Antelope Canyon

“Camp on a deserted island,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said. Yeah, um, pretty sure that was one of the worst travel nights of my life; second only to night trains through Italy (but that’s a story for another time).

Let me start at the beginning.

While planning our road trip out west, my dad encouraged Lori and I to go somewhere new in addition to Zion and the Grand Canyon, as we had already visited both of those parks previously. So I began looking for neat places to visit in the surrounding areas and found Lake Powell.

Lake Powell is a beautiful lake in Page, Arizona with multiple canyons surrounding it; one of them being Antelope Canyon. After some researching, I found that you can rent paddle boards and paddle through Antelope Canyon, and even camp on Antelope Island!

Here’s the catch. Antelope Island is deserted, meaning there are no facilities on the island (i.e. water, food, or bathrooms). So absolutely everything would have to be brought over via paddle board.

After talking through it with Lori, we decided to try it out!

We rented our paddle boards through Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks. Here you can rent them for a full day, overnight, or several days at a time. Lori and I opted to rent a paddleboard overnight for $50 each, and they came with a paddle and a life jacket.

The folks at the store were so kind and helpful. They gave us a map and told us exactly how to get to the boat launch closest to Antelope Canyon and gave us some tips as well!

Lake Powell was only about 4 miles away, and it was pretty simple to unload the boards and park the car.

When paddling into the canyon, the first part is a bit tricky as there are other boats, kayaks, and jet skis making waves. However, once you get a little deeper into the canyon, the waters get calmer and its so beautiful!

Camping on a deserted island

Antelope Canyon

Lori and I each had our own little packs that we strapped to the board holding neccecities like sunscreen, water, and some lunch. We packed a few of our items (i.e. phone and wallet) in dry bags so if they accidentally fell in the water they wouldn’t be damaged.

Paddellboarding through Antelope Canyon is absolutely beautiful. The deeper you go, the narrower the canyon gets until its only about 10 feet wide. There the water turns into mud, and eventually sand. Here you can actually hike into Antelope Canyon without paying for a Navajo guide, which is pretty rare. Lori and I hiked for a bit, then turned back so we would have time to set up our camping spot on Antelope Island.

After paddling back to the boat launch, we took turns heading up to the SUV to get our overnight gear and strap it to our boards. Then we paddled over to the island.

Antelope Island is mostly rocky cliffs with only a few sand beaches, which is where we wanted to camp, so the site options were pretty slim. But we found a nice place that was next to a little bit of a cliff peak that we could climb up to for a nice view. The water was so clear and beautiful!

When I think about this night, all I can do now is laugh out loud. It’s hard to convey all the feelings and happenings of the night, and you may not understand. But that’s okay.

When we reached the island, we began unloading our gear and setting up our tent. The very first thing we noticed on the island was there were so many big red ants everywhere. I’m talking on the cliffs, in the sand, on our gear, on our feet, everywhere.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

After we set up our tent on the beach, Lori and I decided to go up to the little cliff peak and have our dinner…which consisted of a PB&J. For, I think, the eighth meal in a row. I guess that’s what happens when you’re traveling on the cheap.

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We just laughed at how un-ideal it was, and went on.

It was only around 6 or 7 o’clock now, but I was exhausted from a day of driving and paddle boarding so I thought I might turn in. Well, I got into our (at least fifteen year old) tent, which doesn’t always have the best airflow. The sun was beating down on it hard. It was so hot and humid, I couldn’t bear it, so I decided to stay up until it got a little cooler.

Then Lori decided to wash her hair (with eco-friendly shampoo!), but then there were a bunch of flies that swarmed her head for the rest of the night since she smelled clean. Haha!

We were feeling kind of down, so we called our family and that definitely got us into a better mood. So then we enjoyed the sunset and hung out for a bit.

Later we started getting ready for bed. Which means going to the bathroom…on a deserted island with no bathrooms, and then brushing our teeth using our hydration packs (i.e. camelbak) as our source of water.

Take a second to think about how you would brush your teeth having only your hydration pack as your water (i.e. you have to suck it out). Yeah. Let’s just say it was less than ideal.

When we got to our tent, we found that flies were swarming that too, in addition to Lori’s head. We rushed into our tent trying hard not to let them in!

It was at that point that we realized we really should have spent more time evening out the ground before setting up our tent. We were pretty much laying at a 45 degree angle. It may not seem like that big of a problem, but it was pretty hard to ignore. Ugh!

I’m really not trying to be negative, I’m just trying to convey the night!

Anyways, we finally started to doze off, using our packs as a pillow. Cause ain’t nobody got room on a paddle board to carry a pillow!

Well, at about 11:00pm I jolted awake by the sound of what seemed like a very large (and dangerous) animal/person running right up to our tent. I silently woke Lori up with a jab in the back and slid our knife into her hand while whispering “shhh”.

Which, in hindsight, I can see may not have been the most pleasant way for her to wake up.

For the next, I kid you not, 6 hours, Lori had to talk me down and (basically) take care of me.

There were so many noises outside all night! Some were boats. Lori though they were just out to see the stars. Ummm, it was like 1:00am. In my mind they were on their way over to murder us and hide the bodies.

All night there were flashes of lights, noises, and movements outside, and I didn’t get one wink of sleep. Looking back, I think I was a bit paranoid (more like a lot). But in all seriousness, I thought we were gonna die that night.

Maybe it was just the fact that we were on a stranded island, and I felt like I had to take care of Lori (although it was the other way around). Maybe my imagination was just going crazy. I don’t know. It was the worst though.

Finally, around 6:00am the sun came up and we could finally go to sleep! When we decided to get up, we actually saw 4 different sets of animal tracks surrounding our tent! See! I’m not crazy!

Albeit, it looked like a lizard, scorpion, bunny, and some sort of one-legged coyote. Not the wolves or mountain lions I was imagining.

I got up that day with two thoughts in my mind.

  1. God truly spared our lives last night. Thank you, Lord.
  2. Get me the heck off this island.

The folks at Lake Powell Paddleboards actually said we could keep the boards until 6pm, rather than just 11am, which was really nice of them. But we had them back there by 8am!

I’m really sure it would have been beautiful to paddle through the canyon at sunrise. We just couldn’t handle it.

Sure each little thing doesn’t seem that bad, but all of them together paired with my wild imagination that night just made it so terrible! And maybe you’re thinking we’re sissies. Which is fine.

At least we’re alive to tell the tale, right Lorianne?

Want to travel on the cheap like us? Check out my 25 best Budget Travel Tips!

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