Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

Page AZ is a wee little city with an incredible number of places to visit. Between the lakes, canyons and hiking spots, you could spend several days in this one city and keep yourself entertained. We only had the morning to explore, so we decided to splurge and take a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon.

 
Upper Antelope Canyon | Emma Smith Ceramics
 

Both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are exclusively visited through tour guides, for a number of reasons. Located on the Navajo Reservation, the canyon (sometimes called "Corkscrew Canyon") is a quarter mile long and 130ft deep. Like Jesse mentioned in his blog post about Spooky Gulch - slot canyons are Dangerous with a capital D, in rainstorms. With the volume of visitors that Antelope Canyon gets every year, you wouldn't want to be trapped in a 130ft deep canyon with dozens of people when a flash flood hits.

Upper Antelope Canyon | Emma Smith Ceramics
Upper Antelope Canyon | Emma Smith Ceramics

Visiting in the winter time meant that we didn't get the same bright colours or light beams that a summer visit would provide - but there were fewer people, and for a cold January morning there were still more people than I really preferred.

Upper Antelope Canyon | Emma Smith Ceramics
Upper Antelope Canyon | Emma Smith Ceramics

Antelope Canyon is the most photographed slot canyon in Arizona - photographers travel from all over the world to spend time in this canyon and capture its beauty. And for good reason - it makes for remarkable photographs! National Geographic once asked to capture the flash flooding in the canyon and secretly bolted their cameras to the (millions of years to carve out) canyon walls. When the flash flood came through, it ripped their equipment off the walls and carried it away - the cameras (and footage!) were never seen again. (Karma's a bitch, National Geographic.)

Upper Antelope Canyon | Emma Smith Ceramics

We got some spectacular photographs, but to be honest, the atmosphere was a let down. I can imagine the canyon would be a very spiritual, serene, and moving place to be - if you were alone. But we weren't. We were shepherded along in a group of 6 (we were told this was a small group) with a tour guide chattering on about all the different rock formations, where exactly we should aim our cameras, and what filters to use. We got some great photos, but the photos are much more incredible than the experience was. There was no time to quietly enjoy, reflect, or wander off on your own.

If you're going to visit Arizona, Antelope Canyon is worth visiting - but only if you have extra time. There are so many other sites to see that (for an adventurer) would be more rewarding.

On our way to the Grand Canyon, we stopped at Horseshoe Bend - another famous landmark where the Colorado River (the same river that carved out the Grand Canyon) makes a sharp horseshoe curve. The short hike to the bend brings you to the cliff's edge where you can look down and see the river wrapping like a snake around the rocks below.

Horseshoe Bend

And then we were off to the Grand Canyon - the highlight of the trip (for me) and a place I will go back to, MANY more times.
That's up next, and until then, thanks for reading!

The Grotto

Days off are my favourite part about living in Wiarton -  I can spend the day going on adventures, and relish every ounce of the environment. There are so many treasures to find and so many lovely places to visit!

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Last weekend my friend Alicia came up to visit me and we went on a Bruce Peninsula road trip. We hit up Eugenia, Wiarton, Tobermory and Lion's Head in under 24 hours - sharing a meal in each one and taking time to marvel at the scenery. Tobermory lies at the tip of the peninsula that separates Lake Huron from Georgian Bay. Off the coast of Tobermory are dozens of shipwrecks that you can see if you take a glass-bottom boat tour, and many islands to visit, including Manitoulin. This little town is a huge tourist attraction in the summer, due to its fantastic hiking spots, gorgeous views and excellent waters for boating. In the winter, however, the population drops down to a few hundred.

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We spent the better part of the day poking around the gift shops and art galleries, took a walk to see the Chi Cheemaun ferry, and then drove out to the point to get a good view of the islands. I was particularly fond of the Marine Chart Shop, where there were stacks of maps to look through and lots of interesting marine books to peruse. I have been looking for marine charts for quite some time now, so was pleased to have found the hot spot for these lovely treasures. I will have to get back there and pick up a few before my time in Wiarton is done. I would love to plaster  those large nautical charts on my future studio's walls.

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On our way to Lion's Head we went to the Bruce Peninsula National Park (Cypress Lake) and hiked out to the Grotto. The Grotto is a well known cave at the edge of the bay. You can carefully climb down the cliffside to the dank cavern and go for a swim in its pool. Deep in the grotto is a tunnel that exits into the bay on the other side of the cliff wall. Theoretically, you can dive down into the pool, through the tunnel and out the other side. Not many people venture down, but there were some scuba divers making the trek during our visit. Apparently you can complete the dive and tunnel swim without an oxygen tank, but it's risky business. I am much too claustrophobic to enjoy such a daredevil act. However, the colour of the water alone makes the Grotto a must see.

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