Over the last few years, the popularity of Antelope Canyon has grown considerably. Fantastic photos of the slot canyon have been shared through social media, used as background images on computers and televisions, and filled galleries throughout the world. As awareness of this amazing destination has grown, so has the desire to visit for many new travelers. Its beauty allures us, and we must go.
One of the most popular questions is which section of Antelope Canyon is the best to visit. There are several areas of the slot canyon system to choose from, but let’s first start with a few basics.
What is Antelope Canyon?
Antelope Canyon is a natural wash carved mostly by flash flooding that has eroded beautiful shapes and formations into the Navajo Sandstone. The entire system runs about 20 miles, but smaller sections are available for individual tours.
Where is Antelope Canyon?
Antelope Canyon is entirely on Navajo Reservation land, just outside of Page, Arizona. It is about a 4-5 hour drive from Las Vegas or from Phoenix. Page is in Northern Arizona, not far from the state border with Utah. Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, and Glen Canyon Dam are also in the area.
Which Section Should I Visit?
Most visitors take a tour of just one of the sections, although some may choose to visit more than one. No matter which section people visit, they are generally all amazed and happy with their choice. Each section has its own unique personality, and all offer beautiful colors, shapes, and shadows. There are special formations in each that are noteworthy, such as The Lady in Red at Antelope Canyon X or the Maiden at Lower Antelope Canyon. No matter which one you choose, you will be sure to find some incredible sites and capture amazing photos.
Upper Antelope Canyon
This section allows guests to start walking right at ground level and is perhaps the easiest section to walk through. There is a staircase to exit. Upper Antelope Canyon offers an A-shaped canyon with about 660 feet of easy walking. Upper Antelope Canyon is generally wider than other sections. Guests are driven directly to the entrance of the canyon. There are often light beams that hit the canyon floor from April through August.
Lower Antelope Canyon
This section does require visitors to descend into the canyon using some fairly steep and narrow stairs. The stairs are very stable, attached to the canyon walls. There are a total of five flights of stairs in Lower Antelope Canyon. It is not very difficult to navigate, as long as there are no mobility issues. This section is nicknamed Corkscrew Canyon since it is narrow and winding. It is mostly V-shaped but also has some A-shaped and parallel slot canyon walls. It includes about 1,330 feet of walking. Light beams often appear later in the mornings except for in the winter. This section offers good lighting all year.
Antelope Canyon X
Named after the X carved into the Navajo Sandstone created from millions of years of rainfall and wind, Antelope Canyon X offers some unique features. The walking tour here includes walking through two different slot canyon sections. After checking in, guests will be transported in a vehicle 3 miles down to the mouth of Antelope Canyon X. Then, after hiking about 100 meters into the canyon, your Navajo guide will assist guests through a tour of the first slot canyon. After the first slot canyon section is complete, the tour continues on to the 200-meter walk to the second slot canyon section, which includes 334 feet of walking. Antelope Canyon X has occasional light beams later in the day. There are no ladders or steep stairs required for visiting Antelope Canyon X. There is a walk downhill toward the entrance and uphill at the end, which can be along the dirt road or on the railroad tie steps along the road.
Secret Antelope Canyon
Visits to Secret Antelope Canyon are made by smaller groups. Each group will be the only one inside the section of the canyon at that time. There are no stairs or ladders. There is a 10-minute walk through the sand to arrive at the entrance after riding in a vehicle to the area. Secret Antelope Canyon is also called Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon. This section offers both A-shaped and V-shaped sections. There is great lighting most of the day. This section is unique in that it allows taking video while inside. Secret Antelope Canyon is part of the Antelope Canyon wash and offers an amazing experience with fewer crowds, although it is a bit more expensive.
Horseshoe Bend Overlook
While it is a separate attraction from Antelope Canyon, nearly all visitors to the Page area will also choose to experience Horseshoe Bend Overlook. It is just about a 15-minute drive from Antelope Canyon. It is a spectacular viewpoint, perched 1,000 feet above a U-shaped turn in the Colorado River. This section of the river is upriver from the Grand Canyon. The views of the river, cliffs, and scenic areas are breathtaking.
One half of Horseshoe Bend, the right side, is owned by the city of Page. This is where most visitors go. The other half, the left side, is owned by the same family that owns Secret Antelope Canyon. Therefore, they offer tours that go to both Horseshoe Bend and Secret Antelope Canyon. One of the benefits of going to Secret Antelope Canyon is that they will also escort you in a vehicle to their private side of Horseshoe Bend. This avoids the 20-minute walk from the parking lot of the city side. It is also much less crowded on the private side.
Other area attractions include Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge, and many hiking trails. Glen Canyon Dam was finished in 1966 and created Lake Powell by damming the Colorado River. Visitors can walk across Glen Canyon Bridge for great river views. Glen Canyon Visitor Center offers informational displays, a film, and excellent views from the top of the dam. It is free to visit.