Are you ready for the slot canyon experience of your dreams? Chasms filled with epic light and history; with limited crowds and unlimited opportunities to wander and feel that sense of awe that comes with exploring somewhere your own. If so, then Cardiac Canyon, located southeast of Page, Arizona, is the adventure you’ve been seeking. This guide has all the hacks you need to know to best prepare for your visit including tour options, prep, details on the canyon/hike itself, and photography info.
Cardiac Canyon Reservations & Tour Info
Taadidiin Tour is the only tour operator for Cardiac Canyon. They specialize in providing small group tours and are located 10 miles outside of Page, AZ. Tours of Cardiac Canyon may be combined with a short trip to neighboring Canyon X. These tours do NOT include Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon, however, they are part of the same network of canyons.
There is currently one option for for touring Cardiac Canyon:
- Photography Tour: 6 hours, 2.5 miles – I did this tour and it was MAGICAL!
- All tours are from 9 AM to 3 PM MST.
- Cost is $225 per person plus an $8 permit fee (tips not included in the cost).
The company website notes that these tours are for intermediate to advanced hikers and not intended for small children (i.e. younger than 8). At the time I did the tour (October 2019), there were a few tight spaces that required maneuvering through and a couple of areas with ladders but nothing that required full-on Spider-man mode. Additionally, there is a two-person minimum for all tours. They can sometimes pair you with another solo adventurer with travel around similar dates if you are traveling solo.
See the Taadidiin Tours website for reservations and more info: https://www.antelopecanyon-x.com/
A Brief History of Cardiac Canyon
Cardiac Canyon is and has been part of Navajo land. In the 1860s, the U.S. Government ordered Kit Carson to forcibly remove Navajo people from their lands. This led to the Long Walk of the Navajo, during which many people died or were executed. Those who survived were incarcerated at Fort Sumner. During that time, Cardiac Canyon provided a haven for those who escaped into its maze of caverns and eluded capture. This was crucial for protecting not only their safety but preserving their culture without interference. This summary is drawn from “The Secret History of Cardiac Canyon” by Finley Holiday. Please check out their 4-minute video for more information.
Cardiac Canyon – how did it get that name?! If you’re wondering this, you are not alone. The answer is the massive hill you need to descend to enter the Canyon and may need to hike back up at the end of your tour depending on what tour and option you choose.
We were the only two in attendance for our photography tour. They gave us the option to hike an additional four miles to Canyon X in a wash or to hike out and drive to Canyon X. We choose to drive to allow more time in the canyons themselves. The initial drive to Cardiac Canyon takes about 35 minutes and takes expert 4×4 driving ability by your guides. Cardiac Canyon and Canyon X are about a 20-minute drive from one another.
Exploring Cardiac Canyon
Once you are in the Canyon, the guides will lead you through the various sides. Our guides, Tiara and Chris, were knowledgeable, personable, and fun. When we were in sections with multiple caverns, they would let us wander with guidance for exploring each pathway.
As we stopped for a scenic snack break, Chris began to play an incredible three-piece Navajo flute. The warm melody filled the canyon walls, which provided cathedral-like acoustics. For those few minutes, with that music and scenery, everything felt beautiful and full of hope. This passing moment is one of my favorite memories from this experience.
This canyon is comfortably walkable. Even in the narrow parts, there was never a time that I felt closed in. I recall three places where ladders were used (twice to go up/down and once to go across). All were sturdy and well placed. The walk contains one section that is fun but a little trickier, where you will navigate upwards using foot holds drilled into the rock face. It is a short ascent/descent and the guides help you through what you need to do with each step.
When we visited, the closest physical bathrooms were at the entrance to Canyon X, a 20-minute drive from the Cardiac Canyon entrance (not including any hiking time out if you are in the Canyon). Check with your guides on the current bathroom situation before departing the Check-in area.
Photography in the Canyon
I took the photography tour with my best friend. We each had a basic knowledge of some of the manual settings on our DSLR cameras. Other than the cameras and their stock lenses, we did not have additional photography gear with us.
The tour guides are strategic about timing your visit to each location for when the light is optimal. Tripods are permitted. These would be ideal in capturing certain shots.
We were very lucky that guide Chris is a passionate photographer. He shared that passion with us by giving insights on what settings may work best in different locations and lighting conditions. We had made it clear that any insights were welcome. This allowed us to experiment with our cameras in phenomenal conditions.
Cardiac Canyon Highlights
- The Check-in location is co-located with tours for Canyon X
- Approximately 15 mins SE of Page, AZ on 98E
- Print or screenshot directions in advance in case you don’t have service (switch to Airplane mode once you arrive to save battery life)
Conservation & Cultural Considerations:
- Respect that you are a visitor on private land of personal, historic, and cultural significance.
- Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out everything you take in and taking only photos.
Antilocapra americana – Pronghorn
- These light and fast foragers are found in the grasslands above the Canyon. Often referred to as the namesake of the nearby canyon – Antelope, they are not related to African Antelope. Each year, pronghorns shed the horns for which they are named.
Things to Know:
- The state of Arizona does NOT observe Daylight Savings Time. Navajo Nation does. Taadidin Tours website notes that they operate in Mountain Standard Time (MST) year-round.
- There was no ATM on-site. Pack enough cash to properly tip your guides! They do an incredible job!
- Review the lists of recommended and prohibited items that are sent during booking and pack accordingly. This guidance will help ensure you have what you need but can also move around the Canyon easily.
- Taadidin Tours: https://www.antelopecanyon-x.com/
- Make it a road trip by combining the Grand Canyon: https://expeditionswithevelyn.com/grand-canyon-north-rim-vs-south-rim/
Expeditions with Evelyn Exclusives (EEE):
- Save some battery for the end (take an extra battery and card to be safe!). I loved the entire tour, however, I found the scenery in the final chambers of Cardiac Canyon to be the most mesmerizing.
- The Canyon X portion of the tour at the end is much more crowded. You may sometimes have a short wait to get certain photos. Guide Chris helped me time my shots in this section.
Tell me about your adventure!
Have you ever visited a slot canyon? Where and what was your experience like? Is Cardiac Canyon now on your list of places to explore? Let me know your past travels and future plans in the comments below!