One of Arizona’s highlights is definitely Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon is one of the most popular and photogenic destinations on a Southwest road trip. Located near Page, Arizona, the canyon brings hundreds of visitors daily.
Antelope Canyon is made up of tall red walls carved by wind and water. The Canyon’s sandstone continues to be carved by water that winds through the path forming its walls as it runs through. It is a place Navajo people hold sacred and that tourists and photographers enjoy.
We visited both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon recently and put together this guide to help you plan your trip to Antelope Canyon.
PLANNING A VISIT TO ANTELOPE CANYON
Antelope Canyon is located in northern Arizona near Page. The closest major cities, are Phoenix in Arizona, and Las Vegas in Nevada. Each place is about a 4 hour drive to Page.
Visiting the canyons requires planning ahead of time. Upper Antelope Canyon is so highly visited that it requires reservations online, as does lower antelope canyon. Another reason to plan ahead is Antelope Canyon has flash floods. Tours may be cancelled on these days.
Making a decision on which canyon to visit can be hard. We’ll break down the differences below so you can make the correct choice for you. I had the chance to return one month after visiting Lower Antelope Canyon and explored the Upper Canyon. Both are similar but have unique aspects to them. I loved both but you must visit at least one while you are in the town of Page.
UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON VS. LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON
Lower Antelope Canyon
I personally enjoyed Lower Antelope Canyon more because of the slim pathways and the steep stairs. It made the experience much more fun. Let’s get into the Pros and Cons.
- Lower Antelope is Cheaper to visit.
- It is less populated than Upper Antelope.
- Easier to photograph because it is less populated.
- Sometimes tour guides may leave you to explore on your own.
- It is a longer canyon.
- Fun for explorers who enjoy narrow pathways and stairs.
- The canyon walls have more reddish and purple hues.
- May be difficult for some because it has narrow ladders to climb and descend. Not wheelchair accessible nor recommended for pregnant women.
- The canyon can be dark making photographs hard to take.
- The pathway is narrow and some people might not enjoy this.
- Does not have the light beams that most people enjoy from the Upper Canyon.
What is the Price?
There are a few tours that operate for Lower Antelope Canyon and they are cheaper than a visit to Upper. We had a guided tour with Ken’s Tours. We reserved beforehand online and paid at the entrance. The price is $25 but may go up a little depending on times, dates, and seasons. Photography tours cost more, $47. There is also a Navajo Park Entrance fee to be paid in cash at $8 per person.
What to Bring:
It’s best to carry small backpacks for these tours because the passageways are narrow. But some items to take are: water, camera, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, hat, and cash to tip the tour guide if you’ll be doing so.
What to Know:
Lower Antelope Canyon has ladders anchored to the canyon walls. They vary in size from 3 feet to 25 feet. The longer ones have handrails and some ladders have a small width.
The canyon can be rigorous and long for some people and is not wheelchair accessible. Low hanging rocks, narrow and steep ladders, and narrow passageways fill the canyon. Tripods are only allowed for photography tours. Regular tours are point and shoot.
The approximate time of the tour is 1 hour 15 minutes. Photography tours last 2 hours 15 minutes.
Tour guides are mandatory, but I’ve read the guides will sometimes allow you to explore on your own on low crowd days.
Upper Antelope Canyon
I enjoyed Upper Antelope Canyon a lot because of its photogenic features. Though I didn’t see the light beams, I still enjoyed spots with light reflection and sand falling from above. Here are the pros and cons.
- The canyon is very photogenic.
- It is above ground making it more accessible to all ages and fitness levels. No ladders to climb.
- The canyon has beautiful light beams and pouring sand.
- There are larger walkways.
- The canyon walls are more brown.
- This canyon is more expensive.
- It is overcrowded! Really overcrowded!
- Felt more rushed, because of the crowds.
- Hard to photograph without people in the way.
What is the Price?
My visit to Upper Antelope Canyon was with Antelope Canyon Tours. Just a quick note that I didn’t have the best experience with them because of their customer service and the wild driver, but still the visit to Antelope Canyon itself was a great experience.
The price for Upper Antelope is higher, starting at $45 dollars with Antelope Canyon Tours. The prices will vary depending on time, season, and holidays. Off seasons entrances start at $40. The Navajo Park Entrance Fee of $8 and taxes are already included in the price. The price for the Photography Tours start at $100 off-season, and $108 other times.
What to Bring:
Like lower antelope, small backpacks are best because of the narrow passageways. Big ones are not allowed. Items to take include water and camera. Because of dusty conditions, it is not recommended to change camera lens inside to avoid damage. The canyon is flat, dusty, and short, so it doesn’t necessarily require comfortable shoes. The sun doesn’t shine in much, so hat and sunscreen are only needed for the ride to the canyon. You can also bring cash to tip the tour guide.
What to Know:
The drive to the canyon takes 20 minutes. 10 minutes are on paved highway and 10 minutes are off-road. The off-road will be a bumpy ride. The companies use 4 wheel dive tour trucks that pick you up at their offices in the town of Page. When looking upwards, the canyon walls are as high as 100 ft high. Sometimes sand may fall from above, so expect to get sandy hair and try to avoid your camera from being showered in sand.
Know your camera and phone beforehand for better pictures. If you don’t, it’s okay. The tour guide will help you set up your phone for photos. The complete tour with the drive time included takes a total of 90-100 minutes, about 50-60 spent in the canyon. Tripods are only allowed on the photography tours. Regular tours are point and shoot.
Tour guides are mandatory.
WHICH IS THE BEST SLOT CANYON?
The truth is it all depends on what you enjoy and what you want to see. Both canyons are amazing and it’s hard to say one is better than the other. Though they’re similar, they each have unique aspects like I mentioned above. I can however say which I enjoyed the most.
Lower Antelope Canyon was a better experience for us because we enjoyed the stairs and narrow pathways. It felt more adventurous which is what we like most. We got to hike and climb. We also had a more pleasant tour with the company because of its great service despite the unusual busy day and Memorial Weekend crowds. Had it not been Memorial Weekend, there would have been less crowds.
At Upper Antelope Canyon, we got better photographs. Though we didn’t go at the times the light beams shine in, we got some great lighting on the walls that reflected in to create a glow. We also got to enjoy the pouring sand. The hike was easy and accessible for everyone. I understand why it’s the most popular one.
What I did not enjoy was how crowded it was. The pathways are used for both, entering and exiting the canyon. This created some traffic jams inside the pathways that took away from the experience. We felt more rushed taking pictures because of this. The place is still beautiful and worth the visit though.
And like Juan tells me, these places are for every one to enjoy, not just me. I have to remember that sometimes when I want places to myself. However, If I find myself going back, I’d go to Lower Antelope Canyon for less crowds. The truth is both have many people and you feel rushed through both. That’s what happens when beautiful places are discovered.
MORE THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING:
- Antelope Canyon is a Navajo Tribal Park. It is maintained by tribal authorities and tours operate through them.
- Watch for timezone changes. The Navajo Nation follows Daylight Saving Time during summer, whereas Arizona doesn’t. Pay attention to reservation times.
- Antelope Canyon experiences Flash Floods and is dangerous when it rains. Tours can be cancelled without prior notice.
- Use the bathroom beforehand. There are no restrooms near the canyon, unless you want to use porter potties.
- Antelope Canyon is by guided tours only and booking ahead is highly recommended.
- During busy seasons or holidays, expect limited shade and high waiting times in the heat outside the canyon even with reservations at lower antelope. But also expect over crowding at Upper Antelope.
- Accommodation in the small town of Page can be expensive. It also books quickly because of the many attractions so it requires reserving hotels early.
- The canyon can be dark for photographs. Know your settings before going. I haven’t studied my camera well enough and didn’t get great shots of the canyon that I wanted. However, at both tours, the guides help you with your phone camera settings and the pictures turn out alright.
IS ANTELOPE CANYON WORTH IT?
Yes! Though the tour and the town are a bit expensive, the heat of the desert is almost unbearable, and the over crowding is annoying, there is nothing quite like Antelope Canyon.
The formation of the canyon is beautiful and fun to explore. Walking through the pathways and finding figures on the rocks adds to the adventure despite feeling rushed sometimes. It’s an amazing experience and should definitely make it on your travel bucket list.
This place is one of the coolest, most photographed places in Arizona and most visited slot canyon in the world for good reason! A must see!
Antelope Canyon Tour Guide Companies
Upper Antelope Canyon:
Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
Placer Near Antelope Canyon:
Have you visited Antelope Canyon? Upper or Lower? What did you think of it? Who has this on their bucket list? If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others to help them plan their trip. Follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.