Antelope Canyon is One of the Most Beautiful Places on Earth: A Weekend in Arizona (Part 3)

On our recent trip to Arizona, we were thrilled to be able to see so many absolutely jaw dropping sights.  We had left the Grand Canyon, and made it up to Page, Arizona.  Here, we got to take a 2 for 1 by being able to check out Horseshoe Bend upon our arrival, and then headed to Antelope Canyon the next morning.

Antelope Canyon is Magnificent

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Antelope Canyon has been on my absolute have to visit list for years now, after I saw how magnificent the canyon looked in photographs.  Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon that is located on Navajo land very close to Horseshoe Bend.  Without a doubt, I can say that Antelope Canyon is one of the most beautiful works of nature that I have ever had the privilege of visiting.  The amazing thing about Antelope Canyon is that it looks just like the computer desktop background image – no Photoshop needed.

The Wonder

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Visiting the canyon took some legwork to sort out.  It was an easy drive from Page, Arizona (less than 10 minutes), but what made it somewhat confusing is that there are actually 2 separate sections of the canyon that you can visit, with independent tour operators giving access to each.  The Upper Antelope Canyon is known as “The Crack” and is famous for the photographs that capture light rays that stream in around the noon hour.

Lower Antelope Canyon

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Lower Antelope Canyon is also known as “The Corkscrew” because… well, the ridges and lines in the canyon make it look like you are standing in a corkscrew!  We chose to visit the Lower canyon because photographs in the canyon were good anytime of day, instead of the prime time of mid-day for the Upper canyon.  We had had enough of the mid-day heat in Arizona by this point!

Lower Antelope Canyon

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As you are on Navajo land, you must go through a tour operator in order to be able to visit either canyon.  As I had mentioned, we chose to visit Lower Antelope Canyon.  We chose to go with Ken’s Guided Tour, which cost $20 per adult, plus the mandatory $8 Navajo permit fee that you paid separately at a gate when entering the parking lot.  The tours ran 1 hour 15 minutes, and it was a slick operation.  When we wait, there was a waiting room full of tourists for every tour (offered every 20 minutes, schedule in advance to guarantee your spot), and our guide was very strict about adhering to that time limit.  After all, the canyon is very narrow and so tour groups can’t linger or the next group will catch up to them.  There is plenty of time for photographs, and the guide was helpful about identifying where some prime pictures could be snapped.  If you are a serious photographer, you can book a photographer’s tour which is more costly ($42), but offers you more freedom and privacy in order to take your photographs.  When we were there, we saw 2 separate photographer’s tours going on, and it was 2 photographers per guide, instead of approximately 25 tourists per main tour.  Tours of Upper Antelope Canyon cost roughly twice as much as Lower Antelope Canyon (around $40 per person), and it was not clear to me that it was worth the price difference.

Be cautious about visiting following major rainfall.  When we went, we were informed that the week prior, both the Upper and Lower canyons were closed because they had flooded.

Total distance driven to this point: 450 miles.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the post! The info is very helpful!
    1) Did you fly back from Page, AZ (1 way car rental?) or drive all the way back to PHX?
    2) Did you recommend spending more time in Grand Canyon?
    3) So you think about 4 days (I assume your 4th day is to fly back home) total will be adequate?

    Again appreciate all your tips! I just wonder if a long weekend trip or 1 week would suffice.

    • Isabella –

      1) We drove back to Phoenix, after making a few more stops along the way (to be posted soon). If you wanted to fly from Page, your only option is to fly Great Lakes Airline.
      2) The Grand Canyon was a place that you could explore in a day (as we did), or stay for a week and still not see it all. It depends on how much hiking you want to do, and how far into the canyon you wanted to travel. You cannot make it to the bottom of the canyon and back up in 1 day, so if that was a goal of yours, you would need a multiple day stay. In addition, there are many activities that we did not have interest in, but are certainly worth considering, including a mule ride into the canyon, white water rafting down the river etc. Because we had so much else we wanted to do on this trip, and only a finite amount of time, we did not budget more time at the Grand Canyon.
      3) Depending on when you arrive and depart from PHX, 4 days is possible. Day 1 you could drive up to the Grand Canyon after your arrival, and explore the area on Day 2. Then you can drive up to Page on Day 3 and check out both Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Either late on Day 3 or early Day 4, you could drive back to PHX for your departure. You would be missing out on some fantastic things (e.g., Monument Valley) which are relatively close. If possible, 1 week would allow you to be less frenetic, and see a few more things both around Phoenix and Arizona.

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