Near the town of Page, which is located in Arizona, you will find the magically beautiful Antelope Canyon. As far as we are concerned, this is really one of the most beautiful natural areas in Western America and an absolute must-do if you are road tripping here. Antelope Canyon is located in the Navajo Desert and thus falls under Native American territory. Together with a guide you can take a walk through the Upper Antelope Canyon or descend with your guide to the fairytale Lower Antelope Canyon and be surprised by the hundred shades of orange. Erosion has turned the rocks here into rounded, sloping vaults and not only thanks to the structure but also to the sunlight, the walls have the most beautiful colors.
Lower Antelope Canyon
The Antelope Canyon actually consists of two parts. The Lower Canyon is, in our opinion, the coolest. As the name suggests, you go into the depths at this gorge. You go a few meters underground through a narrow groove in the earth and a staircase. You descend until the walls of the gorges are meters high around you. A hundred shades of orange beams towards you as soon as the sunlight falls down through the narrow slit. Mighty beautiful to see. The ground of the canyon is sandy and as soon as you throw some sand up, it creates a spectacular light phenomenon. Or throw the sand against a rock wall and create your own waterfall of sand. In some places the gorge is narrower than in other parts and every now and then you have to scramble a bit or twist yourself into bends. It may be a little less easy to walk, but on the other hand, that’s what makes your visit to the Lower Canyon so cool. Furthermore, the Lower Canyon has more structure in the walls than the Upper Canyon. You can simply reach the Lower Antelope Canyon with your own rental car, because unlike that of the Upper Canyon, this entrance is just near the access road. Take cash with you, because you have to pay an entrance fee and a tip for your guide is also a good idea.
Upper Antelope Canyon
The Upper Antelope Canyon may be less adventurous, but it is a lot more visited because of the wider and flat hiking trails. You can just walk into this gorge with your guide and you don’t have to descend to be surrounded by the mighty beautiful sloping gorge walls. If you want to go to the Upper Canyon, you can go with a tour organization from Page. This gorge is located a few miles in the desert and you can only get there with a tour with 4WD. The gorge itself is tens of meters long and the rock walls about 40 meters high. So you really feel like a small person here between all that violence of nature. Here too, the sunlight often magically enters and causes beautiful discolorations of the rocks. It is best to go to the Upper Canyon around noon, because that is when the light comes in at its best.
Planning to go multiple places in U.S.? Check out also Yellowstone National Park !
Choose between the Lower or Upper canyon?
Don’t have enough time or budget to visit both canyons? Below you will find a list of the differences:
Antelope Upper Canyon
- The paths in the gorge are wider, making it easier to walk, but it is also a bit busier here
- The length of the Upper Antelope Canyon is about 140 meters long
- The entrance to the Upper Antelope Canyon can only be reached by 4WD and is above ground
- The light comes in just a little wider here, making taking pictures easier
- You take a nice 4WD ride to the entrance of the Upper Canyon through the Navajo Desert
Antelope Lower Canyon
- The length of the Lower Antelope Canyon is approximately 400 meters
- The walls of this gorge have a little more structure and different shades of orange
- You can only enter the Lower Antelope Canyon through a narrow groove in the earth and a staircase
- It is a bit narrower on the trails, but the scrambling also makes a trip a bit more adventurous
- The entrance is just near the main road and you can drive there yourself
Planning your visit to Page & Antelope Canyon
The Antelope Canyon is close to the town of Page and Lake Powell. Your visit to this natural spectacle can therefore easily be combined with a visit to these two places. Lake Powell is a perfect place for hiking and swimming. Page itself is a few kilometers away from the gorges, it’s not a very big or exciting town but a good place to spend the night. There is a lot of potential for tourism as this is the largest source of income for Page today.
Antelope Canyon Tour & Tickets
If you want to go to the Antelope Canyons you will have to buy a ticket and do a tour. You can only enter the gorges with an Indian as a guide. The nature reserve is located on the territory of the Navajo Indians. An entrance ticket costs around 60 dollars nowadays. You can join a tour from Page to the Upper Canyon and to the Lower Canyon you can drive yourself by car. The canyons have been growing in popularity lately, so buy your ticket to Antelope Canyon early (or even pre-order them) or just make sure you get there in the low season. We have heard stories more than once that it can be sold out in the high season. You can also book the photography tours via the website www.antelopecanyon.com.
How do you get to Antelope Canyon?
You will find the Antelope Canyon in Arizona and if you drive from the Grand Canyon it will take you about 2.5 hours. You can also visit the Canyon after a stop at Zion, Bryce Canyon or Monument Valley. In terms of airports, those of Los Angeles and Las Vegas are the closest. You can drive to the nature reserve by following the town of Page and from there you can drive to the gorges and Horseshoe Bend which is a few kilometers away. The photo below proves that you should visit Horseshoe Bend and really don’t miss it:
Geology: How did the Upper and Antelope Lower Canyon form?
The Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, meaning it is a narrow canyon with high, vertical walls. Such a slot canyon is created when hard flowing water and mud flows through a dry rocky area. The water sands the rocks, as it were, slowly creating a gorge. The walls were, as it were, polished by the water and mud, giving them such a soft beautiful slope and structure. Always check the weather forecast when you go to Antelope, because people have sometimes died when there was a flash flood. There does not necessarily have to be rain in the immediate vicinity, but if there is a lot of rain a few kilometers away, that can also cause danger. The rain creates a tidal wave in the gorge. Despite the fact that the flash floods still occur every year, the last accident took place in 1997. Fortunately, things have been going well for a number of years and more attention is paid to safety these days, but it does not hurt to check the weather forecast yourself. The gorge is in fact the most beautiful on a sunny day.
When is the best time to go to Lower & Upper Canyon?
It is best to head to the gorges as soon as the sun really starts to shine. For example, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, the Lower Canyon is very beautiful. It might be a bit busier than if you went later or earlier. You can visit the Upper Canyon afterwards, you can then take those beautiful photos with rays of light. In terms of seasons, the light enters the canyon most beautifully in the summer, but in principle you can go there from March to October. As long as the sun isn’t too low.
What to bring and photography tips?
Finally, a few final tips regarding what to bring and how best to photograph:
- Bring some warm clothes if you go to the canyons, it can be cool all the way at the Lower Canyon
- Check the weather forecast in advance due to bad weather conditions, the area may be closed
- Take water with you and go to the toilet beforehand, you can’t go once in the canyon
- Wear good shoes and no clothes that are too light, because of the red dry sand it can get dirty quickly
- Bring some cash in case you want to tip your guide
- Photography tip: Only if you book the photo tour, you can bring a tripod into the canyon
- Don’t use your flash when shooting and make sure your settings capture the overexposed rock parts lit by the sun