These must-know tips for visiting Antelope Canyon in Arizona covers where to stay, what to bring, how much it costs, photography tips, and more!
Antelope Canyon does not disappoint and is a destination that is sought out by people all over the world.The captivating curvatures of these deep slot canyons are derived from many millennia of seeping water into fissures of the Navajo sandstone. It’s inevitable to be in awe when surrounded by these natural, breathtaking walls.
Familiarizing yourself with these must-know tips will allow you to enjoy a stress-free trip to Antelope Canyon!
Antelope Canyon Travel guide
There Are Two Canyons (Upper & Lower)
The Upper Canyon is undoubtedly the tourists’ favorite. With it being ground level, and less than a 2% incline; it is the easiest to access with the least effort. The majority of photos you’ve seen of this notorious attraction are of the Upper Canyon. It is the deepest canyon of all (there are a few more, other than the Upper and Lower Canyons).
The Upper Canyon walls are narrower at the top, with a wider base, providing the perfect formation to create the enchanting, well-known light beams that everyone wants that one photograph of — you know exactly what I’m talking about.
These light beams are what the Upper Canyon are known for; they are immensely surreal and breathtaking and most likely what prompted you to book this trip in the first place! This canyon is typically always crowded and will take approximately 1 – 1.5 hours to tour.
The beauty of the Lower Canyon offers narrower paths where you will be walking and wider at the top — think of a V. These walls provide stunning photography opportunities as well. The Lower Canyon has less tourism however; it has increased in the recent past.
This is the canyon for our adventurous, challenge enthusiasts — in some areas, you will utilize steps and ladders due to the limited space. Less expensive tours are offered in the Lower Canyon. Fewer light beams are seen, however, the sun that does come through creates a sensational glow to the walls. (Note: All of the photos shown here were taken in the Lower Canyon.)
The Lower Canyon will be between a 1 to 2 hour tour, which is dependent on the type of tour you choose.
Both of these beauties are a must see! It is highly recommended to plan for 2 days to see both, the Upper Canyon and the Lower Canyon. Why? Because you will experience the best of both worlds by visiting each canyon around mid morning.
However, visiting both canyons in the same day is doable. It would be most beneficial to visit the Lower Canyon as early as possible to make it to the Upper Canyon by mid-morning to high noon for the those light beams you don’t want to miss.
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Best Time To Visit Antelope Canyon
The best time to visit Antelope Canyon will be determined by the intention for your travel.
For the aesthetic seekers (let’s be serious…these canyons are indefinitely visually pleasing), the light beams are most prominent between the months of May and September.
The high sun permeates the canyons during June and July, which inevitably makes this time frame the most desirable to visit. This must-see phenomenon is best witnessed at midday, around 11:00 am – 1:30 pm.
If you’re on a budget, it’s best to visit during the off-season. November through January is less crowded, however, you’ll find little to no light beams.
Ultimately, whenever you choose to go, you will, without a doubt, feel the Earthly magic.
Tours Are Required For Both Canyons
Tours are a requirement to visit both the Upper and Lower Canyon and there are many companies that offer similar options with varying times and pricing.
For an Upper Canyon Tour, National Park Express is a reputable company with great reviews and one of the cheaper options, starting at about $125.
For a Lower Canyon tour, with hundreds of positive reviews and personable guides, Scenic Bend is your go-to. You will choose between general tours and combination packages. Their prices vary, with tours starting at about $90.
Several of the guides are native to this Navajo land and are proud to share with you the importance of it through stories and myths — at times in the Navajo language. And if you are fortunate that day, you may be gifted the sound of the flute being played in the canyon. Definitely overwhelming — in a good way!
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How To Book Antelope Canyon
The truly beautiful Antelope Canyon is in high demand. Due to tours selling out weeks in advance, it is best to book online prior to visiting. Same day tours are no longer being offered.
You will need to obtain a park permit as well. These permits are generally $8.00 per person and provided by your guide, or already included in the tour price.
For a last-minute Antelope Canyon adventure, it would be advantageous to call the tour company directly to inquire about and possibly purchase a recent cancelation.
What You Can & Can’t Bring To Antelope Canyon
The “What You Can Bring” List Is Minimal:
Small Personal Bag – (Make sure that what you want to bring will fit in it.)
Camera – (The camera bag will count as your small personal bag.)
Bottle Of Water – (This is my favorite travel water bottle – it’s stainless steel and insulated so it keeps your water cold!)
Let’s Talk About “What You Can’t” Bring:
Pretty much everything that is not on the list above…
The following items are prohibited: larger bags, backpacks, purses, and even fanny packs. No monopods or tripods, no selfie sticks. Food and drinks are not allowed other than the one water bottle and a snack that can fit in your small personal bag.
These are in place for your convenience due to the congestion of people during these tours.
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What To Wear In Antelope Canyon
Durable, Closed Toe Shoes: Lightweight, breathable hiking shoes with non-slip soles are my favorite for these kinds of activities.
Eyeglasses (Instead of contacts)
(The last 3 are mainly for protection from the sand.)
Current Mandatory Requirement: Face Mask
Please be mindful of your waste, as there are no trash receptacles in the canyon.
Antelope Canyon Tour Costs
There are tours offered by many companies. I mentioned a couple of them previously — however, there are so many to choose from.
The cost of the tours start at about $90 and can go as high as $400+ depending on if you add nearby attractions to your Antelope Canyons adventure — Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell are the most popular.
The $90 tickets are for admission to the Lower Canyon only. You’ll also find packages that include both canyons for around $155.
For the Upper Canyon, prices start at about $125. National Park Express is a reputable company with great reviews and one of the cheaper options.
The Lower Canyon plus a half day tour of Horseshoe Bend is $160 — or tour both the Upper & Lower + Horseshoe Bend in a private luxury car starting at $450.
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Photography Tips For Antelope Canyon
Soooo, you can’t bring a tripod. Let’s talk about what to do from here.
The features of current DSLR and mirrorless cameras will make your life so much easier when it comes to photographing Antelope Canyon.
The light that comes through the Lower Antelope Canyon during midday makes it easier to capture the detail of the sandstone with a hand held in manual mode settings.
The ISO is best set to a number 2000 or higher (depending on the type of camera you have). Setting your camera to a higher, more sensitive, ISO will keep your shutter speed fast enough to hand hold your camera.
How fast of a shutter speed that you’re able to hand hold your camera without getting a blurry photo will depend on how still you can hold your hands and body. It is generally recommended to keep your shutter speed at 1/30 of a second or faster, but I personally feel comfortable going to 1/8 of a second using my Sony a7ii which has amazing built-in image stabilization.
The Upper Antelope Canyon will give you best results if you increase the ISO even more, maybe around 4000 or so. Lowering the shutter speed too. As an example, 1/10th of a second with an aperture at f/2.8 on a camera with a built-in image stabilizer.
If your camera has an option to bracket your photos for different exposures (taking the photos one after another) I always have this setting turned on as it allows me to layer up to 3 different exposures of the same image, which will pull out more detail in the shadows and the highlights.
Honestly, you’ll be pleasantly surprised what your smartphone is capable of too!!
Where To Stay When Visiting Antelope Canyon
When you’re planning this trip you’re going to want to stay, at the very least, one night in Page, Arizona. Although, I recommend staying two to three nights so you can take advantage of experiencing the other attractions in the area, like Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell.
Check out some of my recommended hotels that range in price for every budget:
Hyatt Place: Everyone knows the Hyatt. The Hyatt Place Page Lake Powell is the place to stay if comfort is your main priority. You’ll find higher quality amenities like a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, good breakfast, and a bar. You can bring the four legged furry family member too! Only 15 minutes away from Antelope Canyon.
Country Inn & Suites: This one is for the those travelers who want to save some money while still having nice amenities. This Country Inn & Suites has beautiful mountain views and a bathtub to relax. You’re about 9 miles away from Antelope Canyon.
The Rodeway Inn: The Rodeway Inn at Lake Powell is a great choice for the money conscious travelers. Featuring a nice garden and balconies, your stay will be well worth the money spent here. It’s located only 7 miles from Antelope Canyon.
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