Lower Antelope Canyon

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: January 2023

Northern Arizona is known for its rugged desert landscape which features many iconic canyons, including Antelope Canyon. This slot canyon was formed over time when water from flash flooding or heavy rains carved its way through the Navajo sandstone cliffs, creating narrow passageways and ripples and wave-like patterns in the rocks.

After spending the week exploring southern Utah, it was time for us to head back to Las Vegas so we could fly home. But rather than come back the way we came, we thought we’d shake things up and drive back through northern Arizona for a change of scenery.

We spent the night in Page, Arizona and planned to take a tour of the Lower Antelope Canyon. Since we had some time to kill in the morning (we were never ones to sleep in), we first went to Horseshoe Bend, one of the most photographed spots in Arizona. It is open year round from sunrise to sunset. While the park is managed by the National Park Service, the parking lot is on city land and requires visitors to pay for parking (even if you have a national park pass). From the parking lot, there’s a short trail (2.4km round trip) that leads to an overlook of Horseshoe Bend.

We then headed to Antelope Canyon, which consists of two different slot canyons, the Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Both slot canyons are located on Navajo lands and can only be visited as part of a guided tour. According to the internet, the Upper Antelope Canyon is reputed to be better for photography, but is also more expensive while the Lower Antelope Canyon is supposed to be more fun with ladders to climb and narrow passageways to walk through. We’re all about the adventure so we opted for the Lower Antelope Canyon.

There are two tour operators for the Lower Antelope Canyon. which are located right beside each other. Both have similar prices, tour durations and rave reviews. After checking in for our guided tour, our group was split up into five smaller groups of about eight people. Each group had their own guide and entrance into the slot canyon was staggered to minimize crowding. To access the canyon requires walking down five flights of stairs.

The Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like a “V” where it is narrow at the bottom and opens up towards the top. Once we got to the sandy floor of the canyon, our guide led us through a series of narrow passageways and told us more about the history of the canyon and how it was formed, along with some other interesting fun facts, like how the sand in the canyon is actually brought in by the tour company and needs to be replenished after a heavy rain as the flash floods sweep it away.

During our tour we had to climb up a few more ladders and metal staircases. Prior to these being installed, visitors had to use footholds in the rocks. Some of which are still visible.

The Navajo name for Lower Antelope Canyon means “spiral rock arches”, which seemed fitting given all the swirling patterns in the rocks.

Some of the formations, colours and patterns on the walls resemble certain things.

The shadow on the wall looks like a cat.

This formation looks like a mummy.

And this one a seahorse from the opening of the canyon at the top.

After spending an hour exploring the canyon, it was time to climb back out and move onto the next stop on our itinerary, the Grand Canyon.


127 thoughts on “Lower Antelope Canyon

  1. Lyssy In The City says:

    Another stunning place I’d love to visit! It is good they make people have a tour, I can imagine how crowded it would be with people trying to go up and down without it controlled. I’d love the photography tour, but also the adventure tour.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s always good to try to control the crowds. Apparently the tours often sell out weeks in advance during peak season. When we visited in January the Navajo National still had a mask mandate in place, including additional public health measures like smaller group sizes for the tours. I must say, it was kind of nice.

      • Lyssy In The City says:

        I bet! My parents are going to Glacier National Park this summer and already have their passes to get in. You really can’t wing national parks anymore. It’s better than the alternative of overcrowding though!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        It’s great that some of the more popular parks are now requiring a day-use permit or vehicle reservation in advance in an effort to better control the crowds. We visited Glacier a few years ago right before Labour Day and I remember we had to wake up super early to get to some of the trailheads as the parking lots were typically full before 9am. It was crazy.

  2. kagould17 says:

    We went to the Upper Canyon in 2018, as the lower was closed. Thanks for showing us the other part Linda. Our first stop was Horseshoe Bend in a bit of a dust storm. Such an area of scenic beauty. Happy Monday. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I imagine it wouldn’t be very fun to be in the middle of the desert during a dust storm! Glad you were still able to make it to Horseshoe Bend though. It would have been neat to see both the Lower and Upper part of Antelope Canyon, but we had other places to be. Next time. Enjoy the rest of the week. Linda

  3. Diana says:

    Looks like a fun tour! I love all the swirly patterns and other objects you spotted (though I admit, I can’t see the mummy).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was pretty fun to explore the narrow passageways in the canyon and to see the wavy patterns and shadows along the colourful walls. My picture of the mummy wasn’t at the greatest angle. I’m not going to lie, some of the formations our guide pointed out seemed like a bit of a stretch, but that could be because I was only half listening as I was a bit too occupied taking pictures of everything and anything.

  4. Monkey's Tale says:

    Beautiful pictures of the canyon. Winter is probably the best time to go. I’ve read that it’s very difficult to get a tour in the summer because it’s booked up early. Maggie

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny because it was actually pretty competitive to reserve tickets even in the winter. We added an extra day to our road trip as we weren’t able to reserve tickets the day we were initially planning to be in Page (which was on a Saturday), and we tried booking several weeks in advance. No complaints as this meant we had more time to spend in southern Utah. I can only imagine how much worse it would be during peak season.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        When we visited in January, the Navajo Nation still had a bunch of public health measures from the pandemic still in place, including mandatory masking and limiting the number of people in each tour group, so that probably had something to do with it. No complaints as I think if there were any more people in our group, it wouldn’t have been the same experience.

  5. Ken Dowell says:

    Wow! That looks truly amazing. I had planned a trip there but it was April 2020, right after COVID broke put. Seeing these images reminds me I need to reschedule.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny because we were planning to come here in 2020 too, but had to postpone because of the pandemic. So this trip has been long overdue and much anticipated. Hopefully you’re able to reschedule soon.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. We were in Arizona a few years ago, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to get to Antelope Canyon. I’m glad we were able to return to check it out (and spend more time at the Grand Canyon). Hopefully you’re able to visit someday.

  6. Rose says:

    Our earth offers such gorgeous landscapes! We’ve been to the Grand Canyon several years ago, but didn’t have time to visit all these nearby canyons and rock formations. They’re on our list. 😊

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s pretty incredible to see how nature has carved and created such a beautiful landscape and these interesting rock formations. It was neat to go inside Antelope Canyon and explore the narrow passageways and see the swirly patterns in the rocks up close. It’s definitely a good one to add to the list!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Antelope Canyon is so beautiful. It was fun to go on a tour of the colourful slot canyon to see the rock patterns and features up close. Glad to hear it brought back fond memories.

  7. photobyjosephciras says:

    Nice photos. You cannot take a bad photo of the landscape in that area. We went to Upper Antelope Canyon and skipped Horseshoe Bend when we traveled between the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon. We camped a Goosenecks State Park in Mexican Hat so we did not see the need to go to Horseshoe Bend.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. And agreed, Antelope Canyon is very photogenic. I must have taken at least a hundred pictures during our one hour tour. How fun to visit both the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon. We’ve been to the Grand Canyon twice now, but both times the North Rim was closed. I guess this means we’ll just have to come back someday. Good to know about Goosenecks State Park. I’ll have to add that to the list.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. It’s pretty amazing to hear how nature carved and created Antelope Canyon. The swirly patterns in the rocks are stunning.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Agreed, Antelope Canyon is very stunning and picturesque. It was neat to see all the swirly patterns and shadows on the colourful canyon walls. Glad you were able to see it for yourself.

  8. Darlene says:

    I have always wanted to visit antelope canyon. Your pictures are gorgeous. But the one I like the best is of Horseshoe Bend. What a great trip you had.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Even though it took a bit longer, I’m glad we decided to drive back to Las Vegas through northern Arizona to see more of the desert landscape. It was neat to explore the narrow passageways at Antelope Canyon. It’s definitely one to add to the list, along with Horseshoe Bend. What a great viewpoint. I’d say it lived up to its reputation for being one of the most photographed spots in the state.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Even the colour of the canyon walls was stunning. It was an amazing tour and a good way to see the wavy patterns in the rocks more closely. Nature really is the best artist.

  9. Little Miss Traveller says:

    Stunning photos of Lower Antelope Canyon Linda. Horseshoe Bend looks magnificent as do the rock formations. Wouldn’t have fancied climbing up those footholds before the ladders were installed though.

  10. leightontravels says:

    It’s truly like you went walking on another planet. Absolutely gorgeous colours and shapes aplenty, love the cat shadow and the general swirlyness (just made that word up) of the patterns. I’m trying to imagine how tricky getting around would have been using the footholds.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The colours of the canyon wall are sunning. I can only imagine how much more vibrant it would have been if the sun was shining. It was neat to explore the narrow passageways and see the shadows and swirls up close. I must say, I’m a fan of your new term, swirlyness. The original footholds looked a bit too intense, even for us!

  11. elvira797mx says:

    Amazing photos! ThanK’s for share Linda.
    Hope you are fine. I own you an apologize, because I didn’t stop to follow your blog, but WordPress sometimes take of some of the blogs I follow, don’t know why.
    Have a wonderful week.
    Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. Antelope Canyon is very picturesque and photogenic. The colours of the canyon walls are stunning, as are all the interesting swirls and shadows.

  12. Ab says:

    What a lovely place! I really enjoyed the tour and photos of Antelope Canyon and it’s sandy pathway. The swirling patterns of the rocks are so mesmerizing. I can only imagine being immersed in it during your walk!

    The Horseshoe Bend is also awesome. Reminds me of the one at Arrowhead but I imagine on a much grander scale!

    I also mind that you two took a different path back to Vegas. What a great way to maximize your time and vacation. Loved every moment of it!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Antelope Canyon is pretty spectacular. I love all the ripples, swirls and shadows in the colourful canyon walls. It’s too bad the sun wasn’t shining to bring out more of the colours though. And yes, Horseshoe Bend does look very similar to the Big Bend overlook at Arrowhead. It’s pretty neat how they both look so symmetrical. Even though it was a bit longer to head back through northern Arizona, it was nice to shake things up and see more of the desert landscape.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Good to know that the lower canyon was just as impressive as the upper one. We were pretty impressed with the tour and had a wonderful experience as well.

  13. NortheastAllie says:

    I love the swirling of these rock formations, so beautiful. It is a great idea that they installed ladders to make it easier to navigate and climb in there too. The cat shadow is so cool!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      No kidding! Climbing the original footholds looks a bit too intense, even for us! Some of the shapes and patterns our guide pointed out, I didn’t quite get, but the shadow of the cat definitely stood out.

  14. Laura says:

    An awe-inspiring place…I feel I would sit at that viewpoint of Horseshoe bend for ages! All of your photos from within the canyon look like art- the landscape is truly a feast for the eyes.💕

  15. Bama says:

    I think I will never get tired of looking at those smooth lines carved by the elements for eons. They’re like a giant 3D artwork of modernist style. I love how easy it is to spot the cat! And the mummy, and the seahorse.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The swirls and waves in the rocks were pretty mesmorizing. It’s also kind of neat how some of the patterns and shadows in the rocks look like certain shapes, animals or things. I never would have found them on my own if it weren’t for our guide. Some of them I didn’t quite get, but the shadow of the cat was the most obvious.

  16. TCKlaire says:

    I hear that it’s highly popular because people are chasing that amazing social media post. I do want to see it, but only once the hype dies down

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Yup, that’s unfortunately true about a lot of places these days. This was by far the busiest spot that we visited during our road trip. I’m glad we went, but I was also glad to get away from the crowds once our tour finished. I can only imagine what this place is like during peak season. No thanks.

      • TCKlaire says:

        I just realized I’m not getting notified when you reply to my comments. So sorry for not responding before. Seems like you caught a good time to do it

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        No worries. WP has been giving me some issues lately as well. I tried to access your site and I got an error message that says “This site can’t provide a secure connection”. So weird.

      • TCKlaire says:

        Oh, interesting. Did that happen recently? I just got a notification about this comment, so it might be working again. Don’t see anything from tech support yet

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I remember checking a few weeks ago as I haven’t seen any new posts from you in awhile and had the same error message come up. Sometimes WordPress does weird things where it doesn’t send me notifications or I stop following someone all of a sudden. I tried a couple different browsers but still got the same error message about how it cannot open the page because it could not establish a secure connection to the server.

      • TCKlaire says:

        I just contacted tech support about the issue you were having. They said that you need to clear your browser cache before you try to access it

  17. wetanddustyroads says:

    Some of your photos remind me of swirled ice cream – the natural shapes of these rocks are beautiful. Great photos! Oh, and I think I prefer the ladders before trying to climb the rocks by using those footholds!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Antelope Canyon is very photogenic with all the colourful swirls and waves along the canyon walls. I’m with you on the ladders. While we enjoy adventures, the original footholds looked a bit too intense, even for us!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Antelope Canyon is definitely a great spot to add to your bucket list. It’s very photogenic. It’s also nice that it’s close to a couple of iconic national parks, like the Grand Canyon and Arches.

  18. Steve & Cheryl Retired Adventures says:

    Amazing and unique place. It’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve been and I don’t even remember there being a lower canyon. I love your photos. The perfectly showcase the waves of the canyon walls. Good to know about reservations and needing to plan ahead…I figured it had changed since my visit.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! The swirly patterns along the rocks were gorgeous. I can only imagine how much more vibrant the colours would be when the sun is shining. Despite visiting in January, it was surprisingly busy. We booked our tickets several weeks in advance, and even then most of the time slots were already sold out. Part of it could have been because they were still limiting tour group sizes because of COVID.

  19. alisendopf says:

    Your photos are simply stunning Linda. I’ve seen other photos of this area, but you’ve outdone yourself. Plus, to have many of these shots to yourself without anyone else in the photo, lucky you!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Antelope Canyon is very photogenic. When we visited in January the Navajo National still had a mask mandate in place and were still limiting the sizes of the tour groups, which was kind of nice.

      • alisendopf says:

        There were all kinds of side benefits to the restrictions. I kinda wish some of them stayed in place. It limits access, but makes the overall experience that much more enjoyable.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Oh I know. And for some reason everyone seems to have discovered just how awesome hiking and spending time outdoors is. I can’t say I blame them, but the crowds tend to take away from the experience. Our strategy is to make use of the off-season, which isn’t always ideal in terms of the weather or conditions, but it’s more peaceful and quiet.

      • alisendopf says:

        I’m finding that the off season is the only time to travel as well. Even here at home, where the world comes to me, I have to be creative. I can only hike midweek, or if I go on a weekend with friends who have regular schedules, we are up and at it SO early. I guess I should be thankful I can travel during the off season. When our kids were in school, that wasn’t possible.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Oh I know. It can be such a struggle otherwise. Plus everything is typically more expensive during the peak season too. It’s all about making use of the off-season and avoiding the weekends (especially long weekends in the summer).

      • alisendopf says:

        It’s nice to have a flexible work schedule and no kids in school. I was never so happy for my kids to graduate so I could travel during off periods. Now one is in university, and we’re back to fighting the hoards, especially for a winter vacation during the February break.

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