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Upper Antelope Canyon Tour

Dreaming of catching those world-famous rays of sunshine among the orange rocks? Are you planning an Upper Antelope Canyon Tour near Page, Arizona? Then check out our tips and photos of this incredible slot canyon of the Southwest. We share our experiences on which Navajo tour is the best and how to prepare for this slot canyon adventure. On the Upper Antelope Canyon Tour, you’ll be guided through the iconic sandstone walls that have been sculpted by water and wind over the years.

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Upper Atelope Canyon Tour

What is Antelope Canyon?

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, a tiny canyon formed when water seeps into crevices in the bedrock. Slot canyons are most commonly found in desert areas. They are the result of many millennia of extreme weather conditions. Antelope Canyon was formed over thousands of years by flash floods from the stream flowing through it, which eroded the rock face of Navajo sandstone before flowing into the Colorado River and now Lake Powell. During long droughts, windblown sand polished the narrow slot walls into a streaked, swirling finish. Antelope Canyon is famous for its ever-changing light shows on the walls and the flowing sand falls that plunge into the depths of the slot canyon.

Navajo Antelope Canyon is located in the American Southwest, on Navajo land east of Lechee, Arizona. It includes two separate scenic slot canyon sections referred to as Upper Antelope Canyon (aka The Crack), and Lower Antelope Canyon (aka The Corkscrew). Both most popular Navajo slot canyons can be visited with a guide.

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means “the place where the water flows through the slot canyon rocks”. The only way to see this miracle of nature is with a licensed guided tour. Reservations are required.

Why is Upper Antelope Canyon so unique?

Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular of the two slot canyons that make up Antelope Canyon. It is also undoubtedly the most visited slot canyon in the American Southwest and the most photographed in the world. But why is Upper Antelope Canyon so unique? Tourists most frequently visit the Upper Antelope Canyon because the entrance and entire canyon’s length are at ground level, so there is no climbing.

But the main reason for its popularity is because the rays of direct sunlight beaming down from the openings at the top of the canyon are much more frequent. Light beams in Upper Antelope Canyon are breathtaking. The rays occur most often in the summer because the sun has to be high in the sky for them to happen. The glow of light appears in the canyon on March 20 and disappears on October 7. This slot canyon tour was one of the best we did.

Upper Antelope Canyon Tour
Upper Antelope Canyon Tour

How tall is Upper Antelope Canyon?

Navajo Antelope Canyon is located at an elevation of 4,000 feet (1,219 m). The walls of the Upper Antelope Canyon can rise as much as 120 feet (37 m) above the normally dry streambed. The length of the Upper Antelope Canyon is about 660 feet (200 m).

How was Antelope Canyon formed?

Antelope Canyon was formed by the erosion of the Navajo Sandstone as a result of flash flooding and other subsurface processes. Rainwater, especially during the monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up velocity and sand as it flows into the narrow passages. Over time, the passages eroded, deepening the corridors and smoothing the hard edges to form the characteristic “flowing” shapes.

Where is Upper Antelope Canyon?

Upper Antelope Canyon is located in Arizona, near Page. It is only 4.5 miles from Page, making it the best place to stay. Important to know, that it is located on land owned by the Navajo Nation – more specifically, the Bengay family, which has long been a member of the Navajo community. It is located on the south shore of Lake Powell. Other famous attractions in the area include Lower Antelope Canyon, Antelope Canyon X, and the fabulous Horseshoe Bend.

Upper Antelope Canyon Tour
Upper Antelope Canyon Tour

Can you visit Upper Antelope Canyon on your own?

No. Antelope Canyon is protected by Navajo Parks and Recreation, and only authorized Navajo tour companies may take visitors into the Lower or Upper Canyon. You cannot go alone. You must be with an authorized tour company, and you must have a reservation. As the place is trendy, it is worth booking your trip many months in advance. Also, due to COVID-19 reservations are required.

Which Upper Antelope Canyon Tour is worth booking?

We have booked this tour and can definitely recommend it. Because it was one of the most delightful tours of the slot canyons. We’ve been to several slot canyons, and we have a comparison. During our Upper Antelope Canyon tour, the light was amazing. If you can, be sure to choose the trip which starts around noon, at 11 or 11:30 am as we did. Then you have the best chance of spectacular light rays. The Upper Antelope Canyon Tour is worth your money because the location is fantastic, and the photo opportunities are endless. The spectacle of rays of light on rusty orange rocks is breathtaking. We were overwhelmed by the beauty of nature in the Upper Antelope Canyon. Book this tour here.

Upper Antelope Canyon Tour
Upper Antelope Canyon Tour

Is it possible to take Photography Tour in Antelope Canyon?

It’s impossible right now. We were lucky enough to be there twice. It was possible to book a special photography tour during our first visit. And it was possible to use a tripod during Upper Antelope Canyon Tour. Photography in the slot canyons is difficult because of the large exposure area created by light reflecting off the canyon walls. There was a special “photographer’s tour” of Upper Antelope Canyon for several years. But these tours were discontinued in late 2019 to improve the experience for the smaller number of participants on the available tours.

So now you can only take regular tours. However, if you book a tour around noon, as we did, and during a peak season, it is possible to see this unique spectacle of nature with rays in the canyon. What’s more, you don’t need a tripod if you have a bright lens and hit the canyon at the right time with intense light. Only hand-held photography is allowed these days. With the new One-Way system, there is a bit more room inside the canyon, no more two-way traffic, so you have great photos opportunities.

There are also no photography tours to take your tripod in Lower Antelope Canyon. The only photo tour option (when you can take a tripod) is currently available in Antelope Canyon X. Here, we go into the details. Here you can book Antelope Canyon X Ticket with Upgrade Option to Photo Tour.

Which is easier Upper Antelope Canyon Tour or Lower Antelope Canyon Tour?

The Upper Antelope Canyon tour is much easier. Therefore, it is also the best choice if you are traveling with children or the elderly. There is a short and relatively easy hike to this slot canyon. Inside Upper Antelope Canyon, there are no ladders or stairs – everything is at ground level. Throughout your time in the canyon, you will be walking on softer sand in some areas and firmer in others. To get back to the parking lot, you’ll have to do a 20-minute walk on sandy trails with steep metal stairs and walkways. Lower Antelope Canyon Tour is a little more challenging; there are stairs to climb.

The duration of the Upper Antelope Canyon tour is 1 hour 30 minutes. There is plenty of time for everyone to take photos on this Upper Antelope Canyon tour and also enough time for you to experience the canyon. Check-in time is at least 30 minutes prior to tour time. But check the details on your reservations!

Navajo slot canyon

What to pack for Upper Antelope Canyon Tour?

Not too much. You cannot take a tripod, monopod, any large bag (even a large handbag), or a large backpack into the canyon slot. The canyon is very narrow, and it is forbidden to take large backpacks or bags. The limit is one bag/backpack per group/family. Only hand-held photography is allowed these days. So pack a bottle of water (the trip is short), something warmer just in case because the slot canyon is shadowed and chiller than the weather on the surface. Wear comfortable shoes.

So remember, and do not bring: large bag/backpack, selfie sticks, tripods, monopodes, strollers, drones, pets, or service animals.

How to get to Upper Antelope Canyon?

How far is Upper Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas?

The fastest way from Las Vegas is via I-15 N and US-89 S. It’s about 4 hr 30 minutes driving and 276 miles. If you are going from LV, check our detailed 3 Days Las Vegas Itinerary. From Las Vegas, you also have a lot of organized licensed tours to all the Navajo slot canyons. What’s more, there are often combined with other must-see attractions in the area. So it’s worth considering them if you have little time for your road trip.

How far is Upper Antelope Canyon from Flagstaff?

From Flagstaff, which is a perfect place as a base to explore the South Rim of Grand Canyon, it’s only 129 miles to Antelope Canyon. Take US-89 N. Driving time is 2 hours 10 minutes.

How far is Upper Antelope Canyon from Sedona?

From Sedona are 2 hr 45 min driving and 159 miles via US-89 N. If you are going from Sedona, please look at our post about the best hikes in Sedona.

Where to stay when visiting Upper Antelope Canyon?

The best place to stay is Page. Below you can check the best Deals Finder. If you plan to see more amazing places in the Page area, please check our detailed and ready-to-go Arizona Road Trip Itinerary and Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary.



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Navajo slot canyon
Navajo slot canyon

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22 Comments

  1. I can see why this particular slot canyon is particularly popular. The rays of sunlight creat such an ethereal beauty in photographs. It’s great to know that this beautiful site is protected by the locals and only approved tours are allowed to visit – I imagine that must keep the numbers of guests down and make the experience more enjoyable overall.

  2. We visited Upper Antelope Canyon couple years ago and it was breathtaking. A bucket list item for sure. The sun beam was definitely the best part of it. We were little bit taken back how crowded it really was but it was still worth going. We used company called Navajo Tours.

  3. I would choose to visit the upper canyon because I can simply walk in! Great to know the light rays are best around noon March 20 through October 7. I also like that the tours are one way so there are less people blocking the view. Would love to do this

  4. This is by far, one of the best and clearest blog posts on the Antelope canyon tour. To be honest, for someone like me, who hasn’t been to either, this post shared the differences, advantages and suggestions clearly. Also, such amazing tips on how to book, what to expect on a tour and photography suggestions to capture that beam of light. Also, it was good to read about the slot canyons and what makes them unique. Loved the entire write-up.

  5. I literally sighed as I read this post. We did not think to book ahead to do an Antelope Canyon tour when we visited. And of course, when we got there nothing was available. I had wondered about the different between the upper and lower canyons. I would not want to miss those rays of sunlight. But I might book both tours. Good tip to do the upper tour around noon time. We will go back to do this!

  6. Oh my goodness! That looks like such a unique place to visit. I love how the light comes through. It’s so ethereal and lovely against the red rocks. I’d love to see it in person!

  7. Your pictures of Antelope Canyon are really amazing! We visited 12 years ago but we didn’t know this place is famous. At least not to people from outside of the U.S. yet. So, we were lucky to get a space in the afternoon. And of course, I didn’t take beautiful pictures like yours, but we enjoyed the tour. Like you said, Upper Antelope Canyon is good for family with children. Our son who was four at the time was more interested in playing on the red sand. lol.

  8. This is a photographer’s paradise! I’ve always wanted to go but didn’t realize it was on Navajo land or that you could only visit with a licensed tour. Loved your photos — so inspiring!

  9. What I love about Upper Canyon is the fact that the site is well protected with limits on who can visit. Helps I guess in controlling the influx of visitors leading to better maintenace. Truly this canyon is unique as reflected in the pictures with the sunlight creating such a magical view. Would certainly love to be there sometime.

  10. Arizona is on my bucket list and so is Antelope Canyon. There was so much great information in this post for those of us who haven’t been. I would have never thought about the size of backpack and I definitely didn’t know that you needed to go with a guided tour. Thanks for this information. It will definitely be useful when I visit.

  11. Antelope Canyon is waayyyyyy high up on my bucket list. This place is beyond beautiful. Thank you for all of the info, can’t wait to start planning our trip!

  12. I’ve seen this canyon on social media and it looks awesome! I would definitely love to explore it! This is a part of the country that I feel like I’ve explored a bit less

  13. It is so absolutely stunning – I would love to visit and be able to admire the colors of the canyon. Great guide with so much useful information. It is unfortunate to hear that they do not have special photography tours anymore, however, good to know that visiting at the right time would still allow for some great photos to be taken! Already on my list of places that I wish to visit!

  14. With so much to see and do in this country, I’m not sure I’ll ever see the canyon in person, but I’m thankful to at least experience it through your post and fantastic photography.

  15. I was fortunate enough to tour both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon a few years ago. They are both stunning! Arizona has so much to see and do. I loved my road trip up the state and the slot canyons were definitely a huge highlight!

  16. You really captured the essence of the canyon in your photos. It is amazing how the sun’s rays burst through. It looks like part of some ancient ritual.

  17. I like the name of this canyon, Antelope! To be honest, I loved those pictures of the light beaming from the top. Such a stunning sight. I always love natural places which are one of a kind. I’m glad I found this blog. Thanks for sharing.

  18. The Upper Antelope Canyon looks spectacular. Of cours I have seen pictures of it, but was not aware that it is on Navajo land and that you have to go with a tour. I guess it makes sense though. Good to know that the tours became very popular and that you have to make reservations well in advance.

  19. This looks absolutely magical. Obviously, it’s also due to your fantastic photography skills – the way you captured those rays of light is just genius. However, the formation reminds me a little of the gorge on Gran Canaria where I broke my leg last summer. Hence, at this moment, I enjoy rather looking at those rocks on pix than experiencing them myself 😉

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