Monday, June 10, 2013

Great American Road Trip - Day 3 (5/27) - Antelope Canyons

Galen and Judy got up at 7:00 to go for a run.  I did not do that, instead showering and getting ready.  After they returned, cleaned up, and ate their leftovers for breakfast, we went to the front desk to check out.  After that, we enjoyed the view of the lake from the marina for a bit, then made some calls to reserve a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon for 1:00 that afternoon (the earliest time we could get).  We then headed toward the Lower Antelope Canyon, but not before stopping at the bridge by the Glen Canyon Dam.

At the Lower Antelope Canyon, we were able to get on the 9:50 tour, which cost $26 ($20 for the tour, and $6 for a Navajo permit) per person.  Our guide was a pretty young guy, but he was quite nice and helpful, in addition to being pretty relaxed about the pace of things.  It also helped that there were not terribly many people in the canyon - our group had somewhere around 15 people in it, and we didn't encounter other groups for most of the tour.  The slot canyon itself was pretty impressive.  It had some tight squeezes and involved a bit of climbing, but the experience was well worth it.  Although we traversed only about a quarter mile in the canyon and then a similar distance returning above ground, the tour lasted about an hour.

Following the tour, we headed back into town to get an early lunch.  We stopped in a strip mall where I was able to buy a hat (to protect my head from the harsh sun) at an outlet store and then we had lunch at the Dam Bar and Grill.  After eating we went to the tour company to catch the upper canyon tour.  The pre-tour experience featured a Navajo hoop dance performance, and then we boarded a "shuttle" (a pickup truck with bench seating and a shade added to the bed).  Transport to the canyon involved about 10 minutes of off-road driving over some sandy and bumpy terrain.  Unlike the lower canyon, this canyon was more accessible but significantly more crowded.  The canyon itself was less colorful, though our pushy (but nice) driver/guide attempted to compensate for it by changing our camera settings and taking pictures for us.  Overall, this tour was a decidedly less pleasant experience than the lower canyon, even though it cost twice as much (though we were able to save the permit fee due to our earlier purchase).

When the tour dropped us off, we stopped at Safeway for some supplies, then began making our way in the direction of the Grand Canyon, with Galen still behind the wheel.  The drive took a bit over 3 hours, and we made it to the east entrance of the park around 6.  Our first stop was Desert View, which is very close to that entrance, and provided our first view of the amazing canyon.  We then continued west along AZ 64 to Grandview Point, stopping there for another spectacular view.  We next hurried over to Yaki Point to catch the sun setting over the canyon.

After sunset we continued south along AZ 64 to Tusayan.  We had a Mexican dinner for the third consecutive night, this time at Sophie's Mexican Kitchen, which advertised their vegetarian selection.  After dinner we headed to our nearby hotel, the Red Feather Lodge, to check in.

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