After seeing pictures of Antelope Canyon on Instagram, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Slot canyons are full of beautiful rock formations that are just hidden beneath the surface, and they’re so different from our Pacific Northwest terrain, or what I grew up with in California, so it’s just the kind of thing to get my travel bug going. The city of Page, AZ, is pretty small, but with a variety of slot canyons in the vicinity, there are a lot of hotel chains and services ready to take care of tourists, so it was actually a pretty easy component of our road trip to plan, and it’s a little less than 2 hours drive from Zion National Park without stopping.
Where We Stayed
The “suites” in the name is a misnomer (they don’t have separate rooms in the suites), but our two queen room was large and had a pack and play available for James. After the disappointment with outdoor pools not being open in February at our Zion hotel (understandable, but not advertised when I booked, and some outdoor pools are heated and open in winter), it was great to have a small heated pool and hot tub inside. There was also a reasonable breakfast and lots of dining space, which was great because we opted to eat grocery store tapas for dinner (most restaurants in town are chains with minimal choices for Peter’s allergies).
What We Did
We arrived in Page via Zion in the late afternoon and had time to leisurely get groceries and diapers from a Safeway in town, eat dinner in the hotel dining space, and hit the pool on the early side.
We had a fluke efficient morning getting the kids fed and ready, so we had some extra time to stop at a little playground en route to Lower Antelope Canyon to get the wiggles out. All the major slot canyons I’m aware of in the area (Canyon X and Upper Antelope Canyon are two of them) are on Navajo land and require a guided tour. After reviewing reviews and descriptions, I picked a 9:45 a.m. tour with Dixie Ellis (kids less than 4 are free, so Julia just squeaked by!). Lower Antelope is less busy than Upper Antelope (they are differently shaped – Upper Antelope is more like an A with small light beans and a short walk, Lower Antelope is more like a V with more light and a longer walk), and also had a bit of a walk so I thought it might feel less like a quick photo opp and more like an adventure. Our tour guide, Angie, was fantastic. As a younger Navajo person, she had a great sense of modern humor mixed with stories about life on a reservation. We had a diverse, but relatively small, group consisting of our family plus a retired couple and two honeymooning couples from Korea. Angie did a great job catering to everyone’s needs (taking lots of pictures for the honeymooners, making Space Balls jokes to Peter and me, etc). All told, the tour is just a tad over 1 mile long and they say it takes an hour, but we were out for about 90 minutes. The kids did really well, all things considered. You aren’t allowed to bring much of anything with you – we carried James in a baby carrier and he napped for about half the tour. We put a pouch in the carrier pocket, clipped a water bottle to a strap, changed James’ diaper before leaving the parking area, and crossed our fingers that he wouldn’t poop while we were out. Julia walked the whole way and enjoyed tracing patterns in the red sand on the canyon floor when she was waiting for our guide to talk to us or take pictures. Angie took all the pictures below that include the whole family.
After wrapping up the tour, Angie recommended that we visit Horseshoe Bend. It had already been on my list, but her suggestion put us over the edge since we were trying to balance nap times and drive times and it seemed like a medium-sized diversion. It’s $10 per car to park (National Park passes aren’t valid here), and there are limited facilities (essentially porta potty buildings), so we were grateful to have hand sanitizer and a space to change diapers in the back of the car. The hike is about 1.5 mi RT, so Julia walked on the way down, but rode in the toddler carrier on the way back. The walk has a low grade hill, but the trail has recently been improved to make it wheelchair and stroller accessible with a couple of shade structures along the way (although it would be horribly hot in summer). There are tons of rocks to climb at viewpoint and the bend really is a beautiful sight. We were happy to have made the extra stop!
After our hike, we headed out again towards Ivins, stopping at River Rock Roasting Company in La Verkin for a really delicious coffee and smoothie break.
When I booked the trip out to Page, I had some doubts that adding that extra length would be worth it, especially since James isn’t the best long drive companion. However, I’m so glad we went because Antelope Canyon was one of the highlights of our trip for everyone. The rock formations are so unique and spectacular and it’s an experience I’ll remember forever. I could have stayed an extra night to do another slot canyon, but there aren’t a lot of other facilities in town or restaurants with Peter-friendly food, so I think we had enough time for our family.
Next stop – Valley of Fire State Park!
For the Zion portion of our trip, click here.