Wondering what else to see around Grand Canyon in Arizona? Then read along to find out where and how you can see the amazing slot canyons called Antelope Canyons only hours drive from the Grand Canyon.
Yes, you heard that right. Just two and a half hours away awaits more natural treasures in the Navajo nation near the town of Page in Arizona. If you don’t know, Navajo nation and its community is a self-governed American Indian tribe which is home to several Navajo landmarks and tribal parks. Navajo nation’s footprint spreads across parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico near the State borders.
If this is your first time going to Antelope Canyons you will want to know the answers to all of the questions below.
Where are Antelope Canyons
A true natural wonder, Antelope Canyons is one of the biggest attractions near the town of Page, AZ. And I say canyon’s’ because there are two of them – Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Both of them are a type of slot canyons. Due to flowing water the soft red rock has eroded over millions of years to form narrow and deep canyons. So keep in mind these canyons are very prone to flash flooding during heavy rains.
You need a guided tour to visit Antelope Canyons as they belong to private Navajo Nation land.
Only local Navajo natives have the permission to guide you through these canyons. We will talk about how to book a tour later in this post.
How to get to Antelope Canyons
From Phoenix: If you are landing in Phoenix then it’s roughly four-hour drive from Phoenix to Page, AZ where these Canyons are located.
From Grand Canyon: If you want to head down here from Grand Canyon, then it’s a short two and a half hour drive from the South Entrance of Grand Canyon
From Flagstaff: Since Flagstaff is a popular choice for an overnight stay for people visiting Grand Canyon, from here it is a two-hour drive to Page.
Which Slot canyon to see – Lower Antelope or Upper Antelope or both
Well, the answer depends on how much time you have and what you want to see. Upper Antelope Canyon has high slot walls rising from the ground level. It is also wider so you have more space to walk through it. Whereas in Lower Antelope Canyon you have to go under the ground into narrow crevices using steep stairs. Maneuvering your way around very narrow walking path can be tricky here. TIP: For those who are really claustrophobic might want to lean towards visiting Upper Canyon for this reason. For Upper Canyon tour you will be riding on their trucks to reach the slot canyons. For Lower Canyon, you can just drive by the entrance parking lot.
Upper Antelope Canyon is more popular of the two so expect it to be more crowded too. However, we are talking about some really popular slot Canyons in the US. In my opinion, they are both going to be crowded especially if you visit during holidays. We personally only visited Lower Antelope Canyon but our parents who were traveling with us went for Upper Canyon.
Is the Photography Tour worth it
They have special photography tours in both canyons which is a little bit more expensive than the regular tours. Photography tour has strict guidelines for bringing a DSLR and a tripod for anyone who wants to attend it. We took a photography tour of the Lower Antelope Canyon. In our opinion as photographers, it was totally worth spending the extra cash here for the extra time with a small group of people.
If you are an enthusiast landscape photographer and really want to avoid a crowded group tour then consider the photography tour.
Our tour guide, a photographer himself, gave us some tips to improvise our shots. He helped us with some creative shots by throwing sand under a light beam or pointing out at some famous shapes inside the canyon. TIP: Due to low lighting conditions inside the slot canyon taking handheld photos might not give you very sharp results. And taking a tripod is not allowed in regular tours so if you want to bring along the tripod, photography tour it has to be.
What is the best time to visit Antelope Canyons
Here’s a tip for those of you wondering this questions. Generally speaking, noon is considered to be the best time to visit the canyons to see the light beams. However, our guide mentioned anytime in the early hours or late evening hours are great as well for good lighting inside. Lighting plays a very important role in the color of the rocks in these canyons. Mid-day is when you see light beam inside the canyons especially Upper Antelope Canyon so expect that to be the most popular timeslot.
You can easily do both Antelope Canyon tours on the same day if you have enough time between them.
Let me also add here that visiting in the summer months and holidays is equally proportional to expecting higher crowds here. Unless you are like us and visit during Thanksgiving weekend, a holiday where most Americans go home to celebrate 😉 Another plus of visiting later in the year was that we escaped the scorching heat of Arizona. TIP: Don’t forget to carry water, sunscreen, and a hat if you are visiting here in summer months. The popularity of both these Canyons is on a high in the recent past.
Booking a tour
We booked our Lower Canyon tour through Dixie Ellis’ which is located next to another famous Ken’s tour. We are not affiliated with them in any way but we would recommend Dixie because of our great experience. Regular tour prices are $25 for adults and photography tours are $47. You will also have to pay $8 for Navajo Nation Permit fee on top of these prices. Dixie Ellis and Ken’s tour only operate the lower Antelope Canyon. Our tour guide told us that the owners of all these different tour companies are basically cousins and/or related in one way or the other. I wasn’t surprised.
TIP: It is very important to arrive at least an hour ahead of time to get your tickets. Reserving your tour online isn’t a guarantee that you will get a ticket for that time slot. We originally had planned to visit Upper Canyon tour as well but since we reached only 5 minutes before the tour started they were sold out. Don’t forget the walk-ins who are also waiting to get in. True Story! This happens because you only pay in person when you get there and not online. Luckily we had planned Lower Antelope for next day.
We hope these tips helped you and that you have an amazing time in Antelope Canyons. If you liked this post then do share this with friends and family. And don’t forget to pin it for later 🙂