Antelope Canyon is one of the most popular and most photographed slot canyons in the United States. The canyon is best known for its magnificent flowing sandstone walls and dramatic light beams. It is a photographer's paradise.
Most people visit Antelope Canyon by arranging a guided tour only to be rushed through the overly crowded sections of Upper Antelope Canyon, also known as "The Crack," or Lower Antelope Canyon, also known as "The Corkscrew." Most people don't realize that you can also explore Antelope Canyon by kayak and hike a short ways up the canyon with or without a guide.
Begin at the Antelope Point Marina just 4 miles north of Lower Antelope Canyon in the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. The entrance fee is $25 per vehicle or $12 per person for walk-ins. This fee can be waived if you have an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Land Pass. Boat tours and kayak rentals are offered by the marina and several different outfitters in the area. Please check for rates and availability.
Unload your kayaks at the boat launch and park your vehicle in the nearby parking lot. The kayaking route is between 5 and 6 miles round trip, depending on the water level of the lake. Please keep in mind that the more boats, the busier the lake is, and rougher water requires more energy to paddle. For weaker paddlers, try going earlier in the day or on weekdays when fewer boats are active on the lake.
Once in the water, paddle your way out of the launching area and make your way to the left following the shoreline around Antelope Point. Continue to follow this shoreline for approximately 1 mile before reaching the mouth of Antelope Canyon. The canyon will be on your left and marked with a buoy. The mouth of the canyon starts off quite wide, but it narrows the farther in you venture. Boat tours and private boats regularly pass through the wider parts of the canyon, so be sure to stay alert at all times in this area.
Boats choose to ignore the no-wake zone, and they come flying around the corners. For this reason, it is safest to stay close to the canyon walls until the canyon becomes too narrow for boats. Follow the curves through the canyon for about 1.5 to 2 miles before reaching the edge of the shoreline. The last part of the canyon will become more difficult to paddle through as the walls close in. Use your hands to push your kayak along if necessary.
Once you reach the shoreline, there may be debris floating in stagnant water that mostly consists of plant matter and small pieces of driftwood. Unfortunately, you will need to walk through this muck because this section of the canyon is too narrow to turn a kayak around without getting out of the boat. You can also pull your kayak out of the water and up a few feet if you plan on hiking up the canyon. Be sure to leave an open path for anyone else coming up the canyon behind you.