Arizona Slot Canyons

One of my favourite field expeditions of recent years was this trip in mid-2013 to the Slot Canyons of Arizona.  Located near Page, the Navajo Nation manages a number of slot canyons, some of which are really enjoyable; others are merely ok.  The leader for this workshop, Andrew Lerman arranged the logistics of this trip including visits to all the major canyons.

Lower Antelope & Mountain Sheep Canyons

Not for those with a fear of tight spaces, the entrance to the canyon is through a crack in the ground.  This opens up and then uses a series of ladders to drop you down to the main level of the canyon.

Into the canyon
Into the canyon


The first real ladder encountered inside brings you down into the first chamber.

The ladder
The ladder

Faces and alien eyes – lots of strange shapes carved by water.

Faces and alien eyes
Faces and alien eyes

Rocks eroded into swirl patterns.


Looking like a hooded demon protruding from the canyon walls.



Lower Antelope Canyon textures 1
Lower Antelope Canyon textures


Lower Antelope Canyon textures 2
Lower Antelope Canyon textures

This ladder actually is very close to the end of the Lower Antelope Canyon but requires some attention on descent.

Into the bowels
Into the bowels


Lower Antelope Canyon textures 3
Lower Antelope Canyon textures
Lower Antelope Canyon textures 4
Lower Antelope Canyon textures


More canyon textures

Light streams through the canyon’s open ceiling as the sun passes overhead.  With the help of a little sand thrown into the light, the beams become real.

Beam me up
Beam me up


Light beams
Sand and branch


Mountain Sheep Canyon Turd
Mountain Sheep Canyon Turd


More Mountain Sheep Canyon

Overall, a wonderful trip.  The next part – Monument Valley.

This workshop was led by Andrew Lerman, based out of NY.  His work from this trip is amazing:

6 thoughts on “Arizona Slot Canyons

    1. Actually that was the issue – there was an incident in 1997. Here’s the NYT report:

      12 Hikers Are Swept Away By Flash Flood in a Canyon
      Published: August 14, 1997
      A canyon renown for its narrow, twisting limestone walls became a trap for 12 hikers on Tuesday when a flash flood filled it with a wall of water 11 feet high.
      The guide for several of the hikers survived, battered and his clothes ripped off by the force of the water, and the body of one woman was found yesterday. The other 10 are missing and presumed dead.
      The storm came without warning. A cloudburst 15 miles away sent heavy runoff down a normally dry wash in Antelope Canyon toward the unsuspecting sightseers. ”Rain had not fallen where they were hiking,” said Benson Nez, a ranger on the Navajo reservation which the canyon runs through.

      In recent years, the colorful, intricately carved walls of pure sandstone found in Antelope Canyon have drawn photographers from throughout the world.

      On Tuesday, the corkscrewing cliff walls funneled the water into an 11-foot-high wall of water racing toward Lake Powell, six miles away.
      The survivor, Pancho Quintane, a 28-year-old guide from TrekAmerica, based in Los Angeles, had grabbed a ledge, the authorities said. He was airlifted to Tate Hopsital here and later released.
      Searchers recovered the body of a woman whose identity has not been released.

      The remaining 10 hikers are presumed dead, said Chief Deputy Sam Whitted of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department. Officials have postponed the search until daylight, when teams will resume their efforts to find the missing hikers, aided by divers, search dogs and a national Guard helicopter.

      On their way back from their hike, a party of six, led by Mr. Quintane, had almost reached safety when the water hit about 4:10 P.M.

      A Page resident, Ted Candelaria, noticed an empty van parked near the trail head on his way home from work at the nearby Navajo Generating Station.
      ”I knew someone was in trouble,” he said. ”With all that dark, dark water rushing down there.”

      As the water began subsiding, he said, he waded down the canyon about a mile and found Mr. Quintane being helped by a state trooper. ”He was all beat up,” Mr. Candelaria said. ”He had rolled around a while until he hit a ledge and then pulled himself up. All of his clothes were gone; the water was that strong. It had taken his shoes, his shorts, his shirt, everything. He was just stark naked — bruised and battered. It was horrific, just horrifying to see what it did to him.”

      Sheriff’s deputies said the hikers included two from the United states, seven from France, one from Britain and one from Switzerland.
      A flash flood earlier in the week stranded hundreds of residents and visitors in Havasu Canyon, a tributary gorge of the Grand Canyon. Helicopters evacuated more than 350 residents and 300 tourists from the village of Supai, Ariz.

    1. Thanks…. Actually it’s not a GoT reference. I am about to get around to watching series 1 though – might have to spend a long weekend catching up…

  1. Hi,
    Lovely photos! I am looking into going in April (that is how I came across your blog), and I am wondering what canyons you would recommend- you say there are some are merely ok.

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