The Canyon Circle Road Trip: Part IV

A Day in and Around Page

Sunday dawned cold and grey. But the photo trip was still on and we spent a couple of hours in the company of Charley from Overland Canyon Tours in the Antelope Canyon which is a few miles outside of Page where the slot canyons are majestic narrow passages with just enough space for a small group to walk the sandy floor – and for the occasional shafts of sunlight to shine down from above. [1]


The best time to visit is when the sun is overhead so you get those super shots of sunlight on the sand particles shimmering in the oranges, reds and yellows of the naturally carved sandstone. Unfortunately for us there was no sun, but that did not spoil our enjoyment of this incredible place. Even light flares added an interesting purple hue to the rocks. For those of you who are fitter than us you might like to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon which is reached by a series of ladders. All I can say that climbing the steps up into the cab of the Ute was hard enough!


In the afternoon we took a drive back down to Bitter Springs and turned right on to the 89A across the Navajo Bridge to visit Lees Ferry where you can get down to the edge of the Colorado and watch groups preparing to raft down the river.  [2]

(click on an image to enlarge)

Over the ten miles or so south of the Navajo bridge, the Colorado has several fascinating narrow tributary canyons including  Seven-mile Draw, Soap Canyon, Jackass Creek and Badger Canyon. The layers of sandstone and shale that form the vermilion cliffs once extended five miles to connect to the same layers in the Echo cliffs. The Colorado River cut a canyon through the Navajo sandstone. 

We stopped to marvel at the balanced rocks on the way back to Marble Canyon. Thousands of years ago a huge boulder of conglomerate broke from the cliff above and rolled to a stop here. Since then at least 6 feet of this slope has eroded away.

Balanced Rocks
Balanced Rocks
Balanced Rocks

Ultimately the softer rock, now protected by the umbrella of harder conglomerate will erode, and the boulder will topple to the ground again.

Balanced Rocks
Balanced Rocks

Several fallen boulders at the foot of the desolate Vermilion Cliffs on the Arizona Strip north of the Grand Canyon.

Hard upper layer - Shinarump Conglomerate - forms the cliff top.
Hard upper layer – Shinarump Conglomerate – forms the cliff top.

At the 89a junction we turned right and drove to the  Cliff Dwellers Lodge about nine miles further east to have an early dinner at the diner there.

Cliff Dwellers Lodge
Cliff Dwellers Lodge

During the Great Depression, a few white settlers built a small town of wooden structures with shingle roofs that still cling to gigantic boulders in a moon-like setting at the foot of Vermilion Cliffs.

Through the window of a cliff dweller's home
Through the window of a cliff dweller’s home
Tough living
Tough living

Returning to Page after a very interesting day we managed to catch the sun setting on Echo Cliffs on the land of the Navajo Nation.


[1] When we did this trip it was OK to have any type of camera but now you need to have a SLR – point and shoot, IPads and IPhones are  not accepted, if you have one of these you may find yourself on a normal tour. We had bridge cameras.

[2] You can’t return along the 89 from Page to Bitter Springs now due to a landslip in 2013. To do this route you now have to go along the 89T which means this is a much longer day trip.


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I live in the UK, but when I was younger I spent several years travelling the world followed by a period living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

36 thoughts on “The Canyon Circle Road Trip: Part IV”

  1. Fantastic shots of the natural sandstone Jude.They reminded me of the sand dunes in Namibia. Great stuff, and a great trip too.
    Regards as always, Pete.. x

  2. What an amazing trip, Jude! I love these beautiful rock formations and the Navajo bridges and Vermillion Cliffs. I love your photos of Antelope Canyon and the view from the cliffdweller’s window. I haven’t been to many of these places myself, but I really want to go! 🙂

    1. The cliffdweller’s window is probably my favourite image from the whole trip – just unique! I thoroughly recommend this trip Cathy – take 10 – 14 days and do the bits I missed too 🙂

  3. Spectacular shots of Antelope Canyon Jude, the lighting is just gorgeous. What a fascinating part of the trip this was, I really enjoyed it, thank you 🙂 Hope you enjoyed some nice, sunny weather this weekend xx

    1. Thanks Sherri. It is a marvellous place, such lovely colours even though there was no sun. Even I enjoyed it and I loathe caves and being underground.

      Weather was lovely – managed a drive and a walk yesterday; so good to see the host of golden daffodils dancing in the hedgerows around our country lanes 😀

      1. Well you did a lovely job, and yes, I know what you mean about being underground – not my favourite place to be either!

        Glad you got out and about and enjoyed the lovely day. The daffodils seem to be particularly beautiful this year 🙂 xx

        1. Odd isn’t it, you’d think with al that rain the bulbs would have rotted. I wonder how well the tulips will do though. I didn’t plant any this year – thought I’d have moved by now 😦

        2. Oh what a shame. Let’s hope that this year will be your year… If it makes you feel any better I didn’t plant any tulips this year either for some reason. I regret it now…so we’ll just have to admire everyone else’s.

  4. You got some great shots of Antelope Canyon. When we were there the midday tours were all booked. I was disappointed not to catch the shaft of sunlight as you did! But you said there was no sun?

    1. That’s right, no sun! It was simply the light flooding through the gaps at the top, what little light there was that day, it was awfully grey. I booked the tour a long time in advance and just prayed for good weather!

    1. They are fascinating aren’t they? But not a lot of houses around here Sylvia, and I’m not sure I’d want to be too close to these balancing rocks in case they become unbalanced (a bit like me really) 😉

    1. Wasn’t a great day for us, we thought it might be cancelled because of the weather, but the rain/snow held off. But a magical place all the same 🙂

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