My road trip to visit Antelope Canyon ended up taking the prize for one of the most breathtaking natural wonders I’ve ever seen. These canyons are gorgeous and they’re growing in popularity every year. Actually, visiting Antelope Canyon has risen to the Top 5 status of things to do in Page, Arizona.
I was surprised that during my recent trip I ended up meeting and connecting with people from all over the world. If you’ve done any research into the canyons you’ll discover that visiting Antelope Canyon isn’t exactly convenient. You will need to make a special detour to the remote, yet beautiful town of Page, Arizona in order to see it.
But anyways, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are the Top 10 tips you need to know before visiting Antelope Canyon. Let’s dive in!
Visiting Antelope Canyon: The Top 10 Tips You Need to Know
1. Antelope Canyon National Park – or not…
The first Antelope Canyon tip I need to give you is Antelope Canyon National Park is actually not a national park. (say whaaat?!) Yes, it’s true.
During my visit to Antelope Canyon I quickly realized that the slot canyons are actually located on the Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park. As in, land that’s owned by Native Americans. This means that the Antelope Canyons are not a U.S. National Park, thus they abide by different rules.
Which brings me to my next tip…
2. Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours are a Must
The Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park rules state that an Antelope Canyon Navajo Guide is required when visiting Antelope Canyon. I only saw Navajo guides when I went which I personally liked because it made the experience feel more authentic. Honestly, after my visit to Antelope Canyon, I would definitely recommend you go with a Navajo tour regardless if it was required or not.
Page, Arizona is hot and vast. You will need a Navajo tour just to figure out where to go so you don’t get stuck in the desert dehydrated, hallucinating, or stuck in a flash flood (see tip #8). Okay, that might be slightly dramatic, but the point is you need an Antelope Canyon Navajo tour and that’s that.
PRO TIP: The Navajo Nation uses a different time zone than Arizona. It’s a good idea to call your tour guide ahead of time to find out if your tour is on Navajo time, or Arizona time
So I already know what you’re thinking, “well, what Antelope Canyon Navajo Tour should I take?”.
Well, I’m glad you asked. The answer is, it depends.
There are actually 3 main Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours you can choose from:
- Upper Antelope Canyon Tours
- Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
- Antelope Canyon X Tours – read here for more information about the lesser known Antelope Canyon X
Most people are familiar with the first two, Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon, so let’s break down the differences between the two.
3. Upper Antelope Canyon vs. Lower Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon is more famous, and thus the more popular choice. It became extremely famous after Australian photographer Peter Lik photographed an Upper Antelope Canyon light beam and sold it for a record breaking 6.5 million. Since then, Upper Antelope Canyon has been on everyone’s radar.
However there are some pros and cons for visiting Upper Antelope Canyon:
Upper Antelope Canyon Pros:
- Light beams – Upper Antelope Canyon has the famous light beams, while Lower Antelope Canyon does not (or at least it’s very rare to see them)
- Easier hike – The hike is a bit flatter and easier to navigate through – there are also no stairs
- Wider walkways – The canyon tends to be better lit because of the wider walkways
Upper Antelope Canyon Cons:
- More crowded – Due to it’s popularity, Upper Antelope Canyon is very crowded
- More expensive – Again, due to it’s popularity, Upper Antelope Canyon is more than double the price of Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon is also a wonderful choice as well. Here are the pros and cons for visiting Lower Antelope Canyon:
Lower Antelope Canyon Pros:
- Longer tours – Due to Lower Antelope Canyon itself being a longer canyon, the tour is also slightly longer
- Less Crowded – Lower Antelope Canyon is less crowded, which means you are more likely to get photos without people in them
- More Affordable – This is the more affordable option with tour prices averaging $30 at the time of writing
Lower Antelope Canyon Cons:
- Stairs – Lower Antelope Canyon does have stairs, which usually dissuades travelers from choosing this option
- No light beams – Unfortunately Lower Antelope Canyon doesn’t have the light beams and if you do see one, then you just got really really lucky
- Narrower walkways – This canyon is more narrow making it darker and tougher on people who tend to be claustrophobic
Upper Antelope: Light beams, wider walkways, well-lit for photos, very crowded, more expensive
Lower Antelope: Less crowded, less expensive, no light beams, darker
4. The Best Antelope Canyon Tours
The best Antelope Canyon tour truly depends on what you want. You have two options right off the bat; do you want a traditional sightseeing hiking tour or a slower-paced photography tour? Tip #6 is all about Antelope Canyon Photography tours so don’t worry, we’ll get there next.
Touring the canyons is can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from $38 – $100+ per person. Upper Antelope Canyon is the most expensive, especially if you’re wanting to take the photography tour. Sometimes the tour includes the $8.00 Navajo Park fee, however it is wise to bring cash just in case they don’t.
PRO TIP: If you decide to do BOTH Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon then you only need to pay the $8.00 Navajo Park fee once.
I decided to give you a few different options because it is likely that one tour company might be sold out, or at least sold out of your ideal time slot.
If you are wanting to visit during a “prime time” tour where you are more likely to see a light beam, you’ll notice the price of the tour increases by $10.
The Best Upper Antelope Canyon Tours
- Antelope Slot Canyon Tours – Click here for the TripAdvisor review and click here to book
- Adventurous Antelope Canyon – click here for TripAdvisor review and click here to book
- Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours – click here for TripAdvisor review and click here to book
The Best Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
- Ken’s Tours – click here for the TripAdvisor review and click here to book
- Dixie Ellis – click here for the TripAdvisor review and click here to book
Side note: You’ll find that on a traditional sightseeing tour you are limited with what you can bring with you into the canyons. Check the rules for each tour specifically, but you are not allowed tripods, monopods, selfie-sticks, and for some companies even backpacks.
5. The Best Antelope Canyon Photography Tours
Antelope Canyon photography tours are a must if you truly want to get great images without being rushed or have other people in your shot. You’ll find that the photography tours are longer than the traditional sight-seeing tours averaging at least 2 hours, but typically longer.
However be warned, the photography tours only allow more time in the canyons. Basically these tours are the same as the traditional tours, the only difference is you spend two hours in the canyon instead of one. So as you can imagine there are still crowds however, you’re more likely to get a photo without people in between tours.
Photography tours also usually consist of smaller groups averaging around only 6 people.
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again, you must book in advance, especially for photography tours. Trust me, they go fast! The price of photography tours are also higher than traditional tours at around $100 or more depending on the tour company.
Some tips before taking a photography tour:
- You need a proper camera – Many photography tours won’t let you go on the tour if you only have a camera phone. Either a DSLR or Mirrorless camera is required. See which camera I recommend by here!
- The photography tours are not workshops – These photography tours are not “teaching” tours, so it is expected that you already know how to use your camera before taking the tour.
- You can use a tripod – View my favorite tripod here. It’s lightweight but still sturdy. So basically it’s perfect for travel and I seriously take it everywhere!
There are actually two canyons that offer photography tours, Upper Antelope Canyon and Antelope Canyon X.
Here are the Best Upper Antelope Canyon Photography Tours:
- Antelope Canyon Tours – Click here to book
- Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours – click here for TripAdvisor review and click here to book
The Best Antelope Canyon X Tour:
- Antelope Canyon X by Taadidiin Tours – click here for TripAdvisor review and click here to book
6. Antelope Canyon Reservations: Book in Advance
It is absolutely crucial you make a reservation for your visit to Antelope Canyon. I highly recommend booking your tour in advance since tours can sell out weeks or months in advance. This is especially true if you are wanting to catch a light beam and are traveling during the summer months or a weekend.
PRO TIP: Even if you book in advance, it’s possible you’ll have to wait at least 45 minutes in the Arizona heat for your tour to begin. So I recommend bringing sunscreen and a hat.
7. Antelope Canyon Light Beams
The famous Antelope Canyon light beams are one of the biggest draws to the canyons. Be warned though, the light beams do not shine throughout the canyon at all hours of the day. You will need to book your tour during the “prime time” when the light beams are more likely to be seen, which is when the sun is directly overhead. A “prime time” tour usually costs around $10 more than the other time slots available, but it’s definitely worth it.
The “prime time” to see the light beams varies since they depend on what time of year you visit Antelope Canyon. Your best chance of catching them is from mid-March to early October. The best months to view a light beam are June, July, and August and they are typically visible between 11am – 1:30pm on sunny days only.
Despite popular belief (you heard it here first!) there are actually two canyons where you are likely to catch a light beam if you tour at “prime time”. The first is Upper Antelope Canyon (which we’ve already discussed) but the other is the lesser known Antelope Canyon X.
Antelope Canyon X is a true gem all by itself, and I would definitely consider booking tours to see that canyon as well, or even instead of Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon. You can read more here about my experience at Antelope Canyon X here.
8. Beware of Flash Floods
Flash floods are rapid flooding that happens in low lying areas. They do occur in the canyons and as the name eludes, can occur quite suddenly. Flash floods are extremely dangerous and people have died in the canyons in the past because of them.
Because of this, Antelope Canyon tours can be cancelled or cut short unexpectedly. It’s inconvenient, but ultimately for your own protection.
9. There are No Toilets
Not much more to say here besides I recommend using the bathroom before your tour begins as there aren’t any during the tour.
10. Not Recommended for Pregnant Woman
Depending on which Antelope Canyon tour you choose, you may have to take a ride in a 4WD truck or other off-road vehicle across the desert to reach the canyon. On top of that, climbing up and down ladders and some hiking may be required. For safety reasons these tours are not recommended for pregnant woman.
I hope these tips are super helpful for your visit to Antelope Canyon. I promise these canyons are some of the most gorgeous natural wonders I have ever seen, they are definitely worth the visit, the crowds, and every penney you spend. 🙂
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