Navajo Name: Tse’ bighanilini
Elevation: 4,000’ at upper Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is at once one of the most breathtaking and tranquil places on earth. Gently carved from the Navajo sandstone over the course of countless millenniums, the slot canyons are majestic and narrow passages, just enough space for a small group to walk the sandy floor – and for the occasional shafts of sunlight to shine down from above.
It is really two separate canyons – Upper and Lower Antelope. Each contains the hidden “slots” carved from the swirling sandstone, and both drain from the south into Lake Powell (once the Colorado River). The canyons are so narrow in places that one can stretch out his or her arms and touch both sides.
The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse’ bighanilini, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” Upper Antelope is at about 4,000 feet elevation and the canyon walls rise 120 feet above the stream bed. Lower Antelope Canyon is Hasdestwazi, or “spiral rock arches.” Both are located within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.
Though dry most of the year, Antelope Canyon runs, and sometimes floods, with water after rains. It is the water, slowly wearing away the sandstone grain by grain, that has formed the beautiful and graceful curves in the rock. Wind has also played a role in sculpting this fantastic canyon.
(Navajo National Parks website)