Upper Antelope Canyon

HikeSnobs rate this: 3thumb


Visited: May 29, 2016

Description: An easy (but crowded) 1.5 hour guided tour through an unbelievably beautiful slot canyon

Fees: $8 for Navajo Park Permit
$40 for Upper Antelope Canyon Tour (required)

Length: .5 miles

Duration: 1.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy stroll

Terrain: Sandy trail

Pets: No dogs allowed

Parking: Parking lot

Best time to go: Weekdays/Off season and when the sun is highest in the sky

Bring: Camera, patience

Antelope Canyon has been on our Bucket List for a loooong time. After making a trip to Zion National Park, we considered stopping here. We weren’t sure how much time we would end up spending at Zion. Luckily, we are notoriously fast hikers and had more than enough time to make it out to Page, AZ.

Antelope Canyon consists of two gorgeous slot canyons, Upper and Lower. When we arrived we had to decide which slot canyon to choose from. Upper Antelope Canyon is a ground level slot that is very popular because of its beautiful light beams while Lower Antelope Canyon is underground with rare beams but a lot less popular. While we appreciate our own personal space most of the time, we couldn’t get the image of radiating beams out of our head and made the rash decision to head to Upper Antelope Canyon.

We arrived  at the gate at 7AM and we were surprised to see a line of cars already. We were the 3rd car in line and we all waited anxiously for the gate to open at 8AM. Once parked, we purchased our tickets for the 11AM tour in hopes of catching the light beams. The earlier you get there, the better. Availability will fill up fast!

That line is no joke…

10:45AM rolls around and we hear our group being called. 10 trucks with groups of 13 people were loaded on the back of the truck. Our tour guide was an adorable woman named Betty Marie. She gave us a brief run down of the rules and answered any quick questions we had.  A short bumpy 10 minute ride on a sandy wash later, we made it.

Being one of the most breathtaking places on Earth, there were already hoards of people at the entrance of the canyon. It was a challenge to get a shot without a single person in the way. While the slot canyons were unbelievably beautiful, it was hard to not feel suffocated and stressed out in such a tight space.

Don’t worry though. If you’re as cunning and quick as us, you’ll be able to capture amazing pictures without punching someone.


Betty Marie led us through the crowd into the slot canyon. We expected her to tell us some history about the canyon but she just told us where to take pictures of the canyon and how to get a good shot. What has this world come to?!

Luckily for you, we did a little research for you guys!

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is “the place where water flows between rocks.” The canyon is 130 feet deep and about a quarter mile long. Over the course of thousands on years, wind and water gently carved through the narrow crevice of the Navajo sandstone forming the natural corridors you see today.

Antelope Canyon is probably one of the most popular spots for pro and amateur photographers, tourists, and movie producers. It was hard not feel anxiety and a bit claustrophobic in this tight space. Most of the time we were tailing another group, while another was close by, not to mention the groups that were exiting the canyon. The entire tour was “take a picture here and a picture there!”

We’re not trying to hate on Antelope Canyon but for the price we paid, we wish we could at least hear some history or for there to be less people. There is a photographer tour option, but paying an extra $40-80 for the opportunity to take crowdless photos is too much for our liking.

Despite the insane crowd, it was hard not to be wowed by the beauty of the sculpted sandstone walls. The moment we witnessed a sun beam, the anxiety slowly began to dissipate. The beams were absolutely MAJESTIC.

You can capture these shafts of light from April through October, although they are strongest during the summer when the sun is highest in the sky. Noon is the best time to see these but be ready for it to be the busiest. We were not ready… 😳😳

If you have time, make the trip to Lower Antelope Canyon as well. It should be less crowded and just as beautiful but without the beams. We were unable to go ourselves but we’ll definitely be back soon to compare. Despite our mixed reviews about our experience in the slots canyons, one thing is for sure, the slot canyons are otherworldly. It was worth the agony to see those beams even for a few seconds.

@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • If you want to take great pictures without worrying about the crowd, you can partake in the photography tour for ~$80-120.
  • If crowds are not your thing, check out Lower Antelope Canyon instead.
  • The best time to see the upper slots would be weekdays and off season

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

13 thoughts on “Upper Antelope Canyon

  1. I appreciate that the money probably goes to keeping the place pristine and nice and maybe cutting down on how many people go but $80 is steep for people-less photos. Especially since the initial $40 is required to even go.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Horseshoe Bend
  3. Well these shots are something else. I think the ones without beams are arguably just as beautiful as with. Maybe more so. That last one before the beams is just exquisite. Well done for braving the crowds and getting those photos without shelling out the extra cost. You’re showing me a part of the world I’ve never been to. It’s interesting to see these hikes in America that get crowded as opposed to the places I go in Australia.


    1. The beauty of these canyons made the entire trip worth it. Despite the crowds, it was a memorable experience. We would love to check out some places in Australia and experience some solitude for a change 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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