The ultimate guide for visiting Antelope Canyon, Arizona

  • Post last modified:April 13, 2021
  • Reading time:9 mins read
The ultimate guide for visiting Antelope Canyon, Arizona

The American Southwest is great for exploring the wonders of nature. Here you find many of the amazing places you really want to tick off from your bucket list. Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona with its unique canyon walls and light beams is certainly one of them. Continue reading to find out what you should know when visiting Antelope Canyon.

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Guide for visiting Antelope Canyon

How to get to Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is located just outside Page in Northern Arizona.

Many people going to Page for visiting Antelope Canyon drive from Las Vegas or Phoenix. Driving time from both cities are less than 5 hours.

To get to Antelope Canyon from Page you just need to drive east on Highway 98. After a few miles and 5 to 10 minutes you see the park’s entrance just off the highway.

Beam in Antelope Canyon
Beam in Antelope Canyon

What to expect when visiting Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is a fabulous geological formation in Arizona. It’s a slot canyon characterized by wavy canyon walls and light beams that occasionally reach through the canyon openings. The appearance that is created by this phenomenon is something extraordinary to say the least.

Years and years of erosion of Navajo Sandstone mainly caused by flash flooding has formed the canyon and made it look as we know it today. It’s just spectacular.

But Antelope Canyon is not categorized as a National Park. The canyon is located within the Navaje Nation, the big Native American territory that covers land areas in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Instead of being a National Park, Antelope Canyon is part of Lake Powell Tribal Park.

When visiting Antelope Canyon you need an authorized tour guide. Individuals are not let in on their own, only tour groups. But when visiting Antelope Canyon that’s something very positive. The guides make sure that the great condition of the canyon remains and that all visitors feel safe.

Even though it’s called the Antelope Canyon, the canyon actually consists of two distinctive canyon sections. These are Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. They have some common characteristics but also to some extent different features.

Antelope Canyon light beam
A famous light beam in Antelope Canyon.

Upper Antelope Canyon versus Lower Antelope Canyon

Both the Upper Canyon and the Lower Canyon offer the trademark twisting and swirling features. You surely get the “Antelope feeling” in both. But let’s take a closer look on the different aspects Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon offer.

Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: Locations

Upper Antelope Canyon sits about 2 miles (3 km) south of Highway 98. To get here you park at the Navajo Tribal Park Gate just south of the highway and travel the final distance with an off-road vehicle.

On the contrary, Lower Antelope Canyon access is directly from the designated parking area at Navajo Tribal Park Gate just north of Highway 98.

Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: Shapes

The Upper Canyon reminds of a V upside down. It’s wider at the base and narrows down higher up. And the about 100 yard (91 m) walk through the canyon is flat.

On the other hand the Lower Canyon reminds more of a regular V. As it’s narrower at the bottom where you walk it’s tighter to get through. It’s also much longer at roughly 600 yards (549 m). And it’s not flat like the Upper Canyon, but includes elevation changes.

The wavy canyon walls in Antelope Canyon
The wavy canyon walls in Antelope Canyon.

Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: Light beams

Upper Antelope Canyon offers visitors the chance to see the famous light beams when visiting. So if you visit during the right time of the year you might see them if you book a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon.

You can’t see the light beams in Lower Antelope Canyon.

Continue reading for more information about the light beams.

So should you pick Upper Canyon or Lower Canyon when visiting Antelope Canyon?

Both parts of Antelope Canyon are amazing to experience. The narrow paths of the Lower Antelope part have their charm as well as Upper Antelope has its own charisma. Therefore there’s no evident winner between Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.

But if you visit Antelope Canyon during the optimal season for light beams and want to experience them, you should pick Upper Antelope Canyon. If you just want to see the beautiful shapes of the canyon, then the lower level is an equally great choice.

Tours for Antelope Canyon often book out in advance, so you really should make your booking in advance.

Antelope canyon wall
The signature canyon wall

Tips for visiting Antelope Canyon

  • Book your tour in advance. Walk-ins are great for some activities, but not when visiting Antelope Canyon. Especially in summer tours sell out early, so make sure that you book your Antelope tour in advance to avoid disappointment when visiting.
  • Pack water. Especially in summer it’s important to pack water when you visit Antelope Canyon. Generally it’s cooler in the cave than outside, but it may still get warm inside when the sun shines.
  • Combine your visit with Horseshoe Bend. Horseshoe Bend is located just 7 miles (11 km) away from Antelope Canyon. Hence you can easily visit both Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon on the same trip.
Antelope Canyon light beam
The beams appear only when the sun is high on the sky.

The best time to visit Antelope Canyon

The best time to go to Antelope Canyon depends on if you plan to go to Upper Antelope Canyon or Lower Antelope Canyon.

Best time to visit Upper Antelope Canyon

The light beams only appear in Upper Antelope Canyon. And they do so from around 10.30 AM to 1.30 PM from the second half of March to early October. Therefore it’s a must to visit Upper Antelope Canyon during this time to see the beams.

The higher the sun is positioned the easier it is for the light to reach through the openings of the and create the light beams. For this reason the best time to visit Upper Antelope Canyon is in June, July and August when they appear more frequently.

Have in mind that if it’s a cloudy day there are no light beams even if you visit Upper Antelope Canyon during the best time of the year. The beams only appear when the sun is out.

And of course, if the beams aren’t important the best time to go to Upper Antelope Canyon is outside the beam period from March to October when the crowds are thinner.

Best time to visit Lower Antelope Canyon

You can’t see light beams in Lower Antelope canyon. So the best time to visit Lower Antelope Canyon is not necessarily in the middle of the summer.

Instead, you can visit Lower Antelope Canyon when it suits your calendar. Summer is the peak period for Antelope Canyon with the biggest crowds. So to dodge the crowds the best time to visit Lower Antelope Canyon is outside the beam period from March to October.

Summer is also the hottest period of the year, with temperatures often reaching 100°F (38°C) in the area. So in order to avoid the extremely hot temperatures the best time to visit Lower Antelope Canyon is outside the busy summer period.

Red sand in Antelope.
Antelope Canyon

Where to stay when visiting

The parking areas for Antelope Canyon are just next to Highway 98 and the driving distance from Page where you find accommodation and restaurants is just around 4 miles (6 km). So it’s very convenient to stay in Page when visiting Antelope Canyon.

If you stay in Page you don’t have to deal with long drives to get to Antelope Canyon and back to the accommodation. And by choosing a hotel in Page you also stay near the area’s other big attraction, Horseshoe Bend.

Use the booking tool below to find the perfect accommodation for your Antelope Canyon stay. Browse the map for options in various areas, or click on the search button to get all options listed.

Booking.com

Other things to see near Antelope Canyon

The states of Arizona and Utah in the Southwest are packed with great places to visit. Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon are all located here. The easiest and most popular destination to combine with visiting Antelope Canyon is Horseshoe Bend.

Horseshoe Bend is a huge bend in Colorado River that sits southwest of Page. As the driving distance from Antelope Canyon to Horseshoe Bend is just over 10 miles (16 km) they are very easy to combine on the same trip.

To visit Horseshoe Bend you don’t need a guide. Consequently you can go there whenever you want, park your car and visit at your very own pace. If the Antelope Canyon feels a bit small or tight at times while you’re in the narrow canyon, Horseshoe Bend shows the great open spaces of the American Southwest. The view is fantastic when you stand or sit at the edge with Horseshoe Bend and Colorado River in front of you.

Distances from Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon and all the destinations above are included in the Ultimate Southwestern desert road trip from Las Vegas that combines the best places in the area into one epic road trip.

Another option if you want to focus a bit more on Utah is to make the mighty 5 national parks road trip.

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona
Horseshoe Bend with the Colorado River.

Visiting Antelope Canyon FAQ

Here you find the answers to some frequently asked questions about visiting Antelope Canyon.

Can we go to Antelope Canyon without a tour?

To keep Antelope Canyon in the condition that we love and make sure that all visits are safe, you need to book a tour to visit Antelope Canyon.

Is Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon better?

Upper Antelope Canyon is the choice if you visit to see light beams. If you just want to see the structures of the canyons, either Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon is a great choice.

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