Julie United States 65 Comments

With its glowing, red canyon walls and beams of light shining through the dusty air, Antelope Canyon is a breathtaking destination. Two different slot canyons make up Antelope Canyon and both offer very different experiences. If you can only visit one, how do you decide which one?

Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon?

Antelope Canyon is located in Page, Arizona. Both slot canyons are located on Navajo lands and can only be visited on a tour.

Tim and I toured both canyons on the same day in early May 2017. We had a great experience at both of them and we each had our favorite. Tim loved Lower Antelope Canyon; my favorite was Upper Antelope Canyon.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of both canyons.

Upper Antelope Canyon

When people refer to Antelope Canyon, they are usually referring to Upper Antelope Canyon. This is the more popular of the two slot canyons. With its light beams, falling sands, and very high canyon walls, this is the more photogenic of the two canyons.

Antelope Canyon Photography

Upper Antelope Canyon is shaped like an upside-down “V,” narrow at the top and wide at the base. This canyon is wider at the bottom than Lower Antelope Canyon, so it feels less claustrophobic and it’s easier to walk through. The narrow canyon walls at the top are what helps create the light beams when the sun is at the right angle. These high, narrow walls also makes the upper canyon darker and feel cooler.

Click here to learn more about Upper Antelope Canyon.

The Good

It’s More Photogenic

Both canyons are stunning, but when you see photos of Antelope Canyon, they are usually of Upper Antelope Canyon. If you want photos of the light beams, you want to visit the upper canyon midday, preferably between 10:30 am and 1 pm.

Falling Sand

Antelope Canyon Too

Canyon Walls

The Bad

It’s More Expensive

A general tour costs $68 – $78 for the Upper canyon versus $40 for the lower Canyon.

Tours Sell Out Months in Advance

Fewer tours are offered in Upper Antelope Canyon, which means that tours sell out months in advance. If you want to visit the upper canyon during the magical hours between 10:30 and 1 pm, you should plan to make your reservation as much as 6 months in advance. Yes, it’s that popular now.

It’s Darker

Because of the narrow canyon walls at the top, the upper canyon is darker than the lower canyon. This makes hand held photography more difficult. Upper Antelope Canyon is brightest between 10 am and 1 pm. During my 3 hour photography tour (which started at 1 pm), the canyon got noticeably darker as the afternoon stretched on.

Antelope Canyon Heart

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like a “V.” It is very narrow at the bottom and wide open at the top, making the lower canyon feel brighter and warmer than the upper canyon.

Click here to learn more about Lower Antelope Canyon.

Lower Antelope Canyon

The Good

It’s More Fun

Of the two canyons, many people agree that Lower Antelope Canyon is more fun, with narrow passageways to squeeze through and ladders to climb. The narrow walls at the bottom, twisting and turning their way through the canyon, are fun to walk through, sometimes even slide through.

Tim in Antelope Canyon

Exploring Antelope Canyon

Antelope Slot Canyon

This is the Canyon with Ladders

This is also the canyon famous for its ladders. You will descend down into the canyon on a series of ladders and as you make your journey through the canyon, you will climb several more. People either love them or hate them. We loved them.

Antelope Canyon Ladder

It’s Less Likely to Sell Out

With tours running every 30 minutes between the hours of 8 am to 4 pm, spots should be available sometime during the day, even in the busier summer months. However, in the past year, the popularity of these canyons has skyrocketed. I would recommend booking your tour severall months in advance just in case it does sell out.

The Bad

It’s Getting More Crowded

If you read other, older blog articles, they may tell you to visit Lower Antelope Canyon because it is less crowded. This was not true in our case. We visited both canyons on the same day and both had identical crowd levels.

Crowds at Antelope Canyon

In fact, Lower Antelope Canyon was so popular in 2017 that they experienced wait times of 1 to 3 hours just to enter the canyon. And that was even if you had a reserved time slot!

Since 2018, both Ken’s Tours and Dixie Ellis’ Tours offer fewer tours per day to cut down on waiting times to enter the lower canyon. They anticipate waiting times of no longer than 30 minutes to enter the canyon (as opposed to 1 to 3 hours) for peak season. This also means that fewer tours are offered daily. Now it is more important then ever to book your tour in advance.

So, Which One Do You Choose?

If you are looking for a fun experience and like the idea of exploring a narrow canyon, then Lower Antelope Canyon gets our vote. To avoid the worst of the crowds, visit this canyon early or later in the day, if you don’t mind missing out on the ideal lighting.

For photographers I recommend Upper Antelope Canyon. Personally, I found the upper canyon to have more of a “wow” factor than the lower canyon. And if you want to take a photographic tour, check out Adventurous Antelope Slot Canyons.

If you want to visit both canyons, I recommend visiting Upper Antelope Canyon at 10:30 am (best chance to see those light beams but make sure you book your tickets well in advance!) and Lower Antelope Canyon at 1:30 pm (even with a reservation, you might have to wait 30 minutes or longer to enter Lower Antelope Canyon midday when crowds are at their biggest).  

If you want to avoid the crowds at Lower Antelope Canyon, consider booking one of the last tours of the day (although you will be sacrificing the better lighting conditions).

Whichever canyon you choose, expect large crowds of people, especially midday. The tour groups get ushered through the canyon rather quickly, making it feel like a rushed experience.

UPDATE: The popularity of these canyons has skyrocketed in recent years. To avoid disappointment, make your reservations far in advance (at a bare minimum, four months in advance, but up to six months in advance during the summer season). People have been writing in that May time slots are selling out in early February!


Canyon X

Several of our readers have let us know about a third slot canyon called Canyon X. If you are having trouble getting a time slot at upper or lower Antelope Canyon, if you want to take a photographic tour, or if you just want to visit a less crowded canyon, take a look at Canyon X. We have no personal experience but I think this one is worth a consideration, since upper and lower Antelope Canyons have become so popular and overcrowded. 

Click here to learn more about Canyon X.  

For more information about Canyon X, scroll down to the comment section and read Beth Wulf’s comments about what it is like to tour Canyon X. Thanks Beth!

If you have been to Canyon X and would like to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below. It would help our future readers! 🙂


Important Links:

To see more of Upper Antelope Canyon, click here.

To see more of Lower Antelope Canyon, click here.

We used Antelope Slot Canyon Tours for our tour of the Upper canyon.

We used Ken’s Tours for our tour of the Lower canyon.

You can also purchase entrance tickets through GetYourGuide to Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, or Canyon X. I recommend doing this if tours are already booked for your dates of travel…you might be able to still get an entrance ticket from this tour provider.

Tours of Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon makes a nice day trip destination from Las Vegas, Flagstaff, or Sedona. It’s a long day but with these tours, you can sit back and relax during the drive. Plus, your tickets are included on these tours.

 


So, which canyon will you choose? If you have visited Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon, which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Arizona:

Read more about the USA in our United States Travel Guide.

You Might Also Like:

 
Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon

 

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Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon

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Comments 65

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      No, it’s not that narrow. If I remember correctly, the narrowest sections were about 3 feet wide (roughly). Cheers, Julie

  1. Wonderful review! It’s a common question when we plan to visit Canyon. But, you described, very nicely. It seems to me, upper is easier than lower. Excellent post to help make an ideal trip plan!

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  2. I think preference is a matter of opinion. You forgot to mention one of the bad things about Upper Antelope is the sheer number of people with you (inverted V), where you walk to the end and turn around and back back encountering group after group of people. Lower Antelope (V shaped) is a single file walk, go down one side and come out another side, never having to run into anyone. I also disagree that Upper is prettier. Clearly you missed all the “secrets” of the space which the locals told us about. Plus you also forgot to impart some history. Lower Antelope is the real Antelope canyons that Navajos still run. There is a way to escape the canyons when it rains or floods. Upper Antelope was opened when some white businessmen wanted to lease space from the Navajos in the lower canyons and were denied. So they went to another part of the Page and formed Upper Antelope. Support the Navajos! Go Lower Antelope Canyon.

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  3. Hello! This is very helpful! We are deciding between the upper and lower canyon with a 21 month old (very mobile but I babywear as well) and 2 able bodied elderly parents. Is the upper easier to maneuver?

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      Yes, Upper is easier to maneuver because you do not have the ladders and the narrow spaces. However, the lower canyon is really not that difficult. I wouldn’t think you would have a problem doing either of them. Cheers, Julie

  4. I visited lower canyon a few years ago and I was able to walk up to the window, buy a ticket for ~$20 and have a local guide give a group tour. They were not part of Ken’s tours or any other tour company. Is this not the same anymore? I’m planning on visiting again soon and it sounds like only 2 companies offer lower canyon tours for ~$50 with reservations being strongly suggested. Is this accurate?

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      Yes, it’s a lot different now. Last summer people were waiting hours to get into Lower Antelope Canyon, and they had a reservation! It seems like it’s so popular that every 6 months something changes with the ticketing/reservation process. I do my best to keep this post updated but nowadays, it’s also a good idea to double check this info with the tour companies. And yes, a reservation is strongly suggested. Cheers, Julie

  5. This post was so extremely helpful! It gave us all of the information we needed to know—thank you!

    We booked through Ken’s tours which was o.k. They just yelled at us to keep moving the whole time, so photo taking is limited if you wanted someone to take your pic. I understand they’re busy and have other tours, but man, just 20 seconds in a corner would be all that it would take! Our guide was quirky but just kept barking at us. Needless to say all of the photos I took of my husband are blurry. ?

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  6. My husband and I have a tour for the upper canyons at 8:30 in May. The lower canyon was sold out already. I’m wondering if we will be missing a lot by only doing one canyon (upper) or if we should revamp our trip? I have seen photos of both and they look beautiful, I’m just concerned that it won’t be as good as the lower canyon? Also, is that morning time still okay for photos??

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      It’s worth it to just see one of the canyons. The Upper was my favorite and the Lower was Tim’s favorite. 8:30 is early…there is a chance that it will be a bit dark for photography. It may be similar to the lighting I had around 3 pm when I was in the canyon. Check out this post on the upper canyon if you haven’t seen it yet. However, I don’t know for sure, since I have not been there at that time. You could call your tour company and see what they say. Cheers, Julie

  7. After reading your blog posts, we visited the Upper and Lower on the same day. Thanks for the suggestion! We were very impressed by both and a bit surprised at how different the two canyons were. We learned quickly that you needed to stick very close to the guide for the whole tour. Not only do they point out shapes that resemble animals or people but they’ll also take your camera (or iPhone in our case) and snap photos for you. If we had to choose one, we would pick Lower because it was narrower and felt more like an adventure.

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    2. Hello.

      Which tour did you use I would like to do the upper and the lower and horseshoe bend in the same day.

      thanks Kim

  8. Hi Julie,

    Thank you so much for detailed great review, it is very helpful. We are planning to visit only lower AC on April first week. Wondering which time would be the best for photogrphy? We will be driving from Sedona in the morning to Page. what are the scenic points on the way? How much time should we allocate ?

    If we were to at 3pm – would that be still good for photos?

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      Midday is the best time for photos. By 3 pm, Upper Antelope Canyon is getting dark and photography can be challenging (but beautiful). You may be better off visiting Lower AC because it is wider and so well lit. From Sedona, you will drive right past the Grand Canyon. Google “desert view viewpoint” and see if this interests you. It doesn’t add too much driving and you can get a quick view of the Grand Canyon. There is also Horseshoe Bend, located in Page. Cheers, Julie

  9. Hi,

    Thanks for all the wonderful information. My family and I are planning to visit either the upper or lower AC in late July. Just wondering what your thoughts are about taking a 3 year old and a 1 year old (in a carrier ) on a tour? Would this be possible/esay etc. Are the ladders/stairs very steep? Thanks

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      I recommend you contact the tour companies. They did not allow backpacks so I do not know if they will allow carriers. There are some steep ladders. Take a look at our Lower Antelope Canyon post to see them (some are long and some are short). Cheers, Julie

    2. Hi Lichna!

      We are planning to also to visit either the upper or lower AC. Do you have some answers regarding the possibility to do this tour with a toddler in a carrier? Thanks,

      Jeny

    3. DO NOT TAKE A BABY VERY SCARY AND STEEP STAIRS. TOO DANGEROUS FOR SMALL CHILDREN. ***REMEMBER PEOPLE IF YOU ARE TRYING TO GO AT 3 PM IM ARIZONA , THAT IS THE HOTTEST PART OF THE DAY AND THE LITTLE TRECK DOWN TO THE CANYON WAS HARD FOR ME AT 8:30 AM. I GOT WONDERFUL PICTURES IN THE MORNING , DON’T KNOW HOW THEY COULD GET ANY BETTER. AS FAR AS RESERVATIONS GO , WE HAD NONE ON 06/10 FOR 2 PEOPLE AND GOT RIGHT IN, NO WAIT. IT IS VERY BUSY WITH TOURS COMING FROM VEGAS THOUGH, GET THERE EARLY. IF YOU ARE GOING TO HORSESHOE BEND THAT HIKE IS A LOT HARDER AND THEY ARE STARTING TO BUILD A FENCE BECAUSE ALL THE CRAZIES THAT HAVE DIED TRYING TO GET A SELFIE ON THE EDGE AND FALL 800 FEET. I WAS ONE OF THE LAST LUCKY ONES TO GET PICS W/O THE FENCE.

  10. We are thinking of going there at the end of May, but found the tickets for Upper Canyon were almost all gone. So we may just go to visit the Lower Canyon, what would be the best time slot if we get to choose?

    Also, any advice as to what to prepare for this trip and what to be careful about during the tour?

    Thanks in advance!

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      Author

      Wow…tickets for May are almost gone?! That’s crazy. Midday is the best time for lighting, so between 10:30 am and 1 pm would be ideal. Everyone in your group should bring a camera or smartphone to take photos. And take a ton of photos…you can always delete them later. Ask your guide for recommendations on what to take photos of. They are good about knowing the best angles and the best shots. Take photos looking straight ahead into the canyon but also take photos looking up. Sometimes, the rock formations over your head look wild. Linger at the back of your group. You can take photos of the canyon people-free if you don’t mind the guides scolding you to keep moving. It’s very safe to visit. The ladders are pretty easy to climb. Just enjoy the experience. It feels a little rushed, but it still was fun for us. And then go watch the sunset at Horseshoe Bend in the evening. Cheers, Julie

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  11. Hello! Big thanks on writing this amazing article- it’s been very helpful! My family is planning to come out to Antelope Canyon on June 3rd, 2018 for the day with reservations for the Upper Antelope Canyon tour 1 hour with Navajo tours at 10 am and the Lower Antelope Canyon tours with Ken at 8 am right now. Also, we have planned a 1/2 day float trip at Glen canyon that day at 1 pm. Do you think this all is possible? If not, which canyon should I cancel Upper or Lower? We are from Florida and appreciate any advice? Oh, we will be driving up early that morning from Grand Canyon south rim… thanks!

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      I’m glad we could help! I think your timing will work out. The only thing that concerns me is the amount of time between Lower and Upper Canyon. As long as your Lower AC tour starts before 8:30 am you should be fine. And that early in the morning I would be shocked if there’s a wait to enter Lower AC. So yes, I think you’ll be fine. If, for some reason, there’s a line to get into Lower AC, you will have to decide if you take the chance and risk showing up late at Upper AC later. I’d keep your schedule as it is. Enjoy! It’s such a cool place! Cheers, Julie

  12. Hi and Thanks for all the great info. Question…we are planning to do both tours in the same day, beginning of April. Thinking of taking Upper Canyon at 10:30 by A.C. Slot Tours. Then we’d like Ken’s Tours in the afternoon. What time do you think would be safe to book that? Do they both leave from the same spot or do we need to drive from one to the other? Must we bring lunch in with us? Thanks in advance!

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      If you are taking the scenic tour in Upper Antelope Canyon, the entire tour takes about an hour and a half. You will be finished at noon, ending in the town of Page. You could grab a quick bite to eat here and head right over to Lower Antelope Canyon. Lower Antelope Canyon is located about 10 – 15 minutes outside of town, so you will have to drive here. You check in at the office and then simply walk into the slot canyon on your scheduled time slot. You should eat lunch in between visits. I doubt they let you bring food into Lower Antelope Canyon. At the office of Lower AC, there is a snack bar, if I remember correctly.

      If you are doing the 10:30 scenic tour in Upper Antelope Canyon, the earliest I’d schedule the Lower tour is 1:30 pm (time to travel, grab a bite to eat, and you need to be checked in 30 minutes prior to your time slot). To be on the safe side, schedule your tour for 2 pm.

      If you are doing a 10:30 photographic tour in Upper AC, this takes about 3 hours. The earliest I’d schedule the Lower tour is 3:30 pm.

      Cheers, Julie

  13. Someone on another forum is suggesting that one can forego a tour and just pay the $8 fee and some (but less than $40) additional money to someone on the reservation to just drive you to the canyon entrance so you can walk in yourself. I don’t trust this…do you know what they’re talking about?

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      Are you referring to Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon? The visit to Lower Antelope Canyon is very regulated and you are only allowed near the entrance and in the canyon with a guide. Upper is different…your tour operator drives you about a mile to the canyon and then you enter with a guide. From everything I know, you must enter both canyons with a guide. Doing this without a guide is illegal, as far as I know. I wouldn’t risk it. Cheers, Julie

  14. Great write up thanks for putting together. My fiancé and I are headed there in a month and were trying to figure out if we should do upper vs lower and photo tour vs no and your article helped us a lot.

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  15. Hi Julie,
    Thank you so much for your review – it’s the most helpful information on Antelope Canyon on the internet. I am interested in a Photography Tour – which tour company did you use and recommend.
    April

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      Hello April. Upper Antelope Canyon is your only chance for a photography tour between March 1 and November 1. If you are visiting outside of these dates, you can take a photography tour of Lower Antelope Canyon (unless they changed things recently). I would recommend the Upper Canyon just because the Lower Canyon seemed so crowded while we were there and the people on the photography tours still had the regular tour groups in their photos (they literally stopped summertime photography tours in Lower AC right after our visit).

      We used Antelope Canyon Slot Tours and had a great experience. If you haven’t seen it, check out our post about Upper Antelope Canyon where we give a little more information about the tours. There are other companies offering tours to Upper Antelope Canyon, but Antelope Slot Canyon tours were #1 rated on Trip Advisor and they get great reviews.

      Cheers, Julie

  16. I am planning to visit the antelope canyon this October 30th, so what time you think is better to go to both canyons? Do you think this is a good date to visit it?

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      If you want to see the light beams at Upper Antelope Canyon, take a morning tour, around 10:30 am. Then go to Lower Antelope Canyon in the afternoon. In October, the sun will be lower in the sky, so there is a chance that the canyons won’t be as well lit as they would be during the summer months, I’m assuming. However, there should be less crowds and pleasant temperatures, so all around it may be a nicer experience. To get more accurate information about how the lighting is in October, you could call or email the tour companies. Sorry I can’t fully answer that part of your question. Cheers, Julie

  17. u mentioned that u went to upper n lower antelope on the same day. i wanted to do the same. which company shall i do?

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      There are different companies for each of the canyons. We used Ken’s Tours for Lower Antelope Canyon and Antelope Slot Canyon Tours for Upper Antelope Canyon. We were very happy with our experience with each of these companies. I recommend booking your tickets online in advance (at least 2-4 weeks in advance) to make sure you get the time slots you want. Cheers, Julie

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