Updated on September 3, 2020
Antelope Canyon’s popularity overgrown over the last 5-10 years. Only 20 years ago, it was possible to get there for 2 USD with no crowds. Now it’s photographers paradise, and until recently, it was a dedicated photo tour. But due to the significant demand, it got more and more crowded, and negative comments appeared on the internet. Navajo decided to stop doing photography tours. So we checked how Antelope Canyon X is and prepared this photography guide to help you find the right alternative.
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How to get to Antelope Canyon X?
Canyon X is located within the same Antelope Canyon as the epic Upper & Lower Antelope Canyon. If you are going from Page, AZ, take the same direction as to Upper & Lower Antelope Canyons – road 98 to Kayenta. The entrance to Canyon X is located around 10 miles southeast of Page at milepost 307.8 (you will pass Lower Antelope Canyon on your left and Upper Antelope Canyon on your right).
You can enter the canyon only through the Taadidiin Tours. The Navajo Nation Park & Recreation Department mandates all hiking and photography tours must given a tour guide. The tour guide must be employed by a company authorized by the Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation Department. They will get you with the shuttle to the canyon entrance and tour will be guided – there is no self-guiding option available to visit this canyon.
Taadidiin Tours is open everyday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The typical tour lasts 1.5h. They offer you 3 options:
- Regular Hiking Tour (no bags, tripods allowed – you can take only camera, and they are very strict in this limitation)
- Prime Time Hiking Tour (11:00 AM – 12:20 PM) – (no bags, tripods allowed – you can take only camera, and they are very strict in this limitation)
- Photography Tour – it lasts 3 hours, and you are allowed to take a tripod and one camera bag
TRIPTIP: on the same day it is possible to see also Horseshoe Bend.
Where to Stay?
The most convenient lodging to visit Antelope Canyon X is in Page, AZ. There is an excellent selection of hotels in the town.
If you are traveling with RV, it might be a more convenient option to choose a campground or RV park. Unfortunately, options are limited here. If you need a campground, we can recommend Page Lake Powell Campground.
Best time to visit Antelope Canyon X?
As Taadidiin Tours suggests, the best time of the day is 11:00 AM – 12:20 PM. At this time, you have the best chance to see any light shafts in the canyons. But keep in mind that it might be only valid if you visit in the summer. The best time should be from May to late July. Sometimes in August and early September, but it depends on the weather.
It’s worth to know that actually, you will visit two parts of the canyon. One to the left there is very small and one to the right that is bigger and has the famous X sign visible. The name comes from this X in the canyon on your right. You can try to catch light beams in both parts.
How much does Canyon X cost?
Taadidiin Tours offers you 3 price options (prices as of Nov 2019):
- Regular Hiking Tour – 40 USD
- Prime Time Hiking Tour (11:00 AM – 12:20 PM) – 60 USD
- Photography Tour – 120 USD
Do you need the reservation?
Usually, it wasn’t necessary for most of the dates and out of peak hours. But after Navajo closed Lower and Upper Antelope Canyons, things can change. So we highly recommend making a reservation, especially during the high season. This way, you can make sure to go for a tour at a specific time (if you want to catch light shafts in the summer).
If you plan to visit this fantastic canyon on the weekend, July 4th, or Memorial Day, you must make a reservation to confirm your seats on tour. Please remember that same day bookings are not accepted, and all walk-ins are first come, first served. There is no waitlist.
What to bring with you?
You do not have to dress explicitly for the tour. The temperature in the canyon varies depending on the season. In the summer, it is about 5 degrees cooler than outside, and in the winter, it’s about 10 degrees colder inside. You can think about hiking boots – there is some steep path, but as of Fall 2019, it was in the improvement process.
You can come with kids, but pets are prohibited.
Do I need a tripod?
This is the money and time question. Of course, it’s better to bring your tripod if you are a real photographer and want great pictures. But with all those modern cameras, you can try to catch some fantastic images with a high iso option on your camera. All photos included in this article we have taken without tripods. Sometimes we had to increase ISO to 12800, but still, those pictures are not bad to publish on the internet. Of course, for posters or books, the quality is too weak, but it was not our plan. We wanted to prove that the tripod is optional.frame.
What camera and lenses are the best for Canyon X Photography?
If you plan to visit Antelope Canyon X without a tripod, bring one of the cameras that can photograph with high iso and low noise. A good example is Sony A7R III, Nikon Z7 or Canon EOS R. If you have one of the older cameras, do not worry, just bring it and try your best. Or go for a photo tour and take a tripod with you. In some places, it might be hard to put on the tripod, because it might be too narrow.
Regarding lenses, we recommend bringing something wide and bright (2.8 or lighter). The best examples are zooms like Sony 16-35, Nikon 14-24, or Canon 15-35. In case you have more standard zoom like 24-70 or fixed lens, you can just focus on details most of the time.
How is the Canyon?
First, you are taken with a 4WD shuttle bus to the canyon entrance. The ride takes about 10 minutes on the sandy road. Then from this place, you got the guide and have to hike about 40 feet (120 meters) to get to the bottom of the Antelope wash. From this point, the hike goes in two directions – a small one part on your left and the bigger one on your right.
The small canyon on the left is really small – only about 100 feet long. But in the end, it has a vast room and fantastic rock formations. In the summer, there is a chance to photograph a light shaft in this part.
The more significant part on your right is the most impressive one. To get to the entrance, you will hike about 500 feet through the wash, following your guide and passing other groups of people. They try to lead the groups in the opposite order to avoid crowds, but now after the closure of Antelope Canyons, it might got worse.
After entering this part of the Canyon X, it will narrow down and winding. You will notice different rock formations reminding those from Upper Antelope Canyon. But in our opinion, it is not as many opportunities to catch the light shafts as in the Upper. We spent about 25 minutes in this part of Canyon X and managed to take some pictures. Unfortunately, virtually all the time, you must wait for some passing people to take your dreamed frame.
Other posts about Arizona with tons of tips and exiting information you will find in our Arizona PhotoTravel Guide!