Yes finally! Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend. These two sites have been on my "must see" list for years. I've seen so many photos online of the beautiful swirly rock patterns & colors of Antelope Canyon with that magical beam of light coming thru and shining on the ground. I couldn't wait to see it. Before you head out there are some things you should know. First of all you have to be on a guided tour if you go to the Upper Canyon area. I don't believe you need a guide for the lower canyon, but it was recommended. There are ladders & steps on that lower tour, just fyi. No way around the UC guided tour, which means you need reservations from one of the local tour groups. You should really set up your tour far in advance because they fill up fast. There's only one tour group that takes first come first served tourists (can't remember the name of the company, but it was an Indian tribe group). Everyone I called was full for that day, but they each told me to Indian tribe group. Thankfully we got a 10am spot. Yippee! This is where hubby likes to chime in with his "see it's ok to wing it" mentality. Nope, I'm a planner & had I known about the reservations then I wouldn't have had all that last minute struggling & stress. Oh & the best time to view that magical beam of light is between 11-1p (depending on time of year), but be prepared to be overwhelmed with professional photographers who are also there to capture that light. *Side note, they offer a professional photography tour also.* So....part of the tour is a 4x4 wheel drive to the opening of the cave area. You're in the back of the open end truck where it's very sandy, very windy & very bumpy just so you know, but so worth it. We loved it, but it was a bit chilly that day so the kids were all cuddled between us trying to stay warm. We arrived at the start of the tour & I was surprised to see so many trucks there. You see all the touristy places have the same or close to the same time slots so it can get a bit crowded & you're almost guaranteed to have strangers in the background of your photographs. Our tour guide was very informative & took pics for all of us using our personal cameras/phones. He knew which areas had the best lighting & angle for best results. He had a wealth of knowledge & it was nice to hear that National Geographic has been permanently banned from taking pics there because they illegally & without permission drilled holes into the sides of the rock to try & capture the water raging thru the canyon. Yes they got it on film, but they also lost all their equipment & it's never been found & no one has ever seen the footage either. Tsk tsk. When you get a nice guide like that be sure to give them a tip. I know he was appreciative as hubby handing him a tip when we got back.
When you walk thru the canyon it's one way in & out. You walk to the other end take a few pics then you turn around & walk back the way you came to get back to the truck. So yes you are walking past a bunch of people coming in. We did manage to see that beam of light, but man they shooed us past real fast because the professional photographer group was guaranteed 2 minutes to take pics without people walking by I quickly turned & clicked a few shots hoping to get at least one without 200 heads in my way. Not magazine worthy, but at least I got a photo. I really wanted a shot with my babies standing in that beam of light, but oh well.
I read on some reviews that the walk to see Horseshoe Bend was pretty close to the road so I was expecting a fairly quick walk. I could see where all the other people were walking so the walk to the top of this little hill looked easy enough. HA! Once you got to the top of that it was still quite a ways away. Thankfully it was downhill, but coming back....ugh all uphill. Of course it was all worth it. No words to describe it. Every time I look at this photo I see a face in that formation. Do you see it?