Before our trip, I knew nothing about Antelope Canyon, slot canyons or Page, Arizona. Antelope Canyon caught my interest and I knew I had to see it, especially since it is only one state away. I started researching tour companies, reaching out to other bloggers and turning my day dreams of Antelope Canyon into an actual trip (check out our itinerary here!). I quickly learned that while Antelope Canyon is praised for it’s beauty, it is also notable for being crowded. Really, really crowded. Luckily I discovered Page has quite a few slot canyons, and so we decided to visit more than one. Here is my round up of the best slot canyons in Page.
To start off, Antelope Canyon is long, it actually goes on for miles. The famous pictures come from two sections, Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Both of these sections are on Navajo lands and require tours with a Navajo guide. You can also access part of antelope canyon from Lake Powell, which we did on a kayak tour. This part isn’t as beautiful, but kayaking is fun so I would still recommend it.
You can visit both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon on a “sightseer” tour or a “photography” tour. Both have their pros and cons. Photo tours require that you have an interchangeable lens camera and tripod, and provide you with some crowd control. There will be two guides who take you to different spots along the canyon and the hold the crowds for 2 minutes while you shoot. Photo tours are more expensive and move at a slower pace, so take a little bit more time. Sightseer tours are a larger group and can have any kind of camera/phone and prohibit tripods/monopods/selfie sticks. They move much more quickly and do not provide the same level of crowd control, but are significantly less expensive.
Upper Antelope Canyon.
We visited Upper Antelope Canyon as part of a photo tour with Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours. If you are going to do a photo tour, I would recommend doing it for Upper Antelope Canyon. This is the canyon famous for sun beams and sand running down the canyon. To get these shots you really do want to use a decent camera, tripod, and shutter release, but most importantly you need crowd control! Upper Antelope Canyon is more easily accessible than lower, with no stairs/ladders and is wider than lower so it is more popular and gets very crowded. It is gorgeous and I definitely think worth seeing, but my advice is to go early to avoid the crowds or do a photo tour, especially if you want shots of the famous sun beams. While on the subject of sun beams, if that is your primary goal, avoid visiting the canyons during the winter months and book your tour around noon.
Lower Antelope Canyon.
Lower Antelope Canyon is equally beautiful as upper and requires a bit more physical exertion. It has various stair cases that you climb up and down as you navigate through narrow passages. The stairs are pretty steep at some parts (almost like a ladder) and the canyon gets significantly more narrow than upper requiring single file passage at times. For me, this added to the fun and made it a bit more adventurous. However, it does mean that if one person stops to take a picture or enjoy the view for too long, it stops everyone else from moving. For this reason, the tour guides move you through relatively quickly. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely give you time to take pictures, but this isn’t a take your time and self explore experience. However, because of how narrow it was, I actually thought it was easier to get people free pictures than it was in Upper Antelope. I also thought Lower Antelope had more purple coloring than Upper, but this might have been just the time of day I was there. We used Dixie Ellis’ tour company and booked a sightseer tour for about $25/person. Looking back I’m glad we spent the extra money on the photography tour on Upper and DIDN’T spend it on lower. We still got great pictures in lower and carrying a tripod up and down the stairs would have been a pain. Again, I read about 2 hour long waits to get into the canyon, so I recommend booking your tour earlier in the day.
As part of our Upper Antelope Canyon photo tour, we also visited two other slot canyons, Owl and Rattlesnake. We were literally the ONLY people at Owl Canyon and had complete freedom to explore at our own pace. Upper Antelope is very structured (they literally draw a line in the sand on where you set up for pictures), so the freedom of being to move about Owl Canyon at our own pace was great. Owl Canyon gets its name from the owls that live there. We were lucky enough to get to see three of them! Since Owl canyon is wider and doesn’t have any stairs, it is a great option for all ages and fitness levels. I actually think it would be the most fun out of all the canyons for kids, as they could easily explore and might even get to see the owls.
Rattlesnake Canyon was our absolute favorite. It had the narrowness of Lower Antelope with the exclusiveness of Owl. We shared it with about seven other people during our visit and so felt like we had it to ourselves. If I could pick only two canyons to visit they would be Upper Antelope and Rattlesnake. Upper Antelope to see the sunbeams and Rattlesnake to get to enjoy the experience without all the people. Unlike Owl Canyon, Rattlesnake doesn’t get it’s name for being home to a family of rattlesnakes. If you look at it from above it winds around like a snake, hence the name Rattlesnake Canyon. Rattlesnake does require climbing a ladder and gets fairly narrow at parts. It is not the best option for those who use wheelchairs, strollers, or who have with difficulty walking/going up stairs.
We had a few other canyons that we considered visiting on our second to last day in Page. However, mother nature had other plans and we got rain and wind instead. Slot canyons are prone to flash floods and are very dangerous during rain. Tours are usually cancelled for safety reasons (people have died!). Monsoons usually occur in the afternoon from roughly end of June through August, so please plan your visit accordingly. The other canyons we were interested in were Canyon X, Cardiac Canyon, and Secret Canyon. Canyon X and Cardiac Canyon require tours, but the Secret Canyon does not (to my knowledge). If you are able to visit one of these, I’d love to here about it!
Antelope Canyon is 100% a must see, but you may find you love the other slot canyons even more. Do you have any other canyons to add to my list?
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