Of the thousands of sandstone canyons scatted across the American Southwest, Antelope Canyon may hold the crown for most mystifying. Perilously narrow and electrified by creeping rays of sun, both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon will make you want to come back for more.
Like so many of the Southwest's attractions, Antelope Canyon is remote and its existence seems improbable. On an endlessly flat landscape, an absolutely awe-inspiring sandstone slot canyon carves a channel through the desert floor. Claustrophobic, photogenic, possibly treacherous and mind-blowing all at once, Antelope Canyon is a must-see for adventurers and photographers alike.
Simply getting to Antelope Canyon is quite the challenge itself. Located on the Navajo Indian Reservation, the closest town is a small outpost called Page, at the foot of Lake Powell. The closest major cities are Las Vegas and Phoenix, each nearly 5 hours away by car, and Salt Lake City, a 6 hour drive. But if you do find yourself in the area, perhaps on a trip to Zion National Park or the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon is an absolute can't-miss.
Because Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo property, and due to high demand, accessing Antelope Canyon requires getting a reservation ahead of time. There are numerous Navajo guide companies authorized to bring tourists into the canyons, and typically charge around $30 per person for an hour-long tour. During peak season, make sure to make a reservation well in advance, or run the risk of being denied entry if you simply show up at the office hoping to visit the canyon that same day.
There are actually two different slot canyons that are collectively referred to as "Antelope Canyon." One is Upper Antelope Canyon, the other is Lower Antelope Canyon. The upper canyon is generally the more sough-after canyon due to its ground-level entry and relatively higher level of internet fame. We suggest visiting Lower Antelope Canyon instead. The views are even better because the canyon is deeper (though entry does involve climbing down a ladder). And Lower Antelope Canyon is typically less expensive and easier to get a reservation for.
No matter which canyon you choose, make sure to bring your best camera. Antelope Canyon is among the most photogenic places perhaps on the entire planet. Going at certain times of the day will allow you to experience absolutely stunning light beams filtering through the canyon ceiling. Check with the reservation office - what time the light filters through depends on the season, and they'll have the most up-to-date information.
The Southwest United States is full of incredible desert scenery, but few places can claim to be as photogenic as Antelope Canyon. With Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley nearby, it could make for an epic Southwest road trip.
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