antelope canyon

Guide To Visiting Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the American Southwest, located in Arizona near the Utah border, that attracts more than a million visitors each year. Explorers here can explore winding canyon corridors,  massive sandstone rooms, and capture images of the  photogenic beams of sunlight that radiate down to sandy bottoms. It is located just outside of Page, Arizona.

To make the most of your visit to Antelope Canyon, we’ve assembled this guide to help plan your trip to this geological marvel.

antelope canyon tours on the navajo nation

What Is Antelope Canyon?

This ethereal canyon belongs to the Navajo Nation. The name Antelope Canyon comes from the once plentiful prong horned antelope that used to roam the now barren and dry area.  

Located on the south shore of Lake Powell, the sandstone formations of Antelope Canyon formed as Navajo Sandstone, which displays a wide range of colors due to weathering and the presence of other minerals such as quartz sand and iron oxides, shifted and eroded  over the past 190 million years. Rainwater, ofen in the form of monsoon season flash flooding, has cut narrow passageways, eroded corridors, and wave-like shapes in the rocks. 

Although it is one, 30-mile long slot canyon comprised of four different sections, there are various points visitors can access to see this world famous spot. 

First opened for tours in 1983, Antelope Canyon does not disappoint with its beautiful geological formations and highly attractive lighting. 

In 1997,  the Navajo Tribe made it a Navajo Tribal Park and now Antelope Canyon is the primary attraction of Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park. 

Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation oversees all Navajo Tribal Parks on the Navajo Nation Reservation.  It’s  mission is to protect, preserve and manage tribal parks, monuments and recreation areas for the perpetual enjoyment and benefit of the Navajo Nation.

lower antelope canyon

Where Is Antelope Canyon and How To Get There

Antelope Canyon is located 10 minutes east of Page, near the Arizona-Utah border. Most tours begin in Page or at the park's entrance off Highway 98. 

Here are distances to Antelope Canyon from popular nearby destinations:

  • Antelope Canyon to Phoenix-  275 miles 
  • Antelope Canyon to Las Vegas- 300 miles
  • Antelope Canyon to Flagstaff- 130 miles
  • Antelope Canyon to Grand Canyon South- 135 miles

Best Time To Visit Antelope Canyon

The most popular time to visit Antelope Canyon is spring or fall. In general, the weather is most pleasant between late March to early October. This window offers the best  season to capture similarly famous photos you have seen of this destination and avoids the crazy summer heat.

But be prepared! More than 1 million visitors descend on Antelope Canyon each year and the narrow and confined attraction can be quite crowded. 

If you are looking to avoid the peak crowd season, we recommend November, which can still bring fall-like temps, and February, which is a very beautiful month of gradual warming, cool mornings and nights, and the occasional cool rainstorm.

lower antelope canyon tours

How Much Does It Cost To Enter Antelope Canyon?

Wondering if a trip to Antelope Canyon is within your budget?  The prices Navajo tour companies charge vary depending on the type of tour you are looking for and if you are visiting Upper or Lower Canyon. 

Tickets, which include entrance to the Navajo park, are priced starting around $60 for the standard 90-minute Upper Antelope Canyon tour. Lower Antelope Canyon costs around $40 per adult and $20 for children. These tours are around an hour. 

General and photography tours are offered at both canyons. General tours are cheaper and shorter than photography tours.

Antelope Canyon Tours

To enter Antelope Canyon, which sits on the Navajo Nation, guests are required to pay an entry fee that varies depending on the region of the canyon and details of the tour. 

All areas of the Antelope Canyon are only accessible via guided tour operators that employ certified guides. 

Guests aboard an Antelope Canyon tour with Papillon Airways will have the most experienced tour team at their disposal and all the associated fees charged to access various points of the Navajo Nation are included in the published tour price. 

Other Page, AZ tours offer a combination of local experiences, many of which include a stop at Antelope Canyon. 

Tours are offered on both Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon and, sometimes Secret Antelope Canyon. Many guests in the area to explore this attraction also opt for other exciting tours such as Horseshoe Bend tours or  Grand Canyon helicopter tours.

antelope canyon camping

Upper Antelope Canyon Tours

Upper Antelope Canyon is known as  Tsé bighánílíní 'by the Navajo which means ‘the place where water runs through rocks.' Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular part of the famous Navajo Tribal Park because its entrance and entire length are at ground level, requiring no climbing, and the canyon is simply stunning. 

Upper Antelope Canyon tours last about 90 minutes and start times are usually available at times between 10:30 am and 1:30 pm.

The .3 mile above-ground slot canyon is accessed via an easy, flat walk after a 2 mile off-road ride from the Navajo Tribal Park Gate on US98 to the canyon’s entrance. You’ll ride in a four-wheel-drive vehicle through a sandy riverbed to the entrance. 

For the best photographs at Upper Antelope Canyon, try to arrange your tour for a departure time around 10.30 AM. This is “prime sunbeam hour” when there are more  sunbeams cutting through cracks and openings in the rock than any other time during the day.

Most Upper Antelope Canyon tour operators will guide you through the canyon and point out the best places to capture award winning photos.

best time to visit antelope canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon Tours

Lower Antelope Canyon is called Hazdistazí, or 'spiral rock arches' by the Navajo. It is a more difficult hike that is a bit longer, about .5 miles each way, and much narrower in many places along its length. 

It is also situated below-ground and guests will have to climb up and down a number of stairs along the hike, climb over a few boulders, and the hike out requires guests to ascend a flight of stairs. 

In total, Lower Antelope Canyon is a  1-1.5 hour, 1.1 mile round trip, all-walking tour.  

The 90-minute Lower Antelope Canyon tours last about 90 minutes are are available between  9:30 am and 12:30 pm.

Lower Antelope Canyon photography-only tours are available around midday when light is at its peak.

Secret Antelope Canyon Tours

If you are looking for a non-crowded alternative to the aforementioned Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon destinations, then Secret Antelope Canyon is for you.

This canyon is also located right outside of Page, Arizona and contains similar colors and formation as the more popular locations.

If you visit Secret Antelope Canyon you will not be rushed or dealing with massive crowds. As an added bonus, these tours allow you to use a tripod for capturing longer explore photographs.

Overall, it’s a much calmer experience and a true adventure to get to the mouth of the canyon.

One company, Horseshoe Bend Tours, has the exclusive rights to offer tours to this sinuous and colorful slot canyon that cuts through red Navajo sandstone.

Papillon offers tours to Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas that utilize guides from Horseshoe Bend Tours for a memorable trip to both Secret Antelope Canyon and a private Horseshoe Bend overlook.

Secret Antelope Canyon is also sometimes known as Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon. This is due to its location which is across Highway 98, but down about 6 miles of gated and unmarked dirt roads, from Horseshoe Bend’s main parking lot. You’ll drive in an open-air 4x4 truck down the bumpy roads to the start of the excursion. Cover yourself as the trip is windy and sandy.

antelope canyon photo tour

Tips for Visiting Antelope Canyon

Mid-day is the best time to capture photos of the dancing light shows that have made Antelope Canyon famous. 

But, since this attraction is open year-round you can avoid the dense crowds if you avoid mid-day time slots during weekends.

The environment is sunny, warm, and dusty. Prepare accordingly by packing sunscreen, protection for your head and face, and to avoid dehydration, bring as much water as you can!

What To Bring To Antelope Canyon

It’s recommended to bring the following items with you on your visit to Antelope Canyon:

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • High SPF Sunscreen
  • Hat or Bandana
  • Camera equipment

What Not To Bring To Antelope Canyon

There are very clear and strict rules about what you can and cannot bring into Antelope Canyon due to its popularity and sacred nature for the Navajo Nation. 

The following items are prohibited in Antelope Canyon:

  • Tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks
  • Go-pros or other video cameras
  • Drones
  • Backpacks or other large bags fanny packs
  • Open toed shoes, sandals, or shoes with heels
  • Pets or service animals 
  • Firearms or any other weapons 
  • Smoking
secret antelope canyon

Photography at Antelope Canyon

Photographers travel from around the globe to capture the delicate light show that takes place on Antelope Canyon’s sandstone walls. Beams of light sneak through the tight, twisted canyon openings to display a vibrant and dancing kaleidoscope of orange-gold. 

Photography in Antelope Canyon can be tricky. The environment is very sandy, congested, and narrow. It is often windy and blowing dust is everywhere.  

If you have a DSLR camera, cover it when you are not using it and avoid changing lenses in this sandy, windy environment. 

You are not allowed to use tripods, monopods, or selfie-sticks so leave them at home. 

For best results use low film speeds or settings and turn off your camera flash.

best time to visit antelope canyon

Antelope Canyon and the Navajo Nation

The most impressive natural landforms in Page, Arizona - including Tower Butte, Horseshoe Bend, Rainbow Bridge, and Antelope Canyon - are actually within the property of the Navajo Nation

This reservation, the largest land area held by a Native American tribe in the U.S, is a massive 17.5 million acre chunk of land that includes portions of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

Navajo land is sacred to its people. It is one of a few Indigenous nations whose reservation lands overlap its traditional homelands and has actually expanded since its establishment in 1868.

Oral tradition states Navajo warriors would hide within the depths of Antelope Canyon while their adversaries rode across its inconspicuous surface unknowingly. Be sure to ask your Navajo guide for more information on the oral history of this special and historical place.

Navajo Nation Sights

Tower Butte

The American Southwest is adorned with several magnificent natural monuments and landforms, but there is nothing quite like Tower Butte.  Like a massive skyscraper emerging from the desert earth, Tower Butte quite literally “towers” over its surroundings at an elevation of more than 5,000 feet. Visitors can only reach the top of this remarkable landmark onboard a helicopter tour. Tower Butte offers one of the widest views of the desert expanse, Lake Powell, and the distant city of Page, Arizona.

Horseshoe Bend

This world-famous twist in the Colorado River has been an inspiration to photographers and artists alike for decades. Here the water runs through rocks causing the river to curve into nearly a full circle offering a spectacular sight to those who make the journey to see it, whether by hiking on foot or flying over it on an air tour. Just a short distance from the Page Municipal Airport, incredible aerial views of Horseshoe Bend can be seen in minutes.

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge is the world’s largest natural stone bridge, formed by thousands of years of wind and water erosion. This near-perfect arch rests on Navajo land and has been considered sacred by the Navajo people for centuries. To reach Rainbow Bridge, one must hike 14 miles through rugged Navajo land. The fastest and easiest way to view this remarkable natural landform is onboard an airplane tour, where fantastic aerial sights abound.