Antelope Canyon should be on everyone’s bucket list! We visited for the first time in 2016 and it was an experience we’ll never forget and one we can’t wait to do again!
Here are a few tips for you, as you prepare to check this adventure off your “Bucket List.”
We left the Phoenix area at about 6:30pm. It’s a 4ish hour drive, so we arrived at about 10:45. My first tip…Don’t leave this late in the day. You’ll drive up the I17 and then once you hit Flagstaff you’ll head north on the 89. The last 90 minutes of the drive are extremely desolate. It’s a two lane road and a lot of nothing and pitch black sky around you. It was a little bit creepy and there was literally nothing but us and an occassional semi-truck on the road. You’ll want to plan to leave the Phoenix area to get to Page before dusk.
We stayed at the Courtyard. I used to work for Marriott (my first job out of college), so whenever I travel to unfamiliar places I tend to pick a Marriott Hotel…it’s my comfort zone. Click Here For Courtyard Website.
There are two places to tour – Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. The tour entrances are across the road from one another, so some people do both tours in one day. We just did one tour – Lower Antelope Canyon. The guides told us that Lower Antelope is more narrow at the top, but wider at the bottom and Upper Antelope is wider at the top and more narrow at the bottom, so Lower Antelope has been photography opportunities and is less claustrophobic.
Booking The Tour
This is an important tip! You MUST book your reservation for a tour in advance. If you don’t book a reservation, there is a chance you could show up and they are sold out and you can’t get in on a tour. You’d be so disappointed to drive all that way and not be able to get on a tour. So, book in advance. There are several tour operators and when I went to book our reservation, most of them were sold out, but I was able to book a reservation on Ken’s Tour – Click Here For Ken’s Tour Website. Depending on what site you visit, tours are between $20 – $169 per person. We did the $20 tour and it was great. I was worried I was getting the “cheap” bad tour, but figured any tour is better than no tour, so I went for it. It was fantastic! I have no idea if other tours were better or worse, but I loved our tour and would use the same tour operator. When you book your reservation, you don’t pay for it on-line. You pay for the tour when you arrive for your tour and they take cash, so bring cash to pay for your tickets. You’ll also have to pay $8 per person to enter the parking lot area and then you present the parking ticket to the tour operator, so it’s basically $28 per person cash that you’ll need to have on hand.
If you’re a photographer and you want to make your tour more focused on photography, then you can also book a Photography Tour. Those tours are generally longer and you spend more focused time in specific locations. We ran into a few tours along our journey through the canyon. You can book the tour through the same Tour Operators.
Cash is king. They don’t take credit cards. You’ll want to take water and a camera. You may also want a back-up battery for your camera and a snack.
You’re not really hiking, so I wouldn’t wear hiking boots. It’s more like a walk, but on uneven surfaces, so wear shoes with a good sole. You’ll be walking on dirt, sand, rock, stairs, ladders, so just a good shoe for all terrain. I wore workout pants and a t-shirt and Jake wore shorts and a t-shirt. Your attire really depends on what time of year you visit.
We went in October, so the weather was perfection. It was warm, but not hot. The tour guides told us that in the summer they usually have about 20 people collapse per day from the heat. I would recommend fall and spring.
We were on the tour for just over 2 hours. When your tour starts, you walk about 10 minutes on a fairly flat area and then you wait in line to start the descent down into the Canyon. You can’t really see what you’re getting into, so I was a little nervous while we waited. They asked if we were afraid of heights or clausterphobic, so that made me even more nervous. Then we got to the front of the line and I saw the staircase going down and thought “I got this.” About half way down it gets steeper and you have to turn around and treat the stairs like a ladder and go down. I had a good death grip on the staircase, but it was fine. Another girl on the tour was nervous and we hi-fived when we made it down.
Time of Day
Our tour was straight up in the middle of the day, which as it turns out is the worst time to go because you don’t see the Sunbeams coming through as much as you would in the earlier or later parts of the day. The good news is that if we saw the Canyon in the worst part of the day, it was still pretty awesome! The picture to the left shows a little bit of the sunbeam coming through.
The Guides are very helpful with helping to set your camera. Keep in mind that we didn’t edit ANY of our photos. NO FILTERS! The photography is amazing and we just used our iPhones. Obviously your pictures could be even more stunning with a fabulous camera!
Other Nearby Sites to Visit
While you’re there, you can also check out Lake Powell! We took in a quick view of it from a Scenic Lookout area. It was just across the road from the Courtyard Hotel. There is a parking lot across from Denny’s and then it’s a short walk down to the lookout. If you had time you could also enjoy a boat ride!
My biggest regret is that we didn’t have more time to see Horseshoe Bend. The turn-off to hike to Horseshoe Bend is about 10 minutes down the 89 from the Antelope Canyon turn-off and it’s on the way back home. Since our night before we had been pretty freaked out by the dark, desolate drive, we wanted to head out and get to Flagstaff before dusk, so we didn’t take the time to see Horseshoe. We will definitely return soon to see it! There is a parking lot at the turn-off from 89 and then you hike about 30 minutes to see Horseshoe and then 30 minutes back. We did park and walked up to the top of the hill, but then realized by the time we went all the way in and back it would get us back to Flagstaff pretty late. As it was, we were back in Flagstaff for sunset. So, we’ll be returning to Page soon to check-out Horseshoe Bend.
I had also thought we’d get to sneak a peak of the Grand Canyon, but it was another detour we didn’t have time for. Next time I’d plan my itinerary better and make the time to see the Grand Canyon too. There is a turn-off from the 89 and Maps said it was about a 45 minute drive.
We did pull off and drive about 5 minutes to catch a glimpse of Sunset Crater. The turn-off is just a few minutes north of Flagstaff. I had never seen it before and it was a surprise to see. I had no idea it was there!
I had lofty goals for the one day trip. This is another place I was hoping to visit, but not enough time. Next time! This is just a bit east of Flagstaff of the I40. I wish we had been able to visit!
From start to finish, we were gone 28 hours! Next time we’ll make it a two day trip and see more sights! However, if you just have a day to get away, seeing Antelope Canyon is a fantastic destination!
We hope you will have the opportunity to visit this Amazing Destination! This is an awesome quick road trip! If you have other questions, please contact me 480-266-8785 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
Lower Antelope Canyon Tour Pictures