Drive to Northern Arizona Part I: Antelope Canyon

Sometimes at work I’ll give my eyes a rest from the computer, stare at the U.S. map on my wall and daydream about all the trips I NEED to take.

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Last year, I kept staring at the Arizona/Utah region craving a drive to Monument Valley and a place called Antelope Canyon. I wanted to make at least one of those happen for 2015, and that’s where I was last weekend…to Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ. On Friday, I rounded up the gang from the Ouray, CO drive (Alec, Jennifer and Jouhl) and headed for beautiful Arizona. We met up with Tyson Hugie from drivetofive, a few of his friends in Flagstaff and we set off for another epic group drive to Antelope Canyon…the first group drive for the Mazda.

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Total mileage/time: ~1,300miles and 19.75hrs of driving. This is one of the longer weekend jaunts I’ve done, but trust me, it was worth it.

2015-02-04 13_47_51-Las Cruces, NM to Las Cruces, NM - Google Maps

A little background here: Many must have seen Antelope Canyon before. It occupys the pages of many travel books and is a featured wallpaper/background for many landscape scenes on computers and portable devices. It is a canyon located near Page, AZ in the Navajo reservation and it’s one of many sacred places for the People. The canyon was formed from years from rainwater erosion. This created these picturesque channels and smooth walls that have a flowing look. The name, Antelope Canyon, is the English name from the herds of pronghorn antelope that used to roam freely here. After experiencing this canyon, it is quite clear why the older Navajo considered this place a “spiritual experience.”

Okay, enough with the history lesson. Let’s get to it!

The 6 was fueled the night before and we all were to depart Las Cruces around 7:00am the next morning. The 6 also had recently turned over to 150,000 miles, so it was ready to kill off that even number.

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The morning of our departure, I woke up to the sound of rain outside. So much for getting the 6 all washed up prior to the trip.

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We crammed all our luggage in the trunk.

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First stop, Arizona state line for a group pic. Thanks to the nice couple for taking the photo for us.

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Jennifer returned the favor.

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Back on the road. Jennifer and Alec had a companion in the back.

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Unusual for both New Mexico and Arizona, it rained on us nonstop the whole way. I was very relieved that I had recently installed a fresh set of Continental SportContact tires and OEM wiper blades on the 6.

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Next stop, Phoenix for IKEA and lunch. Phoenix is the nearest city with an IKEA so we decided to take advantage of that.

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Lunch was at Aloha Cafe per Jennifer’s recommendation. Hit the spot perfectly!

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With a little more fooling around while meandering our way to Flagstaff, we got to the hotel before too late. The next day, Tyson and his gang met us at the hotel and we headed off to Page, AZ. (Pictured here: Peter, Tyson, Jennifer, Jouhl, Stephen, Chris, Alec) Two of Tyson’s friends here you might remember: Peter from Death Valley and Chris from White Sands and Sedona.

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Tyson led the way to Page, AZ.

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Quick stop for a few pics.

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This suspension bridge in Cameron, Arizona from 1911 is no longer in service. Get this: in 1937, an overload of sheep damaged it, and it was officially taken out of commission in 1959.

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We arrived in Page, AZ not too longer after and had some time to grab lunch before we went to Antelope Canyon. We chose Fiesta Mexicana which worked perfectly to fill the stomaches before canyon exploring.

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After lunch. it was time to check in for the Antelope Canyon Tours! To gain access to the canyon, tour guides are required.

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Waiting to climb aboard the tour truck.

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Ready! (Pictured: Tyson, Peter, Stephen and Chris)

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I sat near the end and was able to capture a few shots out the back.

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Only a few miles of paved road and then some off-roading!

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Arrived at the mouth of the canyon. Here’s what our tour truck looked like. A nicely lifted Ford F-250 Super Duty with the Triton V-8.

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The mouth of the canyon.

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Once inside, it was hard to find words to describe how enchanting the canyon was. Here’s Jouhl demonstrating how grand it was.

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I will confess, I do edit some of the images I post here on DrivenforDrives. However, none of these have been edited and I’m not what you’d call a pro-photographer. All these photos were taken with my DSLR on auto w/o flash. Goes to show how naturally beaufutl the lighting and shadows accompany the canyon walls.

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Close up of the “flowing” look left by erosion.

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This is the “eye.” It’s a section of the canyon where you look up at an angle to see the natural light peer in through this massive “eye” opening. Pretty neat!

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Photo of Tyson, Jouhl, Me, Jennifer and Alec.

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Just for scale purposes.

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Out tour guide (pictured on the left) was terrific. She gave everyone tips on getting great photos along with a brief history of the canyon and the Navajo people.

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Money shot!

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Complete group shot. (Stephen, Me, Jennifer, Tyson, Jouhl, Alec, Peter and Chris)

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I could happily camp out here for a while.

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Back on the truck to get back to town.

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Utah was only about 10mins from Page. Why not grab a state line pic with Tyson?

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Hungry for more? Stay tuned for Part II of our adventure!

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4 thoughts on “Drive to Northern Arizona Part I: Antelope Canyon

  1. tysonhugie says:

    Too funny that we both kicked off our posts today talking about the maps in our cubes at work. Stop reading my mind!! Haha. So, I feel horrible for not recognizing the 9th individual in our group — that elephant stuffed animal in the back seat! What was the story on that little fella?

    • pawela says:

      Tyson,
      Yeah crazy! First off, we both have maps in the office and we both posted in the same week. Let’s address the elephant…in the car. His name is Henry Aage. He’s our virtual travel pillow/armrest from IKEA. We have yet to create cool stories with him. lol.

  2. […] We hiked down to the bottom which took us to a canyon with towering walls. This felt very much like Antelope Canyon. […]

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