Known for its labyrinthine, seemingly undulating sandstone walls and the beams of sunlight that shine into them, Arizona’s Antelope Canyon is a magnet for photographers and tourists traveling through the American Southwest. It’s a slot canyon, meaning it formed from water carving it out over millions of years. Its walls stand up to 120 feet above the streambed, while the canyon itself sits approximately 3,700 feet above sea level. Antelope Canyon takes its name from the herds of pronghorn antelopes that once resided in it.
The canyon forms part of Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park in the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation limits visits to either the Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon to two hours and requires all visitors to be led by authorized guides. The Navajo-approved guides are widely regarded as informative and friendly, and are even known to provide helpful tips on how to capture the best possible photographs. If you’re planning a trip and need help deciding which area to visit, keep these recommendations in mind.
Where is Antelope Canyon?
Antelope Canyon is located just east of Page, Arizona, in the northern area of the state. The Grand Canyon is about 135 miles southwest.
What is the difference between the Upper and Lower canyon?
The terrain of the Upper Canyon is more accessible for most tourists and is, therefore, busier. Exploring the Lower Canyon, in contrast, requires visitors to have some degree of endurance, as travelers must climb and descend several staircases. Rest assured, no matter which canyon you visit, you’re guaranteed incredible scenery.
Know Before You Go
- What: Antelope Canyon tours
- When: Tours occur at various times every day throughout the year.
- Cost: Tour companies’ fees vary, but tickets (including entrance to the park) generally start at around $50 for 1.5-hour tours of Upper Antelope Canyon. Tours of Lower Antelope Canyon tend to be shorter (around an hour) and generally start around $40 per adult.
- Important tip: Pay close attention to the time. Most of Arizona does not follow daylight saving time, though the Navajo Nation, where Antelope Canyon is located, does. Check with your tour operator to confirm the precise time of your tour.
- Photo information: Photography is permitted, even encouraged, but tripods, selfie sticks and the like are generally forbidden, except on certain photography-oriented tours. Companies offering photography tours are usually geared toward professional photographers rather than casual visitors with smartphone cameras.
- Safety and additional details: As a desert canyon formed by water erosion, Antelope Canyon is subject to dangerous flash flooding, which is one of the reasons trained tour guides are required. Antelope Canyon hosts tons of visitors and, in order to protect the canyon walls from damage, no bags of any kind are permitted in either the Upper or Lower section. Also keep in mind that while most tour companies welcome small children, not all of them will. The celebrated light beams that illuminate the canyon are most likely to be seen during the summer months.
Upper Antelope Canyon Tours
Several local companies provide guided tours of Upper Antelope Canyon. Because the Upper Canyon is easiest to walk through, it is also quite popular, especially at peak times during the summer. Considering this, making tour reservations well in advance is highly recommended. No matter which tour you pick, you’re guaranteed to see incredible rock formations in a kaleidoscope of colors.
Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours – Upper Antelope Canyon Tour
Price: From $108
Duration: 80 minutes
Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours offers 80-minute excursions through Upper Antelope Canyon. Guides lead travelers through the canyon to showcase its magnificent color show. Travelers enjoy the tour and appreciate the guides’ insights, though some wish they had more time to spend in the canyon. The tour starts at $108 per person, but cost an additional $11 if you want to visit during peak sunlight hours. Tours run several times daily. Those 7 and younger are not permitted on the outings. Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours also runs outings to Upper Antelope Canyon combined with either Rattlesnake Canyon or both Rattlesnake and Owl canyons. This tour is not recommended for pregnant people. Note that wearing closed-toe shoes and layers are recommended (it can get 5 to 10 degrees cooler in the canyon).
Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours – Guided Sightseers Tour
Price: From $100
Duration: 1.5 hours
All of Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours’ guides are local Navajo people, and they are generally deemed knowledgeable, personable and professional by reviewers. The company’s 1.5-hour sightseer tours of the Upper Canyon take place several times daily beginning at 7:30 a.m. Prices for these tours, which include the park entrance fee, are approximately $100 per person (the 11:40 a.m. tour is slightly higher, as it is peak time). The company opens up online reservations one to two months in advance, so be sure to book early, as tickets sell out quickly.
Antelope Canyon Tours – Upper Antelope Canyon Sightseeing Tour
Price: Adults from $85; kids from $75
Duration: 100 minutes
Navajo owned and operated, Antelope Canyon Tours frequently wins praise for its knowledgeable and helpful guides. On the company’s sightseer tours, you’ll spend about an hour in the canyon, plus 40 minutes round-trip travel time to the Antelope Canyon Tours office in Page, Arizona. Tours run multiple times daily starting at 7:50 a.m., and there is one moderately difficult, 15-minute uphill hike involved. Tickets start at $85 for participants 8 and older, $75 for youths 7 and younger. (Keep in mind: If you are unable to book a child’s ticket, it means there are no more car seats available.) After seeing Upper Antelope Canyon, consider visiting Vermilion Cliffs National Monument with the company on its daylong tour.
Antelope Slot Canyon Tours – Upper Antelope Canyon Tour
Price: Adults from $112; kids from $102
Duration: 1.5 hours
Along with standard tours to Upper Antelope Canyon, Antelope Slot Canyon Tours also offers tours of the nearby Cathedral Canyon. If you’re set on a visit to the Upper Canyon, you’ll have four time slots to choose from for the 90-minute tour. Pricing ranges from $112 to $120 per person, depending on the time of day and popularity of the tour time. Discounted tickets are available for members of the military and children ages 6 to 12; children younger than 6 are not allowed. Patrons should be prepared for 20 to 30 minutes of walking while on tour. The company’s guides consistently earn positive reviews for their knowledge not only of the area’s history and culture but also of their photography techniques.
Lower Canyon Antelope Canyon Tours
Two companies lead excursions through Lower Antelope Canyon. The path inside the Lower Canyon can be quite narrow, which may be an issue for visitors uncomfortable with confined spaces. Because of the relatively rugged nature of the terrain, pregnant people and those with heart or joint problems might want to skip these excursions. Along with a rigorous hike, participants on these tours will be surrounded by beautiful scenery and smooth, fabric-like walls throughout their trip.
Ken’s Tours – General Tour
Price: Adults from $55; kids from $35
Duration: 1 hour
The General Tour lasts approximately one hour, during which groups of up to 10 tour-takers will hike about 1 mile. While cameras are welcome, tripods and selfie sticks are not. Tickets, which do not include park entrance fees and taxes, cost approximately $55 for visitors 13 and older and $35 for those 4 to 12. Children younger than 3 can take the tour for free, but strollers cannot be used in the Lower Canyon. Tours depart daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (you’ll need to arrive 30 minutes before departure to check in). For more information about Navajo culture, book the Deluxe Tour. You’ll not only spend an hour in the canyon, but you’ll also visit the Hózhǫ́ Haz’ą́ Heritage Site and receive a meal. The tour excludes infants and costs approximately $135 per person. These tours depart five times daily (three in the morning and two in the afternoon). Guides are frequently described as informative and friendly and the scenery as unsurpassable.
Dixie’s Lower Antelope Canyon Tours – Lower Antelope Canyon Hiking Tour
Price: Adults from $55; kids from $35
Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours
These hikes, which travelers say are led by knowledgeable and professional guides, usually last 60 to 90 minutes and cover about a mile. The walks depart from the company’s booth near the canyon multiple times each day. Exact departure times vary by season. Tripods and photography gear other than hand-held cameras are forbidden, as are firearms, bags and pets. Tickets (excluding the park entrance fee) start at around $55 for adults and $35 for children ages 4 to 12. Kids younger than 4 tour free. Children up to age 7 are not required to pay an additional Navajo Nation fee. Dixie Ellis also offers daylong van tours that combine the Lower Antelope Canyon Tour with visits to the Navajo National Monument and Monument Valley.
Antelope Canyon X Tours
While the Upper and Lower portions of Antelope Canyon receive tons of fanfare, Antelope Canyon X promises stunning views without the hefty crowds. Antelope Canyon X – which gets its name from the X-shaped formation at the top of the canyon – is located within Antelope Canyon, so it still features the same geologic features the Upper and Lower areas are known for, but its relative anonymity makes it less of a tourist magnet.
Antelope Canyon X Taadidiin Tours
Price: Adults from $40; kids from $30
Duration: 1.5 hours
Antelope Canyon X Taadidiin Tours is the only operator running tours of Antelope Canyon X. It operates 1.5-hour small-group hikes through the canyon. Travelers rave about their visits to this site, and are particularly complimentary of the knowledgeable guides. Tours depart at multiple different times daily. Tickets cost about $40 for adults and about $30 for children 17 and younger. An additional $8 hiking permit is required for visitors ages 8 and older. Keep in mind, bags of any kind, photography equipment, strollers and pets are not permitted on this tour. Photography enthusiasts can sign up for Taadidiin’s Photo Tour, which spends three hours in the canyon and permits participants to bring a tripod and a camera bag. Fees start at about $125 per person.
Companies that provide tours of Upper Antelope Canyon are all based in or near Page, Arizona, and provide transportation to the Upper Canyon. Travelers will need to drive to Page, as there is no public transportation. Drivers coming from the north or south can take Route 89, drivers from the west can take Route 89A, and visitors commuting from the east can take Route 98.
Companies serving the Lower Canyon are located within walking distance of the canyon’s entrance; therefore, they do not provide transportation to or from Page. Travelers on a Lower Canyon tour will need to drive to the tour operator’s location. These companies are about 5 miles east of Page.
Additional tour companies depart from Flagstaff, Arizona, or Las Vegas, and combine their daylong excursions to Antelope Canyon with trips to other natural wonders, like the Grand Canyon.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you cannot visit Antelope Canyon unless you sign up for an official tour. Only authorized tour companies are permitted onto the site. Spots fill up quickly, so be sure to make your reservations ahead of time. There are no self-guided hikes available within the canyon, and visitors must stay with their tour group at all times.
Choosing which Antelope Canyon tour is best for you depends on your personal preferences. Tours of Upper Antelope Canyon are most popular and tend to provide a more manageable experience for travelers of different ages and abilities. Tours of Lower Antelope Canyon are more rugged, so they may not be the best option for travelers with mobility issues or other physical conditions. Regardless of the tour you choose, you will enjoy stunning scenery and excellent photo opportunities.