The best time to visit Antelope Canyon in Arizona, depends on what you’re looking for: Capturing the amazing light beams during peak season or experience solitude during the off-season in Lower Antelope Canyon?
Light Beams (Highlight)
The light beams start around March 20 and last until early October. Best months for the beams are June, July, and August. The higher sun brings more light into the canyon. Each day the light beams are visible in the midday between 11 AM and 1:30 PM on a sunny day only. There are no light beams when it's cloudy. The most beams can be seen in Upper Antelope Canyon. They occur in Lower Antelope Canyon as well, but light beams are few and far between. You might be wondering if it's still worth visiting Antelope Canyon during off-season, without the light beams? Yes, definitely! Read on for more details:
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
Antelope Canyon by Ron Holder, CC BY
Upper Antelope Canyon became a mass tourism spot, especially during high season as well as during shoulder seasons. Even Lower Antelope got a lot busier in the recent years. Our tips for 2018 and beyond:
High Season / Shoulder Season:
Expect a crowded place and fully booked midday tours from April until September. It's worse during peak months (June, July, and August) when the light is just perfect. Midday tours are jammed throughout the season. You have to choose between a crowded place with the magical beams during the season (end of March - early October) or fewer tourists without the beams in the off-season (mid-October - mid-March). You may also book a less busy tour in the early morning without the beams in 'light beams season'. You can still take great photos regardless of the time of day. Another option is Lower Antelope Canyon: Larger area, ladder climbing, fewer beams but also fewer crowds. However, Lower Canyon became busier as well recently. Book mid-week and try to go in the shoulder months (April/September), when there are already/still light beams but without the massive summer tourist crowds.
Low Season (Winter Visit):
In the off-season (mid-October - mid-March) there are no light beams, but both places are still magical. It's less busy from November to February. However, even in winter, avoid weekends if you visit Upper Antelope Canyon. It's more quiet mid-week. For even more solitude: Visit Lower Antelope Canyon. It's much quieter during the off-season, and although there are no light beams at all, the colors are gorgeous. Check the weather forecast and try to go between 10 and 11 AM because of better light conditions.
Weather / Climate
Temperature wise, you can visit any time of the year. In the winter it's much quieter (see above) but also cold sometimes. Snow is very rare. Canyon closures due to winter conditions did happen in the past but they are very unlikely. In the warm summer months, thunderstorms can occur during 'Arizona's Monsoon Season': From roughly mid-June until mid-September. Thunderstorms are usually afternoon thundershowers and more wind and lightning than rain. But still, dangerous flash floods are possible.
More weather details (you can switch between °C and °F): Page, Arizona Climate Details
Tourists / Sunbeams Calendar
Very beautiful, but very crowded nowadays. Especially at noon, it fills up pretty bad and of course, they charge you extra US$ for the "beam" at upper antelope canyon. But I think it is still worth it. The second one is lower antelope canyon both on Navajo land. Antelope is a slot canyon and means "the place where water runs through rocks." There is a risk of flash flood danger. Rain miles away can quickly flood the canyon, especially in summer. (reviewed by Chris)
Antelope Canyon Tours
- Great Day Tours: Antelope Canyon and More (safe booking, very reliable, some from Las Vegas)
- Upper Canyon Tours & Reviews: Antelope Canyon Tours (via TripAdvisor)
- Antelope & Horseshoe Bend: Day Tour from Flagstaff (via TripAdvisor)
- Lower Canyon: Ken's Tours - Lower Antelope Canyon
- Lower Canyon: Dixie Ellis' Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
- Upper Canyon: Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours
- Upper Canyon: Adventurous Tours
If you'd like to take photos, a photography tour of the Upper Canyon is highly recommended. Especially if you want to catch the light beams. The guides keep everyone back and out of the shots. And they don’t allow others on non-photography tours to use tripods. Booking a photography tour is your only chance during 'light beam season' to get high-quality shots. Please note: You can also take photos on a general tour. However, no tripods or monopods are allowed on a general tour and you won't be able to stay at one spot for several minutes.
UPDATE 2018 for Lower Antelope Canyon
Both tour operators for Lower Antelope Canyon (Ken's Tours and Dixie Ellis') do not offer dedicated photography tours anymore. Not even in the off-season. They say that even the Lower Antelope Canyon got too busy for that kind of tour. However, you can still take photos on the general tours, just no tripods or monopods allowed.
Upper Antelope Canyon vs. Lower Antelope Canyon
Upper: Timeless by Waqas Mustafeez, CC BY, Lower Antelope Canyon by Parker Knight, CC BY
Lower Antelope Canyon is below the ground, while Upper Canyon is above the ground. Despite this fact, the most striking difference between both are the light beams (sunbeams): The views with the light beams in the Upper Canyon are just sensational. In the Lower Canyon, there are significantly fewer beams. However, Lower Antelope Canyon is still beautiful!
Lower Antelope Canyon
- Light Beams: Not the iconic light beams from Upper Canyon. However, although rare, the sunbeams exist. Also, the light makes the wall glow. Still gorgeous.
- Tour Operators: 2 (see above)
- Self-Guided Tours: Not allowed.
- How to Get There: No transports are being offered to Lower Canyon from Page by both tour operators. Use your own car: Driving Directions from Page. No car? There is a service called 'Powell Shuttle' which can get you to Lower Canyon.
- Canyon Location: From the parking lot/main building, it's a 10-minute walk with your guide.
- Tour Duration: 1 hour (standard tour), 2+ hours (photography tour, only offered in the off-season). It's a 'real' round trip. You enter through the entrance and get out close to or either directly at the tour operator building: Map - Ken's Tour
- Difficulty: Slightly more strenuous than Upper Canyon as you'll descend 5 flight of stairs (35m) and then ascend up 8 staircases. However, it's not a big deal unless you have some mobility limitations.
- Crowded: Much quieter years ago, now only slightly less crowded compared to Upper Canyon. You'll also feel like being pushed through, though not as much as in Upper Canyon.
- Price: Slightly cheaper than Upper Canyon (see below)
Upper Antelope Canyon
- Light Beams: Iconic, stunning and famous light beams.
- Tour Operators: About 5
- Self-Guided Tours: Not allowed.
- How to Get There: Upper Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours starting point is 'just across the road' from Lower Canyon (on the south side of Highway 98). Some operators have their starting point at a different location: Antelope Canyon Adventurous Tours starting point. You need to get there by car. Other tour operators even offer transports from Page.
- Canyon Location: The Upper Antelope Canyon entry is a little further away from the starting points/parking lots. Your tour operator will take you to the entrance in an open truck. It's a short but really bumpy ride.
- Tour Duration: 1 hour - 1,5 hours (standard tour), 2 hours (photography tour, offered year-round). At the end of the canyon, you'll turn around and walk back the same way. This makes Upper Canyon even more packed and crowded.
- Difficulty: It's an easy and flat walk. No stairs. However, it's even narrower than Lower Canyon and not suitable for those who are claustrophobic.
- Crowded: Extremely busy between spring and fall. You'll feel like being pushed and herded through the canyon. It's slightly better in the off-season.
- Price: A little more expensive than Lower Canyon (see below)
Despite the fact that it's extremely busy during light beam season, both canyons are still worth visiting! It's a unique experience. Our summary for the Upper vs. Lower discussion:
Upper Canyon Pros: + Stunning light beams +Less strenuous +Photography tours during light beam season still being offered Cons: -Tours are a little more expensive -Heavily crowded
Lower Canyon Pros: + Slightly fewer crowds and easier to photograph +Slightly cheaper tours Cons: -Very few light beams -No more dedicated photography tours -A little more strenuous (ladder climbing)
9 Must-Know Tips and Facts
- Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Land. Entrance fee is $8 per day and person. Some tours have it included in the tour price.
- Both Upper Canyon and Lower Canyon can only be visited via guided tours (self-guided tours in Lower Canyon were possible years ago)
- We recommend doing both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon because it's a truly magical experience. Our tip is to spend at least one night (see hotel tips above). Itinerary: Day 1: Upper Antelope in the morning or around noon. Lake Powell Airplane Tour (see above) in the afternoon. Horseshoe Bend (see below) in the evening (maybe even midnight). Day 2: Lower Antelope in the morning.
- You may also do Upper and Lower on one day if you like. However, you'll only be able to see the light beams at one of them. The beams don't last long enough around noon. The drive between both takes about 5 minutes: From Lower to Upper Antelope Canyon - Google Maps
- If you really want to do Upper and Lower on a single day: We suggest Lower first thing in the morning or the afternoon and Upper during light beams time around noon (11:00 a.m. tour)
- No restrooms, food or water available directly at the canyon. It's a very good idea to bring at least a small water bottle. No large backpacks allowed in Upper Canyon.
- Visiting with kids? You can bring a baby/toddler to both canyons. You just need to use a front carrier. Keep in mind that Lower Antelope has steep stairs. However, it's totally doable. If the child is old enough to climb stairs safely, then Lower Antelope Canyon is a great adventure for them. Consider our tips to avoid the crowds (see above), especially when going with kids.
- Reservations (online) are strongly recommended for Upper Antelope Canyon, regardless of the season. And we suggest making reservations in advance for Lower Antelope Canyon as well, especially during peak season
- Photography: You can take photos on general tours as well. Just no tripods and monopods allowed. An excellent camera you can use on the general tours is the Sony RX 100 V (and a great travel camera in general)
Light Beam Facts
- No light beams from mid-October until end mid-March
- No light beams before 11 AM and after 1:30 PM
- No light beams on a cloudy day, even during ‘light beam season’
- Book the 10:30 AM / 11:00 AM / 12:00 AM tours to see the beams
Crowd Tips for Upper Antelope Canyon
- Midday tours are heavily crowded between April and September.
- Less busy if you book an early morning tour during the week. No light beams though.
- Slight chance for a less busy time but with light beams: Late March / early April or late September / early October combined with a mid-week tour. But still, don’t expect a quiet visit.
- Less busy in the off-season from mid-October until mid-March without light beams. But still, avoid weekend tours and book your slot online in advance!
Fees/Prices (per Adult / Updated 2018)
- Navajo Park entrance fee (regardless of upper/lower): $8
- Standard Tour (Upper Canyon): ~ $40-60
- Standard Tour (Lower Canyon): ~ $40
- Photography Tour (Upper Canyon): ~ $120-130
- Photography Tour (Lower Canyon): not offered anymore
Day Tours (including other sites): ~ $200
How to Get There
It's highly recommended to rent a car in order to get to Antelope Canyon. Some drive to Page from Phoenix, others from Las Vegas. We recommend booking a car in advance to get a better deal and start your trip without any worries. You'll save a lot of money with pre-booking! Don't make the mistake and rent one at the airport. We use Rentalcars (Alamo, Enterprise, Thrifty, Avis), as they provide the best deals overall. Try them!
NatGeo Journeys Tour (incl. Antelope Canyon)
Discover American Canyonlands Tour Fully guided 8 days G Adventures tour. Las Vegas > Zion National Park > Bryce Canyon National Park > Antelope Canyon > Grand Canyon National Park > Las Vegas. All the legendary landscapes in 8 days. Outstanding tour!
Nearby Must-Visit Places
- Horseshoe Bend (10-15 minutes drive)
- The Wave (1.5 hours drive)
- Monument Valley (2 hours drive)
South Kaibab Trail - Grand Canyon (2.5 hours drive)
Need More Help?
Are you missing something? Do you have an unanswered question about Antelope Canyon or any other travel place? We're here to help. Feel free to contact us here: Contact Form/Help. If you're on Facebook, you can also send a message via our Facebook Page:
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Thanks, Ray Downs Photography for the stunning photos!