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Buckle up because this post is long. I’m overwhelmed just trying you outline this post and gather information so I can only imagine how overwhelmed you are trying to find the best Upper Antelope Canyon tour.
Also, don’t worry, I do know how overwhelming it is to not only choose which Page slot canyon to visit but which Upper Antelope Canyon tour companies are best.
My mission living in Page was to become a slot canyon expert, basically, and see as many as I could. I missed a few but when most are $90+, it’s hard to squeeze them all in.
But just days before leaving, we went to Upper Antelope Canyon and I have thoughts. So many thoughts. I’m going to share all of those thoughts with you here and share everything you need to know to visit Upper Antelope Canyon.
If you want to know about the other canyons in the area, I have posts on Lower Antelope, Antelope X, and Waterhole Canyons as well as a whole big post comparing all of them on the way (my next post.)
In this post you’ll learn about the different Upper Antelope Canyon tours, how to visit Antelope Canyon, how much tours cost, where to stay near Antelope Canyon, things to do near Antelope Canyon, and more.
Save this post for later, take notes, I don’t even know but hopefully this will help you plan the best visit to Upper Antelope Canyon possible.
As I’m writing this, I’m realizing I’m probably not selling you on it that well, but I think going at the right time of day would be a world of difference. I was fairly disappointed in the first tow canyons but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
I go into detail on each canyon below and will let you know which ones are worth it (if it all) and when they’re worth it. Because they are, I suppose, just not at 8AM in February.
Our Upper Antelope Canyon experience
Since my goal before leaving Page was to see as many slot canyons as possible, deciding which Upper Antelope tour company to go with was easy.
Adventurous Antelope Canyon was the one I wanted because you could go to three canyons on one tour: Upper Antelope, Rattlesnake, and Owl Canyons.
The hardest part of deciding was when to go and we just kept pushing it back because of how expensive it is. For two of us doing all three not even at prime time it was over $500.
It’s very overpriced, I’ll be the first to admit that. But $500 for two people!? That’s absolutely insane and I want to cry thinking about it sometimes. It is not worth over $500 for two people.
I wanted to see all three though and this is the only company we could do that with. We did the morning tour, I wanted to do prime time but it was more expensive and all booked up by the time we decided to go for it.
Our tour started at 8 and we had to be there at 7:30. Well, we get there on time and the only other car is another person on the tour. It said we leave at 7:45.
So we get there, walk around, look for anyone, and find no one. We wait. It’s 7:45 and wait some more. Finally someone gets there at 8 but I don’t think we left until almost 8:15.
It was annoying being told to be there 30 minutes early when no one working there was even there until 8. But the other car there when we got there were the only other people in our group so there were only four of us!
So I feel like my annoyance was a little lessened out knowing it was a really small group. But still. If I have to be there 30 minutes ahead, so should whoever is working.
The other couple got up at 4AM to drive three hours from Sedona for this, three hours at 4AM!! No thank you. They were originally just doing Upper Antelope and Rattlesnake but decided to join us in Owl to make things easier, and what’s one more canyon?
So we set off to Owl Canyon first. This is just a short canyon where you can sometimes see owls roosting in the curves of the canyon walls but all we got to see was their poop.
Owl Canyon is pretty short and it’s not as tall as others but it’s still cool enough and we did have it to ourselves. I will say, though, I would skip this one if I were you. It’s good but it’s absolutely not worth an additional $30.
Next up we headed to the main event: Upper Antelope Canyon, the top dog, the big cheese. The darkest slot canyon ever. Now, don’t forget, we were here in the morning aka not prime time.
And the Upper Antelope slot canyon is an A shape so there isn’t much light that gets in. It. Was. Dark. So dark. We didn’t actually see other people in here but we could hear the groups before and after us.
I don’t think this is normal, to not actually see other people in it, but they are still at 50% capacity and it was a weekday in mid-February which certainly helped.
The canyon itself isn’t that long and were weren’t in there too long but we weren’t as rushed as I think we would have been in peak season.
It was just so dark, it was really hard to be impressed and enjoy it. I actually felt sad while we were in there that we spent so much money to go to this grand place that people literally travel thousands of miles to see and we couldn’t even see it.
Like, $200 is a lot of money for a tour like this and to barely even be able to see it is really disappointing. I don’t even know why tours are offered so early in Upper Antelope.
I think we got there around 9, maybe, and this isn’t a dig at the company we went with in any way, but I don’t understand why anyone offers tours there in the morning (and I assume the afternoon is the same.)
I know they want to make money, of course, and get as many people in there as they can and it would be so much harder to visit with only a few tours at prime time but honestly, if you’re not going at prime time, it will be dark in there. So dark.
At the very end of Upper Antelope we did get a glimpse of what we were missing out on and got to see a little of that orange glow but it wasn’t much.
After the disappointment of Upper Antelope, we headed over to Rattlesnake Canyon, my favorite part of this tour. Just a short walk from Upper Antelope is a little bonus canyon then Rattlesnake Canyon.
We got there at the same time as another group and hung around at the entrance for a bit while they got going. This one has a couple of ladders in it but they’re pretty short, I think.
The lighting in here was a lot better because it was closer to mid-day but was probably around 9:30? Maybe 10? We took our time making our way through this winding canyon (that’s where it gets it’s name) enjoying the scenery.
There are two little arches in this canyon and it just feels a little more adventurous than the others. But it’s still really easy to get through.
We also got to hear some little baby owls tweeting in here! We couldn’t really see them and I thought it was our guide making the sounds but it was actual baby owls haha.
I also want to note here, our guide was wonderful. He made the tour enjoyable, showed us great places to take photos, told us stories about growing up here, told us all about flash floods, and let us take our time as much as we could.
It definitely didn’t feel rushed which was great because these usually do. Overall, I don’t feel that positively about this experience (not the company’s fault), it was just disappointing based on what I expected.
I knew it would be darker than at prime time but I didn’t realize just how dark it would really be. So this is your warning: Upper Antelope Canyon outside of prime time is terribly dark.
I would still recommend visiting Upper Antelope Canyon and definitely Rattlesnake but I think Owl could be skipped and I wouldn’t do this tour outside of prime time. It’s more expensive but it’s really the only time I think it’s worth it.
How to visit Upper Antelope Canyon
You have to visit Upper Antelope Canyon on a tour. You actually have to go to all of the slot canyons on Navajo Nation with tours. There is no way around that.
Upper Antelope Canyon tour companies
There are five tour companies that offer Upper Antelope Canyon tours and they are all similar in price but vary slightly. They are all more expensive at prime time because lighting is best.
Here are the Upper Antelope Canyon tour companies and prices as of March 2022 (the $8 Navajo Tribal park fee is not included in most of the prices listed):
- Adventurous Antelope Canyon – $102 for just Upper Antelope, $184 for Upper and Rattlesnake, $209 for Upper, Rattlesnake, and Owl
- Antelope Canyon Tours – $82 – It looks like this one is booked through September 2022? Am I reading that right?
- Tsebighanilini – $92
- Antelope Slot Canyon Tours – $95
- Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours – $92
Prime time is usually $10-$30 more than the regular price with all of the Upper Antelope tour companies and they usually start around 11 AM.
Upper Antelope, Rattlesnake, and Owl Canyon tour
Overall, I thought the Upper Antelope, Rattlesnake, and Owl Canyon tour was pretty OK. I would probably skip the Owl canyon portion of it and just do Upper and Rattlesnake, if your budget allows. It’s just so expensive!
If you are doing one or all three of these, I wouldn’t do them outside of prime time, which makes it even more expensive. It don’t think the tour is worth it for that first morning time, or probably the afternoon one.
Upper Antelope Canyon photography tours
I don’t believe Upper Antelope Canyon photography tours are available right now. This page says photography tours in Upper Antelope no longer exist as of December 31, 2019.
Another website talks about photo tours but when you click book now it takes you to the regular booking link, so I think you’re tough out of luck here and have to work with the regular tours.
Best Upper Antelope Canyon tour
I’m not sure I can answer this one without doing all of the Upper Antelope Canyon tours offered and I will definitely not be paying to do four more of these.
If you’ve done an Upper Antelope tour, I would love to hear how it was, when you went, and if you think it’s worth it in the comments below!
Best time to visit Upper Antelope Canyon
If you want to see the famous light beams in Antelope Canyon, you’ll have to go at prime time (11-1:30) from May to September. It’s also the busiest time to visit the canyon so it will probably be packed.
If you don’t care about the Antelope light beams, then anytime is good. Whether you want to see them or not, I would try and do any of these slot canyon tours in prime time. It’s really a world of difference. It will be busier then but it’s worth it to get good lighting.
Upper Antelope Canyon in the morning
It’s dark. Sleep in. Don’t get up at 4AM to drive three hours for a morning tour. Find something else to do in the morning and save this for mid-day.
Upper Antelope Canyon in winter
It’s cold. It’s dark. It can be snowy (good or bad depending on how you feel about snow). It’s less busy. Like, way less busy. Except holidays. I liked it a lot and would try to see them all in winter if I could but that, of course, depends on your schedule and availability.
How to get to Upper Antelope Canyon?
Your best bet is driving yourself. The tour offices/meeting points are all spread out but still near Antelope Canyon. You drive to their office then hop into a van/truck and they take you to the canyon. You do not need a 4WD drive vehicle to visit Antelope Canyon
What City is Antelope Canyon in?
Antelope Canyon (all of them) are just a short drive from the town of Page, Arizona, home to (obviously) Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, and Horseshoe Bend. It’s a 15-20 minute drive depending on the tour company. You can book Page hotels here.
Upper Antelope Canyon hike
One of the tour websites says the Upper Antelope hike is moderate but I definitely don’t think it is. It’s an easy hike, the actual canyon is pretty short (0.2 miles), and it’s not in the blasting summer sun.
There is a hill you have to go up to get back to the beginning and depending on the guide you either go the overland way or take the stairs and the path.
We took the overland way and it’s not bad. The hill is sandy and a little steep but it’s not long. I think even if you did all three it’s probably less than two miles of hiking.
Tips for visiting Upper Antelope Canyon
- No bags are allowed in the canyon. You’re only allowed to bring water, your phone, and camera.
- No tripods allowed either.
- If you’re determined to visit Upper Antelope Canyon, definitely book it in advance. Checking throughout the winter it was usually booked out a week or two but in summer I would imagine it’s more.
- Pay the extra for a prime time tour. Trust me.
- Most of these tours are non-refundable so keep that in mind with any planning.
- If it’s raining or bad weather, they may cancel the tour and reschedule it. Refunds may depend on the company, I would check their FAQ or call and ask.
- If it’s really windy, the tour is still on. Sand will blow down into the canyon and probably into your eyes. You may want something to go around your camera if you’re worried about sand getting in it with wind in the forecast.
- Upper Antelope is expensive. It’s the most expensive of the Page slot canyons. There are more affordable options like Antelope X, Lower Antelope, and Waterhole.
Is Upper Antelope Canyon worth it?
I suppose but not outside of prime time whatsoever. I know I already said it, but I don’t even know why tours are offered early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
So, Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon?
It’s honestly hard to say. I liked Lower a lot more but it was so much busier (pre-2020 when it was full capacity). We were there mid-day, too, so the lighting was so much better. I keep talking about the lighting but it really makes a huge difference.
If you don’t want to or can’t climb ladders and aren’t concerned about budget, go with Upper Antelope (at prime time). If budget is a concern for you, Lower Antelope will be better.
Upper Antelope Canyon photo gallery
Is Rattlesnake Canyon worth it?
Yes! I liked this one the most but it makes the tour $80 more, so if price is an issue, I’d skip it. It is really cool but again, SO EXPENSIVE. If it’s between this and Upper or Antelope X or Waterholes, I would probably pick another one. I think. It’s so hard to say!
Rattlesnake Canyon photo gallery
Is Owl Canyon worth it?
Not really. It’s short and other slot canyons nearby and around Utah are quite a bit more impressive. If you aren’t worried about money, sure, but I would skip it.
Owl Canyon photo gallery
Things to do near Antelope Canyon
There are plenty of other great things to do near Antelope Canyon. If you want to see two slot canyons, you could easily do two tours in one day but at least one would probably be out of prime time.
Here are some other things to do near Antelope Canyon:
- Kayak on Lake Powell
- Hike to Horseshoe Bend
- See Horseshoe Bend by helicopter
- Hike the New Wave
- Hike the Hanging Garden Trail
- Take a helicopter tour to Tower Butte
- Visit Antelope Canyon X
- Visit Waterhole Canyon
- Visit Lower Antelope Canyon
Have you been to Upper Antelope Canyon? What did you think of it? What time of day/year did you go? Would you recommend it? I want to know all of your Page slot canyon thoughts!