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Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: What is Better?

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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 unsure where to start, remember that the Antelope Canyon is split into two locations – upper and lower.

You might wonder whether you should visit the upper or the lower Antelope Canyon. It can be safely said that the world has nothing like the Antelope Canyons. They are incredible and will blow your mind. They look like a work of art in the desert.

Upper Antelope

Walking through the narrow canyons, you will feel like you are entering a new world. But you will not be alone. The canyons are widely popular worldwide and can get busy there.

The high season is between April and 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.

Comparing the Upper and Lower Canyons

Tourists in Lower Antelope Canyon

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 and Lower Antelope Canyon.

Here’s a comparison table to help you understand the differences between the two before we do a deeper dive into each canyon:

FeatureUpper Antelope CanyonLower Antelope Canyon
PopularityMore popular with visitorsLess crowded
Length100 yards600 meters
TerrainMostly flat, walkable for mostRequires descent/ascent of stairs, navigation over boulders
Shape“A-frame,” above-ground“V-shaped,” below-ground
AccessibilityWalk required from exit back to vehicles; video provided for assessmentVideo walk-through recommended to assess for mobility issues
Sunlight PhenomenonShafts of light visible late spring to early fallNo specific mention of light shafts
Recent ChangesMile-long series of steps and walkways installedNot specified
Tour CompaniesFive licensed Navajo-owned companiesTwo licensed companies
Starting PointTribal Park entrance or downtown Page, Arizona with transport to canyonCompany headquarters with short walk to canyon entrance
ExperienceCan feel crowded; divine light beamsMore physical challenges; intimate experience

Upper 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 yearly.

This part of the canyon is popular in Arizona, and it was 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 it looks like you are walking through a painted world of rock and sand. No words can justify the beauty of the canyon.

Antelope Swirling Rock Formation

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 welcomes one and all, but the canyon’s top is slightly narrow and dimmer than its counterpart.

A major attraction of the Upper Antelope is the light beams. The beams slice from the canyon roof 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, alluring shafts of sunlight look like surreal imagery. These light beams are more common in the upper canyon than in 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 explain the canyon’s origins. Guides also help take stunning photos, but large photography equipment is prohibited.

Sunlight in Upper Antelope Canyon

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

This is also reason enough to experience this part of the canyon again. 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 45 minutes to an hour, and it is a bit pricier compared to the Lower Antelope.

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Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon Scenery

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

Visitors must walk about a quarter of a mile from the parking to the staircase that will take them to the canyon. The staircase is comfortable, and any able-bodied person can go 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 canyon’s ground and a wider top similar to the letter V.

Lower Antelope

The twisty path and the stairs make the canyon much 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, reflecting and glowing off the walls in the same fashion as light beams. The Lower Antelope is less crowded during peak hours, which is excellent for those who want a more intimate experience.

Lower Antelope CanyonLower Antelope Canyon and Scenery

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

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

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Get the best experience from Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

The Antelope Canyon is great! The Antelope Canyon map will reflect the vastness of natural beauty. Regardless of your canyon, you will make the most of the stunning natural wonders.

Considering the similarities and differences between the two canyons, you should be able to decide which 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.

Sunlight Entering the Upper Antelope Canyon

The lighting and trajectory of the rays will greatly impact 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 must 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 and early March.

Upper Antelope Canyon Sunlight

When booking the tour, the best time to visit the Antelope Canyon is 10:30 a.m. for the Upper Antelope. The lower part is very flexible as the top is wider, allowing 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 you can’t fit these times into your schedule, do not worry.

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

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Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon

Rock Swirls in Lower Antelope Canyon

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

Upper Antelope Canyon Pros

Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona
  • 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 Canyon. So, if you feel dizzy at climbing stairs in a narrow canyon, this one is an ideal choice. It is flat, easy, and a shorter walk through the canyon. This is a major difference between Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.
  • Surreal and stunning atmosphere– The atmosphere inside Upper Antelope Canyon is surreal and out of this world. No amount of words can do justice to the natural beauty of this place. Its stunning atmosphere attracts millions of tourists worldwide, and many visit the beautiful destination repeatedly because they cannot have enough of it.
  • Best for photographers– The Upper Antelope Canyon is popular for its light beams and award-winning photographs. If you are keen on photography, you can take a special Upper Antelope Canyon tour and click mesmerizing pictures. It would be best if you remembered 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.

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Potential drawbacks of Upper Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon Rock Formation
  • There is only one entrance– The Upper Antelope Canyon has a single entrance and exit. This is a major drawback. When you reach the canyon’s end, you must turn around and return 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, Upper Antelope Canyon is usually crowded. All tourists want to take the perfect picture of the light, which is why it is much more touristy.
  • It is slightly pricier– The tour cost is slightly higher than the Lower Antelope Canyon, mainly for its 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 get enough time to soak in the beauty of the place because of the tourists.

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Lower Antelope Canyon Pros

Lower Antelope Canyon
  • There is a shorter waiting time– Lower Antelope Canyon is a good choice for you if you are short on time. There is a shorter waiting time, and it is less crowded.
  • The tour is lengthy– The basic Lower Antelope Canyon tour lasts about an hour, and the special photography tour lasts more than two hours. It is longer because the canyon itself is large and long. This might not be a big issue if you are not concerned about enclosed spaces. You can 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 than the Upper Antelope.
  • Lower Antelope Canyon tours are less expensive than the Upper Antelope tours. A photographic tour, tour groups, and a general tour of the canyons are available from a tour company or a tour operator.
  • Remains less crowded than the other canyon– Both the canyons are popular and remain crowded, but the Lower Antelope Canyon is less crowded. Even if you are not on a photography tour, you can get some good photos from time to time.
  • The entry is on one side, and the exit is 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 Canyon 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.

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Potential drawbacks of Lower Antelope

Lower Antelope Swirling Rocks
  • The entrance is only accessible through the steep stairway – The major reason people shy away from 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 the Lower Antelope as you do in the Upper Antelope. This is a major difference between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. However, it has some stunning sights and will not disappoint you. Light beams in the Lower Antelope Canyon are rare, which is why the Upper Antelope is more popular. The light gets through and makes the walls glow, but you will not see the iconic beams that shine through to the ground.
  • It is less popular than the Upper Antelope Canyon – The Upper Antelope Canyon is known for its light beams and attracts many visitors who do not want to miss out on it. This is why the Lower Antelope Canyon 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 Antelope Canyon vs Lower Antelope Canyon.

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Reaching the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon

Tourist in Antelope Canyon

Visiting the Antelope Canyon on a tour with a guide is only possible. Hence, you should book well in advance because thousands of tourists visit daily. Do not expect to be able to hop on to the next tour.

The Antelope Canyons are accessible from Page, a 15-minute drive to visit Upper Antelope Canyon or Lower Antelope Canyon.

The other areas to stay in are about two hours away. There are other tourist attractions in Page that you might want to cover. The Canyon can be reached in 5 hours by road from Las Vegas and 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 Navajo Parks and Recreation protects the Antelope Canyon, 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?

The tour guide can’t 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; 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 Antelope Canyon is during the 11:30 a.m. tour from April to September.

They are easily visible on sunny days. If 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 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 canyon sides in a single day. You can check out the Antelope Canyon tour packages. You can start with the Upper Antelope Canyon between 11 am and 2 pm, and visiting the Upper Canyon first is recommended.

Then move towards the Lower Canyon and enter at 2 pm. This will allow you 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; 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 of Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon and then decide.

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