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How Much Time Should I Spend at Antelope Canyon?

Last Update on August 18, 2023
by Sunny Samaroo
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Antelope Canyon, located in the heart of the American Southwest, is an awe-inspiring natural wonder that attracts more than a million visitors each year. Its stunning rock formations, narrow passageways, and ethereal light beams make it a photographer's paradise

If you're planning a trip to Antelope Canyon, you might be wondering how much time you should spend there to truly experience its beauty.

Short answer: Plan to spend one to two hours touring Antelope Canyon.

Long answer: Antelope Canyon tour durations vary, as does the time it takes to commute to Page, Arizona. Let's explore all the factors that can help you decide the ideal duration for your visit.

One of the most striking parts of Antelope Canyon is the contrast between light and dark.

Travel Time to Antelope Canyon

The importance of factoring in travel time can't be overstated when it comes to planning trips. Imagine getting excited to visit somewhere as majestic as Antelope Canyon and then ending up missing the tour you booked because you didn't budget enough time for travel!

If you're staying in Page, Arizona, travel time won't be an issue. Antelope Canyon is just a few miles outside of Page.

Most visitors to Antelope Canyon, however, start their journey from either Las Vegas or Phoenix. The drive is not an easy one. From both Las Vegas and Phoenix, the drive to Antelope Canyon takes roughly 4.5 to 5 hours, covering more than 270 miles (435 km)

Don't worry, though, a day trip Antelope Canyon tour from Las Vegas or Phoenix is more than possible.

Page has an airport and there are several others between Page and the larger cities. Depending on where you're flying in from, though, they're not the most convenient choice.

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

Guided Tours

Now to discuss the tours themselves, the first thing you need to know is that you must join a guided tour to explore Antelope Canyon. These tours are led by experienced Navajo guides who provide valuable insights into the canyon's history, geology, and culture. 

The duration of the tours can vary but mostly fall into the range of one to two hours. When you look at times on tour operators' websites, they may or may not include the time it takes to hike to Antelope Canyon itself. If you're unsure and are on a very tight schedule, it doesn't hurt to reach out to the tour operator and ask.

Upper Antelope Canyon vs. Lower Antelope Canyon

Next, it's essential to understand that there are two main sections of Antelope Canyon: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.

Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon (also known as The Crack) is wider and more accessible than Lower Antelope Canyon. It's famous for its mesmerizing light beams that pierce through the narrow openings above. 

Upper Antelope Canyon tours are slightly shorter than Lower Antelope Canyon tours. However, Upper Antelope Canyon is more popular so you may be faced with having to wait longer.

Lower Antelope Canyon

On the other hand, Lower Antelope Canyon (also known as The Corkscrew) offers a more adventurous experience. It has narrower sections, uneven terrain, and more twists and turns. It also has more interesting rock formations.

Lower Antelope Canyon tours are slightly longer. This section is less popular than Upper Antelope Canyon but still attracts tons of visitors.

View of Lower Antelope Canyon
Both sections are geological marvels, but Lower Antelope Canyon tends to have more interestingly shaped rock walls.

Time of Day

The time of day you visit Antelope Canyon can greatly impact your experience. The most sought-after moments are during midday when the sunlight enters the canyon and creates stunning light beams. These beams are especially prominent in the Upper Antelope Canyon. 

To witness this magical phenomenon, it's recommended to visit the canyon between late morning and early afternoon. Antelope Canyon tours are very well-organized but still be prepared to wait a bit longer if this is the time you choose to visit.

However, if you prefer fewer crowds and a more peaceful ambiance, consider early morning or late afternoon visits. The canyon will still be gorgeous and you may even be able to enjoy it more.

Peak Season vs. Off-peak Season

Antelope Canyon is a popular tourist destination, and its popularity can truly be felt during peak season.

The peak season typically runs from May to September when the weather is warmer, with a huge spike in the summer months of June to August. During this time, it's advisable to allocate more time for your visit, as there might be queues and longer waiting times. 

If you plan to visit during the shoulder seasons of March to May or September to October (or the off-peak season of November to February) you'll find fewer visitors but also less chance of seeing the famous light beams.

Light Beam at Antelope Canyon
The light beams at Antelope Canyon are responsible for attracting a large chunk of visitors.

Personal Interests and Preferences

Ultimately, the amount of time you spend at Antelope Canyon depends on your interests and preferences. 

Consider what aspects of Antelope Canyon excite you the most (photography, history, geology, etc.) and allocate your time accordingly, while keeping in mind that you need a guided tour to explore.

If you really want to experience all that Antelope Canyon has to offer, you may want to visit Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in one day, doubling up on tour time.

Things to Do Near Antelope Canyon

The American Southwest is a treasure trove of interesting attractions. Depending on how long your trip is overall, there are plenty of other things worth doing near Antelope Canyon.

First of all, you should visit Horseshoe Bend. It's one of the most visually striking landforms in the Southwest. It looks amazing in photos but, believe it or not, the pictures don't do it justice!

Related Reading: Can You Drive to Horseshoe Bend? 

If you have an interest in history or engineering, Glen Canyon Dam is a must-visit. This huge dam is one of the most important structures in the area, helping to provide water and power for several states. You can also join a boat tour of Lake Powell, the dam's reservoir.

Last but not least, in Page, visit Powell Museum for a look at how the area has changed over tens, hundreds, and even millions of years. This is another great spot for history lovers, as well as science buffs.

View of Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is located in the Colorado River.

The Bottom Line

When planning your Antelope Canyon trip, the most important thing to remember is travel time. 

Once you have that down, consider whether you'll be exploring the Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon, the time of day you want to visit, and the season in which you'll be going. Remember to consider your personal interests and preferences, as well. 

By taking these factors into account, you can determine how much time to set aside for your visit and ensure that you have a memorable and fulfilling experience at this natural wonder. You may also be able to squeeze in a few other nearby attractions!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sunny Samaroo

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