The Two Antelope Canyons

You must see at least one of them when you’re at Lake Powell.

Antelope Canyon SquareI’m working on an itinerary for a Flying M Air excursion client. They’ve decided to customize their Southwest Circle Helicopter Adventure to add another day at Page, AZ, as well as an overnight stay at Bullfrog Basin about halfway up Lake Powell.

One of the things they wanted to add to their trip was a visit to Lower Antelope Canyon. The trip includes a visit to Upper Antelope Canyon, which is the attraction that gets the most visits. I felt it important to explain the difference between these two places and provide additional information on how they could be visited. I figured this information might help others plan their visit to the Page area.

Antelope Canyon: An Overview

Let’s start with an overview of what Antelope Canyon is and how it was formed.

18 thoughts on “The Two Antelope Canyons

  1. Hello,
    Looking at the pictures you take it seems that the upper canyon is nicer; the lower one may be more fun to go through with the narrow passages and ladders. Having time only for one of them which one would you recommend?
    Thank you

    • For dramatic photography, upper probably is better. Light conditions aren’t quite as good in lower. But I prefer lower, which is never crowded.

  2. Hello Maria,
    Thanks for this great advice.
    Ken’s Tour is doing tour in the lower antelope canyon.
    I was wondering, in your article, you say that If we want to visit both, we might not be able the best light for both of them. I know that Upper antelope Canyon is better at mid-day for the light but do you know when is the better time for lower?
    Do you recommend the photography tours which are longer? And gives us more time in the canyon?
    Thanks for your great advice and have a nice day!

    • No matter how long the tour you take is, when you’re in upper antelope Canyon the main problem is the crowds. You’d be better off going at a time of year when there are less people around than to worry about how long your tour is.

      Also, I’m not sure why you’d want a guided tour of lower antelope Canyon. In all the times that I’ve visited it, no tour guide was needed. I much prefer walking it on my own, at my own pace, to being forced to follow a guide at his pace.

      Light is everything in both canyons. I’ve heard some people say that the best photographs have been made in the morning between 9 and 11. But light also depends on the time of year. I think that you could go to these canyons 20 times at varying times of the day and year and have different results each time. I can’t say what’s best.

      Good luck.

      • I just wanted to correct. The only way to visit the canyon is by Tour guides. It has never been self tour, unless you went in illegally. Since early 2000s there has been a company that has been providing tours. It also States on the Navajo Parks and recreation that you must have a permit to hike and A GUIDE. Please provide the correct information.

        • I’m sorry, but it’s YOU who is providing incorrect information.

          While a guide is always present at Upper Antelope Canyon on ALL of my visits there, Lower Antelope Canyon is not managed the same way — or at least it wasn’t when I’ve visited numerous times over the past 10 years. You go to the parking area, pay a fee, and are guided down into the canyon. But on all of my visits, the guide usually left visitors on their own at the very start of the canyon. Although they specified a time limit, there was no way they could ensure you got out on time because they simply were not with you.

          I do not provide inaccurate information on this blog and I certainly do not illegally trespass on Native American lands. (I’m actually pretty insulted that you should insinuate such a thing.) I write from experience, not hearsay or what I read in guide books.

          Have YOU been to Lower Antelope Canyon? If your movements there were restricted by a guide, I can only assume you were part of a bigger group that they wanted to manage or that it was very recently and their policies have changed. Or perhaps you paid a guide in town?

          • I was there last week. You must have a tour guide with you at all times in Lower Antelope Canyon.

            • This must be a new policy since I was there years ago. Although they SAID the tour guide had to be with you in Lower Antelope Canyon, EVERY time I went down there, the tour guide left us on our own. Could be because of new safety concerns.

              Thanks for the update.

  3. We will be traveling to Antelope Cyn mid November… if we are not there at around midday is the light sufficient to light to inside of the canyon??? Thank you so much for your answer…

      • Thank you for your reply. How do you reach Upper Antelope Canyon …. is the pull off marked?

        • Yes. But you can’t drive to the Canyon. You need to take a tour vehicle. Your best bet is to hook up with the tour company in town. You probably won’t need reservations this time of year, however, tours leave at specific times.

  4. If we’re going in mid March, what is the best time of day to go? I heard there aren’t many sunbeams during that time of year, so we were thinking about going to Upper in the early morning for the colorful walls, and then taking our time in Lower afterwards. I also heard late afternoon is a good time to shoot Horseshoe Bend, so that would work out well with that plan. What do you think? You sound like you have a lot of knowledge about the area.

    • It’s been a few years since I was there and I really can’t remember. I know I always sent clients midday, but I’ve been told that later in the afternoon is sometimes better.

      As for the “sunbeams” — you realize that look is man made by throwing sand into the air when the light is shining in, right? You can’t see rays of light without particles in the air so photographers routinely throw sand to get that affect.

  5. I’m going there in a few weeks. If I want to do a morning tour, would you recommend the Upper or Lower Canyon?

    • I have not been to both…. only the Lower Canyon… if it a somewhat dark morning and the sun is not shining thru…. then the Lower Canyon is your better bet…the opening to the surface is larger and lets in more light.


  6. Hi Maria,

    Any idea what we can expect if we do Lower Antelope Canyon in late Sep with regard to best time for optimum lighting for photographs?