- By Jocelyn
- On Feb 6, 2017
- North America
- Travel Tips
Get to Know the Antelope Canyon
As one of the most stunning natural wonders in the United States, Antelope Canyon is a favorite among photographers, tourists, and visitors from all over the world. Located on the Navajo Reservation, it is unearthly in its beauty, created over many thousands of years by wind and water which carved the sandstone into the temple we see today.
Tourists make the trek for the natural light show, which is something of a photographers dream.
Antelope Canyon is a place where you can experience nature in its raw form, though those interested in visiting should note that the area is only open by joining a tour.
Antelope Canyon is divided into Lower Antelope and Upper Antelope. When selecting an Antelope Canyon tour package, you should know which one you want to visit, and think about which one is right for you.
The upper canyon is the more popular one. It's wider and more accessible with the entry point being on ground level. The lower canyon has a narrower and steeper entry point and visitors go down several flights of stairs. The admission of Upper Antelope Canyon is much more expensive than that of Lower Antelope Canyon.
So, if you're adventurous and want a challenging trip, you can select Lower Antelope. If you prefer comfort, you may alternatively stick to Upper Antelope.
Prepare to rough it for a bit
Visiting the upper canyon, you will be thrown around in a 4WD truck across the desert. Not recommended for pregnant women, or those suffering from back pain and other health issues. Pretty uncomfortable for the rest of us too.
If you drive to the lower canyon, you have to go down (and then up) five flights of stairs. This is what we’ve done and frankly, the stairs were not much of a problem. However, be prepared for an overall dismal experience before entering the canyon. You're expected to wait for at least 45 minutes in the heat of the Arizona desert – even if you booked your tour in advance. There's some shade but no air conditioning.
Visit by Guided tours only
The regulations of the Navajo Tribal Parks Authority state that you can only visit Antelope Canyon with a Navajo guide.
Guided tours are available throughout the year for both the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons.
You can choose between a general tour which lasts about an hour or a more slow-paced photography tour which can last up to two hours. Park regulations limit all visits to no more than two hours.
Bring Your Camera to take Picktures of Antelope
The light effects in Antelope Canyon offer some stunning photo opportunities, so make sure you’ve traveled with your camera. Landscape photographers will be in their element!
The light beams that penetrate through the gaps in the rocks do only last for a short time, so make sure you have a camera which is easy to whip out. A point and shoot or an easy to reach DSLR are ideal – you’ll miss the shot if you're playing around with tripods or trying to change lenses. Also, remember that any heavy camera equipment you take, you have to hike with.
Lighting conditions are best around mid-morning between April and September, but the other months bring smaller crowds and a more intimate experience where you won’t struggle with as many tourists in your shots.
Mind the Timezone
Navajo territory follows Daylight Saving Time (DST) during summer. Most areas in Arizona do not. That means it's one hour earlier in the Navajo reservation.
S0 it is best to call your tour guide ahead of time to find out if your tour is on Navajo or Arizona time.
Bring Water with You
It's a good idea to carry a water bottle with you into the canyon. I recommend something you can put in a small backpack so you can use both hands to take photos. Although the canyon is much cooler and darker than direct sunlight it is still a good idea to stay hydrated and fed for the hour or two you are touring the canyons.
As with any day spent in the outdoors, it's highly recommended that you carry your own water bottle. While the canyon below is cooler than the hot desert air above, you will still need water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
There are no shops around so you will need to bring water with you.
Carry a Small Backpack
It is recommended that you don't carry too much on your shoulders when you are visiting Antelope Canyon, especially Lower Antelope. This can cause problems because the Lower Antelope has tight spaces and it can be inconvenient for you to move through.
Carry limited items in your backpack like a water bottle and some headgear that will protect you from the sun and sand.
Carry Some Cash
I don't know about every tour company, but some only take cash and I believe you must pay cash for the Navajo Fee. Either way, it is a good idea to carry enough cash to cover your tour. Also, if you are doing a photography tour it is suggested to tip the guide.
Use the Bathroom
Before you sign in and head down the 15 minute bumpy road to Upper Canyon, be sure to use the restroom as there are no restrooms at the canyon.
Visiting during a Flash Flood is Dangerous
When it's raining upstream, tours can be canceled without prior notice. If you can, travel off-season and leave some room for flexibility.
After reading the above 10 things you need to know before starting your Antelope Canyon Tours, I hope that you can enjoy your fascinating journey to Antelope Canyon!