Plan Your Visit to the Picturesque Antelope Canyon
Arizona’s Antelope Canyon is one of the most Instagrammable canyons in the world. The landmark has become a bucket list destination for travelers all over the globe, and we can totally understand why.
Antelope Canyon in itself is a natural work of art, and whether you’re setting out to visit or just happen to be in the neighborhood, we highly recommend purchasing a ticket and checking it out. So, if you’re after more information about the world-famous Antelope Canyon, keep on reading!
What Is Antelope Canyon?
Slot canyons, like Antelope Canyon, are formed by water embedding into the cracks in rocks over thousands of years. You’d typically find a slot canyon in a desert area or those with low annual rainfall.
Antelope Canyon, however, has a slightly different story. During heavy rains, a creek that now empties into the Colorado River would send a turbulent flash flood throughout the area of Antelope Canyon. These flash floods would chisel away at the sandstone, creating the buffed and swirled canyon walls we see today.
Stories about the canyon’s discovery are varied. Many say a member of the Navajo tribe was wandering through a crack in the rocks while herding livestock on her family’s land. Once entering the crack, rays of light illuminated the canyon, and the outside world fell silent.
In other accounts, elders of the tribe claim that people took refuge in Antelope Canyon in the 1800s and spirits have kept watch over the land ever since.
We may never know the true history of the canyon, but in our opinion, these legends from Navajo people make the area even more magical.
As we continue, it’s important to note that Antelope Canyon is split into two separate sections: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.
Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon is by far the most popular of the two sections. But, that isn’t to say it’s the only one you should visit: both the Upper and Lower Canyons have their perks. And if you have the time, budget, and stamina, you should definitely check out both.
Popularity came to the Upper Antelope Canyon thanks to the regularly photographed beams of light you can see poking through the sandstone. If you’ve ever seen a picture of the canyon, there is a 99% chance it was of the upper section.
But, as with all tourist attractions, being popular has its downfalls. Upper Antelope gets extremely busy, with large crowds all after a glimpse of the natural phenomenon. If you’ve ever been to an overcrowded landmark, you can probably already picture it.
Although the crowds there are bigger, Upper Antelope Canyon is more accessible: the walk to and from the canyon is shorter and less strenuous than in the lower section.
Lower Antelope Canyon
If you’re feeling up for the challenge and would prefer a less congested experience, then head on over to the Lower Antelope Canyon. Sure, you won’t get to see the world-famous light beams, but you will get a peaceful atmosphere to witness the canyon’s sandstone walls and breathtaking natural beauty.
The hike to the lower section of the canyon is longer and includes flights of stairs and ladders. If you’re scared of heights or struggle with mobility, the Lower Antelope Canyon may not be for you.
Upper Antelope Canyon vs. Lower Antelope Canyon: Which Is Better?
Both sections of the canyon definitely have their strong suits and downfalls, so the choice comes down to personal preferences.
If you prefer a more challenging hike and would enjoy the canyon being quieter and less crowded, the Lower Antelope Canyon comes out on top. However, if you’re heading to the canyon to see the famous light beams, your only choice would be to visit the busier Upper Antelope Canyon.
Where Is Antelope Canyon?
Antelope Canyon is in Northern Arizona in the Navajo Tribal Park, with the closest town to the canyon being Page, just over 6 miles away.
The town of Page is relatively small, with a population of roughly 7,500. And, as I’m sure you can imagine, hotels in the town fill up fast thanks to its proximity to not only Antelope Canyon, but also Arizona’s famous Lake Powell.
What is the Closest Airport to the Canyon?
The town of Page has an airport (PGA) that’s located just 2.1 miles away from Antelope Canyon. This is the closest airport to the canyon and has daily flights to major cities in the American Southwest, like Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Antelope Canyon Tours, Tickets, and Opening Hours
As the canyon is on Navajo Nation lands, you can only enter the canyon on guided tours with a dedicated Navajo tour guide.
To enter Navajo Parks, you need to purchase a ticket, and these are known to sell out fairly quickly. We highly recommend booking your tickets and tours well in advance. Doing so is essential if you have a specific day and time when you wish to visit.
Tours through the canyons are roughly 90 minutes long. The Upper Antelope Canyon tours start at 11:30 am and 1:30 pm, while the Lower Antelope Canyon tours depart at thirty-minute intervals between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm.
During your guided tour, your tour guides will give you a rundown of the history of the canyons. They will then lead you all the way through the rocks to see the spectacular light beams of the Upper Canyon or discover the mesmerizing shapes and patterns of the Lower Canyon.
How Much Time Do You Need in Antelope Canyon?
Navajo tours in the canyon last for 90 minutes, making them a great stop before visiting other attractions in Arizona. Of course, if you choose to do both tours, then this 90-minute time frame would be doubled. The choice is completely up to you!
Related Reading: Discover the Alabama Hills
Best Time to Visit Antelope Canyon
As the canyon is a natural landmark, the time of day and season during which you visit can play a role in what you can see and do.
The end of March through to the beginning of October is when the light beams of the Upper Canyon are at their most visible. But, this is also the time when crowds are at their largest. You’ll see fewer tourists from November through to March, however, you won’t get to see the Antelope Canyon light beams.
Arizona also experiences monsoons from June to September. The canyon rarely closes, but heavy rain can make it more difficult for visitors to hike the trail. So, that’s something to keep in mind.
When it comes to the best time of day to visit, then midday is your answer. The sun is at its highest between the hours of 11 am and 1:30 pm. And this positioning in the sky will give you the best chance of spotting the light beams and taking the best photos.
Antelope Canyon is truly a breathtaking landmark, full of natural beauty and wonders.
As we wrap up on our article, we’re interested to know if you’ve ever visited the canyon. If so, did you prefer the lower or the upper section?