I've wanted to visit the slot canons of the southwest ever since I saw my first photograph of the curved orange rock as the sun hit it. It looked mystical and stunning and I wanted to be inside that place of light and darkness and feel the stone against my hand.
Antelope Canyon is probably the most well known slot canyon and I thought it might be the only one of it's kind. I had to go to Vegas for a convention and decided I would drive the five hours out to Page, Arizona. I knew that I would have to pay for a tour into the canyon since it's on reservation property and can only be seen with a guide. I had made all the reservations when I found out that this wasn't my best choice. A local told me that Antelope Canyon was a huge tourist area and I would be stuffed into the canyon with probably close to one hundred other people taking pictures of the tunnel of light. I'm not into touristy places so I decide to find another slot canyon to make my dream come true.
It turns out that there are many slot canyons in the southwest and one only has to ask a park ranger for directions. In Escalante I learned of three canyons close together. It took my friend and I over an hour to bump along twenty miles of dirt road to reach the parking area. There were no marked signs and on a few occasions we realized we were lost. We walked into the area not certain where to even find the canyon and the memories of 127 Hours the movie ran through my mind.
But when I entered the first slot canyon all fear ceased to exist. In this tight canyon carved by thousands of years of water I was lost in curves and sculpted stone created by the greatest artist on earth, mother nature. I was awed by the magnificence of this world as I crawled, climbed, and shimmied through tight spaces. The photographer in me took over and I found myself lying down in the sand to take the perfect shot. The canyon walls showed different stories depending on which angle I saw it from. In one view I saw a face, in another curves of sensual light.
In these small canyons I had the ability to be alone as my friend took photos in another part of the canyon. Outside the walls was brutal mid day heat, but within was cool meditative place with air crisp and clean almost ionized from the stone. Hidden underneath the surface of dry dusty earth were these treasures just waiting to be found.