In October we made a week long visit to Las Vegas and decided to use a few of the days and explore the Grand Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend as well as the surrounding areas. The trip involves several hours of driving and at least one night in Page Arizona as a central base. I’d recommend two nights to give yourself more time as the drive back to Vegas will take a full day with stops. Of course Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are the most popular, you’re just a few hours away from Zion National Park, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Grand Staircase National Monument, and all the sites in between. If you’re a photographer this can easily be a fantastic 1-2 week vacation.
Our trip was more focused as we only had two days. In this time we squeezed in the Grand Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and a drive back to Vegas through Zion National Park. Hotels in Page can be expensive. We stayed in a little upgraded motel called The Lake Powell Motel, although it wasn’t on the Lake, it had large upgraded rooms with full kitchens. There were a few restaurants nearby the price was great compared to the larger branded hotels.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is of course worth the time. The sheer scale is amazing, put it on your bucket list and make the trip. 3 hours 30 minutes from Phoenix or just over 4 hours from Vegas. Grand Canyon Village is a brief detour on the trip to Page, Arizona and worth the few extra hours.
Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon was exactly as you would imagine from the photos. I know some people would claim the area and the photos are too overused but if you’re a photographer it’s a great place to go. We booked our trip well in advance and used Dixies Lower Antelope Canyon Tours. Because this is Navajo land ALL tours need to be guided through the authorized providers. The fee you pay for the tour ($47 when we went) is in addition to the fee you’ll be charged to enter Navajo land just outside the parking lot ($8.00). So be prepared to pay twice, the gate fee was cash only as I recall.
We booked our tour as a Photo tour (well in advance). This is a separate package and slightly more expensive. If you want to take photos, take this tour option. The group is smaller and you are allowed to setup your tripods (highly recommended). Total time was 2 hours including the hike in and out. The space is tight and there are stairs so make sure you’re physically able to handle both. The tourists will annoy you but the guide is pretty good about setting you up in the good spots so you can shoot over the heads.
The colours and light is amazing with the colours ranging from pink to orange. Depending on the sun angles getting the right shot can be challenging. From what we could research try to get out in the morning in the first two groups to get the best light. I would recommend researching the best times depending on what time of year you’ll be there.
Horseshoe Bend is just outside of Page and is free. However, pack water as it is a mile or so hike, through the sand, from the parking lot. I was amazed how many people were walking to the Canyon in the hot desert sand with heels, flip flops, no water, no hats, etc. The Canyon is wide open with no barriers. You can get as close to the edge as your vertigo tolerance will allow. It is very busy so if you want a sunset shot you’ll need to setup several hours in advance.