Updated December 17, 2010When we think of traveling Arizona, the magesty of the Grand Canyon comes to mind, but Arizona has some other great canyons you can visit and some are hidden finds. Have a Look at Arizona’s Other Spectacular Canyons.
Antelope Canyon, located outside of Page is at once one of the most breathtaking and tranquil places on earth. Gently carved from the Navajo sandstone over the course of countless millenniums, the slot canyons are majestic and narrow passages, just enough space for a small group to walk the sandy floor - and for the occasional shafts of sunlight to shine down from above.
It is really two separate canyons - Upper and Lower Antelope. Each contains the hidden "slots" carved from the swirling sandstone, and both drain from the south into Lake Powell (once the Colorado River). Though dry most of the year, Antelope Canyon runs, and sometimes floods, with water after rains. It is the water, slowly wearing away the sandstone grain by grain, that has formed the beautiful and graceful curves in the rock. Wind has also played a role in sculpting this fantastic canyon.
To access Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, you must have an authorized guide.
As the world’s most photographed slot canyon, Antelope Canyon tends to get a little overcrowded. Fortunately, there is an alternative: Canyon X, a slightly deeper, more remote and far less visited canyon than Antelope, lies just a few miles away.
Because visits to Canyon X are limited to four people at a time (six if they're in the same group), photographers and hikers can enjoy the eerie beauty of a top-notch slot canyon in near isolation.
Canyon X lies within the Navajo Reservation and is accessible only through Overland Canyon Tours in Page. The company offers a six-hour photographers tour, shorter treks for hikers and customized tours – all of which are only available through advanced reservations. For more information, visit the Overland Canyon Tours website.
Oak Creek Canyon
Just south of Flagstaff, State Rt. 89A descends a breathtaking series of switchbacks into a scenic, smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon. Known for colorful rocks and unique formations, Oak Creek Canyon is famous around the world around for its spectacular scenery. In fact, the Oak Creek Canyon-Sedona area is one of the most popular tourist destination in Arizona, second only to the Grand Canyon.
Located within the Coconino National Forest, portions of Oak Creek Canyon have been designated federal wilderness areas as part of the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. The United States Forest Service operates several campgrounds, picnic areas, and recreation areas within the canyon. Slide Rock State Park, home to a natural water slide and swimming holes, is also located within Oak Creek Canyon. Sunbathing, fishing and hiking are other popular pastimes.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
In densely-wooded country southeast of Flagstaff, the small seasonal stream Walnut Creek has carved a 600 foot deep canyon into the local Kaibab limestone as it flows east, eventually joining the Little Colorado River en route to the Grand Canyon. The exposed rocks in the canyon walls occur in various layers, of slightly differing hardness, some of which have eroded more rapidly forming shallow caves. During the 12th to 13th centuries, these caves were used by the local Sinagua Indians who constructed many cave-dwellings along the steep well-protected ledges, high above the canyon floor. Walnut Canyon was proclaimed a national monument in 1915. Information courtesy: John Crossley - American Southwest
While there, hike one of two trails or stop and take in a program given by park rangers. Allow at least 2 hours to see the museum and ruins. For more information, visit the Walnut Canyon website.