Last week I told ya’ll about my visit to Horseshoe Bend. As if that didn’t blow my mind enough already, I left there and headed up the road to tour the famous Antelope Canyon. The Grand Canyon might be Arizona’s most famous canyon, but Antelope Canyon is just as incredible in its own regard.
About Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located just east of Page, Arizona. Unlike the Grand Canyon, which is extremely wide (18 miles wide), a slot canyon is much deeper than it is wide. Whatever its dimensions, both types of canyons are formed from the movement of water on rock, which over long periods of time, causes weathering and erosion.
What you NEED to know BEFORE you go
Located on sacred Navajo land
The American Southwest is incredibly rich in Native American history and culture. The Navajo tribe is the most populous Native American tribe in the entire country. The Navajo Nation Reservation covers 27,425 square miles. Nearly all of that land is located in Northeastern Arizona, with some also spilling into Southeastern Utah and Northwestern New Mexico.
Antelope Canyon is located on the Navajo Nation Reservation and it is considered to be sacred land by the tribe. Horseshoe Bend — although only 10 miles from Antelope Canyon — is not located on Navajo land.
Which brings me to my next point….
You NEED a Tour Guide
Because the land is considered sacred, you cannot enter Antelope Canyon without a native Navajo guide. There are plenty of tour companies based out of Page that you can schedule a tour with.
I highly recommend booking your tour in advance. Tour companies will take you on the day of IF (and that’s a big IF) they have room. During the busiest times of the year, and especially during mid-day, tours are typically sold out. In which case you’re SOL.
There are two different Canyons: Upper and Lower
If you have time, I recommend visiting both as they are different from one another. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit both. After lots of research, I decided if I could only get to one, Upper Antelope Canyon would be best for me. There has long been a debate about which is better: Upper or Lower. I can’t weigh in because I haven’t seen both, but I can say I loved Upper Antelope Canyon.
From the research I’ve done, and from what I saw from my tour, Upper Antelope Canyon tends to be more popular. Mostly because it’s all on flat ground making it much more accessible. Lower Antelope Canyon requires climbing several metal ladders that you need to be able to move up and down with ease. Another draw of the Upper Canyon is that the famous light beams tend to be more prevalent then in the Lower Canyon.
There are different tours to choose from
Antelope Canyon is huge draw for the photo fanatics. Photography tours — which are smaller in size, longer in length, and focus 100% on getting quality pictures — will cost you more. I’ve seen them advertised for anywhere from $100-$195. If you are a photographer and looking to get some high quality shots, this tour is worth it for you. A lot of tour companies require you to have a tripod in order to take this tour. The website of the tour company should specifically specify. If the website doesn’t make it clear and you’re unsure, shoot them an e-mail or call them. You don’t want to pay for your photography tour upfront, get excited, and then arrive to find out you don’t have the proper equipment to go.
I thought about the photography tour, but ended up going with the standard tour, and I was completely satisfied.
The best time to visit is between 10am-noon
This place is going to blow your socks off at any time of the day, BUT if you really want to see the magic the best time to go is between 10am-noon. This is when the sun is highest in the sky, thus making the sun beams super dramatic and best for photographing. These midday tours usually fill up quickest, so hop to it and schedule that tour as soon as possible!
It can be crowded
Ya’ll this place is not a hidden gem. It is well known and hundreds of thousands of people visit Antelope Canyon each year. There are several different tour companies that visit the canyons each day and each of the tours can take as many as 50 people at a time. There will be a tour in front of you, and a tour coming up behind you. This can make an already tight space very crowded, and it can make it hard to get good pictures without having 3830943 people in them. Fortunately, I visited in the fall when it’s not nearly as busy. We were by no means the only people there, but I was able to get some pictures without other people in them. If flawless photography is what you’re looking for, splurge take the photography tour.
Weather may vary
In the summer time, it’s going to be super hot. That’s just a fact of Arizona. But it’s important to remember you’re going into a dark place several meters below ground, so the temperature is going to drop quite a bit when you get down there. I visited at the end of October. The high for the day was 75 degrees. I wore leggings and a long sleeve shirt and also tied a jacket around my waist. I was hot on the way there, but the long sleeves and jacket were perfect for when we got in the canyon.
It’s also important to remember, especially with Lower Antelope Canyon, that in the event of a lot of rain fall, flooding does happen. In which case tours are cancelled until the water level comes back down.
Tip your guide
Last but not least, tip your guide! I had a fabulous tour guide and she really took our tour to the next level. You could tell she knew this canyon like the back of her hand, and that it was important to her and her tribe, which I loved to see.