America the Beautiful

Complete Guide to Antelope Canyon AZ

Tale of Two Canyons

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon.  Slot canyons are very narrow and formed by water rushing through, and are always taller than they are wide.  Most of the time they are very narrow, and antelope canyon is no exception.

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Antelope Canyon was one of the most incredible places I have ever been.  There is Upper Antelope Canyon, which is well known for its light beams, made famous by photographer Peter Lik.  Lower Antelope Canyon is more famous for beautiful colors. Both are very beautiful and very crowded.

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Antelope Canyon is on Navajo land, you must use a tour company for both.  There are only a couple of tour companies that go to each place and tours sell out.  You must book them in advance.  I used Antelope Canyon Tours for my Upper Canyon Tour (ask for Oscar) and Ken’s Tours for the Lower Canyon Tour.  Make sure you book a Deluxe Tour (more on that later) and ask for Nicole.

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Upper Antelope Canyon

I’m a big fan of the photographer Peter Lik, and it was looking at his photos that first inspired me to visit. Upper Canyon light beams are best seen in the summer, however visiting anytime of year is still beautiful.  Your tour will leave from town and takes a large group in an open air bus out to the canyon entrance.  If you have a nice camera, you need to cover it on the drive out there because it is so dusty.  I brought a can of compressed air in your car to spray it off after.  When you get to the entrance, your guide will wait for the space to clear out so everyone can get some good pictures.  If you have an iphone, I recommend putting your camera to the “Vivid Warm” setting for the best pictures.  Your guide will also help you get good pictures, and they can point out the good places.  Try to be first or last in your group for all the best shots. Upper Antelope Canyon is really stunning, be sure to remember to look up. People of all ages and physical fitness can do upper antelope canyon.

Lower Antelope Canyon

There are two tours company’s that run tours on Lower Antelope Canyon.  They are on the reservation, about 10 minutes out of town, located right at the canyon.  They are each owned by two cousins and rumor has it they don’t care for each other.  I used Ken’s Tours, and booked the Deluxe Tour. Lower Antelope canyon is a zoo, with a million people and tours still sell out.  The Deluxe tour is a little more expensive but so worth it.  It was a group of 3 of us (instead of 20), we had a well appointed and relaxing waiting room with cold drinks and welcome gifts. When we descended into the canyon, we had to queue up and wait for our turn.  There are upwards of three thousand people a day that visit, and tour groups are strictly timed.  Lower Antelope Canyon has beautiful colors, and in my opinion the 10-11am tour times have the best colors.  In order to descend and go through the canyon, you must go down sets of very steep and narrow stairs.  Some are really more a of a ladder.  Spaces can be very tight, if you are claustrophobic or climbing ladders is beyond you, then this may not be the tour for you. That being said, antelope canyon is just magical and despite the crowds it is unlike any place on earth. Don’t forget to look around and enjoy it.

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