Antelope Canyon is a singular and sacred place located in Page, Arizona. It’s a world-famous destination in its own right but also makes the perfect add-on destination to a Grand Canyon or Zion National Park road trip.
When I started on my year of adventure, Antelope Canyon was high on my list of must-sees. I was drawn by the unique topography and sweeping red curves I’d seen in photos. I wanted to capture sunbeams shining in through the canyons and feel connected with nature.
I couldn’t believe a place like this actually existed, let alone in the United States. I found a $200 fare to Las Vegas and crafted an Arizona/Utah/Nevada 5-day itinerary around my visit to Antelope Canyon. When you find somewhere you want to go, don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.
“Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.”
Want to know how to turn your slot canyon dreams into a reality? Read on to find out more!
Where are Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon?
You can fly into Vegas, like I did, or fly into Phoenix, Arizona and rent a car from either place to drive the rest of the way. Rental cars at Phoenix Airport are slightly more expensive.
Arizona is filled with fascinating destinations to include in your road trip, but you won’t find another place quite like this. Photographers fly from all over the world to capture scenes from the canyons so if you’re local, take advantage!
Distance Between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon
The two canyons are distinct but both are located in Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, within 15 minutes driving distance of each other.
You will not be able to drive straight to the canyons, but rather you drive to your tour guide who transports you to the canyon from there, by car for Upper Antelope Canyon and walking for Lower Antelope Canyon. Both canyons are located off Highway 98, heading east from Page.
Do You Need a Guide for Lower Antelope Canyon?
Absolutely. This is Navajo land so you need a guide to enter and are not allowed to wander about unaccompanied. There is no ticket line at the entrance of the canyons, and you need a guide to access both.
For Lower Antelope Canyon, you descend into the canyon so you can walk from their counters, about a quarter mile out.
There are only two tours that service Lower Antelope Canyon: Ken’s Tours and Dixie Ellis’ Lower Antelope Canyon Tours. They’re similar in price and service. I went with Ken’s Tours and had a phenomenal experience. Our guide was very helpful in taking photos and told us myths and stories surrounding the rock formations.
Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in One Day
You can choose to do both Lower and Antelope Canyon in one day, and even fit in Horseshoe Bend for a Page highlights tour. Aim to be at Upper Antelope Canyon for the sunbeams between 11am and 2pm. Visit Lower Antelope Canyon tour either first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon to accommodate both places.
You’re not allowed to bring bags into the sites but you can bring water and it’s not readily sold around the premises, so come prepared.
Best Time to Visit Lower Antelope Canyon
In order to see the sunbeams at Upper Antelope Canyon, you have to go in the spring and summer months, but both sites are open year-round. I’m told the colors at Lower Antelope Canyon change with the seasons so this is a site that’s worth visiting more than once.
Differences Between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon
There are several differences between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. First, Lower Antelope Canyon requires descending on a series of stairs/ladders, so come with the proper attire and footwear. This is not the place to wear a skirt. Upper Antelope Canyon is a straight walk inside once you disembark from your guide’s vehicle, with groups entering and leaving from the same entrance.
Upper Antelope Canyon is a mix of warm colors–reds, oranges, yellows and browns–Lower Antelope canyon has hues of blues and purples, cooler colors in contrast (pictured above).
I talk about this extensively in my Upper Antelope Canyon photography guide, but you should come prepared to take plenty of photos here. If you’re bringing a DSLR camera, which is required to join a photo tour, you don’t want to change your lens in the canyon due to all the sand. You’re also going to want to bring something to help blow the sand off your equipment.
If you’re an iPhone user, make sure you have your flash turned off and try experimenting with the chrome filter in Upper Antelope Canyon to highlight the red hues. Also, take panoramic photos not side to side but up and down to better capture the walls of the canyons.
Make sure your guide knows you want to take plenty of pictures, since they walk these canyons every day and can help direct you to the best spots. Tip accordingly after the tour, 20% is always standard for good service.
The Verdict: Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon?
If pressed to chose one, I would say Upper Antelope Canyon when you can see the sunbeams only because it’s such a famous photograph and as you can see, every shot you take comes out fantastic.
However, photographs aside, the experience at Lower Antelope Canyon was much more relaxed and mystical, providing the connection to nature that I had been seeking.
Of course, if you have a day, the best idea is to see them both.
Till next time, safe travels!
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