You may have seen glimpses of Antelope Canyon – images of the stunning natural monument have graced the pages of travel magazines and found Instagram fame in the past few years. You could also be wondering whether the labyrinth of sandstone tunnels is everything it’s made out to be.
Well, it’s all you could wish for and more – definitely one for your Arizona itinerary!
If you’re planning a trip to this incredible destination, Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon may be the question in your mind. We know it’s hard to choose and there are plenty of logistics involved when making the journey to this surreal and utterly beautiful landmark.
So, we’ve compiled all the information you’ll need when deciding which tour to take and the all-important question – Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon?
TIP: This is a very popular tour. I would recommend booking this prior to your trip.
Visiting Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon
Before we dive into the dos, don’ts and everything in between regarding a trip to Antelope Canyon, here’s a little bit of background info.
Antelope Canyon is an incredible slot canyon in the Navajo land of the American southwest, which sits in the desert wonderland that is filled with unbelievable natural treasures.
Whether you enjoy a meander through Antelope Canyon (upper or lower), you will experience a surreal landscape of towering sandstone walls covered in swirls of terracotta hues. Enjoy the excitement of exploring a cave, but with the added bonus of constant light streaming in and the ever-changing colors on the pastel facades.
Things to Know When You Visit Antelope Canyon
While going on a tour of the amazing Antelope Canyon has become a much-loved feature on a visit to the western USA, it’s wise to get all the information you need before you go.
From changing time zones to keeping safe on the tour, check out our list of things you need to know on an Antelope Canyon tour.
Best Time to Visit Antelope Canyon
While the sandstone wonderland of Antelope Canyon is stunning all-year-round, there are times during the year when you’ll get a different experience.
The perfect time to see the world-renowned beams of light is in the summer (end of March to early October). When it comes to timing, taking a tour between 11h00 and 13h30 is ideal because the angle of the sun creates some spectacular shafts of light. However, your ticket will be more expensive during this time of the year.
If you’re looking for a time with the least tourists, November to March is the best period to go. While you won’t see the same sun-strewn caverns, the canyon is still incredible to experience.
How to Get to Antelope Canyon
This really depends on where you’re coming from as different tour companies begin their journey in various places. However, many of the tour operators included in this post are situated around Lake Powell and Page, Arizona.
You will often depart from the offices of your chosen tour company, then walk straight into Antelope Canyon from the parking lot.
Las Vegas airport is also the closest to the canyon so there is also the opportunity to take an Antelope Canyon tour from Las Vegas. There are also tours on offer from Flagstaff or Sedona if they’re more convenient on your trip.
Because of the popularity of the many canyons and stunning landmarks in the area, there are plenty of accommodation options nearby as well. There is your usual fare of hotels, motels and RV parks in Page, while the closest campsite is at the Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell.
Safety on Antelope Slot Canyon Tours
Because of the canyon’s geography, there is the danger of a flash flood, which can tear through the canyon. While many safety precautions have been taken over the years to decrease the risk, there is still the possibility of a flood.
Tour operators constantly monitor the weather and a tour will be canceled if it’s looking dicey or a big storm is predicted. It’s wise to also check the weather forecast for the day you book your tour to avoid disappointment, especially if you are traveling a long way.
If you plan on getting Lower Antelope Canyon tickets, be advised that the route can be tricky to navigate and sure footing is necessary, so be careful along the steep areas of the tour.
The road to the canyon can also be quite bumpy so it may not be the best option for pregnant women or people with back pain – however, some tour companies offer more luxury travel options.
What to Take on an Antelope Canyon Tour
While the journey isn’t too long or strenuous, especially if you take the Upper Antelope Canyon tour, it’s always good to be prepared. You aren’t allowed any massive bags or items, so a small satchel is recommended.
It’s also a great idea to have a bandana with you to keep dust out of your eyes, as well as sunglasses to deter sand and sunlight (but don’t miss out on the true experience if you keep your sunglasses on during the entire tour).
You should also layer up because the temperature can be quite unpredictable because of Arizona heat combined with the coolness inside Antelope Canyon.
Of course, you’ll also be needing a small or foldable bottle of water to keep you going (and remember, there is no food or littering allowed in the canyon).
Don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes and take your phone/camera to remember the trip with some amazing photos. However, no tripods, monopods or selfie sticks are allowed on a standard sightseeing tour.
Antelope Canyon: Upper vs Lower
Because of time constraints or a tight budget, many travelers to this spectacular place often have to choose between the upper and lower routes of Antelope Canyon.
Each ‘face’ of this stunning landmark offers something different and, when you aren’t able to experience both, it’s good to know which one will give you what you’re looking for.
While it would be amazing for everyone to enjoy the sights along both sides of the canyon, we’ll take you through the info you’ll need to decide on Upper Antelope Canyon versus Lower Antelope Canyon.
Upper Antelope Canyon Tours
This area of Antelope Canyon happens to be the easiest to visit because it has an even ground and no climbing is required.
Nicknamed ‘The Crack’, this piece of the canyon is quite simple to follow as you explore the wave-like structures, dreamy landscape and discover unbelievable opportunities for the ultimate Antelope Canyon photos.
Upper Antelope Canyon is especially well-known for the ethereal beams of light that glimmer through the openings above the trail, which make for exquisite photos that have become famous the world over. These breathtaking beams of light occur most frequently between March and October, so Upper Antelope Canyon tickets are in high demand.
Because of its immense popularity, this trail is also quite crowded, especially during the summer months. Despite this, tour guides work hard to create a smooth journey through the tunnels to ensure everyone gets a top-notch picture and enjoys the experience.
It has also become a firm favorite among any visitors to America’s west and has become more expensive than the Lower Antelope Canyon because of its popularity and amazing photo ops.
All-in-all, the Upper Antelope Canyon is perfect for an easy journey, snapping photos and a quicker experience if you’re pressed for time. Just remember, it is more expensive so it may not be ideal if you’re on a budget.
Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
A Lower Antelope Tour takes you through ‘The Corkscrew’, where you get to experience an unreal underground maze filled with unexpected sights and incredible artwork carved by nature.
This route is definitely on the more difficult side as it has a lot of rise and fall, as well as narrower spots along the way. In order to make the Lower Antelope trail easier, metal stairways were installed, which include five stairways going down and eight staircases to return to the surface.
This tour is much less crowded because of its difficulty level, which makes it less popular with casual sightseers but is truly amazing for taking photos. It also goes in one direction instead of doing a loop like the Upper Antelope, which means you can snap some undisturbed Antelope Canyon pictures.
Because it’s deep within the canyon, this route sees only a few light shafts, but it feels more adventurous because of the chance to climb and scramble over a few rockfaces. However, this may not be the ideal route for anyone who has trouble with mobility or being in confined spaces.
Best Antelope Canyon Tours
Once you’ve decided on the best route to take (or both!), it’s time to find the best Antelope Canyon tour, which has everything you’re looking for. There are numerous tour operators in the area that offer anything from a plane-ride over the canyon to an incredible night time photography tour.
No one is permitted to enter the canyon without a guide, so choosing your tour company is the best place to start. Take a look at our list of options, then it’s time to book that trip!
Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours
Whether you’re looking for a standard sightseeing tour through the exquisite lanes inside Antelope Canyon or an incredible photography tour, this company does it all.
Your guide will provide a fantastic guided tour of Antelope Canyon with information on the canyon’s history, the Navajo people and the geology of the area. Your guide will happily help with photo-taking (but remember that they are trying to get a lot of people happily through the canyons each day).
Antelope Slot Canyon Tours are also a fantastic option, with a wealth of knowledge to share and a number of tours on offer.
You can also enjoy a memorable photography tour where you will be taken to the canyon’s most popular features to snap the perfect photo of Antelope Canyon. The sightseeing tour usually lasts an hour and the photography tours last approximately two hours.
Antelope Canyon Photo Tour By Night
If you’re looking for something unique in a place that is already incredible, the night-time photography tour is the one for you. For any photographer looking to discover an almost unseen side of Antelope Canyon, this tour provides the perfect opportunity.
Enter the multicolored canyon under two hours after sunset, where your guide will lead you through a labyrinth of quiet serenity. As they light up the walls with an LED panel, you’ll get the chance to capture the truly unique ‘light paintings’ as they turn the walls into ‘liquid marble’.
Antelope Tour: Via Boat or Kayak
If you’ve been waiting to step up an Antelope Canyon tour even further, this could be the way. Set off on a brilliant guided tour in an intimate group of 10, then take a turn for the unexpected as you journey by kayaks down the canyon’s waterways towards Lake Powell.
Float beneath breathtaking cliffs, past incredible sandstone formations and drink in your unbelievable surroundings. In the summer, the water is an idyllic temperature so you could even jump in for a splash or try cliff jumping for an adrenaline rush of note (make sure you follow your guide’s safety rules though).
Arizona Canyons: Sights to See in the Area
While you’re in the area, why not take in other incredible sights nearby? Many visitors the Antelope Canyon enjoy taking a tour that includes Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and the gorgeous Fire State Park. It’s possible to include so many of these breathtaking natural wonders in a single day’s itinerary, so it’s definitely worth your while.
Concluding Your Antelope Canyon Visit
With its sentinels of reddish sandstone, seemingly endless passageways and truly unbelievable photo spots, Antelope Canyon promises so much. This gorgeous world of color, streaming sunshine and quiet beauty makes for a stellar sightseeing experience.
It may be difficult to pick between the beauty of an Antelope Canyon (Upper) tour and the mysterious world of Lower Antelope Canyon, but you really can’t go wrong with either. While each route offers something unique, the beauty of this place touches every corner of the sandstone canyon.
Whether you choose the photo-ready passageways of Upper Canyon or the adventurous Lower Canyon, you’ll love every minute of it. This is definitely one to add to your travel wishlist!
Let me know if this post was helpful and what your favorite part of Antelope Canyon is!
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