It’s more than likely that you’ve seen the dazzling photos of Upper Antelope Canyon where shafts of sunlight descend from the heavens, lighting the towering, multihued walls that flow on either side like molten waves.
What you didn’t see was the crowd of tourists waiting for the photographer to take the image.
Such traffic jams have led tour operators to discontinue the popular photography-only tours of the slot canyon on the Navajo Reservation near Page in northern Arizona as of Dec. 20. You can still take photos with your phone or camera on regular tours, but no tripods will be allowed, reports The Arizona Republic.
As the number of visitors has increased, tour operators found it increasingly difficult to carve out the extra time professional photographers need to get that perfect shot. Tour operators thus voted to cancel photo-only tours, Antelope Canyon Tours posted on its website.
The elimination of the small, personalized tours should cut down on wait times for other groups, according to the post.
The only way to visit upper or lower Antelope Canyon is by guided tour. The canyon is overseen by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department.
The photo-only tours had become increasingly popular due to the countless Antelope Canyon images filling innumerable Facebook pages and Instagram feeds. Tours could sell out weeks, if not months, in advance.
The canyon’s narrow walls lend themselves to dramatic lighting, making the photography-only tours in Upper Antelope Canyon extremely popular. Guides often helped visitors get those postcard-perfect shots that made it appear as if the canyon were not flooded with visitors. Guides were known to throw sand in the air, filling the shafts of light for a more dazzling effect.
Photo-only tours are not offered for Lower Antelope Canyon, which offers a landscape similar to Upper Antelope Canyon but requires visitors to navigate stairs and a ladder.
While photographers are losing out on Upper Antelope Canyon, one operator said it may extend photo tours to other slot canyons on the Navajo Reservation.
Officials of Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours said that by early 2020, they may start photographer-only tours to Rattlesnake, Owl and Mountain Sheep Canyons.
While lacking the depth and rich colors that have made Antelope Canyon so popular, each of these less-visited canyons offer spots where walls close in on themselves, the stone swirling in mesmerizing ways.
Click here to learn more about Antelope Canyon.