Comparing Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: Which is Better?
Thinking about visiting Antelope Canyon but can’t decide where? Keep reading to find out the differences between Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon to make the best choice for your trip.
In the heart of the American Southwest, where the sun-drenched deserts of Arizona stretch as far as the eye can see, lies Antelope Canyon, one of America’s top natural wonders.
Antelope Canyon is Arizona’s most visited slot canyon, a beautiful natural landscape which you can walk through and admire all the incredibly smooth and curved walls reaching skyward.
Antelope Canyon might be one long canyon but it is divided into sections, mainly; Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. These separate sections are similar yet different and offer visitors a completely different view and experience of the canyon.
But how do you choose which one to visit?
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Lower Antelope Canyon vs Upper Antelope Canyon so you can decide for yourself which one to visit.
We’ll talk about all the pros and cons of each and all their differences to make the choice easier for you. Keep reading to find out more.
* This ‘ Antelope Canyon lower vs upper ‘ guide contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top-quality content for free.
In a hurry? Below are the best Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon Tours to book now.
Make sure to book early not to miss out on your preferred time slot!
Upper Antelope Canyon
This Upper Antelope Canyon tour is rated one of the best Upper Antelope Canyon Tours. The Navajo Permit fee is also included in it.
This tour for Upper Antelope Canyon is a good alternative.
Lower Antelope Canyon
This Lower Antelope Canyon Tour operated by National Park Express and Ken’s Tours is the best rated online.
If that’s sold out this Lower Antelope Canyon Tour with a Navajo Guide is a great alternative.
What is Antelope Canyon?
Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous slot canyons in the United States. It’s located in the American Southwest, in the state of Arizona.
Antelope Canyon is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and unique geological features; a narrow canyon carved out by rushing water over millions of years.
Today you can descend down onto the canyon floor, and see the magnificently smooth walls and unique striations caused by Mother Nature.
The canyon is generally divided into two main sections that are the most popular: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon, each offering its own distinct characteristics.
Antelope Canyon X is another less popular part of Antelope Canyon which is also worth reading about and visiting.
The Different Parts of Antelope Canyon
When researching your trip to Antelope Canyon you may have found references to Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. These two sections are the most popular ones to visit and see the highest tourist numbers throughout the year.
Which one you visit will depend on your preferences and what you want to see inside Antelope Canyon. It’s also possible to visit both sections if you have the time and if your budget allows.
Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon is the more popular and frequently visited of the two canyon sections. It is known for its smooth, wavy sandstone walls that rise gracefully overhead.
Upper Antelope Canyon is also known for its incredible light beams that penetrate the narrow openings at the top of the canyon creating stunning visual effects, particularly during the middle of the day.
This is what makes Upper Antelope Canyon particularly popular with photographers. It is, for this reason, one of the most photographed slot canyons in the world.
Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon is located a little further south than the Upper part of the Canyon. Lower Antelope Canyon is deeper and narrower than its upper counterpart.
It is characterised by twisting passageways, ladders, and a staircase that visitors can navigate to explore its enchanting depths.
Lower Antelope Canyon doesn’t really have the same dramatic light beams as Upper Antelope Canyon- it does get a few at certain times of the year- yet it’s still a beautiful part of Antelope Canyon to explore.
Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
Both sections of Antelope Canyon are located on Navajo Nation land and can only be accessed through guided tours.
The Navajo Nation oversees access to these canyons to preserve their natural beauty and protect them from over-tourism and vandalism.
To visit Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon or any other slot canyon on Navajo land you’ll need to book a tour.
Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon is the more popular section of Antelope Canyon and this is generally what people have in their minds when referring to Antelope Canyon.
If you’ve seen pictures of Antelope Canyon online with its mesmerising light beams and falling sand, it’s Upper Antelope Canyon you were looking at.
When comparing Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon, one of the biggest differences is the shape of the canyon itself. Upper Antelope Canyon has an A-shape, which means it’s much wider at the bottom than it is at the top.
Due to the narrower top, it means there’s less light here, but the wider bottom also means there’s much more space to move and tour groups can pass each other freely.
It feels much less claustrophobic than some other Arizona Slot Canyons.
Upper Antelope Canyon is more popular than Lower Antelope Canyon for a few reasons.
However, before booking your Upper Antelope Canyon Tour, it’s a good idea to also consider the downsides of this popular canyon. You may realise that this isn’t the best option for you.
Pros of Visiting Upper Antelope Canyon
Ok, so perhaps this one is a bit subjective and yes, both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are similar in their shape but after visiting both, I do think that Upper Antelope Canyon is prettier.
There’s something about the shape of the walls that makes them more dramatic and perhaps more angular.
You’ve also got the possibility of light beams and falling sand down the canyon walls which adds to the magic.
It’s More Photogenic
Upper Antelope Canyon is much more popular for photographers due to the dramatic canyon walls and the coveted light beams. Due to this, it is the most photogenic of the two canyons.
In order to be able to photograph the canyon with a light beam you’ll need to visit between the hours of 10.30 am-1 pm. This will give you the best chance of seeing them.
It’s Less Claustrophobic
If you suffer from claustrophobia and you still want to visit Antelope Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon would be the best option as it’s the widest of the two.
Depending on how claustrophobic you are, you might still find the experience frightening and anxiety-provoking as well, these canyons still are pretty narrow.
Cons of Visiting Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon is the busiest section of Antelope Canyon so it’s here where you’ll see the most crowds. Visitors flock to Upper Antelope Canyon to capture its mesmerizing beauty pretty much all year round.
During the peak times of 10.30 am-1 pm, when you’re more likely to see a light beam, the canyon is super busy and guides push crowds of people through the canyon- quickly.
Due to the sheer number of visitors, the tour here felt rushed and I personally felt that I didn’t have the time I needed to take good photos before the group was moved again to another spot.
At the time of writing, none of the Upper Antelope Canyon Tour companies are offering photography tours. So, if you’re visiting Upper Antelope Canyon, know that you’ll need to take handheld photos and you might not have too much time for it.
The second con is the price of the tour. Visiting Upper Antelope Canyon isn’t cheap. In fact, the price is quite a bit more for Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon Tours.
The general Upper Antelope Canyon tour costs between $80-120 per adult. This can get quite expensive if you’re a family visiting Antelope Canyon.
More Difficult Photography Conditions
Due to Upper Antelope Canyon’s A-shape, it lets much less light. This means Upper Antelope Canyon is much darker which makes handheld photography more difficult.
As you can’t bring a tripod on a general tour, you’ll just need to do your best with the camera and settings you have but it can mean being disappointed with the blurry and dark photos you took at the end of the tour.
Due to Upper Antelope Canyon’s popularity and also the fact that there just aren’t that many tour companies running tours into the canyon, it means that tours fill up months in advance.
The canyon can only accommodate a certain amount of people walking through it at any one time, so numbers are limited.
The most popular tour times are 10 am-1.30 pm, mainly due to the light beams and these tour times will be booked out months in advance, especially for high season summer months.
If you’re visiting in the summer and want to do a tour at the most popular time you’ll need to plan your Arizona itinerary and book your Antelope Canyon tour months in advance.
How to Make the Most of Your Visit
Considering Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon, if you’ve made the decision to visit Upper Antelope Canyon, there are certain things you can do in order to make the most out of your visit.
Firstly, if you’re not too bothered about photography or seeing light beams try to book your tour for earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon as there are fewer people in the canyon at this time.
Secondly and probably the best thing you can do is to time your visit to Antelope Canyon in the shoulder or low season. When visiting in the winter months, for example, you’ll see far fewer crowds than in the summer.
Make sure to also avoid weekends as they are considerably busier.
Which is the Best Upper Antelope Canyon Tour
There are a few different Upper Antelope Canyon Tours.
Four different companies offer tours to Upper Antelope Canyon. They are:
-Antelope Canyon Tours
-Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours
-Adventurous Antelope Canyon
-Antelope Slot Canyon Tours
Most of the companies offer similar tours with slightly higher prices at ‘primetime’, the tour time slots closest to midday. If you’re visiting in the winter months, Antelope Canyon Tours has slightly better off-season rates.
You can also book your Upper Antelope Canyon Tour via Get Your Guide. This Upper Antelope Canyon Tour is the best-rated.
Lower Antelope Canyon
When considering visiting Upper vs. Lower Antelope Canyon, you should also consider Lower Antelope Canyon.
While Upper Antelope Canyon may steal the spotlight, its counterpart, Lower Antelope Canyon, offers a distinct and equally mesmerizing experience.
Located just a short distance away, Lower Antelope Canyon boasts narrower passageways, intricate textures, and a unique charm all its own.
Unlike the A-shape of Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like a V. It’s much wider at the top and narrower at the bottom, the opposite of Upper Antelope Canyon.
Moreover, Lower Antelope Canyon receives more light even into the narrow canyon bottom. It makes it easier to photograph compared with Upper Antelope Canyon.
You may have heard about a section of Antelope Canyon having ladders or steps and this is the one.
Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon isn’t as easy to move around in. In a way, it makes it more fun, but you’ll need to be able to climb a series of metal ladders or stairs and descend down them. It makes the hike much more varied.
Pros of Visiting Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon is cheaper than Upper Antelope Canyon. For the more budget conscious this is something to consider.
It’s More Adventurous
Due to all the ladders, and the narrow canyon walls that you’ll zigzag through and step over, visiting Lower Antelope Canyon feels a little like a fun, natural obstacle course.
This adds to the fun factor of your visit, especially when visiting with older children.
Cons of Lower Antelope Canyon
Few Chances of Seeing Light Beams
For those who have their sights set on seeing and photographing light beams in Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon would not be the best option.
While Lower Antelope Canyon does get some light beams from March until October they are definitely not guaranteed.
Not Suitable for All
Due to the more complex geography, Lower Antelope Canyon isn’t as easy to navigate. There are a series of metal ladders or staircases you’ll need to descend to get down into the Canyon and you’ll need to go up a few more.
To enjoy your visit you should be comfortable climbing steep staircases. They aren’t as steep as a ladder per se but steeper than your average staircase.
For those with reduced mobility, Upper Antelope Canyon is the better option. The same goes for those with claustrophobia.
It’s Just as Crowded
Many years ago, perhaps Lower Antelope Canyon was a lot less crowded than Upper Antelope Canyon. Today that’s not the case anymore.
You can pretty much expect the same crowds on both canyon tours as they are both equally as popular as each other for different reasons.
In the high season expect to wait about 30 minutes before you can actually descend down into the canyon.
For those wanting a more relaxed tour experience and to escape the crowds, there is another alternative that isn’t Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon. Check the FAQs lower down in this post to find out!
How to Make the Most of Your Visit
Just like with Upper Antelope Canyon, there are a few things you can do to maximise your time in the canyon and make the most out of your visit.
As Lower Antelope Canyon does also get very crowded try to book your tour earlier in the morning or a little later in the afternoon. Lower Antelope Canyon gets more light than Upper Antelope Canyon so this is definitely doable.
Avoiding weekends and trying to time your visit during late fall, winter or early spring does have its benefits.
I also suggest leaving everything you don’t need in your car so you have your hands free for taking photos. You’ll be able to maximise your photo time this way.
Which is the Best Lower Antelope Canyon Tour
There are two Lower Antelope Canyon Tour operators.
-Dixie’s Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
Neither tour company offer any photography tours, this is just a walking tour through the canyon.
You’ll find many different prices for Lower Antelope Canyon ranging from generally, $50-$90 depending on what’s included. It’s best to shop around to see which one offers the most for your money.
Book this tour via Get Your Guide which also includes the Navajo National Permit Fee which is generally a separate expense on other tours.
Difference Between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon
Visitors to Antelope Canyon often find themselves torn between choosing to explore Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon.
While both offer incredible beauty, they have distinct characteristics that cater to different preferences and interests.
Whichever you choose to visit you will see a beautiful slot canyon with fantastic yellow, orange and red shades with amazing striations and curved walls. Geographically they are similar.
Here’s the difference between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon.
Shape – When considering Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon, remember that Upper Antelope Canyon has an ‘A ‘ shape and Lower Antelope Canyon has a ‘V’ shape. That means more light in Lower Antelope Canyon but narrower walkways. The opposite is true for Upper.
Accessibility– Upper Antelope Canyon is relatively flat and it’s wider. Lower Antelope Canyon is narrow and you’ll need to navigate around tight curves and up and down ladders.
Light Beams – There’s a much higher chance of seeing the famed light beams at Upper Antelope Canyon, even though it isn’t guaranteed. For a chance to see them, Upper Antelope Canyon is the one to choose.
Cost – Upper Antelope Canyon is quite a bit more expensive than Lower. Considering there is so much more to see in the area such as Grand Canyon, Sedona and Horseshoe Bend, you might want to save on Antelope Canyon Tours to maximise your budget for the rest of your trip.
Crowds – Both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon pretty much see the same crowds. One isn’t any less crowded than the other.
Ultimately, the choice between Antelope Canyon Upper vs Lower depends on your personal preferences.
Some visitors even opt to explore both, like we did, to fully immerse themselves in the beauty and diversity of these extraordinary natural wonders.
Whichever you choose, a visit to Antelope Canyon promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of the Earth’s most captivating geological formations.
The Best Time to Visit Antelope Canyon
When it comes to deciding whether to visit Antelope Canyon Upper or Lower, when you visit will really have a large effect on your overall experience.
One of the major deciding factors on whether to visit Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon lies in the crowds and through personal experience, I know that the crowds can really make or break this Arizona slot canyon experience.
As Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon pretty much have the same crowds, it’s really all about the time of year you visit Antelope Canyon. However, each season does have its pros and cons too.
Spring (March to May)
Spring offers mild and comfortable temperatures, making it an excellent time for outdoor activities. Daytime temperatures typically range from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C).
Springtime lighting in the canyons is generally good, with light beams becoming more prominent as you approach midday. There is more probability of cloudy days in spring however which could block the sun, leading to less light in the canyon.
In terms of crowds, while it can be somewhat crowded during spring break, it’s generally less busy than the peak summer season.
Summer (June to August)
Summers in the Arizona desert can be scorching, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 100°F (38°C). Early morning and late afternoon tours are advisable to avoid the heat. When visiting in summer, make sure to bring a full bottle of water on your tour with you and wear a hat.
The midday sun creates the most prominent light beams during the summer, but it can also be very intense
For crowds, summer is the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and the need to book tours well in advance- as in 6 months in advance for Upper Antelope Canyon at ‘peak time’.
Fall (September to November)
Fall brings pleasant temperatures, with daytime highs ranging from 70°F to 90°F (21°C to 32°C). The weather is generally comfortable for exploring the canyons.
The fall sun angle creates beautiful lighting conditions, with light beams becoming more prominent in the upper canyon.
Crowds tend to decrease after the summer rush, making fall a great time for a less crowded visit. There is quite a large difference between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon crowds in September and November so time your visit for November to get the last number of people on your tour.
Winter (December to February)
Winters in the area are cool, with daytime temperatures averaging between 40°F and 60°F (4°C to 15°C). Nighttime temperatures can drop significantly. We visited in the winter and temperatures were neither too hot or too cold during the day.
While the winter sun doesn’t produce the iconic light beams of other seasons, the canyons’ beauty remains captivating with softer, more even lighting.
For crowds, winter sees fewer tourists, making it a quieter time to explore the canyons. However, some tours may be limited or weather-dependent. For the least amount of crowds, a visit in winter is a good idea.
Which is Better Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon?
So, which Antelope Canyon is better, Upper or Lower? I might not be able to answer this question for you, as your decision will depend on your own preferences, but I found Lower Antelope Canyon to be better.
I personally loved all the ladders and stairs, I think they added a real ‘explorer’ feel to the whole experience. There was also plenty of time for photography and the guides were very knowledgeable and great on the tour that we booked.
That’s not to say that Upper Antelope Canyon wasn’t good either. The tour was good, but there was no chance for us to see light beams (we visited in winter).
Overall, given the much higher price bracket, I’m just not sure it was worth that amount of money. I feel that Lower Antelope Canyon was worth the more affordable price tag.
When visiting in winter, as the crowds are at their lowest, and there are no light beams in any of the sections, I really think they are all fairly similar.
For me, which Antelope Canyon is better? Lower Antelope Canyon and Antelope Canyon X (see below under alternative slot canyon) were both better than Upper Antelope Canyon.
FAQs about Upper Antelope Canyon vs Lower Antelope Canyon
Can You Visit Both in One Day?
Yes, you can book tours to both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in one day. Each tour is about 1.5 – 2 hours long so you can easily fit in two in one day.
Sometimes it’s a great idea to visit both to be able to compare the two. There are people who prefer Upper Antelope Canyon and there are people who prefer Lower Antelope Canyon. Sometimes it’s just better to go to both and decide for yourself.
If you are visiting both, make sure to leave plenty of time between tours. In the summer months, tours can be subject to delays due to crowds and you don’t want to miss the second tour as you won’t be able to get a refund.
I’d recommend scheduling one tour at around 10 am and another at around 2.30 pm to have enough time between them. Note that on the second tour however, the canyon would be quite dark- especially in winter.
Upper Antelope Canyon vs Lower for Photography?
Which is better Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon for photography? This is a difficult question to answer as there are so many factors that are at play when it comes to photography.
It depends on the season, the weather, the amount of light coming into the canyon, crowds and how many people there are on your tour etc.
Generally speaking, photographers tend to go for Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon, mainly due to the light beams. However now that photography tours aren’t running to either Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon, it makes it difficult to take a tripod and have the time you need to take a good photo.
When it comes to photography of Antelope Canyon today, I’d say the field is pretty even, with perhaps Upper Antelope Canyon having a slight advantage because of the light beams you might be able to capture.
Are there any Alternative Arizona Slot Canyons?
There are! Most travellers think that there’s only Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon that you can visit, which, isn’t exactly correct.
Close to Lower Antelope Canyon, you’ll actually find another section, called Antelope Canyon X or Canyon X.
Antelope Canyon X is a much less popular option today and if your main aim is to beat the crowds and have a more peaceful slot canyon experience, this might be the one for you. There are also many other advantages to visiting Canyon X.
Read the full Antelope Canyon X Guide here to find out everything you need to know.
What Should You Pack to Visit Antelope Canyon?
Packing wisely for your visit to Antelope Canyon is essential to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience in the desert environment.
What you need will slightly depend on the season as you’ll need to dress appropriately for the weather but here’s a list of items you should consider bringing:
-Bring your ID and a digital copy of your booking, you’ll need it to check in for your tour.
–Appropriate clothing for the weather – Light, sweat-wicking clothing in the summer, warm layers in the winter.
–Sturdy Footwear – The canyon bottom is sandy and uneven so you’ll need appropriate footwear. You don’t need hiking boots, sturdy sneakers are fine but you probably don’t want to wear sandals, or flip flips or tennis shoes.
– Reusable water bottle with water– stay hydrated whatever the season. In the summer make sure to have a lot of water with you as temperatures can be really high (in the 100s).
–Camera– this one is a given but make sure not to forget it.
–Snacks– Keep snacks in your car as there isn’t much available to buy and eat outside Page.
It doesn’t really matter what bag you pack as all bags and most items will need to stay in your car.
You can’t bring bags on the Antelope Canyon tours, just single items like a cell phone, camera, water, a hat/jacket etc. The less you bring the better.
Where to Stay for Visiting Antelope Canyon
The nearest place to stay to Antelope Canyon is Page, Arizona. Here you’ll find many different types of accommodation and restaurants to visit before or after your tour.
One of the best things we did was to visit Horseshoe Bend for sunrise, come back to Page to have breakfast and then head to Antelope Canyon after that.
You can also spend the night in Flagstaff just note that this is further away and you’ll need more time to get to Antelope Canyon on the day of your tour.
Another option is combining your visit with the Grand Canyon. If you visit Grand Canyon before Antelope Canyon you can stay the night at Grand Canyon South Rim before driving to Antelope Canyon. It takes about 2.5 hours to drive between Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon.
Here are some of the best hotels in Page and Flagstaff.
Courtyard Page at Lake Powell – One of the best hotels in Page, located close to the Glen Canyon Overlook. You’ll find brightly furnished rooms, gorgeous desert views and a pool to cool off in after a day of adventure. Book a stay here.
Hyatt Place Page Lake Powell – Everything you might expect from a Hyatt property yet this one has a superb location with stunning desert views. Rooms are modern, there’s a great pool area and lots of cosy, outdoor nooks for a drink at sunset. Book your stay here.
High Country Motor Lodge– A stunning, design-focused lodge with a chic southwestern feel, this is a great option in Flagstaff. We love the sauna and cool bar for a lovely way to end the day. Book it here.
So which one will you visit? Will it be Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon? Have any questions or comments about your trip? Let me know in the box below.
Now more than ever, make sure not to leave home without travel insurance. For the last few years, I’ve been using Safetywing Nomad Insurance for all my individual trips and digital nomad lifestyle and there’s no better company for all my insurance needs. Cover starts from as little as $42 per month. Get your quote below now.
Planning a trip right now? These are just some of my favourite websites I use to book everything from hotels to rental cars!
Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals worldwide
Booking.com for great deals on hotels
Agoda also for great deals on hotels
FOUND VALUE IN THIS POST? PIN IT AND SHARE