Antelope Canyon is a famous attraction near Page, AZ. I found it rather complicated when I started researching the canyon because
- a) there are actually many different Antelope Canyons, and
- b) most require a tour guide, and there are many different tour operators.
In this article, I’ll try to simplify it for you. This is based on my research and my own experience in visiting two of the canyons.
5 Antelope Canyons
To my knowledge, there are five canyons in this area associated with “Antelope Canyon:”
- Upper Antelope Canyon
- Lower Antelope Canyon
- Antelope Canyon X
- Secret Canyon
- Kayak access to Antelope Wash/Canyon
These are not just different tours of the same canyon.
Four of these are located in Antelope Wash – a mostly dry river bed that, when it receives rain and water, flows north into Lake Powell. The river bed occasionally turns into a river and has carved out a few distinct canyons.
Secret Canyon is not part of the wash and is located closer to Horseshoe Bend. It offers similar views.
Upper & Lower Canyons are the two most popular, though I’m not sure if that’s because they are the best, or because of good marketing.
Also, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons are named for their elevation, not their direction.
These are the two we did, and I’ll provide a full review for you below (for more, watch our video above).
All of these canyons are located near Page. Some tours have offices in Page where you’ll meet and they will take you on a truck to the canyon. Other tours will have you meet at the canyon or closer to the canyon.
I believe 4 of the canyons are located on Navajo Land (the exception being the Kayak Access). One of these is owned by a brother and sister, so I’m not sure if they are private or Navajo-owned, or a mixture of both.
Either way, the tours to access Antelope Canyon are run by private businesses, and they all require a Navajo National Park pass to enter. The fee for this is included in the booking cost.
- Don’t miss the Cliff Dwellings in Navajo National Monument in Arizona.
Upper Antelope Canyon
We visited the Upper Antelope Canyon through Roger Ekis’ Tours.
We met at their office in Page, where a tour guide loaded us up on a truck and drove us on the highway to Antelope Wash.
From there, he put the truck in 4-wheel drive, added chains for good measure, and then drove like a madman through the sandy wash for what seemed like 10-15 minutes until we arrived at the canyon.
I forgot to take pictures of the ride, but I included some videos in our review at the top of this post.
The ride was something we DID NOT expect, but it was actually a blast! It was bumpy and we slid all over the place. It was memorable for us and our kids.
We entered the canyon on the ground level.
The Upper Canyon is more A-Shaped: narrow at the top and wide at the bottom. This makes it more accessible than the Lower Canyon.
It’s also quite a bit taller than the Lower Canyon.
This is the canyon with the famous beams of light entering the narrow top during mid-day. The tour guide explained to us the beams of light only happen at certain times of the year.
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The tour took about an hour to go about the length of a football field. We stopped around every bend and waited for people to take their photos. Typically, the generous tour guide would help, or even just take the photos for us, using the right settings (vivid warm).
The tours used to walk back through the canyon to the truck, but recently stairs were constructed to take visitors up and around the canyon, reducing back-and-forth log jams within the canyon.
There are 5 tour operators in the Upper Canyon. See the Navajo National Park website for a list of authorized tours.
We also did a tour of the Lower Antelope Canyon. There are only two authorized tour operators here: Ken’s Tours and Dixie Tours. Both are located right next to the canyon. The businesses are right next to each other; my understanding is they are owned by a brother and sister.
We parked at the parking lot and checked in. We then waited for our guide, who walked us to the canyon.
Lower Antelope is a little longer than Upper Antelope Canyon.
It’s also V-shaped – narrow at the bottom and wider at the top. This allows for more sunlight to enter the canyon. No beams of light here, but the light shows off the canyon walls better.
Since it’s narrow at the bottom, it requires some scrambling around and through the bends in the canyon walls. There are also sections with ladders to climb.
Those who are claustrophobic and those who have mobility issues may be affected. I’m a little claustrophobic and it didn’t bother me.
The tour starts by descending a steep and narrow staircase to the canyon. The rest of the tour is a gradual climb back to ground level, with assists from ladders occasionally.
The tour operators are a little younger here because they don’t have to drive visitors to the canyon. I think our guide did a fine job and she was extremely helpful in making sure people got the photos they wanted.
The canyon was packed with people, and at one point an enforcer walked through to speed things along.
I thought in general the workers didn’t quite have the soft people skills that the older guides at Lower Antelope Canyon did. This isn’t necessarily a criticism aimed at the Lower Antelope workers, but an observation of my experience.
But at one point, I tried taking a photo inside the building and a worker quickly got on my case. Outside in the parking lot, I shot a video of Cheryl and a worker walked over to stand beside me while we filmed. He didn’t ask us to stop, he just stood there. It was awkward.
I realize we are travel vloggers and every business has a right to implement its rules. It’s just that the whole place felt a little like an army of young workers trying to herd a ton of people through and keep everyone in line.
By the time we left, we were happy to get out of there. We did this tour first, and after this experience, we really didn’t want to do the Upper Tour later in the day, but we had already purchased our nonrefundable tickets.
Costs: Is Antelope Canyon Worth it?
We thought that both the Upper and Lower Canyons were much too expensive for what they were.
I don’t begrudge a business for charging what the market will allow. Disney will keep raising prices until people stop going. But my mission is to give you information to help you make decisions, and we thought they were overpriced.
However, we travel with a family of 6. So for us, both tours cost about $1000 total. Obviously, we are a little unique. Most people are only going to do one tour, and if you’re only traveling with a spouse and no kids, you’ll pay around $100-$150 for a tour.
The Upper Canyon tour was more expensive, and I’m assuming that’s in large part to pay for the trucks and transportation to get you out there.
- Check out Is Kanab, Utah Worth Visiting? Another great area to visit nearby Antelope Canyon.
Should You Visit the Upper or Lower Canyon?
Many people want to know which one is better. It really is a matter of personal preference.
I liked the Upper Canyon because it was taller and felt more majestic. I liked the flat, wider ground floor coupled with the views looking above.
Cheryl and my kids liked the Lower Canyon because it was more like a playhouse – climbing through holes, up ladders, and around walls.
As far as accessibility, both had a fair amount of stairs. The Upper is certainly more accessible in that you don’t need to scramble, but be prepared for the bumpy ride out there!
The Other 3 Canyons (That I Know Of)
I’m aware of three other canyons, but I can’t give a full review because I haven’t done them.
Many people on my YouTube channel said they did this canyon and loved it. It’s cheaper than the Upper and Lower Canyons, and I believe they limit the visitors so it doesn’t feel like a herd of tourists being shoved through.
The pictures I’ve seen are similar to Upper and Lower.
Kayaking into Antelope
It’s possible to rent a kayak at the marina in Page and kayak to a spot where you can get off and walk through a canyon. Though you’ll need to rent the kayak, the canyon itself does not cost money. Also, my understanding is you have to share some of the trip with jetskiers who create plenty of waves for you to deal with.
From the pictures I’ve seen, this is the least scenic of the canyons. But I can’t speak from personal experience.
This is the most expensive tour, and it’s coupled with a trip to Horseshoe Bend (which can be easily visited on your own with a small parking fee). Many people on my channel said this was an incredible, upper-end experience.
Though this is not part of Antelope Wash, the pictures I’ve seen look very similar to Upper and Lower.
Other Things to Do Nearby
There are quite a few other cool things to do near Page and Antelope Canyon:
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