Secret Canyon: A Hidden Northern Arizona Slot Canyon


Antelope graces the top of Pinterest travel searches and wanderluster minds. No doubt it is beautiful, but famous slot canyon is crowded.  It is nearly impossible to get those shots that you dream about. What if I told you that Arizona has a canyon that is just as gorgeous as Antelope Canyon and no crowds to contend with.  Sound too good to be true? It's not!

Getting to Secret Canyon

Secret Canyon is located in Page, Arizona and actually isn't that far from Antelope Canyon.  It is located on private property so going with a tour company is an absolute must.  We visited Secret Canyon with Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Tours and did the their Horseshoe Bend Overlook & Slot Canyon Combo Tour during our Northern Arizona Road trip with Toyota.

The tour starts out at the Horse Shoe Bend Tour company office located right off of 89A in Page, Arizona.  Everyone on the tour will ride together on an off-road open air vehicle that gives amazing 360 views during the ride to Secret Canyon.  The ride from the highway to the slot canyon was around 20 minutes and is a lot of fun with amazing rock views as far as the eye can see!

Getting to Secret Canyon

Touring Secret Canyon

After some desert off-roading there will be a short hike over some relatively easy terrain. Some small hills and sandy areas, but it should be easy enough for most people. Walking into the canyon I was surprised at the sudden drop in temperature.  It was a pretty warm day when out in the open but in the canyon the temperature dropped off probably 20 degrees.

Photos of Secret Canyon

Image Image Image Secret Canyon Page Arizona

Our tour group (which was limited to about 15 people) was allowed to freely explore the the canyon for about an hour.  We didn't see another tour group the entire time, which as you can see allowed me to get all the "beauty shots" that I had been dreaming of!

Slot Canyon Photography Tips

Depending on what you are bringing with you to the canyon I have different pieces of advice for getting the best photos possible!

If you are going super lightweight and only bringing an iPhone, the after you open your camera go to the color filter options (it is the icon that have the three intersecting circles) then choose Vivid Warm.  This will give you pretty good photos and help bring out the various colors.

Now if you are bringing your SLR or other similar camera that you can put into manual mode, then you will get a lot better and more detailed camera.  That being said I am not telling anyone to rush out and drop 1k on a fancy camera...iPhone will work for getting great photos for Instagram!

  1. Bring a tripod...I thought I was doing ok with free hand and then used the tripod for half the shots.  Getting the photos into lightroom I could see a HUGE difference from free hand to tripod shots... Go figure...
  2. Be ready to send a little time waiting for clear shots (not like trying to wait at Antelope Canyon) but I did have to wait a bit for the group to get ahead so I could have the canyon to myself!
  3. Look up and back and all around...not kidding every few steps I was looking all around for a new angle or coloration or rock pattern that I hadn't seen before.
  4. Camera Settings - This will vary a lot due to the changing light from one section of the canyon to another.

Here are some of mine that could get you in the right ballpark...

ISO 200
FOCAL LENGTH 18.0 mm (27.0 mm in 35mm)
EXPOSURE TIME 1.6s (1.6)
ISO 800
FOCAL LENGTH 32.0 mm (48.0 mm in 35mm)

0.0125s (1/80)

SO 200
FOCAL LENGTH 18.0 mm (27.0 mm in 35mm)
EXPOSURE TIME 1.6s (1.6)

Pretty much pick a starting point and see what you get then tweak your settings until you get the look you want.  You will be able to make adjustments in post production, but you really want to get the best shot possible in person and only use post to enhance...Lightroom can't always fix a bad photo but it can make a good photo look a bit better!

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