Antelope Canyon is one of the most recognized slot canyons in the American Southwest. It is located on Navajo land just east of Page, AZ. Antelope Canyon includes two separate, scenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as "Upper Antelope Canyon" or "The Crack"; and "Lower Antelope Canyon" or "The Corkscrew". The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means "the place where water runs through rocks". Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazí, called "Hasdestwazi" by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department, or "spiral rock arches". Antelope Canyon was formed primarily by flash flood erosion of the Navajo Sandstone, as well other sub-aerial processes such as heavy rain fall during monsoon season. Over time, the erosion created corridors that continue to grow wider as the hard edges of the stone gets smoother to form the characterisic flowing shapes in the rock. The sunlight in this slot canyon creeps into the dark passageways from above in the form of what appears to be etherial beams of light. It is for this reason that Antelope Canyon has become many photographers' dream subject.
Both upper and lower Antelope Canyon can only be viewed and experienced on a guided tour. It is open 365 days a year, but tours are weather dependent. No slot canyon tours are available when risk of a flash flood is present. Therefore, it is best to plan your trip outside of monsoon season, which is generally late June though the month of August. In October of 2006, a flood occurred that lasted 36 hour which caused the Tribal Park Authorities to close Lower Antelope Canyon for five months. Make sure to check the status of your tour before you embark on your journey to the Great Southwest.
There are a few really good reasons to choose the Upper Antelope Canyon tour over the Lower Canyon. Upper Antelope Canyon is the tour where visitors will have the chance to witness the beams of light and sand falling over the rocks like a small waterfall. It's where most of the iconic photographs are taken, and therefore, is the more popular tour of the two canyons. Access is easier as well. This tour is on flat sand and does not require you to climb a ladder like the Lower Antelope Canyon tour does. The downside of choosing an Upper Antelope Canyon tour is that it can get very crowded. If you are sensitive to small spaces, the slot canyon can feel even more tight with the number of people down there, especially during the tours that are during the peak light beam hours (around 12:30-1pm). Also, the price of an Upper Antelope Canyon tour can be double the price of a Lower Antelope Canyon tour. Please note that "Photographer" tours are not available on weekends. It's just too busy and crowded on weekends for photographers to get the shots they desire. Overall, if you're wanting to experience the iconic Antelope Canyon, this is the section of the canyon for you! You can minimize crowds by going off season and during the week. Most Upper Antelope Canyon Sightseeing tours are 1 hour in the canyon and Photographer tours are 2 hours in the canyon.
Lower Antelope Canyon is beautiful and it features the same flowing Navajo sandstone walls, but it does not allow for guest to experience the beams of light nor falling sand as seen in many Antelope Canyon photographs. This section of the canyon attracts less people than Upper Antelope Canyon for a couple of reasons: as mentioned before, it does not allow visitors to experience the iconic beams of light and there is a ladder that requires guests to climb. But if you're the kind of visitor that prefers less crowds and doesn't mind climbing a ladder, a Lower Antelope Canyon tour may be your cup of tea. In addition, the cost of the tour is about half the price of an Upper Antelope Canyon tour! Most Upper Antelope Canyon Sightseeing Tours are 1 hour in the canyon and Photographer Tours are 2 hours in the canyon.