Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona is a truly magical place, beautiful beyond belief. It’s arguably the world’s most famous slot canyon carved out by millions of years of rain and wind erosion resulting in an immense surreal sandstone sculpture. As you traverse the chasm, hues of purple, red-orange, and yellow constantly change with the sun’s reflections, boasting incredible abstract images.
Antelope Canyon is part of the Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, and there are two sections within the park that you can visit: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Upper Antelope Canyon is the more popular one, shaped like an upside-down “V”, hence wider at the base but also darker. Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like a V, meaning it’s narrower at the base but gets more light. Lower Antelope Canyon is accessed by walking down the stairs, and throughout the course of the tour, you’ll walk up and down several flights of stairs and ladders. To visit either Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon, you’ll need to book a tour with an authorized Navajo operator. Book online well in advance, since the tours tend to sell out weeks, even months ahead. Here you can find the list of authorized tour operators: https://navajonationparks.org/guided-tour-operators/antelope-canyon-tour-operators/
Antelope Canyon is indeed dreamlike; the pictures look pretty but it’s not the whole reality. We visited Lower Antelope Canyon in September 2018, and if I had to describe my experience in a few words, I would sum it up as “beautiful scenery, poor organization“. While the canyon itself is incredibly beautiful, the way the tours are conducted is absolutely unacceptable. There are two tour companies for Lower Antelope Canyon, it doesn’t make any difference which one you choose. During a one-hour-long overpriced tour, hordes of people are literally crammed down the stairs into a very small space, and you’ll be rushed through the canyon. You’ll have zero time to enjoy anything as the tours depart every minute to make as much money as possible. If they had allocated at least 15 minutes between the tour groups, it would have been a lot different experience. It felt like a total rip-off, even though I knew it was going to be rushed and crowded, I didn’t expect it to be that horrible. I simply hated it. From what I heard, the situation is also the same in Upper Antelope Canyon.
If you desperately want to see Antelope Canyon despite all, you may want to come in the winter months when it’s supposed to be less crowded, or the first tour in the morning might be a better option. However, the ideal light conditions for photography are around mid-morning for Upper and midday for Lower Antelope Canyon. Alternatively, you may want to consider other slot canyons like Canyon X (also in Page, AZ) that are said to be more enjoyable and a lot cheaper.
Lastly, to help you make up your own mind, here are the photos from our tour in Lower Antelope Canyon, including the hordes trying to take pictures. If you visit Antelope Canyon and find yourself in such a crowd, remember to look up. That’s how you get the abstract pictures.