When Is the Best Time
Antelope, the most photographed Slot Canyon in the world, is a breathtaking piece of nature throughout the year, not only with the light beam. Antelope is magical; it doesn’t matter which tour you book.
The Antelope Canyon is just a stone's throw away from Page at Lake Powell in Arizona. I visited both entries of Antelope and lots of my friends. We all were flashed by the colourful beauty of this narrow slot canyon. You can enter this canyon guided only located on Navajoland.
The best time regarding the light beam is from April to September; regarding the crowds, the wintertime from November - March, giving you a better experience.
The Upper Antelope Canyon is super busy from April to October and much quieter from November to March. The light beams are spectacular, but only one guided photographer tour allows you to shoot awesome photos with your camera and tripod. It is likely to sell out far in advance.
Is Antelope Open
Yes, after a long closure, Antelope got reopened this July 2021. Visitor numbers are limited, 50% capacity, therefore less crowded, but likely to sell out even faster. All tours for the Upper Antelope Canyon are already sold out; the first available tours are for November 2021. Tickets for Lower Antelope are still available. Make your reservation as soon as possible.
Update October 2021 - What is New in Upper Antelope
Upper Antelope has changed the traffic flow so you go out at the back and then around so you only go one way in the canyon You do not bump into others on the way back anymore. It also means you can enjoy this unique place only once.
Daylight Saving Time
Important for your booking; most of Arizona do not use DST but the Navajo Nation. This results in clocks are turned forward one hour from mid-March to the beginning of November. This can be confusing for your booking at Antelope.
Weather and Crowds for Each Season in Antelope
Weekends and bank holiday weeks are usually busier. For an exceptional visit, go in the week. The quietest time of the year is the wintertime and my favourite for all of the South-West in the US. If you don't mind missing the light beam, go early or later in the day when it gets a little quieter.
Peak Season (June-September)
The busiest time of the year is the hottest as well, with temperatures ranging on average from 86-97°F/ 30-36°C topping 104°F/ 40°C easily during midday. Thunderstorms and flash floods can occur during “Arizona’s Monsoon Season”, and Antelope gets closed for good reason. There was a tragic accident in the canyon. Antelope got flooded from a thunderstorm in the distance when day-trippers went on a guided walk.
Shoulder Season (March-May, October)
It already starts to become busy in spring, but crowds are still bearable. It is the same for October; after the crazy summer season, the crowds thin out a little. March, April, and October temperatures are around 68°F/20°C but drop significantly in the night below 50°F/ 10°C.
Low Season (November-February)
The colder wintertime with day temps ranging from 44-55°F/ 7-13°C and nights around freezing is my favourite time nowadays. Why? It is the only time where you can beat the crowds to enjoy those mesmerizing places like Antelope. A rain shower can appear, but rain is not common. The South-West of America is one of the most popular destinations in the world. To experience the real beauty of this region, visit in the winter!
4 Tips to Dodge the Crowds in Upper Antelope
- It is much quieter in the low or off-season from November to February.
- If you go end of March at midday, you even may have a chance for light beams.
- Go mid-week and avoid weekends and bank holidays.
- Take the first tour in the morning. Midday tours are fully booked far in advance from May to September.
My Top Tip for Antelope
Have you already heard of Antelope X? This is a third entry, less known, still not overrun. The ultimate tour is the Antelope Canyon X Photo Tour. Pricy but worth it for the duration of 3 hours! A tripod and a backpack are allowed. And at the very best there are still tickets available. Canyon length 334 feet/ 102 meter. Antelope X is as picturesque with magical rays of light until 2 pm. Two entrances; North and South.
My Top Tour Tip
I am sorry to say but forget Horseshoe Bend independent instead, book a flight. This outlook is just a 10-minute drive and utterly overrun nowadays. Even early morning is already packed with day-trippers. When we visited this famous sight at the beginning of 2000, it was still a hidden gem. My friends passed by in the afternoon in 2019 and again for the sunrise, but they skipped the visit.
The trip I recommend is a helicopter flight above the area and nearby Lake Powell. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and Horseshoe Bend from the helicopter with very few other people.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
Antelope is a perfect collaboration of water, sand, and wind that created these unique forms and shapes of sandstone in this narrow slot canyon. It is mother nature at its best.
The Differences of Upper and Lower Antelope
There are two accessible parts in Antelope, both fascinating but different situated on Navajoland. It is private land of the Navajo tribe therefore, no self-guided tours are allowed. Things you should know before you go to avoid disappointment are listed below.
- More popular: It is also called the Crack offering magnificent light beams the reason that this part of Antelope is more popular
- Tour booking: Essential up to 5 months in advance. Usually fully booked for months.
- Crowds: It is terribly crowded, always fully booked from April to October. However, you walk through Upper Antelope one way only since October 2021.
- Duration Standard Tour: 1.5 hours, 15 minutes driving one way plus one hour inside the canyon.
- Duration Photography Tour: 2 hours.
- How to get there: The starting point from the Navaja Tours is just the opposite of Lower Antelope Canyon at HW 98. You can get here best by car. Google Maps Location. The tour operator Antelope Canyon Adventures is just 2.5 miles away. Google Maps Location Some tour operators offer pick-up service from Page.
- Canyon Location: You get a short but bumpy ride in an open pick-up to the entry of Upper Antelope.
- Accessibility: Easier to access, flat path through the sand and not challenging.
- Canyon Length: 660 feet/ 200 m
- Tour Tickets: Tickets are sold out up to five months in advance. Tour tickets are expensive: $80 standard tour.
5 Light Beam Facts
- Best months: April-September
- Tours are fully booked for months in advance.
- Sun Light Beams occur roughly from 11 am – 1.30 pm, when the sun is at its peak.
- It must be sunny for the light beam; clouds spoil the illumination. Thunderstorms occur in summer, causing the closure of Antelope.
- Tripods are only allowed at the photographer tour.
- Lower Antelope has its own charm but without the light beam. Also, here you can take stunning pictures with glowing sandstone. Anyhow, this tour is more than getting the best shot; the entire narrow canyon is the experience. Soak in this mystic place and go back home with an unforgettable memory.
- Called Corkscrew, and you know why when you entered the canyon.
- Tour booking: To secure your tour, I recommend a booking in advance. However, not as fully booked as Upper Antelope. Sometimes even walk-in works and tickets are available.
- Crowds: It is less busy even in the peak season. You walk through the canyon one way and out on a staircase. You don't go the same way back.
- Duration 1-1.5 hours - This is a more demanding tour and hike. It is a 1.1 mile /1.8 km return hike.
- How to get there: You get here by car to the huge car park of two tour operators: Dixxi Ellis and Kent's Google Maps locations added.
- Location Canyon: It takes 10 minutes by foot to the entry of the canyon. You climb down 35 meters on five flights of stairs and ladders up in some points. I loved this adventurous tour.
- Accessibility: It may be challenging for people with mobility issues. During midday, lights appear on top from the bigger cracks, and the sandstone glows in a ray of orange and red colours.
- Canyon Length: 1335 feet/ 407 m one way
- Tour Tickets: Advanced booking is recommended; however, not as crazy as Upper. Tickets are much cheaper, $40. Still tour tickets available!
Upper Versus Lower Antelope
Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon are unique and worth visiting despite the crowds in the peak season. Get an idea of the entire Antelope with its fascinating sandstone formations. Antelope means: “The place where water runs through rocks”. These waters shaped the wonderful and unique forms in both canyons.
- Mesmerizing light beams
- Photographer Tours are offered during the light beam season
- Easier to walk
- Tours are more expensive, twice the price
- Always fully booked far in advance
- Although no light beams occur, still fascinating rays of light during midday
- Fewer visitors; therefore better for taking pictures.
- Not fully booked for five months in advance.
- Tours are cheaper.
- It’s more adventurous to access the canyon. Due to the stairs and ladders, you get a much better view from all directions.
- No photographer tour offered
- Maybe too demanding with mobility issues.
7 Tips and Facts You Need to Know About the Booking and Tour
- Reservations can be made up for 5 months in advance. Also, walk-in visitors are welcome if space is available.
- Check-in at least half an hour before your booking; otherwise, your ticket will be given away. The Navajos are very strict!
- Tours are offered from 7.30 am to 3.25 pm.
- The duration is 1.5 hours. There isn’t a restroom available at the canyon.
- Tripods are only at the photographer tour allowed.
- Visiting with children or toddlers is possible for both entries. To do so, you need a front carrier and keep in mind Lower Antelope has stairs and ladders to climb.
- No backpack allowed!
5 Tips from a Professional Photographer
There are sand showers from the top. It is often dusty in Antelope. Ray Downs Photography recommends:
- Plastic bag for your camera
- Scarf to cover your mouth
- Hand blower to clean the dust off your lens before each shot.
- Very wide-angle lens for the tight canyon.
- For the photography tour, use a remote trigger and expect long exposures and try HDR. The guides assist you on this kind of tour.
What to Wear and Bring – Packing List
- Wear proper shoes to walk through sand in the canyons and better grip on the metal staircases and ladders.
- A jacket is needed, especially in autumn and winter. It’s cooler inside the canyon than outside.
- The sun is powerful even in the winter. Protection is needed.
- Bring a bottle of water, especially in the summer and also a snack. No café or store nearby.
Where to Stay
Check out the best-rated hotels in Page by booking.com
The closest town and excellently located at the Colorado and Lake Powell is Page. It is worth staying here for a couple of days to explore the entire area. Rent a boat on Lake Powell or book a guided Colorado exploration tour. Did you ever hear of the White Pocket? It is a similar rock formation like the Wave and nearby.
Most of the pictures are by Ray Downs and some by my friend Chris.