One of the blessings of going to school in the Southwest is that there are tons of breath-taking places nearby. One weekend, in October of 2016, two of my best friends, ‘Lisha and Jacque), went on a road trip with me to see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. The distance between my place in Durango and their locations near Page, Arizona is about a four hour drive.
It was super cold in Durango at that time (between the 30’s and 40’s). It was Autumn and the leaves were all starting to change before they fell off the trees. The three of us felt that we needed to relieve some stress and get away from the cold for a couple of days.
From Colorado to Arizona, we saw the landscape change from mountains and yellowing trees to red dirt. It was amazing to see the far away jagged rocks rise up from the ground. As an artist, it’s hard not to be inspired by the land around me. I know Alisha and Jack felt the same way.
Buried underground, Antelope Canyon is a hidden treasure that nobody would know exists while driving towards Page. If people want to explore it, they have to go out of their way to find it.
We had booked a photography tour months in advance, having been told that we would be given uninterrupted time and freedom to take pictures of the canyon. When we arrived, we found out we weren’t allowed on this particular tour because we didn’t have tripods. A major let down, for sure! The three of us were determined to have a great time anyway, so we paid again for a more standard experience.
The company that guided us was called “Ken’s Canyon Tours,” but Ken himself never showed up.
To get into the lower canyon, we had to go down a steep set of narrow stairs. All three of us felt nervous, like we were falling into the unknown. Even though I was a little scared, I felt like something awesome was waiting for me.
I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful it really was. I feel that Antelope Canyon is a place people have to visit in person to really understand.
The path is very thin, cramped and I wouldn’t recommend coming here if you’re claustrophobic. There were some places that we were barely able to squeeze through. But, once that feeling went away, I was able to look around and soak in the red walls surrounding us. We learned that they were made from thousands of years of floods running through the earth. The area is still prone to flash flooding, a danger that tour companies have to be aware of. The patterns of water could be seen in the lines and curves of the walls – some thin, smooth, and others sharp.
It was beautiful to know that all the patterns were random but felt like they belonged together. On top of the shapes, it was impossible not to notice all the different colors. The light shining down through the cracks above us changed the stone from soft browns to fiery golds.
Whenever I looked up, I could see tall formations through the openings. It almost felt like they were alive, watching us.
At the end, after climbing up more narrow ladders, we ended the tour on flat, open space. I felt free, like I could breathe again!
After Antelope Canyon, we headed to Horseshoe Bend. The sun was starting to go down, changing how the land looked. When we arrived, the three of us had to hike up a long, wide trail. From the looks of the path, nobody would have guessed that the formation even existed. It was only when we came to the edge that we saw the horseshoe – a rock island surrounded and shaped by the river around it.
As it was evening, the sun was ahead of us. It made the expanding land hard to see and the river dark, mysterious and incredibly deep looking. What we could see, out in the distance, was painted with vibrant purples and oranges.
The majesty of it all made me feel brave – I wanted to get as close to the edge as I could. When I tried to convince Jacque to come with me, she refused. I could see why she was scared as the bottom was a long, long way down.
When I sat on the edge, I remember thinking about how much time it took for this place to form. Looking past the Horseshoe, I wondered what was out there, hidden by the sun. The majesty inspired me. It was hard not to feel like tiny with everything around me being so grand. For a second, I felt lonely, but then I looked around, saw my girls, the other people, and a few boats in the river. We were all sharing that wonderful sunset together.
The trip was too short, but it was an incredible journey to take. Not only was I overwhelmed by everything I saw, but I was able to see it all with two of my best friends.
The only thing that improves our adventures is experiencing them with the people we love.
Rachelle Foos & Alastor Luna Vyohr