Antelope Canyon is a gorgeous natural attraction on private Navajo land in Arizona. A guided tour lets you learn about the area’s history and geology. Antelope Canyon formed due to years of water and wind erosion, so there’s a lot to learn.
You’ll want to take advantage of a tour of the Upper Antelope Canyon, where sunlight illuminates the natural beauty. The walls extend 120 feet high, so you’ll feel awe as you take in your surroundings.
The Lower Antelope Canyon is a stunning tour, as it’s an immersive walk through the sandstone canyon walls. Most visitors decide to go to Antelope Canyon based on the pictures alone.
Light shafts that shine through to the canyon floor tint the whole space pink, red, orange, and gold. With this in mind, many people choose to visit during spring and summer to maximize the sunlight hours.
However, winter light also creates a beautiful visual in Antelope Canyon. Read on to find out when you should visit and what you’ll see when you’re there!
Why You Should Visit Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is a must-see attraction in Arizona because there are many different areas to check out, including:
- Upper Antelope Canyon
- Lower Antelope Canyon
- Secret Antelope Canyon
- Canyon X
Years of wind and water erosion created this stunning canyon on Navajo land. Because of its location, it’s not a US National Park but rather a Navajo Tribal Park, along with nearby attractions such as:
- Canyon de Chelly
- Four Corners Monument
- Lake Powell
- Little Colorado River Gorge
- Monument Valley
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, meaning it’s deeper than wide. Some areas are just three feet wide, while others expand to nine feet wide. The overall depth is about 120 feet, though it reaches 164 feet in some sections.
The walls and ground are constantly changing due to the weather and natural erosion. You can visit several times and have different experiences. Since you need a tour guide to explore Antelope Canyon, you’ll have a chance to learn more about the Navajo people.
Every guide lives in the Navajo Nation, so you’ll hear the native terms for the canyon, such as “Tsé bighánílíní” for the Upper section, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” The Lower area is “Hazdistazí,” meaning “spiral rock arches.”
These names give you an idea of what to expect in different sections of Antelope Canyon. Continue on to learn about when you should visit each location and what you’ll see.
Overall Best Time to Visit Antelope Canyon
It’s best to visit Antelope Canyon during the summer because you’ll get more sunlight for stunning visuals. This consideration is especially important if you’re a photographer wanting to capture the shafts of light on an Upper Antelope Canyon tour.
Since it’s a busy time for Arizona, booking a tour as far in advance as possible can greatly help you manage your trip.
Since many families travel in the summer due to school schedules and time off work, you might feel hesitant about heading to Antelope Canyon during that time. Thankfully, the sunlight in Arizona is strong for a few months on either side of the summer season.
You can take great photos of Antelope Canyon anytime from mid-March to mid-October. With this timeline in mind, you might consider booking a trip during Spring or Fall Break if you have children.
Otherwise, you could try to get away for a random weekend when families might not travel. Tour guides typically work seven days a week, and since you can book them in advance, you’ll know that you have a spot with a guide, even if there’s a crowd overall.
Cheapest Time to Visit Antelope Canyon
The cheapest time to visit Antelope Canyon depends mostly on the time of year you visit the area. You’ll always have some set fees, like the $8 charge for every person older than eight years old entering the Navajo Park.
Most tours also have set rates during the tourist season, so you might see those fees decrease during the off-season. You’ll want to research carefully to ensure you’re booking a tour with a Navajo native who can give you the best experience.
Some tour guides set up websites but don’t have the authority or knowledge to actually show you around Antelope Canyon. The Navajo Nation works to combat scammy tour guides by being upfront with their policies.
You can book a tour online, but you never pay until you show up for your reservation. Knowing this, and following the policies to book through a legitimate guide, will help you save money on your trip and prevent the stress of experiencing a scam.
When you have the park fee and tour guide costs in your mind, you know you’ll have to spend a certain amount on your trip. But hotels are much cheaper during the off-season, so you’ll save money if you can visit Arizona anytime between November to February.
Since fewer people travel during this time, hotels lower their prices. They’re more concerned about having guests stay on their property than they are about making a massive profit.
Therefore, you’ll find hotels at very reasonable rates during the off-season. The same room during summer might cost twice as much because there’s such a demand for it.
However, if you must travel during the summer months, consider booking your hotel online as far in advance as possible. You can find good deals or coupons through third-party sites, and having your room booked before the demand increases can lock in a lower price.
With these considerations in mind, the cheapest time to visit Antelope Canyon is during the winter months. You’ll save a lot of money, and since Arizona is warm year-round, you’ll still have a wonderful vacation.
Least Busy Time to Visit Antelope Canyon
The least busy time to visit Antelope Canyon is between November and February. This time of year is the off-season for traveling anyway, but especially in Arizona.
There’s less sunlight during the day, so many people don’t want to visit Antelope Canyon, which looks so stunning due to the light shafts. You can still catch some decent sun if you visit Antelope Canyon during the winter months.
The window of opportunity is shorter, but you’ll still enjoy your time at the canyon. The Navajo guides will give you plenty of information about the canyon and local culture, so you can learn a lot and still have a wonderful vacation.
If you want to visit Antelope Canyon during the off-season, consider contacting tour guides at the Navajo Nation for more information. They know the area well and can give you insight into when you might have the best experience, taking into consideration crowds and sunlight.
Most tour companies offer appointments every day of the week, whether it’s tourist season or the off-season, so you don’t have to worry about missing a chance to see Antelope Canyon.
Worst Time to Visit Antelope Canyon
Since Arizona is warm year-round, it’s hard to pick a specific season as the worst time to visit Antelope Canyon. The weather in Page is usually nice, though it gets cooler from November to February.
The coldest days of the year are toward the end of December, when the average low can get near freezing. Even during Page’s coldest days, the highs average in the low 40s.
For many people traveling from New England or other northern states, it can still feel like a relatively nice day. Wear layers for your Antelope Canyon hike, and you might even get warm as you walk. The worst time to visit Antelope Canyon refers more to the weather itself.
If you book a tour on a cloudy day, you’re not going to see much inside the canyon. The sunlight really illuminates the beautiful colors and patterns of the sandstone walls.
When clouds block the sun, you’re not going to get the full experience of the canyon. It’s hard to know what the day will be like when you’re planning a trip in advance. You can check the weather to see the next ten days,
Things to Consider During Your Trip
Besides considering the best times of year to visit Antelope Canyon, you should also think about these other factors. Consider which area of the canyon you want to explore — or both!
Depending on when you’re traveling, you might prefer to only see the less-busy Lower Canyon and avoid crowds. However, the Lower area is a more intense hike, with ladders and steps connecting many sections of the walkways.
Because Antelope Canyon is on Navajo Nation property, you must schedule a guided tour. You can’t show up and hike on your own schedule because the Navajo people consider that trespassing.
Ensure you book a tour and show up on time to get the most out of your Antelope Canyon visit. Slot canyons like Antelope Canyon are beautiful, but they can be dangerous.
Floods can happen in an instant and wash hikers off the path, leaving them hurt or stranded. Since you must have a tour guide to visit Antelope Canyon, there is less risk, but it’s still something to consider.
Frequently Asked Questions
You’ve learned about the best and worst times to visit Antelope Canyon. If you’re excited about your trip but still need more information, check out the answers to these frequently asked questions:
How many days should you dedicate to Antelope Canyon?
The length of your trip varies depending on how much of Antelope Canyon you want to see. The tours take about an hour in the canyon, with an additional 40 minutes to drive to the site with your guide.
With that in mind, you could take tours of Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon on the same day without getting overwhelmed. Many visitors like to tour the canyon at different times of the day. In that case, you might want to dedicate two days to Antelope Canyon so you can space out your tours.
There are many surrounding attractions to see while you’re in the area, such as:
Some of these attractions are over an hour away from Antelope Canyon, so you should plan your drive accordingly. If you want to see several Arizona landmarks, you could dedicate a long weekend or an entire week to your trip to Antelope Canyon.
Is it better to see Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon?
The answer to this question depends on your personal preferences. Both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are stunning landmarks. Lower Antelope Canyon provides a more laid-back tour because it’s more spacious.
You can book tours earlier or later in the day and avoid crowds but still see beautiful views. However, the hike is more difficult, with stairs and ladders included. Upper Antelope Canyon has less ground to cover, so you’ll feel more crowded when you pass by other tour groups.
However, photographers prefer the natural beauty of Upper Antelope Canyon. You’ll want to book tours during the peak sunlight hours to get the best images, so prepare yourself for a relatively crowded experience.
Is it cold inside Antelope Canyon?
Many visitors expect Antelope Canyon to feel cold since it’s relatively enclosed. Sunlight only enters the canyon during specific daylight hours, so it’s not unreasonable to expect a chilly tour.
However, Arizona stays relatively warm all year. The canyon walls retain that heat, so you’re going to have a pleasant hiking experience at Antelope Canyon.
What’s the best time of day to visit Antelope Canyon?
The best time of day to visit Antelope Canyon is between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm. The sun is high in the sky during this time, so you’ll see more light shafts coming into the Lower Antelope Canyon.
The light shows more colors on the canyon walls, making it a more engaging experience. The sunlight also ensures you’ll get stunning photographs.
Do you need to make reservations to go to Antelope Canyon?
You don’t need reservations to go to Antelope Canyon, but you can’t walk around without a tour guide. You have to buy a park permit to visit, but there’s no set reservation time associated with the permit.
You can book a tour in advance or wait until you get to the canyon. However, if you want to book a tour in person, you might not get your preferred time and have to wait for a spot.
Where should you stay when you visit Antelope Canyon?
Page is less than seven miles away from Antelope Canyon, so it’s the best city to book when you plan your trip. The city is also close to Lake Powell and Glen Canyon, so you’ll have plenty to do in the area. There are many hotels in the city, so you can find one to suit your budget and comfort.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Antelope Canyon?
The best time of year to visit Antelope Canyon is between mid-March to mid-October, with the most popular tours happening during the summer months.
However, since Arizona is relatively warm and sunny year-round, you can enjoy Navajo tours of the landmark during the off-season and save money on your vacation. Happy travels!