During my weekend out in Page, AZ I also visited the Lower Antelope Canyon. I mainly came to Page for the Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River and to explore Lake Powell.
Near Page is a coal power plant and I saw it already on my drive towards Page. I drove there to check it out and see if it would be a great spot to take a photo of. On my way to the power plant I passed signs for Antelope Canyon and I did some research on it to find out what it actually is. You probably have seen pictures of Antelope Canyon without even noticing where they were taken. Antelope Canyon is a so-called slot canyon. It was formed the same way as Horseshoe Bend. Water eroded through the softer layers of the Navajo Sandstone and formed this narrow canyon.
There are two canyons here. The upper and lower Antelope Canyon. Because the canyons are located on the Navajo Tribal Park grounds, you can only access them with a tour guide. The upper canyon tours were fully booked for that day. A young couple I met at Horseshoe Bend recommended to see the lower Antelope Canyon and go with Ken’s Tour. Besides the tour guide fee, there is an entrance fee to enter the tribal lands. If you are planning on visiting the upper canyon, save your receipt. Otherwise, you have to pay the entrance fee again for the upper canyon in addition to the tour guide.
Ken’s Tour is one of two tour companies offering tours into the lower canyon. The advantage of the lower canyon tours is the cheaper price, compared for the upper canyon. This is mainly because you can walk basically from the parking lot directly down to the canyon. For the upper canyon, you have to hop on board some kind of transportation to get to it in the first place. I toured the canyon with a new friend I just met the day before also at Horseshoe Bend.
You can make a reservation for the tours in advance or buy your tickets at the booth right outside of the main building of Ken’s Tours. We came here and bought our tickets at the counter and without reservation. There was no more space in the next tour going to the canyon but there were spots open in the following one.
Tours depart the building every 20 minutes from the waiting room inside. Once you have bought your tickets feel free to stroll around in the gift shop or have a small snack in the waiting area.
Have your ticket ready as your tour departure time is called. We got guided outside where the group split up in smaller groups with a tour guide for each group. Groups are 15 people or less per tour guide.
From there it’s a short walk to the entrance of the canyon. Right before we headed down a set of steep stairs our tour guide gave us some history lessons about the canyon. She also provided us with the best camera settings to get amazing pictures. They try to help you out, no matter what camera you own. Everything from an iPhone camera all the way up to high-end DSLR’s.
Now it was our groups turn to head down the set of stairs leading to the entrance or better the exit of the canyon. It is the entrance for the tour but for the water coming down when it rains here, it will be the exit. The canyon continues all the way down to Lake Powell. By taking a boat tour at the Antelope Point Marine you get to see the other side of the canyon. You can take a guided boat tour or rent a kajak and explore the canyon in your own pace. The Kajak is able to get down in the canyon even further than the tour boat.
Once the whole group made it to the bottom we got guided through the canyon. It starts out already amazing when you look at the rock formations but it will get better and better. That’s why we probably take the tour against the flow direction of the water.
Our tour guide didn’t rush us through the canyon but we couldn’t stay at a point for an extended period of time. It was basically just going a few steps around corners to take pictures and then move on so the next person can take pictures of the same rock formations. It was quite busy here in the canyon and we had some congestion issues with the group directly ahead of us. Be prepared that people might step in your picture. Our tour guide made sure that the whole group keeps on moving. The guides will help you if you want to take pictures of yourself or your family or travel companions. Our guide pointed out all the specific formations in the rock which have names like “Lady in the Wind”. This is a pretty famous rock formation you might have seen somewhere before and didn’t notice where it was taken.
The tour and the sights got better and better as we headed further upwards the canyon. This tour used to be a self-guided tour but as more and more people come to see this location guides were necessary to keep you out of danger. If it rains miles away, there is a chance of a flash flood coming through the canyon without you even noticing. It might not even rain at the canyon entrance itself. Once inside you have to get up one more set of stairs and then at the end to exit the canyon. In the old days, there was no staircase here and people had to climb up the wall by stepping in small holes in the wall and an attached rope.
Once you are outside of the canyon again take more pictures because this will be your last opportunity before heading back to the start point of the tour. You can stay a little for some last pictures but your guide will make sure you move on for the next groups to come out.
There are two types of tours available from Ken’s Tours. A regular tour, which we did and a photography tour. The photography tour leaves at certain times only and gives you more time in the canyon.
Our tour was about an hour long and the photography tour will give you a little bit over two hours in the canyon. A guide will still accompany you. For more information on tours visit Ken’s Tours website. Our tour was $25 per person and photo tours go for $47 at the time of writing this article.
Tips for your visit to Antelope Canyon
- Make sure you have enough space on your phone or an empty memory card for 100’s of pictures
- Wear hiking boots or other comfortable shoes for walking on rock and sand
- Best time to visit is around noon, depending on the time of the year. When the sun is at the highest point in the sky it’s the best time to get sunbeams into the canyon
- Dress in layers. The temperature difference is not very extreme but there is a difference
- Wear a hat to protect your hair from falling sand. Safety glasses are also a great idea to protect your eyes from falling sand.
- Bring sunscreen and a bottle of water
- There are no restrooms in the canyon, either go before or you have to hold it until the tour is over
- Be respectful of nature and to the people in your group. Step out of the way after you took your pictures and let the following people take their pictures
- Save your receipt otherwise you have to pay the entrance fee for the tribal lands again
Why Antelope Canyon
The name Antelope Canyon was first used by Anglo settlers. These settlers mistakenly identified the abundant pronghorn that once lived in this area’s grasslands and canyons. Antelopes can only be found in the grasslands and savannahs of Africa and parts of Asia.
Yes, it is a “tourist trap” but it’s so worth seeing it. Take your time to stop here and take a tour of this well-known canyon. It will get very busy here in the summer time so off-season is a good time of the year to visit without all the big crowds. I definitely enjoyed the short walk through the canyon. It reminded me a little bit about my adventure in the Ape Cave lava tubes.
More photos of Lower Antelope Canyon
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.