how the waterway narrowed as we got closer to the beach. This was where we would leave our kayak. Coasting into the sand, a half dozen other kayaks were already pulled out of the water to rest on shore. We added our kayak to the fleet scattered in the sand.
As we got out of our kayak, we discussed what we should take with us and what could stay behind.
Gail did not want to leave her life jacket. She was concerned someone would steal it, so she left it on. I made fun of her for hiking in it, but she didn’t care. It provided an extra layer of warmth on a cool day and gave her peace of mind wearing it.
Once we got ourselves organized, we began to walk the half mile to the slot canyon. Our sandals were wet, and the loose sand clung to the outside and the inside of the soles as we walked.
We knew others were there in the area, but we saw no one at first. Appreciating our quiet surroundings, we could hardly wait to see mother nature’s artwork that lay ahead of us.
The Slot Canyon
The walking trail we were on narrowed as the canyon walls closed in on both sides. Simultaneously, the colors of sandstone shifted from golden hues to pink as we stepped deeper into the gorge. The slot canyon had a feel of magic and uniqueness.
Within minutes of entering the space a group of four people met us walking the opposite direction. A short time later, we passed two women sitting on a rock eating a snack.
After that, we saw no one in the slot canyon. We truly had the place to ourselves. We walked as slow and thoughtfully as we wanted.
Smiles found their way to our faces as we walked along, laughing together like we were kids on a playground.
Our adventure to the notorious Antelope Canyon was an exceptional fun day for us and one we will always remember. Days like this are the reason we bought our sprinter van, Alice.
Looking back, memories like this continue to motivate us to find new adventures in magical and unique places throughout America.