Page Arizona is a small, desert town right next to the lake Powell Dam on the Colorado River. It is probably on the map primarily due to two popular tourist attractions nearby besides Lake Powell: Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River and Antelope Canyon in Navajo Nation.
Horseshoe Bend is a spectacular vista point on the river where the Colorado takes a sharp turn shaped like a horseshoe with deep canyon walls resembling the Grand Canyon but smaller. While not as grand as the larger canyon, this area is certainly large enough to invoke awe. Below are a few tips
Sunset vs Sunrise: The sun sets almost directly behind horseshoe bend overlook. So the site can be spectacular but the lighting can be hard to capture. Sunrise from behind gives better lighting if you can get up early enough but you will be facing away from the sun.
Crowds: This is a popular spot. English speaking American’s are probably a minority here which is super cool. For whatever reason this is a very popular place with international travelers. It certainly is spectacular. But can also be quite crowded. Go in the winter, on a week day, early morning for best results.
Temperature: Both times I went it was cold. In fact there has been snow there as the winters can be rather cold. But remember it is a dry desert and in the summer can be sweltering. So bring water!
Getting there: Tons of parking with bathrooms! I’ve never had trouble parking at all. The hike is approximately 0.4 miles each way. You briefly walk up a hill an then the rest is downhill (with the reverse on the way back).
Where to shoot: The middles (where the most tourist are) is the symmetrical image classic to Horseshoe Bend. However, going to the right (and I’m sure the left as well), offers incredible alternative perspectives equally as beautiful if not so symmetrical. Walk around and don’t just shoot from one spot (like so many people there do).
Antelope Canyon is the most famous of many slot canyons that dot the desert landscape around Page. Upper Antelope Canyon is the primary place that people visit here. However, there is also Lower Antelope Canyon, and numerous less famous ones that one can potentially visit as well.
Visiting: First pick your canyon. Upper is the most popular and is easy to get to but the other options can be beautiful too. Next pick a tour agency and preferably book in advance to secure your spot. Because this land is owned and operated by the Navajo Nation, they create the regulations for its use. Due to overuse and vandalism, guided tours are required to limit the number of visitors and to protect the beautiful landscape.
I recommend Antelope Canyon Tours Inc. I used them and enjoyed my tour immensely with an excellent tour guide and quick reasonable service. They are highly rated on Yelp as well. Total cost was about $40/person with optional tip (I tipped because I thought she was exceptional but didn’t notice anyone else doing so). Its a bit more expensive during the summer.
Getting The Photo: The photo that everyone wants to get here is that classic image of the light streaming down through the slot into the darker canyon. Its a beautiful shot. To get it you have to go close to noon when the sun is the highest. The canyon will be quite crowded so you may want to take a photo tour which allows more time and privacy (DSLR and tripod required to eliminate more casual tourists).
However, remember, the classic photo isn’t the only aspect of beauty here. A good tour guide will point out exceptionally beautiful spots in the canyon that require no special lighting or positioning of the sun. I went at 3pm and got some awesome photos!
Set your camera up before you go based on current lighting conditions and be prepared to shoot quick. The tour is fun but somewhat rushed as there are lots of people trying to see the canyon all the time. If you go in the winter and later in the day the canyon is much more deserted.
Page Arizona is a small, touristy, southwestern town. There isn’t a whole lot to do there besides the two main things I just mentioned and anything to do with Lake Powell (which is currently quite low). Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon are all within 2-3 hours which makes it possible to use Page as a base camp. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is also nearby and quite enjoyable to visit.
Where to Stay: We stayed in the Motel 6 in Page Arizona. It was newly remodeled. Very inexpensive (about $50/night). Quite clean. Nicely decorated (simple Ikea style). And very close to everything (10 minutes or less). We looked at some of the other budget hotels and some nicer ones, but none seemed to give the same value for the money.
Where to Eat: For dinner we ate at a local American style Mexican restaurant called El Tapatio which was quite delicious. It seemed popular with tourist and locals alike as there was a 20 minute wait on a random week-day night. Other than that there didn’t seem to be many good local restaurants, coffee shops, or bars though I’m sure there are a few gems we missed.
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