Updated: Feb 17
If you're anything like me and love adventure, chances are you've heard of Page, Arizona. Near the Arizona-Utah border, it is no surprise the city is home to some truly breathtaking landscape. Some of the more popular attractions include Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Antelope Canyon- all which draw millions of people to the area every year.
Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed slot canyons in the American Southwest.
If you've seen a picture of it, you know why. A slot canyon is formed when sedimentary rock (sandstone, in this case) is eroded, typically by a narrow and deep body of water. What is left behind is a tall, narrow canyon with smooth rock walls.
Ever since I came across a social media post of the canyon back in 2014, I added it to my bucketlist and anxiously awaited my turn to hike the canyon. But getting a chance to hike the canyon has become a trickier process (not unlike most things) in 2020 due to restrictions the corona virus has put into effect.
Page, Arizona is located near North America's largest native tribe, the Navajo Nation. Antelope Canyon holds spiritual significance to the natives and was therefore named a Navajo Tribal Park 20+ years ago. In order to hike the canyon, previous visitors were required to pay and participate in a mandatory guided tour. Covid-19 has shut all of these tours down for the foreseeable future.
Until recently, I thought the pandemic would keep me from being able to check this epic hike off my bucketlist. This was a huge bummer because it was one of the reasons I wanted my second travel nursing contract location to be as close to the Arizona-Utah border as possible. This area of the U.S. has been my favorite landscape to hike since we initially visited back in July of 2018 on our first anniversary trip. (When my hiking and outdoor obsession began).
I thought all hope was lost until I started seeing social media posts about entering the canyon by paddle boarding and kayaking. This post is going to explain just how to do that because not only is it doable, but it made for the most awesome memory we've had in Arizona yet!
Antelope Point Marina
Located at 537 Marina Pkwy Page, Arizona 86040, Antelope Point Marina was where we rented kayaks from. The marina offers free parking. The actual rental site is on the water itself. After walking (or riding a golf cart) down to the water, marina employees will talk you through the rental and give you a highlighted route which will lead you directly to the canyon's entrance.
Keep In Mind
Rentals can be made online or on site, but all are first come, first serve with a 2 hour minimum. We went during a weekday and had no issues with getting 2 single kayaks by 10:30 a.m. They offer double kayaks as well.
Rental kayaks are intended for summer use. They are sit-ONs and therefore can have water on seats and leave kayakers likely to get wet. We can attest to leaving the marina with wet shins and butts...totally worth it!
The marina offers renters waterproof bags and life jackets for use.
It took us 1.5 hours to kayak to the canyon's entrance. Though we weren't "booking it," we were paddling much harder/faster than the handful of others we saw that day. We spent 2 hours in the canyon exploring before paddling back to the canyon in just over an hour. (I tell you this to encourage you to rent for most of the day, so you can enjoy the experience and not feel rushed).
For pricing and other information, use this link:
Overall Lake Powell seemed like a pretty calm body of water. As I mentioned earlier, we kind of took our time getting to the canyon. Being from Ohio, it was wild enough kayaking by large orange sandstone rock. Pictured above is the map the marina provided for us. Though it looks like the kayaking portion is just a quick paddle around the bend, it did take longer than expected. We kayak at home on a regular basis, so I know firsthand that it can be an upper body workout. This route only confirmed my opinion.
The journey was easy, we really never looked at the map, but rather had it in a dry bag just in case. The marina will send out search and rescue if you fail to return upon your rental's end. In doing so, you will lose your rental deposit.
Basically just follow along the lake until you reach the buoy signaling the entrance of Antelope Canyon (pictured below).
Paddle along as the canyon curves and narrows. You'll know you've reached the Antelope Canyon Trail when you kayak up to a muddy beach. Emphasis on muddy! We wore our hiking boots, thankfully, but the mud around the beach easily covered both our feet as we beached our kayaks.
Antelope Canyon Trail
Length: 0.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 98 feet
Trail Type: Loop
Difficulty Level: Easy
AllTrails Link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/antelope-canyon
Being a canyon, the trail itself is very straight forward. We basically walked deeper and deeper into the canyon exploring until we had to turn around to get the kayaks back to the marina in time. The beginning part of the trail is wide, similar to kayaking in from the lake. Visitors have used mud or rubbed away at areas of the sandstone to write their names on the canyon walls, which is unfortunate. As the canyon narrows, the writings become sparse as (what I can only assume as) visitors became more distracted by the beauty of the canyon.
Recommendation: Horseshoe Bend
Another famous southwest landmark to make my bucketlist was Horseshoe Bend. The short overlook trail is only a 17 minute drive from Antelope Point Marina! We were able to fit it into our day just around sunset, which made for an awesome view!
There is a fee to enter the parking lot, depending on what you're driving in. Our one car fee was only $10 USD- which is totally worth it! Keep in mind this is a popular area with a lot of people, bring a mask!
The walk there is more of a path to reach the overlook and less of a trail. We spent about an hour climbing the rocks near the overlook to see Horseshoe Bend from as many angles as possible!
Horseshoe Bend Trail
Length: 1.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 380 feet
Trail Type: Out & Back
Difficulty Level: Easy
AllTrails Link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/horseshoe-bend-trail
For more information, use this link: https://www.nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/horseshoe-bend.htm
Well, that about ties up our epic day! Not one but TWO items of my bucketlist checked off in just a single day- it's wild! We never would be able to see/do the things we're doing now without my decision to try travel nursing and I couldn't be more grateful I chased after this dream!