Updated: 28 Apr 2014
The Saturday before Easter (2014), my extended family and I visited Lower Antelope, a slot canyon with phantasmagoric sandstone cork-screws, located just outside of Page AZ. Through the years, I’ve been in a variety of sandstone slot canyons; but I’ve never paid to enter. So the idea of paying bothered me a bit. However, I liked the idea of supporting the Navajo community.
When we arrived at the toll booth (adults $28/children $20/kids 5-and-under are free), there was a long line, mostly foreigners. My brother waited in the ticket line for about a half-an-hour (no credit cards, only cash and traveler’s checks), and we then waited about 15 minutes before our guided tour was to start.
Our guide was a very personable Navajo. He carried with him a wooden flute. As we were about to enter Lower Antelope, our guide mentioned that some guides have a one-pipe flute, and some a two-pipe flute, but he played a three-piper. This got a chuckle from the group.
The entry into slot canyon is down metal stairs that are very steep. Once in the bottom, the short hike up the canyon is very dramatic, worth every penny. Our guide was very accommodating, and on several occasions played his flute to dramatic effect. The possibilities for photographs are endless. The short hike is leisurely and takes about 45 minutes. There is plenty of time to take photographs of the amazing rock formations in the canyon.
This is not a wilderness experience. But we didn’t expect it to be. Despite the commercial nature of the enterprise, I highly recommend it. If you are in reasonably-good shape (our group had a 3-68 age spread), this is a much preferred endeavor when compared to the nearby Upper Antelope Canyon (which is much shorter and more expensive).
According to Wikipedia:
Rain does not have to fall on or near Antelope Canyon slots for flash floods to whip through, as rain falling dozens of miles away ‘upstream’ of the canyon can funnel into it with little prior notice. On August 12, 1997, eleven tourists, including 7 from France, were killed in Lower Antelope Canyon by a flash flood. Very little rain fell at the site that day, but an earlier thunderstorm had dumped a large amount of water into the canyon basin, 7 miles away.
As we were leaving Lower Antelope, I asked the guide about the metal boxes positioned along the top rim of the canyon. They contained well-anchored rope ladders that could be used in case of an emergency evacuation.
The commercial nature of this experience is only going to get worse. Someone is currently constructing a small visitor center near the entry to the canyon.