Arizona’s most popular canyon may be the Grand Canyon but this is not the only attraction that features great geologic landscape and bears the same category in its name. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon — a narrow canyon formed by millions of years of wind and water erosion — located in northern Arizona east of Page, Arizona on Navajo land.
It consists of two distinct slot canyon sections namely Lower Antelope Canyon (also known as the Corkscrew) and Upper Antelope Canyon (also known as the Crack). Booking trips to these sections are done separately.
Why you should visit?
If you like what you see in Grand Canyon, even in photos, you’ll also like Antelope Canyon due to its sculpted walls in a range of shades of red and orange. Antelope Canyon, however, provides a distinct, mystifying atmosphere highlighted by the dramatic light beams that enter the narrow air passages from above.
When is the best time to visit?
The ideal time to visit is during less crowded months but still enjoy the famous light beams: late March – early April or late September – early October. If you intend to visit the minimal crowd, it’s during mid-October to mid-March, but don’t expect to see the light beams.
Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon
Once you have decided to pay this attraction a visit, one of the intermediate questions to ask is which one is a better choice: Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon, since you need to select one in a tour booking.
Upper Antelope advantages
- Features more spectacular light beams. While Lower Antelope Canyon also has them too, the Crack has more pronounced of such beams that almost guarantee great photo outputs for personal souvenir or shared on Instagram.
- Wider walkways. This allows more mobility for everyone to move around the canyon, especially during peak seasons to visit.
- Accessible. Once you arrive at Upper Antelope, you’ll register under a tent and then get on board an open-bed truck and head towards a bumpy off-road to reach the canyon.
- Flat, 100-yard walk. This allows you to easily mount a tripod for photographs, and a better choice for those with impaired mobility.
Lower Antelope advantages
- The Crack is less crowded with tourists. With fewer tourists to compete with for stunning photo shoots, you’ll have more opportunities to capture its beauty.
- Cheaper to visit. If you have tight budget but still wish to visit Antelope Canyon, the Lower section could be a better choice.
- Longer trek. Although it has narrow canyons, Lower Antelope is longer at 600 yards, though it requires climbing of stairs or stepping on boulders along the way.
- More accessible to reasonably fit visitors. Getting through staircases is part of the tour.
You don’t have to choose between the two; you can always arrange visits to both, which is recommended.
Upper Antelope Canyon
You can either arrange your visit at Page, Arizona or head directly head to Tribal Park Entrance Gate at US98. The latter option suits better if Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, Four Corners and other points east of Page are part of your itinerary as they are on your way. Tour price in either option is the same.
Getting to Antelope Canyon is possible by authorized guide only. If you decide to take the Upper Antelope, you need to choose between a traditional sightseeing tour which takes about 90 minutes or a photographer’s tour which can last up to 2.5 hours. Note that for the latter choice, only those with professional photography equipment such as DSLR and sturdy tripods are permitted to join.
There are several tour operators based in Page, Arizona.
- If you opt to take it directly to Navajo Park Gate, Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours (928) 310-9458 is the sole tour operator.
- Sightseeing tours: Tours depart daily, starting at 8:45 am until 4:00 pm MST. Entrance opens at 8am and closes at 4pm.
- Photographer’s tours: Tours depart daily, starting from 11 AM to 1 PM.
Lower Antelope Canyon
Two tour companies operate for Lower Antelope Canyon.
How much does a visit cost?
Upper Antelope Canyon: Prices range from $40 to $60 per person for a standard sightseeing tour, with more expensive fees for midday tours. These type of tours typically include transport from downtown Page, a Navajo park fee, and the entire tour of the slot canyon. Photography tours cost $108 per person and start at 11:30am when the slot canyon lighting is at its best. Young children are not allowed at photo tours and photographers are expected to have a decent tripod and DSLR camera.
Lower Antelope Canyon: Prices for children between 8-12 years old is around $30 which includes tour admission fee, Navajo Park fee and tax. Price for adults is $50 and also includes admission fee, Navajo Park fee and tax.
What you need to bring during the tour?
The best time to visit Antelope Canyon is during summer months, so be prepared to bring the following:
- Bottled water
- Comfortable footwear. Hiking shoes are preferred.
What else do you need to know?
- Antelope Canyon is an attraction that is considered a special place by the Navajo. Every visitor should treat the place with respect.
- Even though entry of visitors is regulated with permission only for guided tours, there has been an increase in numbers in the past years at Upper Antelope Canyon. So be prepared to engage with fellow tourists for best photo angles and tripod positions.
- For standard sightseeing tours, you might feel rushed within the hour-long visit. Challenges may include partial appearance of the light beams and dealing with fellow visitors for photographs (asking someone to step aside to get a good photo can be a challenge to some.)
- Despite the number of people the canyon accommodates on a given tour day, things are actually being run quite smoothly. You move slowly through the canyon, stopping along the way as your guide points out cool rock formations or advise on best photography angles.
- Photography tour participants get higher priority when it comes to taking photos. After all, they paid more and brought with them bulky photography equipment. So don’t be surprised if you as part of the standard tour get told to get out of the way so someone from the photography tour can get the desired shot.
- Some restrictions apply on certain tours. For example, Ken’s Lower Antelope Canyon tour prohibits GoPros, tripods or children’s strollers on the tour. You may also need to leave your bags behind when you enter the slot canyon.
- There’s a reason why guides are required on tours for this attraction. Flooding is a possibility year-long so always be with the group so when guides advise to leave the canyon on an imminent danger, it’s easy to get informed.
- Like many other tours which are enhanced by the presence of guides, if you are happy with your tour guide, giving him or her tips is surely appreciated.
In conclusion, Antelope Canyon is a great outdoor attraction that features unique geologic formations rarely seen elsewhere. A visit is a combination of learning experience and opportunity to take stunning photos.