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Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: What is Better?

Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: What is Better?

All of us have heard about the surreal experience of the exquisite Antelope Canyon. We have seen the breathtaking pictures and read all about the tour reviews.

If you are ready to experience the beauty of the place with your own eyes but are not sure where to start, you need to keep in mind that the Antelope Canyon is split into two locations – upper and lower.

You might be wondering whether you should visit the upper or the lower Antelope Canyon.

It can be safely said that there is nothing like the Antelope Canyons in the world. They are incredible and will blow your mind. They look like a work of art in the desert.

As you start to walk through the narrow canyons, you will feel like you are walking into a whole new world. But, you will not be alone.

Upper Antelope

The canyons are widely popular across the world and it can get really busy in there. The high season is between April to October as this is when you can get to see the best beams of light. You might have to book your tour four months in advance.

The Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon offer similar experiences from the inside. They are the same age and are created in the same way. Both have similar views but a few differences between how they are run and what you should expect once you book a tour of the Antelope Canyon.

Even with many similarities, there are some differences between Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon.

Upper Antelope Canyon

There is a different entrance to upper and lower Antelope Canyon tours. The prices and crowds are also different. Known for the beam of light phenomenon, the Upper Antelope Canyon attracts many tourists each year.

This part of the canyon is popular in Arizona and it is formed due to the massive flash floods that eroded the Navajo sandstone.

We need to be grateful for the monsoon seasons in Arizona as, without the natural occurrence, the Canyon would not exist.

Many say that it looks as if you are walking through a painted world created of rock and sand. No words can justify the beauty of the canyon.

The entire length of the Upper Antelope is at the ground level. It means there is easy access for people. It is wide at the bottom and gets quite narrow at the top, the canyon looks similar to the letter A.

Upper Antelope1

This means tourists can easily walk through the canyon. It is welcoming to one and all but the top of the canyon is slightly narrow and dimmer than its counterpart.

A major attraction of the Upper Antelope is the light beams.  The beams slice from the roof of the canyon around noon on most clear days. This is what makes it stand out as compared to the Lower Antelope.

When you peep through the top, there are alluring shafts of sunlight that look like surreal imagery.

These beams of light are more common in the upper canyon as compared to the lower. A lot depends on the time of the tour you book. The peak times to visit the Upper Antelope are usually booked in advance.

The guide will walk you through the corridors and will explain the origins of the canyon. Guides also help take stunning photos, but large photography equipment is not permitted.

At the end of the canyon, you turn right around and head back to the entrance, which means you walk twice as much as compared to the Lower Antelope.

This is also reason enough to experience this part of the canyon for another time. A lot of people find themselves wishing for more time when inside.

The Upper Antelope is 300 feet long and can accommodate 100 people at a time. A tour lasts for about 45 minutes to an hour and it is a bit pricier as compared to the Lower Antelope.

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Lower Antelope Canyon

The baby brother is slightly different. It is known as the spiral rock arches and is located many miles away from the Upper. You will find many twisty and curvy paths in the canyon.

Visitors have to walk about a quarter of a mile from the parking to the staircase that will take you to the canyon.

The staircase is comfortable to walk on and any able-bodied person can make their way down.

Once you enter the canyon, if you have been inside the Upper Antelope Canyon, you will notice that the shape of the Lower is topsy turvy.

It has a narrow walking space on the ground of the canyon and it has a wider top that is similar to the letter V.

Lower Antelope

The twisty path and the stairs make the canyon a lot more fun for families. There are not many beams shooting down from the skies above. However, it should not deter you from the Lower Antelope.

The top opening of the canyon allows light to enter your pathways and it reflects and glows off the walls in the same fashion as light beams.

The Lower Antelope is less crowded in peak hours and it is excellent for those who want a more intimate experience.

This side of the canyon is large and leads to a lengthier tour. It can take about an hour to an hour and a half to trek through the canyon.

Another benefit of the canyon is that you can enter by climbing down into one end and emerging on the other side. There are no dodging tourists here as everyone is going in one direction to the end. It is also a little cheaper.

See Related: Best Things to do in Sedona With Kids

Get the best experience from Antelope Canyon

The Antelope Canyon is great! The Antelope Canyon map will reflect the vastness of natural beauty. Irrespective of the canyon you choose, you will make the most of the stunning natural wonder.

Considering the similarities and differences between the two canyons, you should be able to decide for yourself which one suits your preferences.

No matter which one you choose to visit, time remains a crucial factor. Understand the difference between upper and lower Antelope Canyon and then make a decision.

The lighting and trajectory of the rays will have a huge impact on how intense the walls glow in the Lower Antelope. The time will also decide how prevalent the light beams appear in the Upper Antelope.

If you want the best lighting, you need to visit between the end of March and October and if you want to catch Antelope Canyon at a less busy hour, you need to travel between November to early March.

When booking the tour time, the best time of day to visit the Antelope Canyon is 10:30 am for the Upper Antelope. The lower part is very flexible as the top is wider and it allows the sun to have a wide range to soak the canyon in light.

For the Lower Antelope, it is best to take the tour between 10 am to 1 pm. However, if it is not possible for you to fit these times into your schedule, do not worry.

The canyon is still beautiful and surreal all day. Do not go in the dead of the night as it can be dark down there.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon

Here is a quick glance at the pros and cons of each canyon for you. You can then decide between Lower Antelope Canyon dixie or ken.

Perks of Upper Antelope

Chance of seeing the beautiful light beams– A huge draw for the tourists, the light beams are a major perk of visiting Upper Antelope Canyon. You might have seen some of the most famous photos taken in this canyon.

No mobility issues– There are no stairs in the Upper Antelope. So, if you feel dizzy at the idea of climbing stairs in a narrow canyon, this one is an ideal choice for you. It is flat, easy, and a shorter walk through the canyon. This is a major difference between Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon.

Surreal and stunning atmosphere– The atmosphere inside the canyon is surreal and out of the world. No amount of words can do justice to the natural beauty of this place.

Its stunning atmosphere attracts millions of tourists from across the world and there are many who visit the destination time and again because they cannot have enough of it.

Best for photographers– The Upper Antelope Canyon is very popular for the light beams and award-winning photographs. If you are keen on photography, you can take a special tour and click mesmerizing pictures.

You need to remember that the time of the tour will play a major role in the way your photos come out. As a photographer, this is the best canyon to visit.

See Related: Best Hotels in Page, Arizona

Potential drawbacks of Upper Antelope

There is only one entrance– The Upper Antelope Canyon has a single entrance and exit. This is a major drawback. When you reach the end of the canyon, you need to turn around and walk back to the exit. This causes a lot of movement inside the canyon and can be distracting.

It is more touristy– Highly popular for the light beams, this part of the Antelope Canyon is usually crowded. All tourists want to take the perfect picture of the light and this is why it is much more touristy.

It is slightly pricier– The tour cost is slightly higher as compared to the Lower Antelope, mainly for the popularity. If you book the tour at the right time, it will all be worth it.

Crowded– Since this part of the canyon is more popular, there are more tourists. The canyon is already narrow and it can feel claustrophobic at times. You might not be able to get enough time to soak in the beauty of the place because of the tourists.

Perks of Lower Antelope

There is a shorter waiting time– If you are short on time, the Lower Antelope Canyon is a good choice for you. There is a shorter waiting time and it is less crowded.

The tour is lengthy– The basic tour lasts for about an hour and the special photography tour lasts for more than two hours. It is longer because the canyon itself is large and longer. If you are not concerned about enclosed spaces, this might not be a big issue. You will get an opportunity to make the most of every moment spent at the Lower Antelope.

You can enjoy an intimate experience– There are fewer tourists and you can comfortably spend time inside the canyon, exploring and getting the right pictures. The Lower Antelope Canyon photography tours promise a much more intimate experience as compared to the Upper Antelope.

More affordable– Lower Antelope Canyon tours are less pricier as compared to the Upper Antelope.

Remains less crowded than the other canyon– Both the canyons are very popular and remain crowded but the Lower Antelope Canyon is less crowded. Even if you are not on a photography tour, you will be able to get some good photos from time to time.

The entry is on one side and exit on the other- There is a major difference in how to get to Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. A huge advantage of the Lower Antelope is a different entry and exit.

This makes it very comfortable to walk around and there is enough space for everyone. It will make you feel less claustrophobic.

Potential drawbacks of Lower Antelope

The entrance is only accessible through the steep stairway– The major reason for people to shy away from the Lower Antelope Canyon is the stairs.  If you are mobile and do not have major health issues, these stairs will not trip you up. It is only an issue for the elderly.

Absence of light beams– You will not be able to see the light beams in Lower Antelope as you do in the Upper Antelope. This is a major difference between Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon. However, it does have some stunning sights and will not disappoint you at all.

Light beams in the Lower Antelope Canyon are rare and this is why the Upper Antelope is more popular. The light does get through and makes the walls glow but you will not get to see the iconic beams that shine through to the ground.

It is less popular than the Upper Antelope– The Upper Antelope is known for the light beams and it attracts many visitors who do not want to miss out on it. This is why the Lower Antelope is less popular.

Not suitable for those with mobility issues– There is a steep stairway at the entrance of the antelope which is slightly difficult for the elderly and those with mobility issues.

This is one factor to consider in Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon.

See Related: Best Southwest Vacation Destinations

Reaching the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon

It is only possible to enter the canyon on a tour with a guide. Hence, you should book well in advance because there are thousands of tourists visiting daily. Do not expect to be able to hop on to the next tour.

The canyons are accessible from Page which is a 15-minute drive.

The other areas to stay in are about two hours away. There are other sites in Page that you might want to cover.

The Canyon can be reached in 5 hours by road from Las Vegas and in 4 hours from Phoenix.

The closest airports are also Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I visit Antelope Canyon by myself?

No, it is not possible to visit the canyon by yourself. The Antelope Canyon is protected by the Navajo Parks and Recreation and only a few tour authorized companies can take visitors to the canyon.

The main reason for a guided tour is your safety. You can only enter with Antelope Canyon tickets from an authorized company and a tour guide. You can also take last-minute Antelope Canyon tours.

Can you leave me inside the canyon to explore by myself?

It is not possible for the tour guide to leave you inside the canyon. There are strict guidelines to have a guide present at all times with the visitors. You cannot go on a self-guided hike in the canyon.

Entry is restricted to tours only and you will not be left alone inside. The tour guides will provide you with a fully guided tour.

What is the time to see the beam of light at Antelope Canyon?

The world-famous beams of light depend on the sunlight. The best time to visit the Antelope Canyon is during the 11:30 am tour time in April to September.

They are easily visible on sunny days. In case it is cloudy, you cannot cancel the tour because the weather is not in anybody’s hands. The canyon looks forever beautiful and the tour times always have something unique to offer for photo opportunities.

Can I take my children on the tour of Antelope Canyon?

Yes, you can visit Antelope Canyon with children. It is safe for children of all ages. The walk does not involve any dangerous heights but you should consider the season when traveling.

Is it possible to cover the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in one day?

Yes, you can cover both sides of the canyon in a single day. You can check out the Antelope Canyon tour packages. You can start with the Upper Antelope Canyon between 11 am to 2 pm and it is recommended to visit the Upper Canyon first. Then move towards the Lower Canyon and enter is at 2 pm. This will give you a chance to see the best of both the canyons.

All tour operators have different starting times so you need to book the tour accordingly. You will have time to travel between the canyons. You can spend a maximum of two hours in the canyons and some offer 60 or 90-minute tours. Doing both in a day is possible if you plan accordingly.

Is Antelope Canyon safe for the elderly?

Yes, the canyon is completely safe for the elderly, and those over 65 need to consider carefully how much they can walk and whether they can handle outside temperatures. Consider the perks and drawbacks in Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon and then make a decision.

Related Resources

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