Upper Antelope Canyon

Round Trip Distance: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4341 - 4362 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Navajo Tours
Fee: $8 tribal fee - $40/person (varies)
Attractions: Scenic slot canyon

Antelope Canyon is located in the Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park near Page, Arizona. The canyon is divided into Upper Antelope Canyon, on the south side of Highway 98, and Lower Antelope Canyon, on the north side of the highway. Both canyons are famous for their natural beauty and picture taking opportunities and thus receive tens of thousands of visitors from around the world every year. The canyons can only be visited by booking a tour from an authorized Navajo guide. For this post we booked our tour in advance with the Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours company. Advanced reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak tourist times, to insure availability for a particular date and time.

To get to the tour site drive east from Page for about 5 miles on Highway 98 and turn right, before reaching the power plant. The road to the left at this point leads to Lower Antelope Canyon and to the Antelope Point Marina. Upon arrival you will pass through a fee station where you will pay the mandatory $8/person to the Navajo Tribal Park. This is a separate fee from the tour itself. During peak times vehicles can be backed up for a considerable distance and it can take up to an hour to pass through the gate.

After parking your vehicle proceed to the registration area and check in. Those that don't have a reservation can have their names put on a waiting list. Anyone that has booked in advance and that hasn't checked in at least 30 minutes prior to their scheduled tour will have their spot given to someone on the walkin list. For that reason you should plan on arriving 90 minutes before your scheduled tour.

Each tour has around 40 people in their group that are divided into smaller groups and loaded into the trucks that ferry them up the wash to the canyon.

Upon arrival at the canyon the person driving the truck will be your tour guide.

Once inside of the canyon the environment is nothing short of enchanting. The amount of light varies throughout the day. The pictures for this post were taken during the 10 o'clock tour. The maximum amount of light occurs during the 11 o'clock, or professional photographers tour, which will cost you $80/person.

To get pictures without other people in them you will have to aim your camera upward.

As the tour progresses through the canyon the guide will point out the most popular places to take a picture.

You can even hand your camera to the guide and they will take the picture for you. Our guide was very knowledgeable and was more than happy to take a picture of you so you can take home something other than a selfie.

Some parts of the canyon are very dim and require a steady hand and a fast lens for a good shot. Be sure and turn your flash off while in the canyon. Pictures taken with the flash on look pretty bad and will probably end up being wasted shots. If you plan on taking a tripod I'm pretty sure that they are only allowed on the $80 tour so check beforehand to be sure.

Eventually the mystique of the canyon comes to an end where it enters an open wash. When your guide is ready they will lead you back through the canyon the same way you came but at a much faster pace. Some of the guides were instructing their groups to take no photos on the way back.

One of the highlights of the photographers tour is to capture a beam of light shining into the canyon from above. The guide will enhance the beam by tossing a handful of sand into the air. This picture shows the same beam of light that was enhanced just by the ambient amount of dust that was present. Some people with respiratory conditions may choose to wear a filter mask for that reason.

All of the tour trucks that are parked here can't be seen in this picture but there are over a dozen of them which should give an idea of the number of people that are in the canyon at any one time. Another thing to note is that the tour will be canceled whenever there are thunderstorms in the area. There were more tours canceled the day previous to this tour than what were completed. Because of the restricted space within the canyon water from a flash flood can can fill it to more than the halfway point giving the water more pressure than a firehose. Last of all be sure to give your guide at least a $5 to $10 tip per person and more if you feel so inclined. Even with the crowds of people Upper Antelope Canyon will amaze you. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.