Antelope Canyon, located near Page, Arizona, is a natural wonder that has gained international attention for its breathtaking beauty. It's a slot canyon, which essentially means that it's very narrow and deep compared to the average canyon.
Slot canyons like Antelope Canyon are formed by erosion, especially flash flooding. Rushing water cuts through the rocks, leaving walls that twist and turn in mesmerizing ways.
Antelope Canyon is so narrow that it can be hard to miss from the surface. Though it has been slowly carved over millions of years, it wasn't discovered until relatively recently — in the early 1900s. Its popularity slowly grew since then and exploded in the 1980s when tours began to be offered.
However, popularity comes with critics. Some people say that Antelope Canyon is just a tourist trap. Claims have included that it is overpriced, overcrowded, too commercialized, and simply not worth the visit.
Is Antelope Canyon really a Tourist Trap? In this blog post, you'll see why Antelope Canyon is, in fact, not a tourist trap. It's a must-see destination for anyone interested in exploring the natural beauty of the American Southwest. In fact, many of our guests have been so impressed with Antelope Canyon that they want it to be named the 8th wonder of the natural world.
Claim 1: Antelope Canyon Is Overpriced
First of all, let's address the claim that Antelope Canyon is overpriced. It is true that visiting Antelope Canyon requires a guided tour, and that these tours can be expensive.
Antelope Canyon tours can be as low as $50 during the heart of the off-season (winter, when you can't see the famous light beams) but are typically in the $75–130 range during peak season (summer, when light beams are common).
It's important to recognize that the cost of these tours helps protect the canyon and preserve it for future generations.
The Navajo Nation owns the land that the canyon is on and operates all the tours. They have implemented strict regulations to prevent damage to delicate sandstone formations, and guides are trained to ensure that visitors follow these rules.
The fees from these tours go towards supporting the local Navajo community who have long-standing cultural and spiritual ties to the canyon. To them, Antelope Canyon is not just a tourist attraction, it's a sacred location.
In short, the cost of a tour to Antelope Canyon is an investment in the preservation of this natural wonder and the communities who call it home.
Claim 2: Antelope Canyon Is Overcrowded
Secondly, let's address the claim that Antelope Canyon is overcrowded. This couldn't be further from the truth! The tours have capacities that are strictly adhered to, so the canyon doesn't become overcrowded.
Numerous assertions of overcrowding were prevalent before 2019. However, since that time, the Navajo Nation has mitigated this problem by decreasing the number of people allowed to enter daily, thus resolving the crowding issues that were previously more widespread.
In fact, this strict limit leads to a potential issue: tours end up being fully booked far in advance. Antelope Canyon is a popular destination, so it can be difficult to get tickets, especially during peak season (summer).
There are ways to avoid this. You can visit outside of peak season (see our post on Antelope Canyon weather for our most highly recommended months to visit) or choose a less popular tour option. For example, Lower Antelope Canyon tours are less popular than Upper Antelope Canyon tours.
However, this issue is not unique to Antelope Canyon. Isn't it natural that somewhere as beautiful as Antelope Canyon would attract crowds? Many of the world's most beautiful and awe-inspiring wonders are also popular tourist destinations.
Claim 3: Antelope Canyon Is Too Commercialized
This claim ties into the first two. Is Antelope Canyon too commercialized? We would argue that it's not.
Antelope Canyon is sort of in the middle of nowhere, near Page, Arizona. Neither the town nor the canyon is very built up, still retaining much of the rustic charm they've had for decades.
Much of the "commercialization" of Antelope Canyon has just been as a result of the pure beauty of the canyon that has enticed millions of people to visit and capture the striking landscape for themselves.
The Navajo Nation is very careful to keep Antelope Canyon from becoming too touristy. As mentioned, only Navajo people can offer tours of the canyon and the tours have strict capacities.
As mentioned, Antelope Canyon is a sacred place to the Navajo people. According to Navajo tradition, the canyon was formed by the Holy People. The canyon is considered a physical manifestation of the intersection of the spirit world and our world.
Related Reading: What Do the Navajo Call Antelope Canyon?
Simply entering Antelope Canyon is considered to be a ritual. Before entering, Navajo people pause to make sure that they are entering with the right state of mind. They also periodically bless the canyon, giving thanks to the forces that created it.
Claim 4: Antelope Canyon Is Not Worth the Visit
Finally, let's address the claim that Antelope Canyon is not worth the visit. This is subjective and people will have their own opinions about the attraction, but to say it's simply not worth the visit just seems untrue.
Antelope Canyon is a natural wonder that is unlike anything else in the world. The smooth, flowing sandstone walls create a breathtaking display of light and shadow. The colors and textures of the canyon change with every passing moment. There's a reason why it's one of America's most photographed sites.
Visitors to Antelope Canyon often describe it as a spiritual experience, as the natural beauty can't be replicated — it's been formed by millions of years of erosion. It's difficult to put into words just how incredible Antelope Canyon is. It truly is a place that must be seen to be believed.
Taking a tour also gives you a chance to learn firsthand about the unique history of Antelope Canyon and its relationship with the Navajo Nation.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Antelope Canyon is not a tourist trap. Sometimes tickets may be expensive and hard to get, but these are simply the realities of visiting a popular attraction. The cost of a tour is an investment in the preservation of the canyon and the communities that call it home.
Also, tickets are limited in an effort to keep the canyon from becoming overcrowded. Navajo people care deeply about the canyon on a spiritual level, so they take measures to ensure that it doesn't become too commercialized.
If you're planning to see this attraction for yourself, consider our Antelope Canyon tour from Las Vegas, which includes stops at Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. We partner with one of the local Navajo tour companies, Ken's Tours, to give you the best Antelope Canyon experience we can.