Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon? Our experience visiting the Upper Canyon

Trying to decide which one is better – Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon? While we did not visit both, we hope to share with you our experience visiting the Upper Antelope Canyon during our epic road trip to national parks. Based on what we read about the crowds, we decided to do Upper Canyon instead of Lower.

Upper Antelope Canyon is truly a beautiful geological formation, every turn of which is a magical display of new colors, shades and shapes. But be prepared that the reality is not as serene as the pictures show it to be. The canyon gets very crowded and rather loud. It is also a pretty short walk at 650+ ft/ 200 m.

We found that the best way to enjoy it a little longer and with some degree of privacy is through one of the Upper Antelope Canyon Photography Tours. Those run almost 2 hours and allow to stay in some chambers in a very small group.

We would recommend getting reservations for the tour well in advance as they fill out pretty quick, especially in the summer months. And when you do make reservations, try to get a time slot that allows you to be in the canyon around noon time. (Reservations are for a 2-3 hour time slot). When the sun is directly above the canyon around noon, the sun rays are able to hit the canyon floor. The pictures during this time of day are just too special and you should try to get that time slot if its available.

Our Experience

We booked a photography tour from a company run by Navajo natives called Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours. At $158/person it was much more expensive than the regular tours than run for $66/person at the time of writing, but it was well worth it!

Bring your tripod, you will need it. No backpacks are allowed as the canyon is quite narrow at certain points. The tour is typically in small groups of 4-6 people and so it gives a personal touch to the experience. Our tour guide, Nathan (@nybimages on Instagram), who is a photographer himself, educated us about every aspect of the geology of the area.

At specific points within the canyon, Nathan and his fellow guides kept the tourists outside our camera frames, giving us the opportunity to take these shots. It would have been impossible to shoot these images in regular tours as there so many people at any point and you have to keep moving.

Upper Antelope Canyon in Pictures

Upper Antelope Canyon Photography Tour
This is the back entrance to the Upper Antelope Canyon. I took this shot after completing the walk from the front entrance to the back. At this point in the tour, you turn around and go back the same way out
Upper Antelope Canyon Photography Tour
The canyon is full of such unique patterns and rock formations. During flash floods, the canyon floor is gushing with rain water flowing through the canyon and carving these narrow alleys
Upper Antelope Canyon Photography Tour
Imagine trying to get this shot with no people in it. It would be impossible to do in a regular tour. There will be hoards of people moving around and its not possible to wait for them to leave (as they keep coming)
Upper Antelope Canyon Photography Tour
This is where the famous Peter Lik photo of Antelope Canyon that sold for $6.5 million was shot. Around noon time, the rays of light enter the canyon from directly above, creating the effect that was captured in that photo. Unfortunately, we were there much later in afternoon.
Upper Antelope Canyon Photography Tour
The tour guides use their hands to throw a bunch of sand over the rock so that it flows down for the next 15-20 seconds while photographers take this shot
Upper Antelope Canyon Photography Tour
Another shot towards the end of the Upper Canyon with the light coming through from the exit

Have already been to Antelope Canyon? What was your experience like? We would love to hear from you! If you’re planning a trip soon, check out more posts from our visit to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Glen Canyon area.

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