Gosh did we ever strike it rich! No – not the Vegas way. No – not the one-armed bandit way. But rather in discovering two extraordinary slot canyons within 2 hours of each other. A year ago we had no idea these two marvels even existed. Warning – reading this is going to expand your bucket list….!
The Narrows – Zion National Park, Utah
On an earlier trip to Zion, we read in the Park Guide about The Narrows. It captured our attention, so we decided to check things out. We walked about 30 minutes to the start of The Narrows hike. What is super cool about this hike? First of all, it involves hiking UP a river – IN the river. At times you can walk along a small shoreline, and other times fighting the current chest-deep in water. When we were here in January, a couple walked out of the canyon after finishing this hike. So we asked them a ton of questions. Done. This hike officially became item #1 for our return trip in March. Fast forward to March. We rented the required winter hiking gear – a full drysuit, neoprene booties, long hiking stick, and these superb river hiking shoes called 510 Canyoneers. We also rented a dry bag knapsack for our camera and much needed snacks. Zion Adventure Company rented us the gear for about $60 each. So off we started. We were floored by the combination of hiking in a river (3 degrees Celsius but we were comfortably warm, and hot at times) and the soaring 1,500 ft walls of the slot canyon enveloping us.
The hike is an out and back – taking about 4 hours in total. The turnaround point is a famous section called, ‘Wall Street’, where the canyons narrows to 30 feet across. Words cannot capture the magnitude, beauty, lighting, and the cool factor. You’ll see what we mean when you do this hike.
The Narrows in Zion National Park is the largest slot canyon in the world . A must see and do for any adventurous soul.
Lower Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ
We were pretty pooped after the 4 hour river hike – not at all expecting to be fatigued. We welcomed a car ride from Zion through Kanab to Page, AZ, to chill out and let our soggy wet feet dry out. Don’t pack your camera away after The Narrows hike. Keep it handy for the breathtaking drive east out of Zion towards Kanab.
Another priceless experience was the hike down into a slot canyon called Antelope, just south east of Page. This sacred spot sits on Navajo lands, and requires a cash payment to tour the canyon with a guide. We initially were kinda turned off at the prospect of a tour guide. Seemed very ‘Disney-like’. After parting ways with our $52 US admission, we were led down into the canyon through a series of steep ladders and platforms. We quickly forgot about the money and immersed ourselves deep in the wild, wavy, orange and pale cream striated rock that was smooth and silky to the touch. Everywhere you looked – up, down, sideways, backwards – there were surreal images. Don’t sweat about the guide. Ours was invaluable – and knew all of the angles to capture the most magnificent light. There are 2 canyons – Upper and Lower. We did the Lower Antelope.
Our basic tour took us about 75 minutes to walk up a 400 yard narrow canyon. Yes, there were other people on the tour, however most kindly ducked or moved out of the way when taking photos. For those professional/semi-pro photographers, there is an option to pay $48 USD per person for a 2 hour photo pass. You MUST bring an SLR AND a tripod. No sharing. Jeff and I weren’t able to go in together with one camera and one tripod.
While you are in Page, AZ, check out Horseshoe Bend at sunset. Make sure you arrive 45 – 60 minutes before actual sunset, as there is a high ridge to the West of the river bend. Plus a 20 minute walk to the lookout. Well worth seeing the work of Mother Nature and the Colorado River.
So we hit it rich on Day Two of our March Road Trip through the SouthWest, thanks to the slots.
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding…..!