Mazda’s gimmick is all about finding new roads. So then we were in for a treat when our next destination took us to Page, Arizona – just 30 minutes south of the Utah border – somewhere I have yet to explorer. Mazda was generous enough to loan us their completely revamped three-row crossover, the CX-9 for this journey which came in handy during our extremely long single-day adventure.
While the Navigation was set for Page, it wasn’t exactly our main destination. This little town isn’t exactly a tourist hot spot – what is however, is Antelope Canyon – just a few miles east of Page. Thanks to the world of social media and instatravelers, Antelope Canyon seems to have been at the top of everyone’s bucket list – including mine. So, with a full tank of gas, 340 miles to empty on the trip computer and Circle K coffee in the cup holders, a few friends and I parted ways with Phoenix at 7:00am to make the 270 miles journey.
Interstate 17 is the gateway in Arizona that brings travelers from the North to the South and vice versa. It’s a stretch of highway that can change scenery four times that just goes to show how different Arizona really is over a stretch of only 100 miles. Flagstaff is the ending point for I-17 leaving us to jump onto US-89 that takes us into fifty shades of beige. Once we get north of Flag, its back to the desert scenery – so long pine trees.
Upon arrival into Page, we arrived a couple hours early – this was planned of course. After multiple undeceive choice’s for lunch, I had to dominate and made everyone settle for the Ranch House Grille. Lucky for me, they were still serving breakfast and got chicken fried steak and eggs while everyone else loaded up on beef burgers.
Our tour for Antelope was scheduled for 2:00, but had to check-in by 1:30. Since we still had about an hour before check-in, we took this opportunity to nap – knowing we had a long tour and a long drive back ahead. Upon check-in, each tour consisted of 15 people to a tour guide. Not that really made a difference, after walking about a quarter of a mile to what we thought was the entry was an hour long wait just to get into the canyon. Apparently this is normal for afternoon tourist.
Since we had time to stand around in the middle of the desert with limited resources, we took the liberty to chat with other tourist – some who have traveled all around the world to experience such wonders. One guy was from Russia, another from Australia, a couple from the Philippines, a family from Madrid, and some friends from Slovakia. Go figure – we were the only ones in our group from Phoenix and we thought we travelled far.
We also took this time to learn a little more about the Canyon – it was started in 1997 when the Navajo Tribe turned it into a Tribal Park. It wasn’t till about 10 years ago that they added stairs – which simplified getting in and out. The original entry point was our exit point. The entry point now used to be an unguided, at your own risk tour which was only accessible by rope. I’m so glad I waited till now.
After an hour of working on my tan, the time nearly came to enter the Canyon. Our tour guide informed us that the most time spent will be in the first 5% of the canyon – he wasn’t kidding. It takes 5-flights of stairs to reach the base, and some of those flights are not to the faint of heart – even I got scared coming down at one point.
Once we entered the Canyon, we could see why everyone spends most of their time there – it nothing you have every scene before. There are hundreds of pictures on my Canon but none of them can really justify the true beauty of seeing it for yourself. Our tour guide states that the design in the canyon walls date back to pre-historic time and was caused by flash flooding running through the canyon walls. The beauty of nature.
The Canyon is about a mile long, giving you plenty of opportunity to snap some really good photos. If you’re bad at taking pictures, not to worry, the tour guide is really helpful at helping you with your camera to even taking some famous pictures. It took about an hour to experience the entire canyon – even when I thought we were close to the end, we ever informed we had only reached the halfway point.
Once we popped out the end, we came out like a couple of gofers and there was a trail that led us back to the parking lot. And that meant only one thing… I had to get a magnet. And head back home we go.
But before we go, we did take a small, quick, 5 mile detour to visit the infamous Horseshoe Bend. Since we couldn’t get the time zone right, we missed sunset by 15 minutes (we left too early), but it was still a very beautiful site to see. I’d like to see it someday without hundreds of tourist too.
With a long day behind us, we set out to return to Phoenix. After 13 hours of being on the road and exploring some of Arizona unexplainable beauty – I was needless to say so glad to be home. If you too decide to do Antelope Canyon, I’d recommend getting a hotel and doing a morning tour – relax, enjoy your stay!