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3 Cool Western Canyons

These canyons in Arizona, California, and Utah are magical. 

Antelope Canyon in Arizona, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Lucas Loffler/Wikipedia
Photo caption
In Antelope Canyon, shafts of light make magic.

If the Grand Canyon is a full-throated proclamation, then Antelope Canyon, also in northern Arizona, is a whispered secret. Sinuous and secluded, carved by wind and water over millions of years, the slot canyon offers visitors an unforgettable glimpse of Mother Nature’s patient artistry.

Antelope Canyon, Ariz. Visit in early morning or late afternoon and you’ll see the incandescent amber, ocher, and terra-cotta striations of the canyon walls. At midday, "the beams"—shafts of light visible from about April to October—illuminate the sandy floor. You can discover these mysteries only on guided tours, often led by Navajo who share local legends or traditional flute music, the perfect accompaniment to the whispers of wind and time. Tours $15–$35. Near Page, Ariz.

Zion National Park, Utah Dozens of slim canyons cut through the sandstone landscape at Zion National Park, Utah. The Narrows, a 16-mile-long gorge, is the most accessible. Call or stop by the visitor center for a weather report before setting out. (435) 772-3256,

Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Calif. Several narrow canyons wind through sandstone landscapes at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southeastern California. The Slot, a half-mile-long ravine, is the most accessible. Call or stop by the visitor center for a weather report. (760) 767-5311,

This article was first published in March 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.