Almost within the city limits of Page, Arizona you will find that a photographer's paradise awaits you. There are two parts to this canyon - Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. Both are part of the same intermittent stream bed and about a mile or two apart. Since they are on the Navajo Reservation, you must go with a guide and pay a fee, but don't worry - it is worth every penny. This stream cut through the sandstone of the Kayenta formation on it's way to Glen Canyon of the mighty Colorado River (now Lake Powell). You enter the canyons near the Navajo Power Plant, a coal fired plant with three belching smokestacks visible from parts of each slot canyon. This is one place that you would not want to get caught in a flash flood. I don't think very many people could climb out of this canyon with it's narrowing upper walls. The Navajo women who took us in to see this were friendly and talkative, and they took great pleasure in showing us their version of sunscreen. They mix the finely ground sandstone dust, almost a flour consistency with motor oil and then smear this all over their faces and exposed skin. They swear that it works and keeps their skin soft and supple. Trust it to a Native American to use every part of the things they have available to them and waste nothing. I can't wait to go back again.
My wife and I happened to be driving near this location this week on a business trip. We had gone on a short hike up Courthouse Wash when it started to rain pretty hard. Narrow canyons are not the place to be when it rains in canyon country, so we got ourselves out of there. With the air recently cleaned up by the rain, we headed out to Canyonlands National Park to see if we might be able to catch a rainbow looking to the east from Island in the Sky, but to no avail. Gazing to the west we could see the Green River on its way to the confluence with the mighty Colorado. Even though we were looking into the sun, we could see farther than we ever have been able to do in the past. It's interesting to me how the human brain can see a smoggy view and just "know" that there is beauty there, and compensate for the reduced vision. But just try to commit that image to film, and you get nothing but overpowering haze. This time the film gods smiled on us and we were able to pry a good picture from their steely grasp. Fifty or sixty years ago, my grandfather would come out here with the same hope, to take a small piece of this grandeur back home for others to enjoy, travelling on unpaved trails (before they became roads) sometimes at great peril to his own life. He thought it was worth it then. I think it is worth it now, even though we now need to wait out the days of haze and smog to get a view like this.