My original reason to ride through Page, AZ was to see the picturesque Antelope Canyon, a mecca for "landscape" photographers popularized by Australian photographer Peter Lik.
Yet when I got to Page, I started to have some doubts. Due to safety and other reasons, a Navajo guide is required to visit Upper Antelope Canyon, so one must join one of several Navajo-authorized tours in the city. I'm fine with that, except that virtually all of the tour operators had extremely poor reviews on Trip Advisor and elsewhere.
I also had that lingering feeling whenever I visit a popular place: thousands of other photographers and visitors have taken pictures of the canyon -- what more could I possibly contribute? I had a feeling that any picture I take will probably look like any other Antelope picture taken by anyone else.
Well with that defeatist attitude, I contacted the tour companies anyway, and was promptly shot down: advance reservations required, and all of their tours have already sold out for the next several days!
And that was that.
I was at the campground office when one of the clerks suddenly said, "you know, you could just go to the canyon yourself, and grab a guide there." Huh?
"Yeah," he continued, "most tourists don't know this, but you don't actually have to reserve a tour at all." Another alternative is to just show up at the Navajo territory, where they run trips to the canyon all day long from inside the reserve. I guess most visitors get directed to the city tour companies because whoever sends them there gets a cut. Hmm!
So after Horseshoe Bend, I rode to the Navajo reserve, signed-up for the next trip and within 30 minutes we were on the way to the canyon on a 4x4.
Navajo territory. I was happy not riding my fully loaded bike here.
Dom our excellent Navajo guide caught a little mouse
Many photographers come to Antelope to "catch the light" (see Peter Lik's work above for an example), done by throwing sand/dust in the air to create a shaft of light, then taking a bracket of exposures using a tripod. I decided I was just going to enjoy being there and take a few snapshots handheld.
Entrance to the slot canyon
Neat patterns formed by erosion
Looking at the sandstone patterns is like looking at cloud formations. One formation looks like Abe Lincoln, another looks like a heart. The huge range of light intensity from almost pure dark to blinding highlights was amazing (a tripod would indeed have been useful).
It's a bird! It's a fish! It's a (sandstone formation)!
Despite my earlier skepticism, I really enjoyed walking through Antelope Canyon. After the tour, the day was getting late, and I still had to ride to my next destination: Vegas, Baby! But before that I need to make a "small" detour.