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How Long is the Hike To Antelope Canyon? (It's easier than you think)

Last Update on January 16, 2021
by Sunny Samaroo
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With its colorful rock walls and ethereal light beams, Antelope Canyon is the most famous slot canyon in the world.

When touring a canyon, you can expect hiking to be involved, especially in the case of narrow slot canyons that aren't wide enough for any kind of vehicle.

If you want to visit Antelope Canyon but you're not sure what to expect, you'll probably end up wondering: "How long is the hike to Antelope Canyon?"

The answer varies depending on which section of the canyon you visit: Upper Antelope Canyon or Lower Antelope Canyon. Let's go through them one by one.

View of Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon can look intimidating in photos, but how difficult is the hike, really?

How Long is the Hike to Upper Antelope Canyon?

  • Total Hiking Distance: 0.8 miles (1.2 kilometers)
  • Hiking Distance Inside the Canyon: 660 feet (200 meters)
  • Elevation Change: 100 feet going up
  • Tour Length: 1 hour
  • Walking Surface: Sand
  • Difficulty: Easy

The hike to and through Upper Antelope Canyon is a very simple in and out. It's a bit less than a mile. With the crowds in the canyon stopping to take photos at every turn, the pace of the hike is slow, so it takes about an hour.

The Upper Antelope Canyon hike is suitable for all age groups and fitness levels. However, it may not be accessible for those with limited mobility.

Upper Antelope Canyon tours used to be done as a loop. but now there is a separate entrance and exit. While the canyon itself is mostly flat and accessible for those with limited mobility, you have to climb up 100 feet on the trail out of the canyon.

Upper Antelope Canyon, also known as "The Crack" is the more popular of the two Antelope Canyon sections. This is partially because it's easier to tour, but also because you're more likely to see the famous light beams here, depending on the season and time of day.

Light Beam at Antelope Canyon
Light beams are more common at Upper Antelope Canyon than at its Lower counterpart.

How Long is the Hike to Lower Antelope Canyon?

  • Total Hiking Distance: 1.1 Miles, 1.8 Kilometers
  • Hiking Distance Inside the Canyon: 1,300 feet (400 meters)
  • Elevation Change: 300 Feet down then back up 
  • Tour Length: 1–1.5 hours
  • Walking Surface: Sand
  • Difficulty: Easy

Lower Antelope Canyon is more of a hike than the stroll that people take at Upper Antelope Canyon. There are more changes in elevation and the terrain is more uneven.

However, it's still fairly easy. The most difficult portion is the initial descent into the canyon, by 5 flights of stairs.

Tours of Lower Antelope Canyon usually take 1–1.5 hours. The pace is slow because of photo-taking, as well as the fact that the canyon is so narrow. 

Whereas Upper Antelope Canyon is shaped like an "A," Lower Antelope Canyon is shaped like a "V." It's wider at the top than at the bottom. If you're claustrophobic, you may feel uncomfortable here.

Because of its slightly higher difficulty (though it's still an easy hike) and the fact that light beams are less common, Lower Antelope Canyon is the less popular section

It's still incredibly popular, though. It's actually the section we prefer, and we visit it on our Antelope Canyon day tour from Las Vegas.

Stairs at Lower Antelope Canyon
The Lower Antelope Canyon hike requires you climb steep flights of stairs.

Can You Do Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in One Day?

Since each tour only lasts an hour or so, hiking both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in one day is absolutely possible.

The only thing to consider is the travel time to and from Antelope Canyon. If you're staying in Page or another nearby town, then you won't have to worry about this. 

Related Reading: What is the Closest Airport to Page, Arizona 

On the other hand, if you're doing a day trip from somewhere like Las Vegas or Phoenix, your chances of seeing both sections in one day are very low. 

Las Vegas and Phoenix are each a 4.5–5 hour drive away from Antelope Canyon. That's a 9–10 hour round trip! If you're only driving one way during the day you want to visit Antelope Canyon, then it shouldn't be much of a problem.

Keep in mind that you have to book your Upper Antelope Canyon tour and Lower Antelope Canyon tour separately. We recommend Ken's Tours for Lower Antelope Canyon and Antelope Canyon Slot Canyon Tours for Upper Antelope Canyon.

View of Antelope Canyon
The floor at both sections of Antelope Canyon is sandy.

Can You Hike Antelope Canyon by Yourself?

All this talk of tours may make you a bit confused. Can't you hike Antelope Canyon by yourself? Simply: no, you can't.

Antelope Canyon is on Navajo land and is a sacred area for Navajo people. In order to preserve this significant site and support the livelihood of Navajo people, you can only visit Antelope Canyon as part of a tour with a Navajo guide.

What to Bring to Antelope Canyon

Before we get into what to bring, you should know that backpacks are often not allowed at Antelope Canyon. To learn more about the specifics of the rule and the reasons for it, check out our article on backpacks at Antelope Canyon

The basic rundown is that backpacks are not allowed in Lower Antelope Canyon but are allowed by SOME tour operators in Upper Antelope Canyon.

With that out of the way, let's get into the list of what to bring to Antelope Canyon:

  • Water — You have to travel light when visiting Antelope Canyon but it's always allowed and recommended that you bring a bottle of water with you. This is necessary for hiking, especially in the Arizona desert.
  • Layers — You may think it's just always hot at Antelope Canyon but, depending on the time of year, temperatures can reach below freezing. Even over the course of a day, the weather at Antelope Canyon can change drastically, Your best bet is to wear layers.
  • Appropriate Shoes — Wear hiking shoes or sneakers to ensure your comfort and safety while touring the canyon. Open-toed shoes are not allowed.
  • Camera — Photography is one of, if not the biggest reason people visit Antelope Canyon. If you have a camera, bring it! However, even just a phone camera can do the canyon justice if you follow Antelope Canyon photography tips.
View of Antelope Canyon
It's so satisfying to capture the way the light hits the colorful rock walls of Antelope Canyon.

Conclusion

The hike to Antelope Canyon is easy. The distance ranges from 0.8 to 1.1 miles (1.2 to 1.8 km) and the tours take an hour or an hour and a half.

The hike to and through Lower Antelope Canyon is longer and a bit more challenging but, overall, both it and Upper Antelope Canyon are easy to traverse. 

You can even tour both canyons in one day, provided you don't have to worry about travel time to and from the canyon.

Pack your bags (lightly) with the few items you need, and head off to explore one of the top attractions of the American Southwest!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sunny Samaroo

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