We flew into Phoenix and connected on a propeller plane to Page where we stayed for 5 days. There isn’t much choice in terms of accommodation in Page and out of the handful of hotels, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott which was quite basic with very limited food choices. Alternatively, we should have stayed at the Amangiri (which I didn’t realize was this close) on the Utah side about 20 mins from Page. The benefit of staying in Page is that it is very close to both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Lake Powell etc.
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon on Navajo land east of Page. The slot canyon was formed mainly by erosion of the sandstone caused by flash flooding. Over time, the passageways became “flowing” shapes. Antelope Canyon includes Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon.
Both are operated by Navajo tour companies and one must join the scheduled tours in order to enter the canyon. One can choose between the photography tours or regular tours. The photography tours allow tripods and give you more time to take photos, but with the crowds, it is hard to take photos without any tourists in them and the narrow space also makes setting up the tripod a bit difficult.
Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon is at ground level and one enters and exits from the same location. We joined the tour organized by Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours which we booked the time slot ahead of time. We asked some local guides and they said that the different tour companies are all basically the same. They pack you into a 4×4 truck and drive about 10 mins to the entrance of the canyon, then you follow the guide through the length of the canyon and then double back. We didn’t have a very good guide who basically didn’t tell us anything about the canyon and was busy just moving us along.
It was way too crowded inside the canyon, and I sort of felt like I was inside a busy train station with people constantly coming and going. Upper Antelope Canyon is best visited at noon. In the summer months, that is when the famous light beams come in from the openings in the top of the canyon. Unfortunately, we are there too late in the year. Regardless of the crowds, it was still a beautiful and amazing experience.
Lower Antelope Canyon
After the Upper Antelope Canyon, we went across the highway to the Lower Antelope Canyon. There are only 2 tour operators there and we went with Ken’s Tours. Again we booked online ahead of time, but they were taking people on the spot too. We walked down the hill to the entrance of the canyon and then had to descend via some metal stairs.
Unlike Upper Antelope Canyon, the lower canyon is in the shape of a “V” so lighting is better, also there is only one-way traffic where you enter on one end and exit the other end. We have been told that during flash floods, the water can reach the top of the canyon.
Overall, I preferred the Lower Antelope Canyon. It was definitely less busy and you get times when you feel like you are alone in this maze of swirls.
On the morning before our departure, we did an one-hour boat ride on the Lake Powell side of Antelope Canyon. The tour takes you from Antelope Point Marina along Colorado River to the canyon opening navigating between the towering walls of Navajo sandstone. Alternatively, you can rent a kayak or join a kayak tour going deeper into the canyon.