Exploring Northern Arizona's Sandstone Deserts

Our one day adventure included a cross country flight to KPGA, and an early morning tour of Lower Antelope Canyon. This tourist site had been an interest for both of us, but the long drive discouraged us from going. Antelope Canyon has often been described as the sandstone wonder of Northern Arizona. One of the most desirable and adventurous outdoor attractions that brings tourists from all over our country and the world. Our goal was to see for ourselves the canyon which was formed from a combination of wind, rain, and erosion. It is said to be one of the many natural wonders to be seen in Page, Arizona. With our ability to reach our destination of interest in half the time, it was clear to us that we were less than two hours away from from this world wonder.

Destination picked, flight plan filed and full weather briefing received. A smooth flight is to be expected cruising at 9,500 feet due to no forecasted adverse weather conditions. As we get access to the ramp to start our pre-flight inspection, we instantly smelled the jet exhaust. The smell of jet fuel heightened our senses and increased our excitement for our flight to Page Municipal Airport (KPGA).


Morning sunrise north bound.

The sun peeked over the eastern horizon, as we lined up on runway three at Scottsdale Airport. The tower clears us for a Northbound take off. Immediately we put the plane into full power, engaged the right rudder, made sure our airspeed is alive, and rotate. We were off the ground! Climbing northbound over Sky Ranch at Carefree (18AZ) we approached our cruising altitude of 9,500 feet and completed the climb and cruise checklists. In our trajectory, we were able to enjoy and admire the sculpted red cliffs of Sedona. The remaining forty minutes of our flight was spent discussing the exciting day we had planned. All of a sudden, in the distance, we saw the sandstone deserts of Northern Arizona. The GPS alerted us that we were twenty miles away. Knowing we were at a short distance, we started our descent checklists and prepared for landing.


Ten miles south of the airport, we had visual of runway 33 at KPGA. We tuned in the ASOS to receive current airport information and approached the runway from the south, setting us up for a straight in approach for runway 33. We kept visual on other traffic in the area and called out our three mile final. As we approached the runway threshold, we pulled the power to idle, entered ground effect, and safely landed at KPGA.

Arizonas northern red rock landscape.

Aviation and technology are always merging.

The ramp crew gave us a ride from the ramp to the FBO office where Classic Aviation telephoned Buggy Taxi service for a quick lift to Lower Antelope Canyon. Within 20 minutes we arrived at the tourist office at the canyon. The scheduled reservation guaranteed us a spot in a tour group. Our guide, Dakota, greeted the tour group outside of the entrance to the canyon. He provided necessary information for a safe tour and guided us to the first set of stairs that lead to the canyon. We entered into the belly of the sandstone slot canyon, our eyes danced around the canyon walls, taking in every detail. The tour lasted about one hour, with frequent stops to snap pictures and learn about the canyons stories and formation. Walking through the canyon, enjoying every twist and turn ahead we climbed the last set of stairs out of the canyon, smiling and talking about what we enjoyed the most.


The hour long tour opened our appetites, so we decided to eat a snack at the tour office.  After eating our snack we made our way back to the airport to begin preflight inspection and start our journey back to KSDL. Taking off runway 33, we started our turn southbound climbing to 10,500. The time passed quickly on our two hour flight back as we reminisced and recounted the days experiences, and planned for our next trip to nearby Horseshoe Bend or Lake Powell.


Short final, KPGA

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The belly of the beast, Lower Antelope Canyon

Breath taking moments around every turn

Right crosswind departure, KPGA

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