Ah, the famous Antelope Canyon. I’d bet that if you’re a blogger, you know of this beautiful place or at least have seen photos. Though I’ve found that most I’ve told about Antelope Canyon that aren’t in the blogging world, haven’t a clue what it is. And for that I’m a bit glad honestly, because I can only imagine what a tourist trap this spot is going to become in the next few years. Isn’t it sad how sometimes by having certain places blow up on the internet, it completely changes them when you visit? Anyways, for now, it’s still somewhat of an unknown spot for the majority of tourists visiting Northern Arizona, but due to how many people were there when we toured this majestic slot canyon in the off season, I can’t even imagine how many must go through in high season.
But long story short, if you want to visit the lovely Antelope Canyon, it’s still somewhat of a process, so here’s everything you need to know for how to visit Antelope Canyon, just outside of Page, Arizona.
1. You must book a tour.
To enter this slot canyon, you have to be guided by a Navajo guide. You can’t just drive up to the canyon, take a look and leave. And all the tours the morning we went were fully booked, so don’t just show up either. We booked through Adventurous Antelope Canyon tours and would highly recommend them. They seemed to be the premier tour group in the area.
Be sure to book a tour before your visit. I would also suggest booking the first tour of the day which is usually around 10am because after we left, entire bus loads of people were being dropped off and you want it to be the least crowded as possible when you visit.
2. When choosing your tour, book a photographer tour (and here’s why)…
When we looked at tours months ago, we decided to pay the extra and go with the photographer tour and the reason is this: the guides on the photographer tours actually coral people away in the canyon so you get it all to yourself. Nick had read about this from a photographer friend of his that did the tour last year and so we knew this going in.
Because we did the photographer tour, we were in parts of the canyon all to ourselves, no other massive groups parading through. Our guide, Roman, who I’d highly recommend as well, would also tell us when the best light was in each part of the canyon, therefore letting us get the best photos. He was knowledgable and great about keeping other tours out of our photos and views.
A couple notes on the photo tours though… first, you have to have a mirrorless or DSLR camera and a tripod. I do have our Lumix mirrorless camera I often use when traveling but I never use a tripod. Luckily Nick had an extra one, so we were fine, but they do ask and check, so be sure to have those items before booking the photography tour. Second, the total is $176 for 2 photographers for this tour which can be a little steep. But in the end, it was entirely worth it to see this incredible place and have it all to ourselves in many instances.
*The tour options have changed since we went to Antelope Canyon, so be sure to do your research for up to date information.
3. Cash is preferred upon arrival.
Long story short, bring cash to pay the tour guides onsite. They charge a pretty hefty fee to use a credit card, so bringing cash is the easiest. I actually didn’t know this upon arrival but luckily we had cash from Vegas the previous day so it worked out, but it’s good to know ahead of time.
4. Photographer Permits are now in effect.
Starting in 2016, the Navajo are now enforcing photographers that intend to sell or publish their photos of Antelope Canyon to buy a photography permit. So if that’s your intent, be aware of that beforehand.
5. It’s not a comfortable ride to the canyon and back.
The actual slot canyon is about 20 minutes drive away from the drop off area. We were jam packed into suburbans and trucks to get us out to the canyon and it’s a very bumpy, not comfortable ride in not comfortable cars to get out there. On the way back, we actually didn’t have enough seats so I ended up having to sit on Nick’s lap in the back seat of the Suburban and crane my neck sideways for 20 minutes. So just be aware of that – it’s not entirely organized with how many people can fit into the necessary vehicles.
6. The Light Shafts are really only visible in Summer.
The famous shafts of light that fall into the canyon that you always see in photos, those are really only visible in the Summer when the Sun is directly overhead. So if that’s what you’re going for, wait until June or July. But the canyon is gorgeous any time of the year and even without those famous shafts of light, it was well worth seeing.
7. Take some time to just take it all in.
I have a whole post about this next week, but one thing I noticed while at Antelope Canyon is that everyone is so busy trying to get the best photo or angle that the novelty of the beauty of the place was somewhat overlooked. So try to take some time during your tour to also just take in the incredible beauty of this unique place.