Grand Canyon East rim- How to reach?
The Grand Canyon East rim is in the area along the Colorado River to the north and east of the South Rim. It is situated near Page, Arizona. Easily accessible from Page, Arizona or you can stay near Flagstaff and do a road trip to the east rim which is about a 2-hour drive.
It consists of many amazing creations of nature. A day trip to the east rim to explore the various wonders of nature and man is a must on your trip to Arizona. It is also one of the rims which are becoming very popular these days because of the wonderful sights offered here. To list a few are the antelope canyons, horseshoe bend, Glen Canyon dam, Colorado river, lake Powell, etc. While our drive to the Antelope Canyon from Flagstaff we also spotted the Wupatki Spirit Totem.
Grand Canyon East Rim must-visit Attractions- Horseshoe Bend, Upper Antelope Canyon, Glen Dam, and Shooting.
1. Antelope Canyon:
The Antelope Canyons are located on Navajo Nation Lands near Page, Arizona. Around Page also lies more beautiful places to explore like the Horseshoe bend, Lake Powell, Glen Dam, etc. The Canyons just look like any other hills or rock formation, but when you really get into them is when you see the real deal of nature. The canyons are managed by the Navajo nation and the tour operators and guides are Navajo Indians that conduct the tours.
The Antelope Canyons are nature’s wonders of Navajo Sandstone formed years ago by rushing water. Which as a result smoothing the rocks to form various patterns and sculptures. These bright orange striped sandstone canyons were carved by flash flooding and erosion. While there are 2 Antelope canyons: The lower and Upper Antelope Canyons.
Best times to visit the Upper Antelope Canyon:
We decided to visit the Upper Antelope Canyon at the prime time to visit them. The best/ prime time to visit is between 10 am to 1 pm when the light beams phenomenon cut through inside the canyons. The best months for visiting the phenomenon is from March to October. The Upper Antelope is said to be the more beautiful one with more sights to explore. It is also most crowded during peak hours, i.e. when the light beam shines in the mid-day making the canyon look even beautiful. It is during summer when the light beams shine the best but the tour operates all year round. Also, the light beam brightens the canyon and shows off it in an array of colors to make beautiful pictures come out of it.
We took the prime time tickets of 11:00 am for the tour. It is during the light beam hours making it more beautiful and brightened. We booked the tickets for the tour weeks ago. Pre-booking for the tours is a must as the peak hour tours get booked well in advance. Therefore to make sure you visit at the best time do make the booking in advance. The tickets for prime time cost a bit more but are totally worth it. We bought tickets for 80$ for the 11:00 am tour. Usual tickets cost around 60$.
About the tour:
The Antelope Canyons are on Navajo lands, therefore, a permit fee of $8 per person is to be paid apart from the tour cost. The tour is a guided one. To reach the entrance or mouth of the canyon, guides take you in a 4X4 truck from the meeting and starting point. The guides are also from Navajo tribes, therefore making it more authentic an experience. The Canyon is pretty easy to reach and does not require much of a hike.
In my personal opinion, it is a bummer that you are not able to explore the canyon by yourself. On top of that, you have to keep up with the fast pace of the guides who also get a bit pushy. And especially during the prime time, when the number of visitors increases, not only your guide is pushy and asks you to move forward as fast as possible but also the one behind you. Our guide was a polite one and did tell us about various points and places to take pictures from. But, she did rush us fast to the next spots and to finish the tours, mainly because of the number of tourists every day and also, the time was prime time for the canyons.
The route inside is narrow at some points to manage both sides of people walking, but not much of a trouble. No bags/ backpacks are allowed on the tour, you may carry the caps and water bottles. You are also to reach 1.5 hours prior to the tour which we didn’t understand the sense of when you have the tickets for allotted time slots. But once we reached, we got to know that the online booking was just a voucher which was to be redeemed at the start point window. Even after doing everything, we had about an hour left to us and so we went to the nearby points of interest to while away the time rather than staying in the sandy lot.
Tour: bookings and reservations
There are broadly 2 types of tours: the standard and the photography. The standard tour basically rushes you through the tour. The photography tour is more like a 2 hour take your time kinda tour. In standard tours, you are also not allowed to take the tripods and other bulky equipment for cameras, you may take your DSLR’s. All that is fine to take on the photography tour if you really wish to do so.
We booked our tour from Viator. Although we had a few bumps due to this booking, it is advisable to book the tours directly from some agency there. As Viator also outsources with the tour operators for Canyon tours. In case you are unable to find a spot at any tour operators online and the slot is available on the Viator, you definitely can book from here. Even though we booked from Viator the bookings were further from Wannar Travel inc, who co-ordinated everything further from there. So you can directly book from them too amongst others.
Tips for Upper Antelope Canyon: Firstly, advance reservations is must especially during summers and peak sunbeam phenomenon hours. Secondly, try booking for peak beam hours from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, to experience super beam cutting through the canyon. Thirdly, you will have to reach 1.5 hours before the tour time. After completing the formalities of tickets and permit you can visit nearby places like the Glen dam or Powell lake. Horseshoe bend takes 1-1:30 hour easily so plan your timing accordingly so you don’t miss the canyon guided tour.
2. Glen Canyon Dam
The dam is located on the colorado river near Page in Arizona. The dam forms Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the USA. We visited here in the extra time before the upper antelope canyon tour. We had an hour to pass so we visited the Glen Canyon Dam. The visitor center, mostly air-conditioned offers a lot of tours of it. Since we were short on time for the tour we just visited the visitor center, displaying all the history and exhibits about the dam. The visitor center has big windows that give the view of the dam from inside an air-conditioned hall. The visitor center also conducts the tour of the dam for those interested in one. It is about 45 minutes tour of the dam.
Around the visitor center is also a bridge that gives views of the dam. One can walk the bridge for some views of the dam. You can also step outside the visitor center on the deck to have a clear view of the dam and the river. The visitor center also has a souvenir shop and restaurants.
3. Horseshoe Bend
This is located near Page, Arizona, close to Antelope canyons and glen canyon dam. The three places make an awesome itinerary for one day. A very popular spot to visit and absolute wonder of nature. It is not a part of the Grand Canyon but runs on the same river as grand canyon, the Colorado River.
The parking and visit to horseshoe bend are free. A short hike leading to the majestic view of the horseshoe bend is totally worth it. It is the most popular and one of the most photographed bend on Colorado River in Arizona.
There are many hotels near the area, also one can stay at the flagstaff and plan a day trip to visit here all the places around. Drive to the area is an exquisite 2:30 hours drive, easily doable. We stayed at flagstaff for the whole Arizona trip. One day covered the Grand Canyon and Bearizona safari. Second-day horseshoe bend, Upper Antelope Canyon and Glen Dam and then drove off to Vegas which is a 4:30 hours drive.
4. Shooting experience at Gun Fighter Canyon:
Gunfighter Canyon is an indoor shooting experience place, a veteran-owned and operated business. A great place to experience the adrenaline rush from fully automatic firearms. A very safe experience under the direct supervision of trained professionals who guide you through shooting with various pistols, machine guns, and snipers.
If you have never shot a gun before, this is your place to have some fun gunning. An experience of a lifetime. From pistols, to fully automatic machine guns, rifles, shotguns and snipers, you name it they have it. I did a pack of three- one pistol (Glock), second an automatic machine gun and third was a shotgun. And for my husband who had some experience with guns before, he went for a Glock, m4 and a sniper. A full hour passed here and it was time well spent. With experienced shooters guiding you on how to use, you can be sure to blow your minds with the experience.
The guns are pretty loud, so you may be shocked initially for the first few shots. But it gets better as you start setting in the flow of it. An experience for all those CSGO or Pubg fanatics like me. You get to see and shoot some guns you find in the games.
To book experience, you can book here or just visit there and book the package to shoot some guns.
Grand Canyon: South Rim
The Grand Canyon South rim is considered to be the best of all canyons because of its beautiful, dramatic and vast views. And when you visit it you know why people appreciate it so much. A day trip to the South rim is a must on your trip to Arizona.
For some recommendations and tips on planning your visit to the Grand Canyon South rim visit the blog post here titled: Grand Canyon South Rim- All you need to know to plan the trip.
Also for some quick tips and essentials list when planning a trip to Arizona, or for suggestions on food and restaurants see the blog post titled: Flagstaff, Arizona: A Two Days Itinerary here.