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Antelope Canyon is an awe-inspiring destination with its famous sunbeams and glowing red canyon walls.

Two slot canyons, namely, Lower Antelope Canyon (or the Corkscrew) and Upper Antelope Canyon (or the Crack) make up Antelope Canyon. And, they are quite different!

So, what is the difference between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon and which one should you visit?

Here is what you need to know about the differences between Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon and the pros and cons to help you decide which one to visit.

Where Is Antelope Canyon Located And How to Get There

Map of Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Map of Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon 

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Lower and Upper Antelope Canyons are located in the American Southwest (specifically, east of Page, Arizona). Both slot canyons sit on the land owned by the Navajo Nation and can only be visited on a guided tour.

If you are planning on visiting Antelope Canyon, you can fly into one of nearby larger airports, then rent a car and drive (there is no public transportation or a bus).

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) – 279 miles (4 hr and 19 min) drive from Phoenix, AZ
  • Flagstaff Pullium Airport (FLG) – 137 miles (2 hr and 15 min) from Flagstaff, AZ
  • Las Vegas McCarran Airport (LAS) – 286 miles (4 hr 39 min) from Las Vegas, NV
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) – 398 miles (6 hr 13 min) from Salt Lake City, UT

Consider this

What you need to know is that there is an airport in Page, AZ. It is a small Municipal Airport, however there are direct flights going to Page from Las Vegas, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Phoenix. My recommendation is to look into flying to Paige, it will definitely cut down on your travel time.

Paige is located about 10 minutes from Antelope Canyon and both, Lower and Upper Antelope Canyons are approximately 15 minutes from each other and can be accessed from Highway 98.

What You Need to Know About Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like a letter “V”. In other words, it is very narrow at the bottom and wide at the top. Being that, light can easily fill all the passages inside the canyon and make it feel brighter and warmer than Upper Canyon. As a result, it is easier to photograph.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like letter ‘V’ letting more light in.

Lower Antelope Canyon

It is easier to photograph Lower Antelope Canyon since more light comes through. 

Lower Antelope Canyon

Since more light can penetrate Lower Antelope Canyon, it feels brighter and warmer. 

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

The famous light beams do occur in Lower Antelope Canyon. However, the truth is, that the light beams are few and far in-between. But, I have to honestly say, that even though, the light beams are hard to catch at Lower Antelope Canyon, it is still the most stunning place to photograph.

In order to get the best pictures, you need to schedule your guided tour between the hours of 10:30 am and 1 pm when the light is the brightest. Hands down, it is the best time to tour Antelope Canyon!

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

The famous light beams are hard to catch at Lower Antelope Canyon, however it is still the most stunning place to photograph. 

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Make sure to schedule your guided tour in the middle of the day when the light is the brightest.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates for you and it is a cloudless day!

There are two tour operators for Lower Antelope Canyon: Ken’s Tours and Dixie Ellis Lower Canyon Tours. Both of them offer comparable tours and the cost is pretty much the same.

What’s nice about Lower Antelope Canyon is that the entrance to the canyon is conveniently located just a short walking distance from the tour company headquarters and a parking area.

In comparison, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the entrance to Upper Antelope Canyon and the transportation (provided by the tour company) consists of open bed trucks along very bumpy and very dusty road.

There is a difference in price between the tours offered at Lower Antelope Canyon vs Upper Antelope Canyon. Specifically, tours scheduled at Upper Antelope Canyon are more expensive. The cost of a tour at Upper Antelope Canyon might range between $60 to $70, plus $8 for the Navajo Park Permit Fee, while a Lower Antelope Canyon tickets are usually about $40, plus the permit.

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Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon
Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Point to remember

Ok, to be honest, both slot canyons get crowded! However, because Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like letter ‘V’, it consequently has narrower passages and as a result, looks and feels less spacious

If you are claustrophobic, then Lower Antelope Canyon might not be a better choice.

All in all, if you absolutely cannot stand crowds, then book your Lower or Upper Antelope tour as early or as late as possible in the day and by all means, if possible, do not visit and book any tours on the weekends.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

The passages in both canyons are very narrow, however Upper Antelope Canyon feels more spacious. 

Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon 

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

If you are claustrophobic, then Upper Antelope Canyon might be a better choice.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Both canyon get very crowded and you just need a lot of patience to wait for an opportunity to take a picture without any tourists in them. 

If you are debating between Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon, however you are not up to or cannot do any physical activity, then Lower Antelope might not be the right choice. Namely, in order to excess Lower Antelope Canyon, you are required to climb down and then back up several ladders. On the other hand, Upper Antelope Canyon is an easy and flat walk.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

In order to excess Lower Antelope Canyon, you are required to climb down and then back up several ladders.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Pros and Cons of Visiting Lower Antelope Canyon

The Good Stuff

  1. Since Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like a V, more light enters the slot canyon. As a result, the canyon is brighter and the colors of reds oranges, and yellows standout beautifully.
  2. Hands down, Lower Antelope Canyon is easier to photograph. Because there is more light throughout the day, so it is easier to shoot hand-held.
  3. The entrance to Lower Antelope Canyon is conveniently located right next to the parking lot, so no need to waste precious time being transported to another location.
  4. Lower Antelope Canyon guided tours are less expensive than Upper Antelope Canyon. So, if you are on a budget, then Lower Antelope Canyon is a better option.

Not-So-Good

  1. The famous light beams are scarce and hard to catch at Lower Antelope Canyon.
  2. If you have any physical limitations, then Lower Antelope Canyon is not the best choice, since it requires climbing down and up several ladders.
  3. Lower Antelope Canyon is like a maze of narrow passages and it gets very crowded. You really have to be patient and wait for your turn to take pictures without any tourists in them.

What You Need to Know About Upper Antelope Canyon

The major difference between Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon is their shape. Upper Antelope Canyon is shaped like an upside-down letter  ‘V’. Notably, it is narrow at the top and wide at the bottom.

Being that Upper Antelope Canyon is narrow at the top, light cannot easily penetrate to all the passages. So, Upper Antelope Canyon tends to darker and feels gloomier. As a result, it is more difficult to photograph.

Upper Antelope Canyon

Not much light penetrates the canyon and it is challenging to photograph it.

Lower Antelope Canyon vs Upper 

Upper Antelope Canyon

Even though Upper Antelope Canyon feels darker, it is more photogenic.

Upper Antelope Canyon

The light and shadows in Upper Antelope Canyon create very dramatic effects. 

The best part

The narrow openings at the top of the canyon create the iconic light beams! And, to see them is an awe-inspiring experience!

The famous light beams happen only when the sun is at the right angle. Needless to say, the light beams are just out of this world!

The light beams can be seen starting mid-May through mid-September. However, the prime time to catch the famous light beams is during summer months, namely, late June, July, and August. Needless to say, if the sky is overcast, there are no light beams at all.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

The narrow openings at the top of the canyon create the iconic light beams.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

The famous light beams happen only when the sun is at the right angle.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

The light beams can be seen starting mid-May through mid-September. However, the best ones happen between June through August. 

It gets better

Seriously, it does get better!

Upper Antelope Canyon is famous for its falling sand sifts which create a visually stunning picture.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Falling sand sifts and light beams in Upper Antelope Canyon.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

This is important

You need to schedule your tour between 10:30 am and 1 pm when the light is most abundant and the brightest. It is important, because Upper Antelope Canyon is dark and very little light manages to seep through the openings.

Now, whether you decide to visit Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon, are required to book a tour. There is just no way around it. The good news is that there are four tour operators for Upper Antelope Canyon:  Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours, Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours, Antelope Canyon Tours, Antelope Slot Canyon Tours. By the way, all these tour companies are pretty much the same and the cost of comparable tours is similar.

What you need to know is that the entrance to Upper Antelope Canyon is located a little further away from the tour company headwaters. Your tour operator will transport you there. However, the transportation vehicles that are provided by all the tour companies are basically open trucks with seats on both sides of the bed of truck. In addition, the road leading to the entrance of the canyon is very bumpy (and dusty too). If you have any back problems, you might need to reconsider if you are up to this type of transportation.

Trucks used for transportation to Upper Antelope Canyon

Trucks used for transporting tourists to Upper Antelope Canyon.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Road leading to Upper Antelope Canyon

The road leading to Upper Antelope Canyon.

Antelope Canyon Lower or Upper 

Furthermore, there is a considerable difference in price between the tours offered at Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon. Specifically, a tour scheduled at Upper Antelope Canyon might range between $60 to $70, plus $8 for the Navajo Park Permit Fee, while a tour of Lower Antelope Canyon is usually about $40, plus the permit

If you like taking pictures then you should look into a Photography Tour. It is only offered at Upper Antelope Canyon by Adventurous Photo Tours. The last time I checked, the tour was cancelled, however, I would keep on checking their website to see if they bring it back. The tour is expensive ($195), but if you are into photography, then you will love it! You get a chance to take photos of falling sands and light beams without other people in your photos. To top it off, the guides are very helpful with keeping people out of the camera angles and they give you a ton of advice.

By the way, my tour guide was awesome giving me all kinds of pointers!

If you are not up to any type of physical activity, then Upper Antelope Canyon might be a better choice. Upper Antelope Canyon is an easy and flat walk. There are no ladders to climb, and there is more room to move around.

Pros and Cons of Visiting Upper Antelope Canyon

The Good Stuff

  • Hopefully, you will be able to photograph the famous light beams (weather permitting)! The narrow openings at the top of Upper Antelope Canyon create the iconic light beams.
  • You simply cannot beat the awe-inspiring images of the falling sands, which you can only see and photograph in Upper Antelope Canyon.
  • Photography Tour is only offered at Upper Antelope Canyon. Unfortunately, it is currently not offered, but if you are into photography then I would keep on checking, if they bring it back.
  • It does not seen like a big deal, but it is: there are no ladders to climb up and down and the floor of Upper Antelope Canyon is flat. To top it off, the passages are wider making the canyon more spacious.

Not-So-Good

  • Upper Antelope Canyon is darker and gloomier. There is very little light seeping through the openings making it hard to photograph Upper Antelope Canyon.
  • The entrance to Upper Antelope Canyon is about 30 min away from the tour company headquarters where you are required to check in before the tour. In addition, you will be transported to the entrance of the canyon in an open bed truck along very dusty and bumpy road.
  • Upper Antelope Canyon tours are more expensive than Lower Antelope tours. So, if you are on a budget, then you might look into Lower Antelope Canyon tours.

The Bottom Line: Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

I always get asked which is prettier Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon or which is better Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon.

Hands down, Upper Antelope Canyon is my choice. It is definitely more photogenic of the two.

Hopefully, you will be able to see and photograph the famous light beams (weather permitting) and I am sure you will see and photograph the falling sands.

If you decide to go for Upper Antelope Canyon, then keep in mind that photographing Upper Antelope Canyon can be a bit tricky. So, make sure to follow these photography tips:

  • A wide-angle lens is a must when you photograph Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon. Why? Passages in both canyons are narrow and walls are tall, so having a wide-angle lens is essential to capture all the details.
  • Light is a challenge in Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, so in order to get the best light possible for your pictures, use a slower shutter speed (between 2 and 6 seconds). Because you’re keeping the shutter open for so long to let more light in, set the aperture anywhere between F11 to F18. I have to say that tripod comes in handy here, but it is not allowed during regular tours, but only during the photography tours.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

A wide-angle lens is a must when you photograph Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon. Why? Passages in both canyons are narrow and walls are tall, so having a wide-angle lens is essential to capture all the details.

Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Light is a challenge in Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, so in order to get the best light possible for your pictures, use a slower shutter speed (between 2 and 6 seconds).

Intrepid Scout's Pointers for Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

  • The good news is, both canyons are accessible year round, however you need to be mindful of the weather conditions. Conversely, during summer months which is June, July, and August, temperatures can be well over 100 degrees F. If temperatures reach 105 degrees F (40 degrees C) the canyons may be closed. In addition, you need to keep in mind that July, August, September, and early October is monsoon season and flash floods might occur. As a result, the canyons might be closed as well. It is important that you keep an eye on the weather conditions and reconfirm your reservations with the tour companies to make sure that they are open.
  • Belongings are not allowed inside the canyons. You will need to leave you backpacks, bags, purses in your vehicle. Make sure to wear pants or a jacket with pockets to store your credit cards, DL, passports, etc.
  • It is dusty inside! I mean dusty! And, if there is any wind on the surface, then the wind blows all the dust and sand into the canyon. Seriously, this sand will get into everything you have on you or with you. So, protect your camera and look into buying a protective rubber skin for your camera.
  • Finally, make sure to review my post: Best Tips for Visiting Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon to help you plan your trip to Antelope Canyon.

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Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon
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Now, It Is your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning your trip to Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon? Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

Click on any of the images below to get inspired and to help you with the planning process with your trip to American Southwest!

By the way, Antelope Canyon is perfect combined with a visit to Horseshoe Bend.

Make sure to check my post: Horseshoe Bend – The Ultimate Guide.

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