Gold Canyon, Az

Gold Canyon, Az
New Years Day 2015, Gold Canyon, AZ

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lower Antelope Canyon

Saturday morning I collected all my gear and headed out to Ken's Tours and my Photographers Tour of the Lower Antelope Canyon.  Felt a bit strange to be leaving Lori behind but the rules for the Photographers tour were that each person had to have their own DSLR and Tripod.

I arrived an hour early for my 12:30 tour and good thing cause there was a long lineup.  I got in line and waited and waited and waited some more.  The line just didn't move.  Finally the young fella handling the registrations came out of his booth to ask that everybody with a confirmed reservation get in one line and the walkups, without reservations, form another line.  He also explained that the Credit Card machine was not working and it would be cash only.  I quickly checked my wallet as I'm not in the habit of carrying a lot of cash.  Breathed easier when I spotted a $50 in my wallet.  Not everyone was so fortunate.  They definitely needed more help taking registrations.

When I finally got to the front of the line I told him that I was on the 12:30 Photographers tour and he suggested that I might not want to take the Photographers tour.  I gave him a perplexed look and he explained that due to the large number of people I would have difficulty setting up with my tripod to take pictures.  Since that tour was double the price of the regular tour he got me in to the 12:20 tour for $28. instead of $50.  I was thankful for his honesty.

I was not very impressed with Ken's Tours.  The lack of organization, credit card system going down (ok, perhaps not their fault) and the fact that they seriously overbooked their tours.  It was apparent to me that their main priority was to squeeze as much money out of the tourists as possible and not to ensure a quality experience.

I figured that, since the handheld pics from the previous day had turned out ok I would be able to get some good pictures here as well.   We had to climb down some steep steps and ladders to get down into the canyon.  A fact that was well advertised on their website.  There were a number of families on the tour and some had children as young as 3 or 4 years old.  Far to small to be climbing the ladders.  There was a father in front of me with a camera in one hand and his young son in the other and trying to negotiate the stairs without pitching forward and falling 30 feet to the canyon floor.  I think some rules about the ages of children should be implemented before someone gets seriously injured.

The entrance to the canyon and below the some of the stairs we had to navigate to get down the 30-40 feet to the canyon floor.

This canyon is much narrower than the Upper with more openings to the sky.  The additional light meant for faster shutter speeds (a good thing) but there was less variation in the colours and I found it difficult to get an even exposure.   As you will see most of the pictures are shades of the same colour.  Still dramatic but I think I preferred the Upper Antelope Canyon.

After our experience here, at the GC and Sedona we definitely need to be somewhere else when spring break is happening.  The problem is that the States in the area (Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah) seem to stagger their spring breaks so it is crazy busy with families from early March till mid April.  Combine the families with the foreign tourists (ok I'm a foreigner here but I'm referring to the huge tour groups from Europe and Asia) and then add a sprinkling of Snowbirds and its just too busy.

The one advantage the Lower canyon has is that its all one way traffic.  You enter at one end and exit at the other and then make your way back to the parking lot above ground.  A good thing cause two way traffic would have been impossible in this narrow canyon.

On to the pics.

Here we were making our exit from the canyon.  You can see the narrow channel behind the people.  That is the top of the canyon.  Only a few feet wide.  Down at the bottom the channel varies in width with a few small caverns perhaps 6-8 feet wide.  For the most part the channel is only 3 feet wide.  Not the place to be if you are claustrophobic.

Thats it for the Antelope Canyons.  We did take about 400 pictures of the canyons over the two days plus another 40 or so from a few other scenic lookouts.  I'll post some of those when I have some time during our drive north.   If we had more time we could have explored a little more.  Perhaps another time but for right now we are ready to get home.  We have about 5 days of serious driving ahead of us so I'll report back when I can.  Till then.