A Complete Guide To Visiting Antelope Canyon
It is highly unlikely that you haven’t heard of Antelope Canyon. Even if you didn’t know what it has been called, you must have seen the pictures of this great site and maybe also put up one as your desktop wallpaper. However, fret not! Because even if for once you felt like it’s a great site that you must see and you would like to visit and see it in person, I have ways to convince you.
Here is a complete guide to help you conceive your dream visit and get the best out of your canyon experience.
- 1 About Antelope Canyon And The Experience
- 2 Upper Antelope vs. Lower Antelope
- 3 Best time to go to antelope canyon - Time of Day and Year to Visit
- 4 Tour Options when Visiting Antelope Canyon
- 5 Permits + Fees + How Early to Book
- 6 Driving to Antelope Canyon
- 7 Dangers and Essentials Tips for Visitors
- 8 What to Pack
- 9 Where to Stay
- 10 What’s Nearby?
- 11 Photography Tips
- 12 Bottom Line On Visiting Antelope Canyon
About Antelope Canyon And The Experience
The American Southwest is known as the “canyon capital of the world.” From the massive Grand Canyon to deep narrow canyons, they are all equally beautiful and well-known. Antelope Canyon can be found in the latter category of being rooted and closed up. Apart from being one of the most photogenic sites, Antelope Canyon is considered to be the world’s most famous and photographed canyon.
It is a geological phenomenon that has been intensively searched upon. Falling under the category of a ‘slot canyon,’ Antelope is a geological mystery. However, as the name suggests, slot canyons are small canyons that are formed when flowing water finds its way through fissures in the rock base. Slot canyons are a result of thousands of years’ worth of weather extremities that an area goes through. That is why they mostly occur in deserts or areas where there is little or no rainfall.
Antelope’s case started when a fragmented creek would boil over in rough quick floods that diminished the sandstone bedrock. This was followed by a very hot weather patch where dry periods and sandstorms smoothed out the canyon walls to an individual strand like swirl finish.
Along the time, such extreme weather patterns have changed their course and calmed down. The severity of such weather has weakened, but the ongoing process of natural rock erosion is now the evolutionary part of Antelope Canyon.
Basically, Antelope Canyon can be described as a “complex, multi-faceted eco-system with multiple drainages funneling water into the Lake Powell.” [Source: Antelopecanyon.az]. The overall experience of taking an Antelope Canyon tour is said to be surreal. Nature’s way of creation is overwhelmingly beautiful.
Upper Antelope vs. Lower Antelope
Antelope Canyon is double in beauty and extravaganza, as it is made up of two separate canyons: Upper and Lower. Therefore, it is much more plausible that you might want to take two independent trips to take the full experience. Also, depending upon your budget and time, it is recommended you try visiting both. It can’t be made clear as to which side is the better one, so here is a comparison for you to choose from.
Upper Antelope Canyon
Although it is just a 100 yards in length and represents the smaller section of Antelope Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon is the most famous and a tourist favorite part of the Antelope Canyon. It is narrower at the top and ends apart like an upside-down V. Upper Antelope Canyon or "The Crack" as it is popularly known, is a tourist favorite, also because the spot is great for pictures and worth visiting for it. Most of the images you see of the Antelope are of the upper side as the infamous light beams make up for attractive photos of the site. In addition to this, Upper Antelope is shorter but broader of the two. So if you have issues with moving about, you’ll find it easier to explore.
Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon or the Corkscrew, as it is known, is located several miles from the Upper Antelope. It is less trafficked of the two but just as much crowded. As in recent years, it has gained popularity. Opposed to its brother, Lower Antelope is shaped like an actual V, where it is wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. Lower Antelope is accessible on your own, so tours cost much less to accommodate people with lesser tour budget. It is equipped with metal stairs to make the climb easier. However, some of the stairs are very steep, and one needs to watch their foot while climbing.
Best time to go to antelope canyon - Time of Day and Year to Visit
Your experience with the canyon can depend upon the time of the year you choose to visit. As Antelope Canyon is known for its vibrant colors, light shafts, and glow along the walls, it is a popular spot during the summer. The light beams appear when the sun is high in the sky, which occurs during the summer months of mid-March until early October. Therefore, the best time to visit the canyon lies closest to the summer solstice.
However, it is notable that as the tourist attraction lies with taking great pictures, it gets very crowded during those months in particular. So it is recommended to visit around April or August when it gets cooler comparatively, lessening the crowd. Also, one more advantage of not visiting during peak months is to not worry about tickets being sold out. You don’t need to wait long to get tickets and book tours.
Tour Options when Visiting Antelope Canyon
Choosing a tour can be relatively easy as you’ll be given just two choices:
- Sightseer’s Tour
- Photography Tour
Photography tours last longer than sightseer’s trip and also cost more too. A sightseeing tour takes 60 minutes for you to explore, while a photography tour will last for 120 minutes. Also, it allows you to carry a DSLR or even better mirror-less cameras, including a tripod. So if photography is your sole purpose of visiting or it is an essential factor, then you know where your choice lies.
Permits + Fees + How Early to Book
As a national heritage site, Antelope Canyon is protected by Navajo Parks and Recreation. This permits everybody to enter with a guide. You are expected to pay a minimal $8 fee if you are eight years or older. They also restrict the number of permits allowed per day, so there are chances of sold-out days as well.
The next step is to book a tour of the options we deliberated before. Nowadays, everything is easily accessible through the internet, like you can buy a dissertation online, get groceries online, work online, etc. similarly, you can book your tours in advance online as well. The cost can range from $32 to $200 depending on your choice and the tour company you book with.
Tours are offered all year round, as I mentioned earlier that the peak season starts from mid-March to early October. Hence, it is highly susceptible that you book a tour beforehand. Because; chances are if you wait till the last minute, you will not be lucky enough to get a visit at the eleventh hour. Therefore, it is advised to book your tickets at least two months before the peak season, especially if you want the photographer’s tour.
Driving to Antelope Canyon
Following is a list of popular starting points and time taken to get to the Antelopes from:
- Grand Canyon South Rim – 2.5 Hours
- Zion National Park – 2.5 hours
- Las Vegas – 4.5 hours
- Monument Valley – 2 hours
It is recommended to have a plan ahead when traveling and make reservations. Pre-booking during summer, spring, and fall months that lie in the peak tourist time is extremely crucial. As you get to the town, try to reach your tour company’s starting points 20 minutes earlier. Also, there are tours available that leave from Las Vegas and have Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyons as part of their day tour.
Dangers and Essentials Tips for Visitors
- Since the big incident happened where several hikers died due to flash flooding, the management has become strict with their rules to prevent such dangerous situations. Usually, tours are canceled if weather forecasts show extremities. However, a precautionary warning is necessary for the tourist to be aware that it can happen suddenly anytime.
- It is highly recommended to use the bathroom before you leave for your tour as there are facilities available of porter potties, but they are very disgusting to use.
- Understand time zones and ask your tour company that what time they are following. Keep the differences in mind and leave early just in case.
- Make sure to keep a searchlight on as it can get dark in the Upper Antelope. It is suggested to be careful while walking to avoid tumbling over bedrock.
- You are not allowed to carry any additional camera equipment like a GoPro or a selfie stick at all.
What to Pack
- Take transparent fanny packs on you. Backpacks or general bags are strictly not allowed anymore.
- Wear a visor or a bandana to keep the sand away from your hair.
- Add layers to your clothing as the canyon can get cold once inside.
- Carry water and snacks. However, be careful of littering.
- Keep your camera safe from sand with cling wrap.
- Carry cash on you for the entrance fee and extras.
Where to Stay
Antelope Canyons are placed right beside Arizona’s culturally appropriate place, Page. It is only 5 miles away from the tour destination. It gives many choices of hotels to stay and food to eat. It is recommended to book early if you will be visiting during peak days as, despite plenty of options, there is limited space and availability.
Staying in Page, AZ is beneficial also because it is a central location to all the other adventure spots that you can visit. If your tour plan starts right, the sunrise at Horseshoe Bend, followed by light beams at the Antelope, is a great way to start your day.
Horseshoe Bend is a less public experience of the Grand Canyon. It is located in Glen Canyon, and the trail starts to this ¾ miles hike right outside of Page, Arizona. It is a trendy spot for seeing the Colorado sunrise, as it overlooks one of the most amazing views of the river. It is a 7.6-mile drive from the Antelope, and people usually prefer to travel from Horseshoe bend to the Antelopes.
6.1 miles from the Antelope Canyon, the Powell Museum is dedicated to the life and achievements of Major John Wesley Powell. The man has been accredited with the leadership of the very first group of men taken through the Grand Canyon in 1869.
Apart from celebrating the feats of Powell, after whom the museum is named, the museum serves to provide information for the city of Page, Arizona, and exploration of the Colorado Plateau.
Located 7.6 miles from the Antelope, it is considered as a brother canyon to the two Antelope sisters. The Navajo Nation also regulates it. Hence only guided tours are allowed. So to visit this canyon, you have to ask your tour guide if it is a part of the day plan or not. Similar to the Antelopes, it is also a beautifully divided slot canyon that has formed as a result of wind, sand, and water washes.
Glen Canyon Dam Overlook
Also known as ‘The White House,’ the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook is located 6.8 miles from the Antelope Canyon. It is a simple 20-minute hike at the rim of the Glen Canyon, down and back from the viewpoint. The well-marked trail ends with a viewing area where the dam can be seen upstream in all its glory. One of the largest dams of the United States, it is the reason behind Lake Powell’s existence.
Hanging Gardens Trail
Just about near the Waterholes Canyon, the Hanging Garden Trail is a 1.2-mile hike. It offers a splendid view of the river stream along with the lush gardens that are formed by the vertically climbing plants over the cliff. The walk is safe for dogs and great for the afternoon activity on your tour.
- Expect a lot of crowds, all wanting to take pictures.
- Adjust your camera settings beforehand.
- Bring tripod and camera gear if you are booking a photography tour. It is worth it.
- Choose a single best lens because there are chances of sand getting in your camera if you change lens too often.
- Insist visiting before the light beams strike so you are ready with your camera when the incredible phenomenon happens.
Bottom Line On Visiting Antelope Canyon
The Antelope Canyon is a beautiful site to see. If you are a photographer or an adventure spot enthusiast, it is an overall great place to visit. Just make sure to be careful about the rules and your surroundings, and you’re good to go!
About the Author
Amanda Jerelyn is currently working as Travel Blogger at Crowd Writer. She loves traveling and sharing her experiences online. Her vast audience network takes her reviews for places they would like to visit.