Antelope Canyon is a popular slot canyon in northern Arizona – made up of two canyons, Upper and Lower. They’re made of sandstone and have earned their famous shape due to erosion from flood waters. While you are able to visit the canyons, you do have to be a part of a professional tour. The land is owned by the Navajo Tribe and they manage all tours. Antelope Canyon is less than 2-hours northeast of the Grand Canyon and approximately 30 miles from Utah border in the city of Page, Arizona.
Upper Canyon vs. Lower Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Canyon’s entrance is at ground level. This canyon is a better option for people who have physical limitations or are easily claustrophobic. There is no climbing required for the Upper Canyon. You simply walk in the entrance, follow the guide to the back of the canyon, and then reverse and head back out the way you entered. Upper Canyon is also known for their beam shafts. This is when the sun hits the canyon at just the right angle to create beams of light. Mixed with the sandstone, it creates a really ethereal glow. Beam shafts are more likely in the summer months when the sun is high (March through October).
Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Canyon requires a bit more bravery and physical ability. While it’s not too difficult, it does require some climbing. The entrance to Lower Canyon is an opening in the ground – you’ll descend a flight of stairs down into the canyon. From there, you will do a variation of walking and climbing. At the end, you come to another set of stairs that will lead you up and out of the canyon. Lighting in Lower Canyon is best in the early morning. This is my favorite of the two canyons – the colors are richer and the lighting is better!
Tips for Visiting Antelope Canyon
Both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon get very crowded. While summer months are notoriously busier, even the offseason is busy. With all of the tourist, it can be hard to get shots without people in them. Consider booking a Photography Tour. This tour allows for more time for setting up shots, and the groups are limited in size. The guides are very knowledgeable and helpful – ask them to help you with your camera settings! They also know cool angles for capturing unique shots! It can be very cold in the winter (we went in November and I couldn’t feel my toes). Lastly, Horse Shoe Bend is just a few miles away, so plan some extra time to visit this stunning spot.
A Word of Caution
Be extremely careful during the rainy season. In 1997, 11 tourists were killed during a flash flood. Rain, even if it’s miles away, will flood the canyons very quickly – producing incredibly fast-moving water. Luckily, the guides are really conscious of the weather and do everything they can to keep you safe.
Antelope Canyon is a special and unique natural wonder. With its close proximity to Phoenix, you can spend a weekend exploring northern Arizona’s pride & joys; the Grand Canyon, Horse Shoe Bend, and of course, Antelope Canyon. Make sure to pack your tennis shoes, some warm layers, and of course your camera!
Have you been to Antelope Canyon? Did you prefer Upper or Lower? What are your favorite spots in Arizona?