During our recent trips to Arizona, we had the opportunity to explore the famous Canyons of Arizona. Among these, Antelope Canyon would stand out as a must visit destination for any travel enthusiast. The pictures in this blog should speak volumes on why you should visit the Antelope Canyons. But unlike most of the other Canyon visits in this area, there are a few must-know things when you plan out your travel to this marvelous make of nature
1. Make your reservations in advance
The first and the foremost thing – you need to make your reservations to a tour in Antelope Canyon. The only tours to Antelope Canyon are guided tours and managed by the Navajo guides. We were not aware of this fact and by the time we figured out, all the cheaper and more economic tours were completely sold out weeks before our travel date. We tried inquiring around Page to get some tickets, but most of the agency’s told us they were sold out for at least the next 4 days.
It is upon a friends suggestion that we decided to check out Dixie Ellis Tours and happened to get the last 2 tickets available on one of the afternoon tours for about $37 per head. So much less hassle had we simply known earlier to make these reservations.
2. Choosing the Best Tour for You
There are two tours of Antelope Canyons to choose from – the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon tours.
While we personally have not been to Upper Canyon, we have heard that the only main difference would be that the Lower Antelope Canyon involves few stair climbs and narrow passageways because this totally exists below the surface of the Arizonian deserts. The Upper Canyon is reached by a 4×4 truck ride provided by the tour operators and you hop off and begin walking around with the guided group.
So unless there is a person travelling with you who is physically challenged for Lower Antelope, it should not really matter from a difficulty stand point. Both offer tremendous photo opportunities and it is only a matter of which one you choose to visit.
3. Tour Duration
The tours typically last for about an hour from the time scheduled for the start. For the Lower Antelope Tour, the guide accompanies the group for a short walk through the desert to reach the stairs that you take to go down into the canyons. The tour is very relaxed and the guides do not attempt to rush you through it.
They allow you to stop, click photographs and go to great extents to explain every important formation and geological facts about the antelope canyons. Most of the terrain is easy to walk on. There could be a few narrow passageways where one needs to duck to ensure they do not hit their head anywhere. Apart from that, the entire tour is easy breezy and should not be a bother.
The Antelope Canyons are beautiful when sun is bright. Choose a tour that is during well lit hours for maximum colors.
4. Your Attire Matters
So, we weren’t hoping to get a ticket to the Lower Antelope Canyon tour and it was only by sheer luck that we finally got those two coveted tickets given that we were really last minute. So I ended up in the Lower Antelope tour with a nice summer dress, thankfully only to my knees and Cole Haan shoes.
The very friendly guide who called herself Sunshine looked at me and asked if I am sure about going for the tour with this dress. She said with a sly smile ” There are lots of steep stairs you know”. However, left with no choice, I did the tour with the same attire.
That’s why I offer you this piece of advice – prefer to wear active wear and sports/hiking shoes if you are doing any of the canyon tours. It would be a lot more comfortable to move around through the narrow passageways and stairs.
5. What to Carry
While I have seen lots of pictures shot in the Antelope Canyons with people carrying backpacks, at present it is a mandate that you CANNOT carry any forms of bags with you into the Lower Antelope Canyon tour.
No backpacks, camera bags, sharp objects, tripods, purses – nothing. You are allowed to carry water bottles in your hand, mobile phones in your hands or pockets and cameras without the bag. So we discarded the extra lenses in the car and stuck to our Canon 16-35mm because that is what made most sense to use within the canyon tour. You would also be able to get some great photographs using the wide frame of the iPhone camera.
6. Follow Your Group Guide
Every tour group is small and assigned to a guide. The Navajo guides are super friendly and extremely pleasing. They make sure to engage everyone in the team and offer suggestions and tips throughout the trip.
Our tour guide Sunshine helped us to set the camera settings to the most optimal ones within the Canyons to capture the lights and colors with most effects. Throughout the tour, they explain the various formations and iconic sites which is very informative and helpful.
7. Safety Matters
At every step of the tour, it is important to listen to the safety instructions provided by the guides. Photography is strictly prohibited in the stairs and it would do everyone good to follow these guidelines. The stairs are narrow and steep and attempting to take photographs here could result in accidents or injuries.
The Antelope Canyons get impacted by flash flooding occasionally. This is one of the reasons why the Antelope Canyon tours are strictly only guided tours. Earlier, hikers have been involved in accidents when flash flooding occurred resulting in casualties.
8. Leave Only Foot prints, Take Only Memories
The Canyons are a phenomenal proof that nature is the greatest artist that was and will ever be. It is important to realize this fact and ensure that you do not damage the walls or take away anything with you that rightfully belongs to the wilderness of the canyons. This is a place to be preserved for as long as nature chooses to allow it to be.
9. Thank Your Guide
The guides running most of the tour groups go out of their way to make your tour memorable. They are always cheerful and happy to help. On most occasions, Sunshine offered to click photographs for the various families in her group in the most beautiful places.
She also ensured to show us the most iconic locations in the canyons – the ones that are used as wall paper for iPhone, the formations that looked like a bear, a lion, a sunset and lot more. It would not be a bad idea to tip them generously while exiting from the tour.
The complete story of our journey to Glen Canyon, Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon with itinerary and accommodation details is up on the blog. Feel free to read it here. Stay tuned to our updates in Facebook and Instagram.
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