Archive for May, 2009

Antelope Valley

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Last week we explored Havasu canyon. Once we returned to interstate 40 we decided our Arizona adventure would not be complete without a visit to Antelope Valley.

We took the Country Club Dr exit  on Interstate 40 and headed north on state route 89. We stopped for gas at the Express gas station just outside of Cedar Ridge and the Gap. State route 89 is a 2 lane highway that is an adventure in itself. The farther north you go the more alien and other worldly the landscape becomes.

We saw the yellow hills, the painted desert, and the Vermillion Cliffs. At one point the highway entered a canyon and then clung to the side of the upper canyon for miles. It was an interesting view but also a scary one.

Finally we arrived in Page. Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell are nearby. We followed the signs to Antelope Valley. Antelope valley is actually 2 canyons in one. The upper canyon is the easier of the two to visit and explore. Even with our journey up state route 89 preparing us for wild and exotic scenes, we were still not prepared for the fantastic shapes and colors that lay ahead of us.

The canyon is made from Navajo sandstone that has been carved and shaped by rushing water from flash floods in the extensive drainage basin above the canyon. The canyon is part of the Navajo Indian reservation.

The upper canyon called “Tse bighanilini “  which translated means, ” the place water runs through rock” is the easiest to visit. Everything is at ground level and you do not need to climb stairs. The best viewing conditions are in the summer when the sun is directly overhead. The fantastic colors and shapes are beyond description and have to be seen to be believed. Visitors are lead by tour guides and it is fantastic trip and well worth the $31 entrance fee.

The lower canyon called “Hastestwazi” which translated means ” spiral rock arches,” is the more physically challenging of the two. It is a dangerous place to be and a flash flood can happen at any time. All that has to happen is a storm anywhere in the upper basin area and instantly a wall of water comes rushing through the canyon. When the canyon was first open to tourists in 1997, a flash flood on August 12, 1997 killed 11 tourists. Today there are several systems put in place to prevent a recurrence.

First the stairs are steel and bolted to the canyon walls, second a series of cargo nets can be deployed that can catch and bring visitors to safety, and third the weather service radio plays all day and there is a siren system that can be sounded if threatening conditions arise. This tour is guided as well and if you are ready for climbing up and down metal ladders, it is a thrilling and exciting adventure. The cost for this tour is $26.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour and took lots of pictures. We were exhausted by the end of our visit and spent the night at a campground on the shore of lake Powell. Next week we will find a new and interesting place to visit but that is next week. Everyone have a great week.

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resources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antelope_Canyon