On Monday, July 6th, 2021, Navajo Indian Tribe President Jonathan Nez and Vice President signed Resolution #CJN-36-21, which will allow Navajo Nation Parks to reopen at limited capacity, roads to reopen to the public, and lift certain restrictions based on gating measures and the downward trend in COVID-19 cases. The reopening of the Antelope Canyons in Page, Arizona, is slated for Monday, July 12th. Other Navajo Indian Tribal Parks such as Monument Valley, Tower Butte, Canyon de Chelly, Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks, and Four Corners are expected to follow suit, following a closure lasting more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes as welcome news to residents of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah as the ban on Antelope Canyon tours and other activities such as Horseshoe Bend Trail Rides not only put many people’s livelihoods on indefinite hold, but forced travelers to find alternatives to salvage their vacations.
Naturally, a question that arose frequently was “why?” The Navajo Tribe was hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19, particularly among the high-risk elderly population, with complications exacerbated by the remoteness of many reservation communities. Making matters worse, as the reality of a global pandemic was taking hold, a potential “super-spreader” event, in the form of a church rally, had occurred in the small town of Chilchinbito, AZ. This quickly led to the Navajo Nation achieving the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita infection rate in the United States. In order to protect reservation residents, Tribal leadership enacted strict containment measures such as weekend curfews, road closures, discouraging outsiders from traveling on reservation lands, and lockdown of popular tourist attractions on Navajo Reservation lands, including the Antelope Canyons.
With vaccines being distributed at a brisk clip nationwide, including on Navajo tribal lands, Navajo Nation leadership felt they could reopen Navajo Tribal Parks confident that their citizens would be protected. Now that Page, AZ’s popular slot canyons are reopening to tourism, visitors will undoubtedly encounter sold out dates, particularly in the main branches, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. Vacation planners should know that while these slot canyons are beautiful, Antelope Canyon is actually a complex, multi-faceted ecosystem with several drainages eventually emptying into Lake Powell, including:
Grand Circle Media and its affiliates understand the anticipation and excitement Grand Canyon area visitors are experiencing now that the Antelope Canyons have reopened. Please do your part to ensure that these popular attractions stay open. Acknowledge that the Navajo Tribe are your hosts in Page, Arizona’s slot canyons. Your being able to access and visit them is entirely at their discretion, which they can revoke at any time. Guided tours are required to visit all branches of the Antelope Canyons – no exceptions! Antelope Canyon tour companies also reserve the right to require that visitors:
As always, we wish you good luck and safe travels, and thank you for your patience and understanding during these difficult times.