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In this post, I am sharing simple and useful tips for visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon for the first time.

Not only these tips for visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon will ensue that you have a more enjoyable experience,  but they will help you make the most of your trip to Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon.

Find out!

What Is Antelope Canyon Known For

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon. Specifically, it is a long and narrow channel or drainage-way with sheer rock walls.

Antelope Canyon consists of two separate slot canyon sections. They are known as Upper Antelope Canyon (or The Crack) and Lower Antelope Canyon (or The Corkscrew).There are other slot canyons that are part of Antelope Canyon that can be visited, like Canyon X.

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means ‘the place where water runs through rocks’. Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazí (called “Hasdestwazi” by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department), or ‘spiral rock arches’.

Antelope Canyon was formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone due to flash flooding and other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways eroded away, deepening the corridors and smoothing hard edges.

Antelope Canyon is famous for its flowing shapes, glowing red walls, sunbeams and falling sand sifts.

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon is famous for its light beams.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Where is Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is located in the American Southwest, on Navajo land about 10 minutes east of Page, Arizona.

Specifically, Lower and Upper Antelope Canyons are located in the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation about 15 minutes from each other and can be accessed from Highway 98.

Map of Antelope Canyon

Map of Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

How to Get to Antelope Canyon

If you are planning on visiting Antelope Canyon, you can fly into one of nearby larger airports, then rent a car and drive (there is no public transportation or a bus).

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) – 279 miles (4 hr and 19 min) drive from Phoenix, AZ
  • Flagstaff Pullium Airport (FLG) – 137 miles (2 hr and 15 min) from Flagstaff, AZ
  • Las Vegas McCarran Airport (LAS) – 286 miles (4 hr 39 min) from Las Vegas, NV
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) – 398 miles (6 hr 13 min) from Salt Lake City, UT

What you need to know is that there is an airport in Page, AZ. It is a small Municipal Airport, however there are direct flights going to Page from Las Vegas, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Phoenix. My recommendation is to look into flying to Paige, it will definitely cut down on your travel time.

14 Useful Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Here are my 14 tips for visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon:

NUMBER 1

You can only visit Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon on a guided tour. Unfortunately, there is simply no other way around it.

There are two tour operators for Lower Antelope Canyon: Ken’s Tours and Dixie Ellis Lower Canyon Tours.

And, there are four tour operators for Upper Antelope Canyon:  Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours, Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours, Antelope Canyon Tours, Antelope Slot Canyon Tours.

It is really hard to say which one is the best Lower or which one is the best Upper Antelope Canyon tours company. By the way, all these tour companies are pretty much the same and the cost of comparable tours is similar.

NUMBER 2

What you need to know is that one of the major differences between the canyons is that Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like letter ‘V’. Meaning, it is more open on the top and narrow on the bottom. On the other hand, Upper Antelope Canyon is shaped like an inverted letter ‘V’, which is narrow on the top and wider on the bottom.

What it means is that more light penetrates Lower Antelope Canyon making it brighter and easier to photograph. As an opposite, way less light seeps into Upper Antelope Canyon making it feel darker and gloomier and as a result more difficult to photograph.

I need to honest and say that the scarce light and lots of shadows make Upper Antelope Canyon visually more dramatic.

Upper Antelope Canyon

Less light penetrates Upper Antelope Canyon making it more difficult to photograph. 

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon is shaped like an inverted letter ‘V’, which makes it darker ad gloomier.

Upper Antelope Canyon

Since less light seeps into Upper Antelope Canyon it is more visually stunning.

NUMBER 3

Antelope Canyon is famous for its light beams and falling sand sifts. However, what you need to know is that the light beams scarcely appear at Lower Antelope Canyon and it does not have any falling sands.

If you are set on photographing the light beams and falling sands, then you need to head to Upper Antelope Canyon!

This is important

You need to schedule your tour between 10:30 am and 1 pm when the light is most abundant and the brightest and because the famous light beams happen only when the sun is at the right angle

The light beams can be seen starting mid-May through mid-September. However, the prime time to catch the iconic light beams is during summer months, namely, late June, July, and August.

Needless to say, if the sky is overcast, there are no light beams at all.

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

The iconic light beams happen only when the sun is at the right angle. 

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Make sure to schedule your guided tour in the middle of the day when the sun is the brightest. 

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Needless to say, if the sky is overcast, there are no light beams at all. 

NUMBER 4

It is very dusty inside the canyons. I am not exaggerating!

If there is even a slight breeze on the surface, the wind blows all the sand inside the canyon. I am not kidding you, this sand will get into everything you have on you and with you.

My recommendation is to wear some old shoes and old clothes that you do not care much about. Next, make sure to cover you mouth and nose. If you have a camera with you, then, hands down, make sure it is protected. Look into buying camera protective body skin cover.

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Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon
Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

NUMBER 5

In order to visit Lower Antelope Canyon, you are required to climb down and up multiple sets of ladders. The ladders are steep and narrow.

So if you are not up to climbing ladders or if you have a poor balance, then you should look into visiting Upper Antelope Canyon, which is pretty flat and has a fairly even surface.

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

In order to access Lower Antelope Canyon, you are required to climb multiple sets of stairs. 

Lower Antelope Canyon

The stairs in Lower Antelope Canyon are fairly steep and narrow. 

NUMBER 6

Both Lower and Upper Antelope Canyons get very crowded. However, because Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like letter ‘V’, it is very narrow on the bottom and it gets very crowded. If you can’t stand the crowds or if you are claustrophobic, then I have to recommend that you skip Lower Antelope Canyon altogether.

Also, keep in mind that there is a constant flow of tours and you have to keep up with your group. There is very little time at each stop to snap a couple of pictures. It is tough to get some decent pictures without any tourists in them.

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

There is very little time at each stop to snap a couple of pictures.

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

It is tough to get some decent pictures without any tourists in them.

NUMBER 7

Be mindful of the weather conditions! This is one of the top tips for visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon.

July, August, September, and early October is monsoon season and flash floods might occur.

Rain does not have to fall on or near the Antelope Canyon slots for flash floods to whip through. Rain falling dozens of miles away can funnel into the canyons with little notice.

On August 12, 1997, eleven tourists, including seven from France, one from the United Kingdom, one from Sweden and two from the United States, were killed in Lower Antelope Canyon by a flash flood. Very little rain fell at the site that day, but an earlier thunderstorm dumped a large amount of water into the canyon basin 7 miles (11 km) upstream. The lone survivor was tour guide Francisco “Pancho” Quintana, who had prior swift-water training.

At the time, the ladder system consisted of amateur-built wood ladders that were swept away by the flood. Today, ladder systems have been bolted in place, and deployable cargo nets are installed at the top of the canyon. A NOAA Weather Radio from the National Weather Service and an alarm horn are at the fee booth.

Despite improved warning and safety systems, the risks of injury from flash floods still exists. On July 30, 2010, several tourists were stranded on a ledge when two flash floods occurred at Upper Antelope Canyon.Some of them were rescued and some had to wait for the flood waters to recede.

Source: Wikipedia

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

July, August, September, and early October is monsoon season and flash floods might occur.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Rain does not have to fall on or near the Antelope Canyon slots for flash floods to whip through.

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Rain falling dozens of miles away can funnel into the canyons with little notice.

NUMBER 8

Ok! If you are on a budget then you need to read this.

What you need to know is that there is a significant difference in price between the tours offered at Antelope Canyon Upper vs Lower. Specifically, Upper Antelope Canyon tickets might range between $60 to $70, plus $8 for the Navajo Park Permit Fee, while a tour of Lower Antelope Canyon is usually about $40, plus the permit.

The bottom line, Lower Antelope Canyon cost of the ticket is less!

NUMBER 9

If you are short on time, then maybe Upper Antelope Canyon is not the best choice. First of all, you need to check into the tour company headquarters about 30 to 45 minutes before the start of the tour.

Next, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the entrance of Upper Antelope Canyon.

The transportation is provided by all the tour companies. However, the road leading to Upper Antelope Canyon is just a washed sandy track. Be aware that it is a very bumpy road. To top it off, the transportation consists of open bed trucks. So, really, if you have any back problems, it might be too rough on your back.

NUMBER 10

I always get emails asking me if it is possible to visit both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in one day. And, the answer is: yes! It is not a problem at all.

Another one of my useful tips for visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon is that if you decide to visit both Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon in one day, then you are required to pay $8 Navajo Permit Fee just once. So make sure to save your receipt and show it to your tour guide.

NUMBER 11

Once you make a decision to visit Antelope Canyon, then book your tour or tours as soon as possible.

This is especially important if you are visiting during peak time (June, July, August), or if you are booking your tour between 10:30 am and 1 pm, or if you are planning on visiting Upper Antelope Canyon.

Summer months are extremely busy and tours book way in advance. The best light is between 10:30 am and 1 pm and the tours scheduled during these times book the fastest. Finally, if you are planning on visiting Upper Antelope Canyon, then keep in mind that Upper Antelope Canyon is a more popular one of the two and it is tough to reserve any tours on a short notice.

NUMBER 12

So, once you book your tour or tours, keep track of time and do not miss your tour! Why? Because, almost all of Arizona is on the same time zone, Mountain Standard Time (MST), all year. And, since 1968 most of the state does not observe daylight saving time.

However,  the Navajo Nation does observe daylight savings time.

Your phone might not pick up the difference in time, so make sure to double and triple check when you are supposed to show up for your tour.

NUMBER 13

Bags, purses, backpacks are not allowed inside the canyons. You will need to leave all your stuff in the car.

So, plan accordingly! Make sure to wear pants or shorts with pockets or better yet, grab a lightweight jacket with some deep pockets and secure all your documents (credit cards, DL, and/or passport) inside the pocket. It is a good idea to have a ziplock bag and store all your valuables inside the ziplock bag and then place it inside the pocket and zip it up. I am not exaggerating, it is very dusty inside the canyons and sand will get into everything you have on you.

NUMBER 14

My recommendation is to tip your tour guide. Unless, of course, your tour guide does not deserve to be tipped.

It is true, tipping is not required, but it is considered a sign of good etiquette and it might be expected by your guide. Bottom line it is your choice.

How much should you tip your guide? I would say 15-20% of the cost of the tour.

Every tour guide that I had was excellent! They have to keep their group in line and on time, however, they take time to help you with your camera settings, and point out the best locations to capture awesome pictures.

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Tour guides for both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are very helpful with pointing the best locations to capture some awesome images. 

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

If you have any questions about the canyons, make sure to ask your tour guide. They are extremely helpful!

Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Tour guides will give you some pointers on getting the best pictures.

What Should You Bring to Antelope Canyon

It can be very windy in the area right above the canyon and the sand gets blown inside the canyon.

This sand will get into everything!

  • So, above all protect your eyes, nose and mouth. My recommendation is to wear a hat and a mask and maybe even sunglasses.
  • Wear long pants vs shorts.
  • A lightweight jacket might be a very good idea.
  • Make sure your clothing has some pockets to secure your documents and credit cards. Bags, purses, backpacks are not allowed inside the canyons.
  • Wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes. If you decide on visiting Lower Antelope Canyon, you are going to be required to climb up and down several flights of stairs. Keep in mind that the bottom of the canyons is not even and it is easy to loose your footing.

Can You Visit Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in One Day

Can you visit both canyons in one day? Absolutely!

I did it several times and it is not a problem at all. I usually start with one of Upper Antelope Canyon tours hoping to catch the famous light beams which are the most abundant during mid-day hours and then I tour Lower Antelope Canyon which is brighter and more light gets to reach the bottom of the canyon.

Should You Visit Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon

Should you visit Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon?

My recommendation is to check out my post: Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon (Which One is Voted the Best) to find out all the differences between the two canyon and all the pros and cons of visiting one canyon vs the other.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Antelope Canyon

The good news is that you can visit Antelope Canyon year round.

  • Springtime, namely, March, April, May, is a good time to visit Antelope Canyon. Temperatures are between 60-70 degrees F. More importantly, if you go during springtime, you will be able to avoid massive crowds of tourist swarming Antelope Canyon during summer months. However, the option of catching the famous sunbeams is relatively rare during springtime.
  • Summer, specifically, June, July and August, is a high-season. Keep in mind that the temperatures range between 80-100 degrees F. Above. all, you need to be prepared to deal with huge tourist crowds and you will have little opportunity to capture some pictures without tourists in them. On the other hand, summertime is the best for light beams. The higher the sun in the sky, the more light it will bring into the canyon and you will get to see the iconic light beams. In addition, you need to keep in mind that July, August, September, and early October is monsoon season and flash floods might occur. As a result, the canyons might be closed. Also, if temperatures reach 105 degrees F, the canyons might be closed as well. It is important to keep an eye on the weather conditions and re-confirm your reservations with your tour company to make sure that they are open.
  • Fall, specifically September, October is a good time to visit. The tourist crowds will be pretty much done. However, the chance to see the light beams is relatively small.
  • Winter, namely November through March is the best time to find some solitude and be able to take some pictures without people in them. On the other hand, there are no light beams during the winter months. However, to me, both canyons are still very magical. By the way, the temperature should be between 50-60 degrees F and snow is very rare in that area.

Where Should You Stay If You are Visiting Antelope Canyon

There is a lot of places to choose from if you want to stay close to Antelope Canyon. I stayed at Country Inn and Suites by Radisson, Paige, AZ. The place is clean and well managed and practically brand new.

Another hotel you might want to check out is Best Western Plus at Lake Powell. It is clean, however a bit outdated.

How to Choose the Best Guided Tour Company for Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

I have read many reviews of all the Antelope Canyon tour companies. Needless to say, it is hard to select the best company to tour Antelope Canyon. However, after I tried a few of them, I came to the conclusion that Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon tours are pretty much the same and their prices are fairly comparable for similar tours. However, you should do your own research and decide what company you want to go with.

I booked my last tour of Upper Canyon with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours. The booking process is easy and can be done online. I reserved my tour for 10:30 am time slot knowing that the lighting would be the best at that time (weather permitting). The cost of the tour is $60.40, plus $8 Navajo Permit Fee, plus $9.60 sales and Navajo tax fees. Total cost $78.

If you decide to book with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours, you need to get familiar with their strict cancellation policy. Above all, you need to check in 45 minutes prior to your scheduled departure. If you have not checked in prior to 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time, you will loose your booking and they will not refund your money. So, arrive early and check in immediately.

In addition, they do not allow backpacks, tripods and selfie sticks.

Furthermore, the meeting point is at their office located at 55 S Lake Powell Blvd. Page, AZ 86040. Next, they will transport you to the entrance to the canyon, which is about 30-minute drive.

As far as Lower Antelope Canyon tours, the last time I decided to go with Ken’s Tours. I reserved the tour for 2 pm. The cost of the tour was $40, plus taxes and permit fee. Total cost $50.80. No payments are collected online.

Above all, you need to remember to confirm your reservation between 24 and 96 hours prior to your tour by either visiting their website and clicking the link at the very bottom of the home page or calling/texting your confirmation number to one of the phone numbers provided to you at the time of making the reservation. In addition, you need to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled tour to pay for the tour and check in.

Further, they do not allow any bags, backpacks, selfie sticks, tripods.

Finally, once you reserve your tour, you will get detailed instructions on how to get to the meeting point. Basically, they are located 2 miles east of Paige, AZ.

Intrepid Scout's Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

  • First and foremost, book your tour(s) well in advance. All the tours sell out fast especially during summertime. The most popular tours are the ones between 10:30 am to 1 pm when the lighting is the best.
  • If you want to avoid crowds and long waiting lines, then visit during off-season months. However, if your schedule does not allow for time off during that time, then book your tour early in the day, or go late. Even though the lighting might not be so perfect, you will be able to take some pictures without people in them.
  • It can get very dusty in the canyon. Thus, it is a good idea to bring a face mask, or have a scarf and tie it around your nose and mouth.
  • I am sure you heard about photo tours. They are the best! They are expensive, but hands town, Upper Antelope Canyon photo tour is the right choice if you are into photography. However, at the moment they are not being offered. Needless to say, I would keep on checking to see if they bring photography tour back.
  • Make sure to check out Horseshoe Bend on your way to or from Antelope Canyon. Horseshoe Bend makes an excellent stop as part of a road trip to the Page/Glenn Canyon Area. I would highly recommend bundling it with the incredible Antelope Canyon, and the Glenn Canyon Dam to round out the day.

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14 Useful Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona

Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning your trip to Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon?

Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

Click on any of the images below to get inspired and to help you with the planning process with your trip to American Southwest!

Comments:

2 thoughts on “14 Useful Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon


2019-11-29

Would love to see Antelope Canyon, looks incredible. Didn’t realise that you had to join a tour though. Thanks for recommending booking in advance, I’ll remember that – not usually that organised!

    2019-11-29

    Thank you, Sarah!

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