ZAC Field Trip: Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and More

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Woohoo! Photo: Scott Rollins

Our most recent staff field trip took us east by southeast and over the state line into Arizona where we visited Horseshoe Bend, Upper Antelope Canyon and Upper Water Holes Canyon.

We met at the shop on a beautiful Monday morning, excited to begin this adventure. After some opening words and a short brief from our fearless leader, Dave, we all piled in a large Sprinter Van and got on our way. Good laughs, conversation, and freshly baked cookies consumed our 2-hour drive.

Our first official field trip stop was Horseshoe Bend. Located just 4 miles southwest of Page, AZ, Horseshoe Bend is aptly named for the horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River in this area. The hike to the overlook point is short (less than a mile) and seems like a bargain for the breath-taking view of the canyon. Our group reveled in the incredible view of the river and canyon.

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Horseshoe Bend, just down the Colorado River from the Glen Canyon Dam. Photo: Scott Rollins

It’s hard to convey what it feels like looking down hundreds of feet below you, watching boats the size of ants maneuver in the crystal clear river. You begin to wonder how in the world something so magnificent came to be and at the same time try to figure out how standing above this river bend can make you feel so incredibly small and big at the same time.

After much photo taking we walked back to the van and continued on our adventure. Photography Tip: Folks who want to capture the entire bend in a photo will need a very wide-angle lens.

Our next stop on the field trip was Upper Antelope Canyon, located near Page, AZ on Navajo Land. Upper Antelope is the most visited and most photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest due to its gorgeous natural features and easy accessibility.

After purchasing the necessary Upper Antelope Canyon permits our group met up with Navajo Guide, Bonnie. She gave us a short, but informative briefing on the canyon, and then directed us to pile into the back of a pick up truck, modified with open-air seating and a roof for shade. Everyone enjoyed the slightly bumpy, breezy ride to the canyon.

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As we entered Upper Antelope Canyon our group was once again wow-ed by the beauty of nature. Watching the sunlight reach down and touch the sloping, smooth, red-orange-purple canyon walls is an awe-inducing experience. As we journeyed slowly through the slot Bonnie shared with us the history of Upper Antelope and coached us to photo-taking brilliance. Our group of ZAC staff members, who have seen so many beautiful canyons, were blown away by the splendor of this canyon. Upper Antelope is a must see canyon! Photography Tip: Play around with the exposure settings on your camera for the best photo…better yet, ask your guide to help you select an appropriate camera setting, remember they guide thousands of photo-taking visitors through this canyon every year!

I feel as though I am becoming a bit long-winded in the telling of this adventurous day, so please allow me to sum up Upper Water Holes Canyon in a few brief sentences. Visiting Upper Water Holes, located on Navajo land, requires a permit. This canyon, while not as overwhelmingly beautiful as Upper Antelope, provides a more physically engaging experience. Our group traveled easily in the canyon, at times providing partner-assists and spotting for each other through the trickier sections. Remember, don’t go up anything you won’t be able to safely descend at the end of the day. Photography Tip: Avoid getting sand in your camera.

Overall the ZAC staff had a great time and learned a lot on this field trip to Arizona. We encourage you to get out and experience some of the same stunning areas that we did, especially considering they are only a short drive from Zion. Happy exploring!

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About Laura

Laura has been a guide and outfitter with Zion Adventure Company since the spring of 2012. She is a lover of adventure, learning, and black coffee. When Laura is not interacting with Zion visitors you may find her running through Zion, playing at the swimming hole, or hanging out at the local coffee shop.
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