This has got to be one of the most interesting places I have ever been and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Get comfy, because I’m about to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Antelope Canyon!
Table of Contents
Where is Antelope Canyon?
First up, Antelope Canyon is located near Page, Arizona. You’ll hear it referred to as Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon and you’ll want to know the difference before you make a decision about which one to visit.
Both are located on land owned by the Navajo Nation and you’ll have to book a tour to be allowed a visit. There are several tours available for Upper Antelope Canyon and two for Lower Antelope Canyon.
We booked our tour package through Dixie Ellis Lower Antelope Canyon Tours and were very pleased with our experience and our tour guide. Not only was she was very knowledgable about the canyon itself, but she took some awesome photos with my iphone that are some of my favorites of the whole trip!
Lower Antelope Canyon Ticket – $57.00
from: Viator, A Tripadvisor Company
What’s the difference between the two canyons?
Both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are slot canyons.
Upper Antelope Canyon is shaped like the letter A. It’s narrow up top and wide at the base. You access it from ground level and walk into it with the canyon walls up above ground.
Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like the letter V. It’s wide at the top and narrow at the base. It’s carved out of sandstone below ground and you’ll need to descend about six sets of steep steps (say that five times fast!) to get down into it.
When you visit Upper Antelope Canyon, you’ll be driven to the canyon entrance in the back of a truck by the tour operators. Your guided tour will start and end in the same place. You’ll walk through the Antelope slot canyon and make a round trip by turning around and walk back out getting to see the same part of the canyon, but from a different perspective.
If you’re visiting Lower Antelope Canyon, you’ll walk about 5-10 minutes from the trailhead to the entrance, descend the steps to the canyon and then come up out of the canyon at a different location.
How steep are the steps at Lower Antelope Canyon?
Here’s my take on the steps, just in case you’re concerned about them. They are steep and some of the steps are so narrow you can’t even get your whole foot on it.
However, everyone takes them slowly and carefully so you won’t be singled out as a slow-poke if you need to take it easy. You’ll be in a group of about 10 people, so if you’re worried about being the slowest, simply go last.
I had been struggling with a bit of vertigo the week before we went and I was worried how I would do on the stairs (but absolutely determined to go!) so I turned around and went down backward on the steepest staircase, taking my time and not looking down or around. Easy Peasy.
Know your limits, but also know it’s really not that strenuous. You don’t come back out this way, either, so that’s a plus!
Which one is right for you?
If you’re planning on visiting Antelope Canyon, but can’t decide which is right for you, here are the main things to consider.
- Can everyone in your party handle the stairs? If not, cross Lower Antelope Canyon off your list.
- Are you hoping for smaller crowds? Then your odds are better at Lower Antelope Canyon.
- Is your heart set on seeing sunlight shafts from above? Book Upper Antelope Canyon for the best chance of that happening.
- Don’t care to ride in the back of a truck to get to the canyon? Don’t book Upper Antelope Canyon.
What should you wear to tour Antelope Canyon?
The most important thing to know is this is not a place for sandals or flip flops. (Of course, the same is recommended for climbing down to see the Nakalele Blow Hole in Maui and I saw all kinds of crazy people doing it anyway.)
I’m not sure if they would turn you away, but plan ahead to wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes. Also, be prepared for shoes and clothes to get at least a little dirty. The canyon walls and floor are sandy and you’re likely to get some on you as you walk through.
You’ll want to dress in layers, no matter what time of year you go. Temperatures in the Lower Canyon are about 10 degrees lower than ground level. Dress appropriately and you’ll be prepared for the difference.
I overdressed with my hat, scarf, gloves and jacket over my down vest (what can I say, I like to go prepared!) and was very glad to be able to peel off the layers as we went along. I was also very glad I could put them back on when we came back out of the canyon where it was windy!
During the summer, remember to wear sunscreen and take your sun shades since you’ll need to walk about 5-10 minutes out in the sun to get to the canyon and back.
How much does it cost to visit Antelope Canyon?
At the time I wrote this, Lower Antelope Canyon guided tours at both places (Dixie Ellis and Ken’s, which are right next door to each other) cost $40 per person. However, the added taxes and fees made it about $52, so keep that in mind if you’re planning a vacation budget.
Upper Antelope Canyon tours start at $63 and go up from there. (Check to see if taxes and fees are already included in the prices.) Tickets are cheaper for children, so be sure to check all four tour companies for the best package options for your family.
You can also book through Viator, which is especially great if you’re interesting in booking multiple tours or want to include transportation in the package.
Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Day Tour from Las Vegas – $150.00
from: Viator, A Tripadvisor Company
What to bring when touring Antelope Canyon
Not much! You’re not allowed to bring backpacks, tripods, selfie sticks, etc. You’ll want your hands free, especially if you choose the lower canyon and need to navigate the stairs. You can bring a camera and a water bottle, but not much else.
Anything you bring needs to be able to fit in one of your pockets or hang around your neck and of course, carry out what you carry in.
Keep in mind, you’ll only be there an hour and a half, max, so plan to leave everything else locked in your car. Check with the specific tour company for further info and email them directly if you have a specific question.
What happens if it rains at Antelope Canyon the day of your tour?
Here’s where visiting Lower Antelope Canyon has it’s advantage. Even if it’s raining, you’re not likely to get as wet. However, in the upper canyon you may be avoiding puddles and getting drenched.
You’re not likely to be in any danger, no matter which tour you take. During summer months, heavy rains can make it necessary to cancel tours due to flash-flood warnings. At least you can rest assured that your safety was top concern if your tour does get canceled.
Book your tour earlier in the morning if you think it might rain. The chance of cancellation increases later in the day.
It was forecasted to rain the day we went and I was so bummed thinking it was going to ruin our tour. Our guide told us the cloudier days were actually better for taking photos. Yea for that! Even though there was a 70% chance of rain, it didn’t even start sprinkling until we were almost back to our car. Score!
When is the best time to visit?
Anytime is a great time to visit! However, depending on what experience you’re after, there are some times that are better than others.
If you’ve ever seen photos of the amazing light beams glowing down from the top of the canyon, you’ll want to book a tour between March and October for Upper Antelope Canyon. You’re not as likely to see those in the lower canyon, so if that’s a priority, plan accordingly.
Summer time is the busiest tourist season for visiting Antelope Canyon. You may find yourself having to wait 10-15 minutes before your turn to enter. Each guide takes 10-15 tourists and they’re constantly ushering people through in order to avoid a traffic pile up.
We were there in February and even though we did feel slightly rushed, we also felt like we had time to take plenty of photos and see everything there was to see. That may be different in the busiest months.
If you don’t mind being part of a larger crowd and summer time is your only option, it’s still worth going. Otherwise, try to book your visit during the off months to avoid the crowds.
As for lighting, the middle of the day is the most popular time because that’s when the lighting is best. Again, you’ll want to weigh what’s more important to you: better lighting or smaller crowds. We went at 11:45 and I thought the lighting was great.
Can you do both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in one day?
Yes, you can book tours for both in one day. You can also visit Horseshoe Bend later in the same afternoon. Plan about two hours between bookings to make sure you have plenty of time to finish up with one before heading to the other.
Do I have to book a tour to see Antelope Canyon?
Since the canyons are on Navajo tribal park land, they control access to all the slot canyon tours in the area. The Navajo tour guides are very knowledgable of the area and will share so much information you would not get if were to go on your own. There are no self guided tours available.
How far is Antelope Canyon from the Grand Canyon?
Antelope Canyon is located in northern Arizona, just south of Lake Powell. It’s about 80 miles from the Grand Canyon South Rim, which makes it doable to see both in the same day.
Where should I stay when visiting the Canyon?
There are several options for lodging right in Page, including the Holiday Inn Express & Suites and several not too far away. If you’re touring both canyons as well as Horseshoe Bend, it makes sense for you to stay in town for a night.
How far is Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas?
Antelope Canyon is 250 miles from Las Vegas. It’s about a 4.5 hour drive, not counting the hour time zone difference between the two places.
We stayed in Las Vegas and got up super early to get there in time for an 11:45 am tour. Don’t forget you need to arrive 30 minutes prior to your tour time. (Here’s how we stayed in Vegas for three nights absolutely free.)
If you’re coming from an even further distance, book an afternoon tour. You want to give yourself plenty of time to get there without being rushed. If you have the time, you can easily make an entire vacation planned around seeing the Grand Canyon and all the sites nearby.
If you don’t want to rent a car, there are bus tours available. You can make it a day-trip and be back to Vegas by evening time.
Now that we’ve shared everything you need to know about visiting Antelope Canyon, are you ready to put it on your bucket list? It’s one of the most amazing Wonders of the World and a breathtaking sight to behold!
If you’ve already been, is there anything else you think should be on this list?