Antelope Canyon is the most photographed slot canyon in the world. But it comes in two sections and visiting both can be expensive. Here’s our guide to Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon to help you choose.

By - Mark | Last Updated - 26 Jan 2024 | Go to - Comments & Questions

Down Arrow

Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed slot canyons in the world. Shaped over millennia by water rushing through the rock, its slick orange and red walls are etched with horizontal lines which curve into mesmerizing shapes.

When the sun is at the right angle, beams of light enter through the canyon roof creating a hypnotic play of light and shadow.

Antelope Canyon is split into two sections, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. They are both extremely impressive but a little different.

It’s possible to visit both in one day, but paying for two tours can be expensive. Here’s our guide to Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon to help you choose the tour that’s right for you.

IN THIS GUIDE

UPPER VS LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON


ANTELOPE CANYON: UPPER VS LOWER

Antelope Canyon is just outside the town of Page in northern Arizona. Located in Navajo lands, it is split into two sections: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.

Each section of the canyon can only be visited on a separate guided tour run by Navajo guides. Here are the pros and cons of each.

UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON

Upper Antelope Canyon is called Tsé bighánílíní in Navajo, which means “the place where water runs through rocks”. Its nickname is “The Crack” due to the very narrow gap in the canyon roof.

It is shaped like an ‘A’ with a wide base and a narrow top. The narrow top means only slender beams of light enter the canyon making it dark and moody.

upper antelope canyon
UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON

UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON TOURS

Guided tours leave from nearby Page. You are driven for 15 minutes along a dirt track in an open 4×4 to the start of the trail.

The canyon is only 660 feet (200 meters) long. The hike heads along the relatively flat canyon floor, before climbing a set of stairs out of the canyon. You then walk over a hill to get back to the pickup point.

The tour lasts 100 minutes. Twenty minutes for the pick-up and drive (each way) and 60 minutes for the ¾ mile walk in the canyon. The tour operators ask you to check in 30 minutes before the tour is scheduled to leave Page.

PROS OF UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON

Better Photography – The most iconic photos of Antelope Canyon are taken in Upper Antelope Canyon. During the middle of the day slender beams of light shine through the canyon roof contrasting with the dark and moody canyon walls.

Better Tours – The tours in Upper Antelope Canyon are more organised than in Lower Antelope Canyon. The guides give a more detailed account of how the slot canyons were formed and they keep you in a small group making it easier to get photos with no-one else in them.

Easier Walking – The hike is short and relatively flat, although you do need to walk over sand, climb some stairs, and descend a ramp to return to the pick-up spot. Unfortunately, the tour is not accessible for everyone.

BEST TIME TO VISIT UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON //

The best time to visit Upper Antelope Canyon is over lunchtime from the months of April to August. During this time the angle of the sun allows the beams to reach the canyon floor. It only happens when the sun is directly overhead so, book a tour that runs between 11 am and 1.30 pm.

CONS OF UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON

More expensive – Upper Antelope Canyon tours are more expensive ($85) than Lower Antelope Canyon Tours ($55). The lunchtime Upper Antelope Tour from April To August is more expensive still ($120). All tours incur an additional $8 Navajo Permit Park fee.

Limited availability – Tours of Upper Antelope Canyon can book up months in advance, especially over the peak midday hours. Book as soon as you know you are going.

More difficult to photograph – While the moody darkness can be a benefit in the middle of the day when the beam of light looks spectacular, in early morning and late afternoon it can be very dark, making photography difficult. Tripods are not permitted in the canyon.

Dusty drive – The drive to Upper Antelope Canyon is in an open-sided 4×4. It’s bumpy and there is lots of dust. You’re not allowed to take a backpack into the canyon, so make sure you have something to keep your camera protected from the dust.  

Longer tour – You are supposed to check-in 30 minutes before the tour leaves, so the entire experience takes just over 2 hours.

LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON

Lower Antelope Canyon is called Hasdestwazi in Navajo, which means “spiral rock arches”. Its nickname is the Corkscrew, due to its twisted walls.

It is shaped like a ‘V’ with a narrow base and a wider top. More light enters through the canyon roof making the canyon brighter and lighter.

LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON TOURS

Tours are run by Dixie’s Tours and Ken’s Tours. Both have offices and a large parking lot right next to the Lower Antelope Canyon entrance.

The canyon is 1,335 feet (400 meters) long. The entrance is down 5 flights of a steep metal staircase. The narrow canyon floor is a little trickier to navigate and there are 8 further flights of stairs along the route. The exit is through a small gap in the rock only a short walk the from parking lot.

The walking tour is 1 mile in total and takes 45 minutes to 1 hour. Tours are called 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.

lower antelope canyon
LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON ENTRANCE

PROS OF LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON

Better light – Lower Antelope Canyon does not have the midday beams of light that pierce the gloom in Upper Antelope Canyon, but the canyon is brighter and lighter making photography easier. The walls have a more luminescent glow throughout the day.

Longer canyon – Lower Antelope Canyon is twice as long as Upper Antelope Canyon and with more twisting strangely shaped walls you get twice as much bang for your buck.

More availability – Lower Antelope Canyon tours do not sell out months in advance and in fact, sometimes it is possible to just turn up on the day and get a slot.

Cheaper – Lower Antelope Canyon Tours are cheaper ($55) than Upper Antelope Canyon Tours ($85 or $120 – lunchtime Apr-Aug). All tours incur an additional $8 Navajo Permit Park fee.

More adventurous – The combination of metal ladders and a narrower trail through the slick canyon walls make Lower Antelope Canyon feel more adventurous and fun.

CONS OF LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON

Less iconic photos – You cannot capture the midday beams of light shining in from the canyon roof like you can at Upper Antelope Canyon.

Busier & crowded – Groups are not kept as isolated as they are in Upper Antelope Canyon so it can feel busier, more rushed, and a bit more chaotic.

Queueing times – While you don’t need to check-in 30 minutes before scheduled departure, there are often queues as you wait to descend the staircase into the canyon.

Tougher walking – The metal staircase, longer canyon, and narrower canyon floor make the hiking tougher. Therefore, Lower Antelope Canyon is not advised for those with more limited physical mobility.   

UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON VS LOWER – COSTS

Prices can vary by tour guide, but below is a 2023 estimate of what you can expect to pay to visit the upper and lower canyons. All tickets incur an additional $8 Navajo Park fee. Between April and August, the lunchtime tour of Upper Antelope Canyon is $120.

CANYONCOSTDURATION
Upper$85 adults | $75 kids3/4 mile | 100 min
Lower$55 adults & kids1 mile | 45 min

ANTELOPE CANYON: UPPER VS LOWER SUMMARY

Upper Antelope Canyon is better for photographers IF you book a lunchtime slot, which you will need to do well in advance. It is also a more relaxed experience with a smaller group giving you more time to line up better shots.

Guides provide interesting information about the canyons and how they were formed.

Importantly, the walk in the upper canyon is less physically demanding making it a better choice for people with reduced mobility (although stairs are still required).

Lower Antelope Canyon is better for selfies due to the increased light in the canyon. It’s a cheaper more family-friendly experience with a slightly more adventurous trail that the kids will love.

CAN YOU VISIT ANTELOPE CANYON WITHOUT GOING ON A TOUR?

No, it’s not possible to visit Antelope Canyon without going on a tour. All tours are managed and run by the Navajo.

BOOKING YOUR UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON TOUR

Upper Antelope Canyon Tours are run by several different Navajo providers. We used Antelope Canyon Tours and had a great experience. Remember to book in advance and try to get a slot from 11.00 am to 1.30 pm.

BOOKING YOUR LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON TOUR

There are two Lower Antelope Canyon Tour providers:

We used Ken’s because we could get on a tour immediately without waiting. But I’m sure Dixie is great as well. They are next to each other at the canyon entrance.  

TOP TOURS

COMBINED TOUR OPTIONS


If the tours appear fully booked, make sure you check Get Your Guide and Viator who have additional timeslots and provide a wider range of experiences in the area.

GET YOUR GUIDE | VIATOR

ANTELOPE CANYON TIME ZONE

Antelope Canyon Tours run on Arizona Standard Time (MST), sharing the same time zone as Page, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon and Phoenix. Please be aware that if you drive from Monument Valley or Utah during Daylight Savings Time (middle of March to the beginning of November) you’ll need to move your clocks forward 1 hour.

WHERE TO STAY IN ANTELOPE CANYON

Antelope Canyon is located near Page in Arizona. There’s plenty to see in the area including Horseshoe Bend, so it’s worth staying a night or two to enjoy the area.

Read our guide on visiting Antelope Canyon for all the information you need about visiting, including some suggestions for where to stay.

MAP | UPPER AND LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON

Below is a map of the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon where we have indicated the offices of the tour guides.  

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


WHERE NEXT AFTER ANTELOPE CANYON?

Antelope Canyon is part of an amazing area of landscapes spread across Utah and northern Arizona. They can be explored on a wonderful 2-week US road trip that includes Utah’s Mighty 5, Monument Valley and Las Vegas. 

Here are our recommendations on how to see it all:

paul mark 1
ANYWHERE WE ROAM IS
READER-SUPPORTED

When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

Thanks for your support.

You can also buy us a coffee, and follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

- Paul & Mark.