Antelope Canyon is located on Navajoland near Page, Arizona. It is on the southern edge of the Grand Canyon Range by Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam. Antelope Canyon includes two separate, photogenic ‘slot’ canyon sections, referred to individually as Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.
The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazí (advertised as “Hasdestwazi” by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department), or “spiral rock arches.” Both are located within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.
These images were taken in the summer of 2012 on a special trip I took through Arizona to see these rock formations. It is one of the most photographed geologic locations in the American Southwest and requires arranging guides to visit, per tribal rules. Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways erode, making the corridors deeper and smooth in such a way as to form characteristic ‘flowing’ shapes in the rock. The “Shafts of Light” are created when fine sand particulate falls from the upper areas at the right times of day. Tour guides often throw sand up into the air to catch the effect for people to see. These canyons are sacred to the Navajo.