Page, Arizona

Situated near the border of northern Arizona in the picturesque American Southwest is the small desert town of Page. It is located on the southern edge of the Great Basin Desert on the Colorado Plateau and is surrounded by Lake Powell to the north, the Colorado River to the west, and a series of intricate slot canyons to the east. Due to its prime location and dry climate, Page is teeming with spectacular vistas, scenic landscapes, and adventurous recreational areas.

Along with its outdoor activities, the town also exudes a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, which is deeply rooted in the heritage and nature of the Navajo Nation. A benefit of having a culturally enriched region is that it is incorporated into the recreational and photographical excursions, as the community works in tandem with the Navajo Nation towards enlightening guests of the area’s history.

A journey through Page is as rewarding as it is educational. Tourists are afforded firsthand experiences to the endless sightseeing opportunities where land, sky, and water meet to create a breathtaking natural setting.

Horseshoe Bend:

Horseshoe Bend is a natural U-shaped bend in the Colorado River as it carves through the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The ideal vantage point is from an overlook that can be accessed via a short 1-mile, round-trip journey from the Horseshoe Bend Parking Lot. Since the trail is short and close to Highway 89, it is a popular tourist destination that is typically inundated with visitors roaming along the precipice looking for their perfect photograph.

Despite being a relatively easy and well-marked hike, it can be grueling during the summer when the temperature soars and there aren’t any shaded areas or water fountains; although, all efforts are immediately rewarded upon reaching the path’s terminus at the edge of the canyon. From here, onlookers have a top-down panoramic view of the majestic canyon and the colorful array of sandstone layers. Visitors are free to roam about the top of the mesa, but are advised to exercise extreme caution since there aren’t any guardrails installed for safety.

Most will agree that the best time to visit is during sunrise or sunset when the sky is illuminated with vivid colors; however, midday is beautiful in its own right as none of the steep-sided canyon will be shadowed and the canyon walls are beautifully highlighted by the sun.

Glen Canyon Dam Overlook:

The Glen Canyon Dam Overlook is a scenic vista that is located downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell in Page, Arizona. The vantage point is a spectacular panorama of the concrete arch-gravity dam looming over the mighty Colorado River as it undulates through the striations of burnt-orange sandstone within the canyon.

The hike down to the viewing area takes fewer than 10 minutes, traversing the rocky terrain and a flight of carved stairs. Although the hike is short and easy, it is not handicap accessible due to the sloped, uneven nature of the pathway. The trail is open to the public from 8am to 8pm and is best visited during the early morning or late evening magic hour when the landscape is illuminated by a blanket of golden light.

Antelope Canyon:

Antelope Canyon is an intricate slot canyon that is found in the Navajo Tribal Park, east of Page, Arizona. Since the canyon is located on land that is run by the Navajo Nation, access to the grounds can only be gained through one of their approved guided tour operators. Their mission is to limit overcrowding while ‘protecting, preserving, and managing the tribal parks, monuments, and recreation areas for the perpetual enjoyment and benefit of the Navajo Nation.’

The canyon is a testament to how weather and time has coalesced to create a natural sandstone masterpiece with beautifully smooth, flowing walls, which seem to pulsate with life as they are accentuated by the sunlight. Antelope Canyon is divided into two sections that are offered as separate and unique excursions: upper and lower.

  • LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON:

Until recently, Lower Antelope Canyon was the lesser-known slot canyon that experienced fewer crowds because it required a demanding hike through a tapered passageway. Now it is just as popular as Upper Antelope and it is advised to book a tour in advance to secure a desired day and time.

There are two companies that operate one-way tours through the canyon every 30 minutes: Dixie Ellis and Ken’s Tours. Each group is made up of a maximum of 15 guests, so when both groups are at capacity, excursions through the canyon can accommodate up to 30 visitors.

Most will agree that contorting and squeezing through the narrow passageways, as well as climbing the various ladders and stairs, makes for a more adventurous tour; however it can be a challenging endeavor. Despite the challenge, the stairwells and ladders create an intriguing foreground element that adds depth to the landscape. It is especially captivating when the rim of the canyon is captured from a low angle looking skyward.

Since the canyon is v-shaped, where it is narrow at the bottom and wider at the top, it generates a warmer and brighter experience. A majority of the best angles are towards the top of the canyon, where overwhelming arrays of red, orange, yellow, and purple hues illuminate the curvature of the rock wall. The radiating sun accentuates these features to create a vividly stunning abstract scene.

  • UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON:

Upper Antelope Canyon is the more popular of the two slot canyons because of its high canyon walls, infamous light beams, and waterfalls of falling sand. It is also revered for its mobility friendly pathway, which is at ground level and requires no climbing or maneuvering.

The canyon is A-shaped; so that it is narrow at the top and wider at the base, generating a darker and cooler atmosphere than Lower Antelope Canyon. The high, narrow canyon walls are the reason behind the renowned shafts of light. The effect is generated during the summer when sun is at its highest and light enters the canyon at the perfect angle. Typically, the light beams begin appearing around late March and will last until the beginning of October.

There are numerous tour companies, but locals recommend driving directly to the Upper Antelope Canyon parking lot. Visitors will be required to pay the $8 Navajo Nation Permit Fee before proceeding to the admission office to purchase an entrance ticket. Every tour company convenes at this location before joining together and transferring into one of the Navajo Nation’s 4x4 vehicles with a native tour guide.

Photography tours are available for a premium, which allow photographers to bring tripods and additional time inside the canyon. They are highly recommended for anyone not wanting to feel rushed while capturing a perfect, tourist-free photograph. An added benefit is that the tours are scheduled to enter the canyon at the perfect time of the day, and knowledgeable guides will assist in throwing sand to accentuate light beams.

The photographs generated during the tour are the quintessential images that are visualized when discussing Antelope Canyon. The majestic colors of the Navajo sandstone are awe-inspiring and elicit a feeling of tranquility while basking in the glow of the cavern’s sunbeams. It’s a magical atmosphere that is exponentially improved when visited firsthand.

Lake Powell:

Lake Powell is the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States that stretches between the states of Arizona and Utah. The reservoir is on the Colorado River in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with a landscape that is best known for its red-rock formations, shimmering azure water, and fine-sand beaches. The stunning environment attracts millions of outdoor enthusiasts to its shoreline each year, especially during the summer, for recreational activities like boating, kayaking and fishing.

Although the region is best known for its slot canyons on land, Lake Powell boasts a series of inlets, coves, and canyons that are photogenic in their own right. The unusual rock formations jut out of the reservoir and cast their mirror image on the glassy surface of the serene lake. There are a handful of overlooks that offer panoramic views of these stunning features; however, it is recommended to get on the water to experience these natural marvels up close.

Since road access around Lake Powell is limited, the ideal method of travel around the reservoir is by boat. Boat tours offer a variety of leisurely tour options at the different marinas, as well as opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in the scenery by chartering a boat for the day. Boats are a staple of the reservoir and are constantly zipping around with occupants engaging in water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and other pleasurable water activities.

For land lovers, there are a handful of vista points that are accessible by car, like the Wahweap Overlook, but the foremost view is from Alstrom Point. One of the best features about the lookout point is that visitors can practically pull up and park at its edge. Under ideal conditions, a two-wheel drive vehicle can reach the first overlook on the road to Alstrom Point, but moving forward the terrain is rough and only suitable for high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles.

To that end, despite the fact that sightseers can attempt this adventure on their own, it is advised to book a tour through one of the reputable companies that are familiar with the area. This is especially useful for the sunset trek as they take care of the logistics and timings to reach the destination at the perfect moment. Along the route, the guide will stop at lookouts and provide time for the group to get out and photograph the incredible panoramas from the cliffs. Once the road terminates at Alstrom Point, the most magnificent vistas can be photographed via a short trek from the end of the road.

RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS:

Canyon Crepes Café – Wednesday-Saturday: 8am-8pm – (669 Elm Street #3, Page, Arizona – 928.614.4530) – Simple breakfast spot providing sweet or savory crepes.

State 48 Tavern – Monday: 6am-11am & 5pm-11pm, Tuesday: Closed, Wednesday & Thursday: 6am-11am & 5pm-11pm – (614 N Navajo Drive, Page, Arizona – 928.645.1912) – Rustic-chic hot spot with inventive bar food and local craft beers.

Dam Bar & Grill – Sunday-Saturday: 11am-10pm – (644 N Navajo Drive, Page, Arizona – 928.645.2161) – Traditional American dishes and beer served in a Glen Canyon Dam-inspired bar & grill.

R D’s Drive In – Sunday: Closed, Monday-Saturday: 6am-11pm – (143 S Lake Powell Blvd., Page, Arizona – 928.645.2791) – Enduring fast-food establishment that specializes in burgers, fries, and milkshakes.

CNG Burgers – Monday-Saturday: 11am-9pm, Sunday: Closed – (695 N Navajo Drive, Page, Arizona – 928.693.7166) – The perfect pit stop serving burgers, sandwiches, and shaved ice in a beach-themed environment.

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