Unsplash / Tom Gainor

The insta-worthy canyon in Arizona is good for more than just photographs

Quick notes:

  • There are two parts of Antelope Canyon to choose from

  • Knowing when to go is your best bet

  • The beautiful hikes are the best way to test your own limits

Antelope Canyon, located in Page, Arizona, offers some of the best slot canyons to visit in the American Southwest. Separated into two sections, the Upper and Lower Canyon, it’s a wonder of the world that isn’t to be missed. With its breathtaking views and magical crevasses, Antelope Canyon would be a hiking trip for the books.

Although the tours through the canyons are guided, there are ways you can prep for your trip to make sure that you make the most out of your hike and capture the best photographs to take home with you.

Pack the essentials

Chances are, you’ll be spending a good chunk of your day at Antelope Canyon, especially if you want to visit both the Upper and Lower parts. The first and foremost item you’ll want in your travel bag is water. It’s in Arizona, and especially if you’re visiting during the summer months, water will be your best friend.

You’ll also want to bring cash to pay for the tour and parking, a good DSLR camera if you wish the photos to have a lasting impression on your feed, comfortable footwear made for hiking, and loose-fitting clothes that will help keep you cool. Some parts of the trek through the canyon can get a little dicey, so it’s best to be dressed appropriately. Also, there’s dust galore, so wearing the proper attire is a must if you’re not planning on ruining any of your good clothes.


Know when to go

When you want to go will vary greatly on what kind of vibe you want to experience. From around ten in the morning to two in the afternoon is when most tourists hit up Antelope Canyon because the sunbeams come in through the slots. This is better visually, for both the eye and the camera.

If you have an aversion to crowds, however, there are ways around that. The Lower Canyon is way less crowded than the Upper, but it does have less light, and time is more limited to see the sunbeams. Hitting up the Lower Canyon before eleven will give you ample time to experience the sundrenched crevasses without the massive crowds.

Charge your electronics beforehand

The beautiful crevasses of Antelope Canyon deserve to be caught on camera, so you’ll want to make sure that everything you need to take breathtaking photos is on-hand and at full battery. Whether you’re going to be using just your iPhone, or a professional-level DSLR, you’ll want to make sure both are fully charged and ready to go.

The Lower Canyon is way less crowded than the Upper, but it does have less light, and time is more limited to see the sunbeams

Bring extra batteries for your camera, and even a tripod if you want to impress your friends with your stunning shots. The Upper Antelope Standard Tour doesn’t allow cameras and tripods, though, so opting for the photo tour might be best if you’re looking for a more photographable experience. If you are bringing a DSLR, it would also be good to have extra memory cards just in case you snap shots like they’re going out of style.

Plan your trip

There are many ways you can take to get to Antelope Canyon. Tour buses will take you to and from the canyon, but don’t offer as much freedom as renting a car. With a car rental, you’ll be able to see the surrounding spots too and choose the time of your hike to coincide with anything else you’re going to be doing that day.

Both canyons are equally as beautiful but knowing which one you’re most comfortable completing will help make your trip that much more memorable.

It’s also recommended that you book your tour in advance because lines can get long, and if you’re going to the Lower Canyon, it’s a guided tour only.  Making sure your tour is planned and on a timeline will avoid any long waits in line.

Know your limits

Depending on what part of the canyon you’ll be visiting, you’ll want to know how much you can handle. The Upper Canyon, at 300 feet, is significantly busier but does offer a more relaxed hike for those that want to explore the scenery but have mobility issues.

The Lower Canyon has high incline ladders and is only a one-way, so there’s no turning back once you start your journey through. The hike down to the Lower Canyon is also steep and narrow, so keep that in mind before you choose which level you’re most prepared for.

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