OK I wasn’t going to visit at first, but I caved in. I figure this slot canyon is as beautiful as when I first saw it in 1992, I would just have to ignore what has changed. When I first visited back in the nineties I pulled off onto a small, unmarked dirt road, and eventually found my way into a world of wonder. There were no other visitors, no signs of development except for an occasional bolt or rope sling put in by local canyoneers .
Today you pull into a parking lot, pay $26 at the visitor’s booth and head down a series of metal ladders and platforms. After the death of eleven tourists in 1997 the lower canyon was forever changed. Luckily at the lower canyon you are still allowed to wander without a guide, and I was able to make my 2-4 minute exposures alone in some of the beautiful rooms.
I didn’t visit the upper canyon, but by the looks of it it is even more developed. I do know you must have a guide for that canyon, and the length of stay is limited. One photographer told me it is very difficult to setup a long exposure due to the constant traffic. I remember on my first visit to this area also exploring a nearby slot that is now closed by the Navajo. I wish the Navajo would reopen these wonderful areas by offering some sort of permit system. Antelope Canyon is so easy to get to it has become a tourist trap, but there are so many more amazing slots that could offer that spirit of wild exploration that some of us desire.