ZION/ANTELOPE CANYON/HORSESHOE BEND
Last year, I was able to spend a good amount of time exploring the different National Parks in Utah. And this past 4th of July, I, along with some of my college buddies, visited Zion and then Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Here are some of my tips for visiting these places:
During the summer, you get the heat, the crowd and then, sometimes, the rain. Unless you're staying at the Zion Lodge, you aren't allowed to drive in the main part of the park. Instead, the park provides a shuttle from the Visitor Center and they do a really good job getting visitors in and out of the park. That weekend, the highs were in the 90's, with high humidity. It sucked.
- For hikes like Angels Landing and Observation Point, I'd either hike early in the morning or a couple hours right before Sunset. You'll be able to avoid both the heat and the crowd.
- If you're staying at the campgrounds, and want to escape the heat, try going to the Zion Museum or Zion Lodge, as they usually blast the AC there. You can also try going outside of the park, but be aware that the car lines to get back into the park can be ridiculously long.
- The Narrows is another popular hike and when we went, the river was all muddy/murky. We then found out that it had rained in the area, a couple days ago. I think it takes about 2-3 days for the rivers to clear up, so if you're planning on doing this hike, keep an eye out for rain activity. In the summers, especially, it's the monsoon season, so it can rain randomly, which makes flash floods a concern.
- I highly recommend applying for a permit for the Subway...it's very tough to get a permit during the prime season, but it's seriously one of the coolest things ever(this recommendation comes from my previous trip).
- If you want to avoid the crowds, try checking out the East side of the park. It might take some time to pass through the tunnel, but once you make it through, there's the Canyon Overlook hike (1mi roundtrip), and other areas, where you can road wherever you please.
Antelope Canyon (Lower/Upper) and Horseshoe Bend are, both, located in Page, AZ. It's super convenient to visit both of these spots because they're only a 15 minute drive apart. Most people that visit here, usually come from Zion, which is about 2.5 hours.
- Page, AZ is not in the same time zone as Utah/Zion. Keep this in mind if you made a reservation for a tour in either of the Antelope Canyons.
- Page, as a town, has a lot of fast food restaurants and a HUGE Walmart.
- I haven't been to Upper Antelope Canyon, but I've heard that it's much wider of a slot canyon. Lower is much more narrower and if you get claustrophobic, you should probably visit Upper Antelope Canyon.
- Another way that Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons are different is that at Lower, you can just drive up to the "visitor center" and walk down to the canyon with your guide. In Upper, however, you have to go on a, provided, 4x4 truck because it's a bit of a drive through the sand.
- If you're planning on coming here during the summer or in the weekends, you should definitely get a reservation. Almost everyone from California has an Instagram photo from this spot...that's how you know it's a popular destination.
- If you're into sun ray photos, try to get the "Prime time" tours, which are from 10:30 to a little after noon. This is when the sunlight finally makes it through the canyon, and some of the photos of these moments are $$$.
- Take water. It's a freakin desert.
Not sure what kind of tips I can provide...it's a pretty simple place to visit...I should warn that the trail to Horseshoe Bend is mostly in sand, so don't expect an easy hike.
THANKS FOR READING THROUGH ALL OF THIS! Like I mentioned at the top of this post, I spent some time at Bryce, and Arches/Canyonlands/Dead Horse in Moab, as well. So, if you need any recommendations or tips, feel free to ask!