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Visit Antelope Canyon: best tours, tickets and reservation

May 11, 2021 /

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

Antelope Canyon is without a shadow of a doubt the most photographed sandstone canyon in northern Arizona. To be more precise, it is a slot canyon (narrow, but still fairly easy to walk through) with dizzying rock formations created by the wind and water. The light enters only from the top and at certain times of the day it gives the sandstone a splendid color scheme. The shading and the bright orange-purple shades of the walls smoothed by the elements make it a unique gem and among the most evocative found in U.S. parks.

The main feature of this slot canyon is its division into two different sections that are not directly connected: Upper and Lower Canyons (but there is a third section, Antelope Canyon X, which I will talk about shortly). The former which is also the most famous one, is located at the bottom of a dirt road not accessible by private vehicles, several miles from the latter, which is closer to Lake Powell, where the canyon itself begins. Unlike most of the parks,  you are required to book an Antelope Canyon tour, so you need to sort out some details in order to plan a visit.

Some Useful Information

Tour Antelope Canyon

  • Location: Near Page [1], Arizona; it is located in the Navajo Nation, so you will pay a tourist tax (Navajo tax), which may or may not be included in the total price of tours offered by tour agencies. If it is not included when you book your ticket, you will pay it upon arrival before the tour starts.
  • Hours: Opening and closing times vary according to season. From late March to early November (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and from November 2 to early March (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). The park is open seven days a week. Pay attention to Arizona’s time zones. The time zone changes as you travel across the state, so it can be confusing!
  • Making reservations: as it was mentioned, it is mandatory to book a tour and you can make the reservation directly on-site, in the nearby town of Page. However, we absolutely do not recommend you to book the same day, but that you do it well in advance, because it is such a popular place, you run the risk of coming all the way for nothing! You can book the guided tour following the links in the Antelope Canyon ticket section. If you don’t find availability for Upper Antelope Canyon on the days you select, remember that you can buy a ticket to Lower Antelope Canyon, which is usually a little less crowded, or even find a tour for the less famous Antelope Canyon X.
  • Check-in: Check carefully on your voucher to see what time you have to be at the tour agency. often you have to be there for check-in up to one hour before your chosen time. Keep in mind that the Navajo can be very strict about starting the tour on time and will cancel your reservation even if you’re a few minutes late.
  • Duration of the tour: Most tours to Upper Antelope Canyon last about 1.5 hours, including a jeep ride from Page, which can be a little bumpy due to the speed of the vehicle on rough terrain. The Lower Antelope Canyon tour lasts a little less (about 1 hour), but the trip from Page is not included since you park directly where the tour starts.
  • Best time to visit: The summer months allow you to fully enjoy the extraordinary light effects that are produced when the sun’s rays creep into the narrow canyon. The peak season usually starts in mid-March and ends on October 7th. August and September are usually the rainiest months.
  • Equipment: You are not allowed to wear your backpack in either canyon, but you can bring a water bottle.
  • Flash flood danger: The main reason why Antelope Canyon can only be visited with a guide is the risk of flooding (on August 12, 1997, 11 people died inside the canyon).

Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: what are the differences?

Antelope Canyon ticketsWhat are the main features of Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon? Let’s take a closer look:

Upper Antelope Canyon hike

Called by the Navajo “the place where the water flows through the rocks”, it is the most famous and visited section, so much so that 5 tour agencies operate there. This canyon is very well known mainly for two reasons:

  • It is a little wider, which makes it easily accessible. The canyon has an inverted V shape; it narrower at the bottom and wider at the top.
  • Since it is deeper, it makes it cooler and darker, and sunlight penetrates the canyon in many different places.

The tour route is a loop in the canyon and is a total of just 1300 feet, but often you have to stop to let the group walking back pass by, which can become a bit nerve-wracking in some moments during the tour. From a strictly technical point of view, there are no difficult parts. Anyone could go on the excursion, except for those who are very claustrophobic.

Lower Antelope Canyon hike

Although it is not as deep, it is very beautiful thanks to the light effects and rock shapes similar to those found in Upper Antelope Canyon. It also has a big advantage. Since only 2 tour agencies there, there are fewer lines and, in some cases, you can stay inside for a little longer when there is a low turnout. Finally, unlike Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, this is a one-way tour that is 1335 feet long.

The iron ladders used to access the canyon is a bit steep (there are a total of 5 ladders along the route, of different heights), and the route in some places is challenging, especially in places where the space between the walls of the canyon is so narrow that there is not enough space to easily walk through. Generally speaking, though, unless you suffer from severe vertigo or claustrophobia, virtually anyone can enjoy the canyon route.

Antelope Canyon X: A Little-known Alternative

While Lower Antelope Canyon is not as crowded as Upper Antelope Canyon, there is another segment of Antelope Canyon that few people really know about that is called Antelope Canyon X. Until now (but the slot canyons around Page are becoming increasingly popular), in my opinion the only way to see the characteristic shapes of Antelope Canyon at a slow place and by yourself (or almost) is to book a tour here. This section of the canyon is located about 4 miles south of Upper Antelope Canyon, in a very remote area that tourists seldom venture to. Again, it is necessary to join an organized tour, but the choice between tour operators is drastically reduced, as only one tour agency, Taadidiin Tours, is authorized to provide the tours here.

Antelope Canyon X is comprised of two slot canyons of different shapes (North and South, both of which can be visited with a regular ticket) and can be described as a merge of the features of Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, in fact the views are almost identical. There are no parts that require to climb stairs as in Lower Antelope Canyon, but the initial part can be somewhat difficult. As in the case of Upper Antelope Canyon, the tour operator will transport you to the canyon in a 4×4 vehicle. The route to get there on the dirt road is about 3 miles. Compared to the other two, for now the ticket to visit this canyon is also cheaper.

upper vs lower antelope canyon

Antelope Canyon Tickets and reservation

Antelope Canyon reservation

Visiting Upper Antelope Canyon should be a priority for anyone heading on a West Coast travel. If you don’t book in time, you may not be able to get a ticket. If you don’t find availability, don’t worry. Lower Antelope Canyon is much less crowded and you’re likely to find tickets even at the last minute. The same goes for Antelope Canyon X.

Because it is run by the Navajo, similarly to Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon is not included in the America the Beautiful Pass, so it requires the purchase of a separate ticket. Below you will find links where you can buy tickets for Antelope Canyon (Upper and Lower). In some cases the fares are really competitive, so it is encouraged that you book in advance so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to find a deal, especially if you intend to book the 11.30am tour.

You’ll notice that the tour packages listed have different names, but don’t worry: all of them include admission to the canyon.

Check for the Navajo tax. Some tours include it in the price while others don’t.

Upper Antelope Canyon Tickets

  • Ticket to Upper Antelope Canyon (on Viator)
    • Agency: Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours (Hwy 98, Milepost 299.8, Page)
    • Duration: 1.5 hours
    • Includes: off-road drive in 4×4, entrance ticket
  • Upper Antelope Canyon Tour – Sightseer’s Tour (on Expedia)
    • Agency: Antelope Canyon Tour (22 South Lake Powell Blvd, Page)
    • Duration: about 1.5 hours
    • Includes: off-road drive in a 4×4 , entrance fee, Navajo tax ($8)
  • Upper Antelope Canyon Tour (on Tours4fun)
    • Agency: Antelope Canyon Tour (22 South Lake Powell Blvd, Page)
    • Duration: 1.5 hours
    • Includes: off-road drive in a 4×4, entrance fee, Navajo tax ($8)
  • Upper Antelope Canyon Ticket (on Tours4fun)
    • Agency: Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours (Hwy 98, Milepost 299.8, Page)
    • Duration: 1.5 hours
    • Includes: off-road drive in a 4×4, entrance ticket

Lower Antelope Canyon Tickets

Antelope Canyon X Tickets

Antelope Canyon Tour Package Options

antelope canyon hike Visiting Antelope Canyon is an experience you will never forget, but you can make it even more memorable. Why not combine it with a guided tour of the world’s most famous slot canyon with a helicopter flight over Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend?

Please note that, in addition to the tour just mentioned (please see link above), you can also buy other packages that, along with the Antelope Canyon tour, include a walking tour of the natural wonders in the surrounding area, for instance, the Antelope Canyon-Horseshoe Bend package, available for those coming from Las Vegas or Flagstaff. In both cases the canyon entrance fee is included.

Antelope Canyon Tour – Horseshoe Bend (from Flagstaff or Las Vegas)

Another interesting package includes pick-up and drop-off to your hotel in Flagstaff or Sedona, visiting the canyon and a nice off-road trip with scenic views of Lake Powell and Vermilion Cliffs.

Antelope Canyon & Glen Canyon Scenic Tour

And lastly… why not cross the Colorado River, across the banks of the majestic Grand Canyon, and then enjoy some breathtaking aerial views of the national park? If you want to experience incredible beauty, you can find all the information about this amazing “Antelope Canyon Tour” starting from the Grand Canyon at the link below.

Antelope Tour with river adventure and scenic flight over the Grand Canyon

How To Get There

upper antelope canyon ticketsIf you have pre-booked your ticket to Upper Antelope Canyon, look for the address of the meeting point on Page provided by the agency in your voucher and, as it was mentioned, arrive at the required check-in time. Remember that the road to Upper Antelope Canyon is only accessible to tour guides, companies or people authorized by the Navajo.

In the case of Lower Antelope Canyon, you will have to go directly to the canyon instead (Indian Rte 222, Page, AZ 86040), unless the agency giving the tour provides you different directions.

If you are going to explore Antelope Canyon X, you will need to head to the address of the only operating tour agency (MP 308 Hwy 98, #3784, Page). You will leave your car there and the staff will accompany you to the canyon entrance.

Map and location of Antelope Canyon

Photographing Antelope Canyon: The Best Time To Photograph It

Antelope canyon thing to doThe best time to photograph Antelope Canyon (Upper, Lower and X) depends on the type of photography you want to do, however it is recommended that you book the 11:00 a.m. guided tour, so you can be inside at 11:30 a.m., which in our opinion is the best time to enjoy the extraordinary lighting.

  • If your guide is as kind and helpful as ours was on the last tour of Lower Antelope Canyon, she will help those who are less experienced as well as those who are well-equipped to take the best pictures, recommending the right filter and the exact framing to capture the most surreal light effects and shapes. It will also offer to photograph you with your device in the most “photogenic” frames.
  • For professional photographers, there is also the possibility to join a photographic tour, but only for Upper Antelope Canyon. UPDATE: option no longer available from December 2019.

These additional tips can help you choose the best time according to your needs:

  • You will find the most intense color in summer, when the sun is high in the sky
  • Consider the time of day that has the best lighting
  • When the canyon is crowded with tourists you will have to be a little creative in order to take memorable pictures. An alternative could be to visit the canyon in the spring or fall, thus avoiding the busiest periods.

Video and Photo Gallery: The Light Effects of the Canyon

If you want to get an idea of what it’s like to visit Antelope Canyon, I suggest you take a look at the videos below:

Upper Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon X

Hotels Near Antelope Canyon: Where to Stay?

The ideal place to stay overnight is Page, since it is about a 15-minute drive from the canyon. You can read our recommendations for best places to find accommodations and hotels near Antelope Canyon at the link below:

Accommodations in Page

lorenzo puliti
lorenzo puliti

I am fascinated by the wonders of the world I never tire of going in search of them.

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