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Upper Antelope Canyon

Colorado River Grand Canyon, Arizona

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Upper Antelope Canyon

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  • Upper Antelope Canyon is a truly beautiful place.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Tour meeting place just east of the canyon entrance.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • The entrance to Upper Antelope is not particularly impressive.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Once inside the entrance, the outer world disappears.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • The canyon is mostly level and does not require climbing ladders.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Abstract shapes are everywhere.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Upper Antelope Canyon was formed by flash floods over millions of years.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • A few props have been tastefully placed to good effect.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • The "heart" formation is always pointed out by the guides.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • The light is ever-changing and always amazing.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Even though the canyon is narrow, the high walls make it seem huge.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Time goes fast in the canyon, and it is difficult to leave.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Light broken by a log jammed in the canyon's slot.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • A focused beam of light lasts mere minutes in Antelope Canyon.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Sand falls in a wide chamber.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • The areas in Upper Antelope Canyon vary by size.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • A narrow section of Upper Antelope Canyon.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Upper Antelope Canyon is a photographer's paradise.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • The light reflects off the walls in Upper Antelope Canyon.- Upper Antelope Canyon
  • - Upper Antelope Canyon
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Unique and beautiful slot canyon. Extremely photogenic.
Cons: 
Accessible by tour only. Expensive. Usually very crowded. Dusty.
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Region:
Colorado River Grand Canyon, AZ
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Parking Pass: 
Other
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Upper Antelope Canyon is a well-known and iconic photographic location in northern Arizona. For many photographers, this is definitely a must-see destination. Even for non-photographers it is truly a marvel to behold and awe-inspiring in the truest sense of the phrase. The combination of the gracefully carved sandstone walls and the marvelous filtered light coming through those walls makes for one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Unfortunately, the canyons are small, the number of people who want to see them is large, and that is a formula for crowds. The Antelope Canyons (Upper and Lower) are located on the Navajo Reservation near Page, Arizona. They are only accessible with a Navajo guide, and there are a plethora of guides in and around Page. Stay any amount of time in Page and you will see pickup trucks modified to hold about ten people on seats in the truck bed filled with dusty, coughing tourists with bandanas around their faces.

One way to avoid this experience is to go on a photography tour with one of the better companies. They transport visitors in a closed SUV and manage the crowds in the canyon so there is at least a chance for decent photographs. Tours of Upper Antelope range from $35 to about $85, depending on the group size and length of the tour.

Whichever company is used, the trip to the canyon mouth is a few miles down a very wide and dusty wash that does not look very promising. At the end of the wash is a narrow crack in the canyon wall that serves as the entrance to the canyon. Once you are inside the canyon, the beauty and strangeness of the place is overwhelming. During mid-day in the summer months, the sun shines directly into some of the areas of the canyon, making light beams if dust is in the air.

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means "the place where water runs through rocks." And run it does! A 4-inch rainstorm (which happens occasionally here) will turn into a 20-foot wall of water rushing through the canyon at 40 miles per hour! The guide companies all monitor NOAA weather and are very aware of flash flood dangers. Tours during the times of the light beams are the most crowded, and the net effect of tour guides repeatedly throwing sand in the air is easy to imagine. In spite of the drawbacks of this place, it is truly amazing to visit and should especially be a destination for photographers.

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