The pictures on Instagram are gorgeous but does it really look like that in person? And if it’s so popular, are there tons of people in the canyon, making it damn near impossible to have an enjoyable time, or even get a good solo picture? Let’s break it down:
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located on Navajo land in Page, Arizona. It is definitely the most famous slot canyon, but by no means the only slot canyon (more on that later). Antelope Canyon has two different sections: Lower and Upper. The only way to visit either of these canyons is with a tour group. Don’t dismay, though! All of the tour companies are run by Native Americans who really care about preserving the canyon and will ensure that you have a safe time, get great pictures, and that you aren’t doing any damage to the land. Also a fun fact: every company that runs Upper Antelope tours has at least one employee who is a descendant of the girl who originally discovered it (a child who lost her sheep…she’s now a 94 year old woman!)
Should you visit Upper or Lower Antelope?
Note that Upper Antelope has far more visitors because it gets a bit more light and is famous for the sun beams that come through in the late morning (and evvvveryone is tryna fucks with that time slot). I will say that Pate and I intended on doing both Upper and Lower Antelope, but we had such a special time exploring the Upper canyon, that we decided to leave it be and sit with that experience.
But wait! I should also tell you that before I went to Page, most of my friends warned me that Antelope Canyon was going to suck. I hate crowds and super touristy sites and I was warned that that was all I was gonna fucking get. Also, the canyon isn’t even very long. My expectations were low. Pate and I had a fucking spectacular time because of a few things:
We went during off season. The top of December, actually. Most people visit during the summertime, and like hey I get that’s when your kids are on break from school but OMFG I grew up in Arizona. It’s Satan’s asshole in summer. Why would you heat stroke yourself and die in a sea of fanny packs and camcorders?
We went on a week day, a Wednesday actually. If you go on a weekend, you’ll get a lot more tourists. A Wednesday guaranteed us that most people had fucked off.
It was cloudy outside. We learned that it’s actually lighter in the canyon when it’s overcast outside, so we lucked out!
We went with an incredible company, Adventurous Antelope Canyon, and I recommend them enthusiastically and without a single reservation (as always, I am not paid or hired to endorse any company or product on here!). Adventurous Antelope Canyon interested me in particular because of their small group sizes, that they give the group ahead a bit of a delay for the sake of both groups’ pictures, that all their guides are incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the canyon, and that they don’t allow any of their clients to bring selfie sticks. Honestly, it was the latter that tipped me over to going with them. Nothing ruins an experience like a bitch with a selfie stick. If you’re super keen on exploring more than just Antelope Canyon, they do offer day tours to other slot canyons, one which is exclusive to this company only!
Oh, and don’t worry about getting great pictures. All the guides will help you with your settings, whether on a DSLR, or an iPhone/Android. You’ll get the gram, bb.
So is it worth it? If you go in off season, during the week, yes. If you’re going to be in northern Arizona/southern Utah to visit other spots, then I would definitely check it out.
A Few More Things To Note:
If going in off season, you can absolutely book your tour the day before (convenient if you’re trying for The Wave lottery!), so don’t sweat your timing.
Note that the only food in Page is fast food (Sonic, Burger King). If diabetes ain’t your thang, you’ll want to stock up on food at Safeway or Walmart (the guac at Safeway being far superior). Bring a cooler if you can- you can make wraps in between hikes!
There are a few hotels in Page, but the fucking Holiday Inn isn’t exactly my vibe, so Pate and I splurged and stayed in a traditional Navajo Hogan on the reservation and we absolutely loved it.
Our host shared with us the history of the design, some stories of how this one was made, and taught us how to chop wood for our fire (lord help me). We particularly loved showering under the stars. Highly recommend!
Looking for more things to do in the area? Horseshoe Bend is also super close (within a 15 minute drive of Antelope), and the walk up is like a ten minute wheelchair cruise. It’s pretty cool I guess? I kinda felt like I could have lived without all the influencers loving themselves so much. I prefer a bit more effort for the payout to feel worth it.
Need early morning coffee? The only coffee spot in Page is the Starbucks located in the Safeway (God I love Arizona). Pate and I went in at 5am three days straight for coffee and brekkie sandwiches before driving to Kanab and we are probably still together now because of those triple red eyes. So thank you, Starbucks in the Safeway.