Antelope Canyon is one of those places you’ve seen many pictures of and always thought, “I need to go there!” I am guilty of being one of those people and after having been, I see why this is such a popular photo spot. It’s a very geographically unique place and your visit will be an experience you won’t forget!
A Little Background
The area known as “Antelope Canyon” is located near Page, Arizona on land owned by the Navajo Nation and is comprised of two slot canyons: Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. The canyon was formed through the erosion of Navajo sandstone primarily due to flash flooding over millions of years.
Upper Antelope Canyon is more narrow on the top and wider on the floor, while Lower Antelope is the opposite. Because of this, the Upper canyon is popular for it’s light beams that occur at midday and the Lower canyon is known for its more diverse rock formations.
Getting A Tour
It’s important to note that you cannot visit the canyons on your own; you must purchase a guided tour. When you arrive, you will have to pay a $8 entrance fee collected by the Navajo Nation. If you wait to purchase a tour on-site, they run about $20 for the regular tours and $40 for a photography tour. During the busy season, you may not be able to book a tour upon arrival and can also book online in advance through various tour websites, but you’ll have to pay a higher price.
I highly recommend taking the photography tour! Even though it’s more expensive, it’s far more enjoyable because they wait until the main crowd has passed through so you and your tour group have time to get the photos you want without having dozens of people in the way. The crowds can be very distracting but once you get that time to yourself, the beauty of your surroundings will start to sink in and you will feel like you’re in another world! However, you will need to have a tripod and professional camera to sign up for the photography tour.
When To Go
The best time of year to visit to see the light beams is the summer months, though these months are also hotter and more crowded. I would recommend going around June when the weather isn’t at it’s hottest and the crowds haven’t reached their peak.
As for time of day, midday (11am-1pm) is the best time for light beams and lighting in the canyon in general since the light enters from a narrow passageway above.
What To Expect
I already mentioned that you should be prepared for it to be packed. There are multiple tours walking through the canyons at a time, so you won’t get to see it empty unless you choose to take the photography tour or go during the off-season.
I also had an unrealistic expectation of what the colors would look like, because every photo you see has such vibrant hues of red and purple. The truth is, these photos are heavily edited and the rock just look like a flat reddish color in person.
But if you go in knowing these things, you are guaranteed to be amazed by this incredible place. There’s a reason why it’s the most visited slot canyon in Arizona and one of the most popular photography spots in the world. Antelope Canyon is one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited and I highly recommend you consider planning a trip to Arizona to experience it for yourself!
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