When Is the Best Time
The Antelope Slot Canyons are, for sure, some of the most breathtaking canyons in the US. Everybody associates with Page the Lower-, Upper- or Antelope X Canyon. I already visited Upper and Lower Antelope one day before social media existed. There wasn’t any advanced booking necessary; we just went there and joined a guided tour for a low price.
With this article, I would like to show you how to escape the crowds and enjoy the majestic beauty of slot canyons in the nearby Antelope Valley. There are many more slots than just the famous Antelope. In general, slot canyons are a mystery calling for exploration.
These guided Navajo tours are not well known; we only went on this tour in a group of four. These canyons are shorter; nevertheless, the different shapes, the high walls made from sandstone and dotted with pebbles, the stunning colours, and the views up to the sky are all spectacular and can easily compete with Antelope.
There are thousands of slot canyons; many are still not discovered. However, these narrow gorges are also treacherous and prone to flash floods, so the weather forecast must be monitored.
Antelope Valley Location
This is the real slot canyon experience on private or tiny group tours to get the best shots ever without the crowds around you or in front of your camera. These tours are outstanding and not in a rush. The guided tours are offered ten miles south of Page. Google Maps Location
You are not in a rush during these tours. You get all the time needed for this unique exploration.
If you wish to know more about the weather and climate in this area, check out my Ultimate Antelope Guide.
June-August is the monsoon season in the desert, and that’s the time for the best clouds and shots. However, if you plan to hike in the summer, go early to avoid the midday heat! Midday is the best time for the rest of the year because of the light insight into the canyons, especially in the Fire Canyon.
Trail Description and Slot Canyon Highlights
This tour takes roughly three-plus hours, depending on how much time you spend inside the canyon. We took many pictures and returned to our vehicle after 3 1/2 hours. Our tour guide took the truck to the trailhead into the massive Wind Pebble Canyon. In this canyon are several slot canyons and a mostly dry waterfall. The Navajos, the landowners, prepared a track with ladders to make this canyon accessible.
Difficulty: Moderate - With a fear of heights, it may be challenging
Trail length: Roughly 3 miles/ 5km
We descended on three ladders down into the canyon. At the canyon bottom, we followed a wash which was dotted with sandstone pebbles created by erosion in different sizes. We first went into a narrow gorge, which turned out to be a dry waterfall - Yaya Fall. It must be even more pretty after rainfall.
From here, we continued through the wash and along canyon walls to Mystery Canyon, the longest slot canyon during this tour.
The narrow wales in different shades of red and orange are definitely a highlight. What we loved was that there was no Rush, and we got all the time to enjoy these magical slot canyons.
Snakes can occur hiding in the sand at the walls of the canyons. Our guide first checked out if there weren't any before we accessed the canyons. We spotted one smaller snake on this walk, but it was not aggressive.
Markus and our guided tour shortly before we accessed the Fire Canyon.
The next slot was my highlight, the Fire Canyon. We climbed up a ladder, and on top, it looked like the canyon burned.
Shortly after the ladder, we got the "fiery outlook".The best daytime for this canyon is roughly from 10 am until 2 pm when the sun is high up in the sky.
It is a circular trail; the last slot canyon we accessed was the picturesque Thumbnail Canyon. It is named Thumbnail because one of the towering rocks high up in the canyon looks like it. This canyon is half as long as Lower Antelope to understand what to expect.
We always left our backpacks at the entrance when we entered the slot canyons. This was very convenient, and it was easier at the narrower parts.
From here, we returned on a slightly ascending hiking trail, not by ladders. You get wonderful stories told about the people who grew up on this remarkable land. The lovely guides tell many insights about the Navajo Nation and their life and culture. We also learned a lot about various plants we encountered during the walk.
One of the bigger "wind pebbles" which were spread in the wash and Wind Pebble Canyon.
Hotel Tip Page
You may think there are plenty of hotels in Page, and that's right, but each evening, we figured out the hotels; also, ours were fully booked. Many visitors stay here for a few nights to visit Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, the Toadstools, Yellow Rock, and more beautiful places. If you plan to travel to Page in the peak season or at weekends, I highly recommend booking a room in advance. We already slept here three times overall for an entire week, and we were always super happy with the room and the excellent beds.
- Essential are comfy shoes with a good grip on the sandstone formations and ladders. My Inov trail shoes were perfect here, at White Pocket and at The Wave.
- The tour we booked was three miles long.
- Sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat are essential in the high desert. I even bought a new hat in Las Vegas for our adventures in Utah and Arizona. I use my special SPF 50+ sunscreen for exposed areas like my arms and face. I never got sunburnt since I used this cream.
- Bring a big bottle of water because you are walking in the desert.
- Depending on the duration of your tour, carry a snack or sandwich in your backpack.
You can book directly at Antelope Valley Canyon Tours.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
I am absolutely fascinated by slot canyons, where you can witness the immense power of Mother Nature. These magical narrow gorges carved by erosion and flooding are constantly changing. What started with water in a fault or a crack in a rock became a slot canyon due to natural forces millions of years later. When you walk through such a canyon, you never know what comes up next. You can’t look far through it.
I was seeking an alternative for the Antelope Canyons, and Ray Downs, an outstanding landscape photographer, came up with the Antelope Valley Slot Canyons. We visited these canyons at the end of September and it was pretty hot at midday.
There are numerous slot canyons in the Antelope Valley south of Page in Arizona, the real paradise for people like me. I am pretty sure you will take tons of pictures on these splendid tours.
Ligai Si Anii Slot Canyon
It is an H-framed slot canyon as long as Lower Antelope and the most accessible of all. This is the perfect canyon for the entire family, also with toddlers. My friend Ray went also on this tour in the Antelope Valley.
It is a short 750 foot/ 230 m walk but has steep stairs with handrails down and up. The tour duration is 1.5 hours. Ligai offers breathtaking views at every curve.
The Ligai Si Anii Slot Canyon has an entrance and exit.
Rams Head Canyon
This slot canyon and track is for experienced hikers and youth aged 12 and older. This true desert hike takes an entire day. It is an unforgettable experience hiking through this very long canyon. With its massive high walls not as narrow as the other slot canyons, Rams Head is not less impressive. We haven't done this canyon so far.
Ray Downs Photography and I took these pictures. Check out his website for more of such masterpieces where you are able to purchase the usage right. He recommended this tour to us.
If you wish to use any of my photos, contact me but we both take action against picture theft!