One of the most unique places for landscape photography in the United States is Antelope Canyon located in Navajo Territory in Northern Arizona. The combination of colors and otherworldly shapes of the rock formations found here are unlike anywhere else that we've ever been.
Created by water erosion from flash floods carving through sandstone, the rock formations of Antelope Canyon are curvy with undulations beyond description. The rock has smooth, fluid-like shapes that one can normally only dream about. The colors inside the canyon are amazing as well. Sandstone has an orange-reddish hue, but depending on the reflection of the light, the rock formations throughout the canyon appear in an amazing blend of shades of red, orange, blue, purple, brown and black. Walking through the subterranean canyon is a sublime experience, like wandering into an abstract painting or another planet.
Antelope Canyon is divided into 2 separate sections: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Upper Antelope Canyon is the more popular of the two sites. It is especially well-known for containing an incredible sight, an isolated beam of sunlight shining down to the ground against the backdrop of the red curvy canyon walls. Lower Antelope Canyon is less frequently visited, but in some ways even more impressive and beautiful. Both sites can only be visited in coordination with a guided tour, which can be booked in advance or on the same day.
Upper Antelope Canyon is accessible via a 4x4 ride through the sandy desert. There is not a road or even a trail to follow, just the expanse of desert and tracks from other jeeps. During the bumpy ride there, we could feel the tires of the jeep sliding around grasping for traction in the sand. Once in the canyon, our tour guide was a true professional, providing the group with helpful advice for taking better photos in the frequently changing light conditions. At various points he took sand from the ground to help accentuate the beauty of the canyon. At one point he created a "sandfall" down the smooth rock and then later threw sand in the air to concentrate the rays of light in the iconic sunbeam to make it stand out more.
Lower Antelope Canyon requires a short hike to reach the opening of the canyon, when suddenly out of nowhere, a small crack in the desert floor appears. It requires a small leap of faith to step into it and allow yourself to get swallowed by the desert floor. Descending step by step, it is like going into another world as the swirling rock formations and colors come alive around you. In some ways the colors and rocks are even more amazing here than at Upper Antelope Canyon. It is a much different experience at this site, as there are not as many tour groups coming here, so it feels more isolated and peaceful.
Antelope Canyon was a very special place to visit and photograph, we got so many great shots here. If you are planning to visit the US Southwest, make sure that you include a stop here during your itinerary. It is an experience that you will always remember.