THE SLOT CANYONS OF THE U.S. SOUTHWEST
This page was created to provide background data for visitors who wish to learn a little more about 'slot canyons'.
A 'slot canyon' is a narrow crevice sliced through the underlying bedrock by rushing water. I learn that there are a great many of them in U.S. Southwest, perhaps as many as a couple of hundred. Many are difficult of access & not often visited by anyone at all. At the top they can be amazingly narrow since one can often step across the slit in the rock at ground level. Down below, a hundred or so feet down, is a different world. A magnificent pallette of subtle colours & shapes lit by light filtering down from above & bouncing from wall to wall. Created by water & wind over millions of years, the sandstone has been formed into every conceivable shape of swirl & eddy, sometimes so narrow one can barely pass & at others widening into natural cathedrals of unbelievable beauty.
Antelope Canyon is the most well known of the slot canyons. It is located on Navajo Tribal land north of Page, Arizona. It was discovered in 1931 by Sue Tsosie, a Navajo girl then 12 years old & herding her sheep. Until relatively recently it's exact location was a closely guarded secret but today the site is a major tourist attraction. The whole canyon is five miles in length. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the canyon is Upper Antelope Canyon also known as the Corkscrew, Wind Cave, or the Crack and named by the Navajo's 'Tse bighanilini' or 'the place where water runs through rocks'. Only a quarter of a mile long & perhaps 120 feet deep, it is a favorite destination for tourists & photographers & is easily accessible. Photography is not easy ~ long exposure times are required, & it is hard to find a quiet moment to take a photograph when so many fellow visitors are also trying to do the very same thing. Lower Antelope is more strenuous since entry & exit requires climbing down & up ladders bolted to the canyon walls.
When I present images with the 'Lake' applet, I often wonder how appropriate is the 'reflection' to the particular image. In this case it is, I think, particularly appropriate. Created by water, the canyon can become a raging torrent as rainfall, often from many miles distant, courses through the canyon with its deluge of mud and debris. In Aug. 1997, 12 mainly European tourists were caught by such a flash flood in Lower Antelope Canyon & 11 of them lost their lives. Here is a quote from a first hand account of a flash flood survivor caught in Bell Canyon in 1992.
"Ever marvel at how tree trunks get lodged between canyon walls 30 feet above your head? We found out on this day. The water came done the gulch .... to create a raging river that filled the canyon to ten feet deep. Whole trees floated by us while the walls of the canyon beneath our feet rumbled and shook as boulders were washed down with the current. The unmistakable smell of pine trees floated down in drafts of cold mountain air as we stared with wonder at the spectacle before us. We could not leave the place we were in. ... We remained trapped for 2-3 hours before the water level went down to where we thought we could navigate it."
The whole article can be read here. Both pages are interesting & necessary reading for any visitor. I will not attempt here to mention the current costs of entry, guides & photographic tours. The month of June is the driest month of the year, you might like to know. If you search for 'Antelope Canyon' in any search engine, extensive practical data can be readily obtained from many sites. Each of the operators there listed would seem to have their own web page, easily found, with more detail.
And there are a host of Antelope Canyon images available also. Dan Heller's page of images to me was the best image collection that I found, currently 16 images in total. I also liked very much two superb 'sunbeam' images in the canyon, the first a real beauty by Jakub Jasinski of Scranton, Pennsylvania & the second a superb image by Scott R. Squires of Mission Viejo, California. Few images of the canyon are of such quality. Scott has more wonderful canyon images on his landscapes page.
To the 'Lake' applet image page page re the Jakub Jasinski image.
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