The ultimate guide to visiting Antelope Canyon (Upper & Lower)

In the eyes of many, Antelope Canyon is the greatest natural wonder in all of Arizona.  

It is certainly a must during any Western USA road trip and probably the most photogenic place I've ever had the chance to see. But a visit to Antelope Canyon requires some planning.

You will find below a ton of information to help you prepare your trip.
 

What is Antelope Canyon?

visit Antelope Canyon

First, you should be aware that Antelope Canyon includes two separate canyon sections: Upper canyon and Lower canyon.

Belonging to the Navajo Tribe, Antelope Canyon is what we call a slot canyon: a long, very narrow, deep rock channel formed by erosion.

Not many visitors choose to visit both sections, either because of a lack of time or simply to save money.
 

:fleche: emoji Geographical location

where is Antelope Canyon?

The two section of the canyon are located on either side of Highway 98, a few kilometres from downtown Page, Arizona. 

A good way to recognize them, apart from the tourists, is that the entrances are just before the power plant.
 

:fleche: emoji How do you get there?

how to get to Antelope Canyon?
Photo credit: Bruce Wiebe

Upper Antelope Canyon
 

Upper Canyon is more visited because of its easy access.

It is particularly popular with photographers; indeed, most of the images you see on the Internet were taken here. 

This is because the shape of the canyon allows beams of direct sunlight to radiate down from openings at the top of the canyon. The light reflecting off the rocky walls is simply magnificent and makes for gorgeous photos.  

You will be driven to the site entrance in a 4WD vehicle, along with your Navajo guide

It's about a 7-kilometre drive across rugged sandy terrain. Most vehicles that go to the site are safari vehicles

Speaking from experience, don't sit right in the back, as the sand is blown everywhere by the wind.
 

Lower Antelope Canyon
 

The Lower Canyon is much less visited than its neighbour across the street and is just as beautiful.

Despite fewer direct sunbeams, the kaleidoscope of colours is just as striking, even magical.

From the parking lot where the ticket office is located, it is a 5-minute walk with the group to the canyon entrance. 

The hike is, of course, accompanied by a Navajo guide.
 

:fleche: emoji What is the level of difficulty?

Lights on Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon
 

The canyon is 200 metres long and its width varies between 2 and 3 metres. You will be walking on flat ground.

You will then have to retrace your steps on the way back. You will therefore walk a total of 400 metres.

There is no need to be in good physical shape to take this tour.
 

Lower Antelope Canyon
 

The canyon is extremely narrow in some places, so if you are claustrophobic, you may find it more challenging. 

The tour is 400 metres long and proceeds in one direction only. So you won't have to worry about other groups of visitors walking in the opposite direction.

The canyon is below ground and is divided into several sections at different levels. There are several ladders between levels, of up to 7.5 metres in length.

The tour requires moderate physical effort and will be very appealing to visitors who like to be more active and who wish to escape the tourists crowds as much as possible.

 

What is the best time to visit Antelope Canyon?

Antelope Canyon photography

Antelope Canyon is spectacular all the time. It is definitely one of the wonders of the American West.

That said, some time slots are more in demand than others.

As mentioned above, at certain times, sunbeams reflect off the rocky walls, accentuating the colours

From April to September, the best time to visit is between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., when the sun is highest in the sky. This time slot is your best option if you want to get the best photos

At other times of the year, the sun is lower and no beams make their way to the canyon floor. But let me reassure you, the tour will be well worth it any time! 

Photo tours, mainly intended for professional photographers, naturally take place when the sun is at its peak. These tours are more expensive, longer, and focus only on photography

Please be aware that the canyon will be extremely busy and that groups of photographers are not particularly discreet.

 

Should I make a reservation?

What is the best time to visit Antelope Canyon?

The answer is yes!

In case of rain, the tour will be cancelled and reimbursed by the tour operator. 


:fleche: emoji Upper Antelope Canyon
 

For Upper Canyon, it is practically impossible to do the tour without a reservation.

If you want to visit the canyon between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., you may need to reserve at least 6 months in advance, especially in high season.
 

:fleche: emoji Lower Antelope Canyon 
 

I strongly suggest reserving for Lower Canyon as well. 

That said, as it tends to be less busy, it is generally possible to buy tickets on location.

There are two tour operators on site. I suggest simply going for the one that offers the best departure time.

 

Who are the tour operators? 

Navajo tours Antelope

Whichever canyon you choose to visit on your USA road trip, you will have several tour operators to choose from.

To be honest, the quality service is generally the same, given the high demand.


:pin: emoji Upper Antelope Canyon 
 


:pin: emoji Lower Antelope Canyon
 

 

Rates for Antelope Canyon

How much does it cost to visit Antelope Canyon?

Beware, popular with tourists means high prices! You may have guessed that one of the canyons is much more expensive than the other…  

A standard permit is required to enter Navajo territory. All visitors over the age of 8 must therefore pay a fee of $8 on arrival. It is very important to keep your receipt.

This fee is not included in the operators' rates. 

For regular tours, backpacks and tripods are prohibited. Bring only your camera. 


:carte_credit: emoji Upper Antelope Canyon 
 

A 90-minute tour will cost about:

  • $50 for adults
  • $30 for children
     

Longer photo tours are about $120.
 

:carte_credit: emoji Lower Antelope Canyon
 

A 90-minute tour will cost about:

  • $30 for adults
  • $20 for children over 7
  • Free for children aged 7 and under
     

Longer photo tours are about $50.

 

What can I do nearby?

what to do near Antelope Canyon

The town of Page is just a 10-minute drive away.

Tourists generally spend at least one night here, given the number of tourist attractions in the area.
 

:fleche: emoji Horseshoe Bend Hike
 

  • Time: 45 minutes round-trip
  • Level of difficulty: Easy
  • Rates: Free
     

Carved by the Colorado River, Horseshoe Bend is a meander in the form of a horseshoe, as the name suggests. 

An easy trail leads to an overlook offering spectacular views of this unique natural wonder.

Highly photogenic at any time of day, the emerald waters of the river contrast magnificently with the surrounding burnt orange cliffs.  

Horseshoe Bend

There is no barrier along the edge of the cliff, which is more than 300 metres high.

Be careful and do not risk your safety for a photo. In any case, the best photos are taken with our eyes and stored in our memory.   

(Just in case you are wondering: yes, there have been fatal falls.) 

The site is very busy, but don't be intimidated by the number of cars in the parking area. Once you reach the end of the trail, you can walk around to find a slightly quieter spot.
 

:fleche: emoji Lake Powell Cruise
 

  • Duration: +/- 2 hours
  • Schedule: Daily departures at 1 p.m.
  • Season: late May to early September
  • Rates: $78 per adult | $55 for children aged 3 to 12 | Free for children aged 2 and under.
     

Lake Powell is an artificial lake created by the Glen Canyon Dam. The best way to experience it is with a boat tour.

Arrive at least 30 minutes in advance to get a good seat on the boat.
 

:fleche: emoji Helicopter flight to Tower Butte
 

  • Duration: 35 minutes
  • Schedule: Daily departures between 7:30 a.m. and 6:45 p.m.
  • Season: Year-round
  • Rates, January-March: $255 per adult | $234 for children aged 2 to 11 | children under 2 are not allowed
  • Rates, April-December: $299 per adult | $280 for children aged 2 to 11 | children under 2 are not allowed

Soaring more than 1,500 metres above sea level, Tower Butte offers the best view of Lake Powell. 

Not only will you fly over this natural wonder, you will land on top of it!

The panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding will take your breath away. 

Be sure to have your passport with you. 

 

And there you go!

If you have any questions and/or suggestions, don't hesitate to share them in the comments below.

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