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Why Is Upper Antelope Canyon More Expensive?

Last Update on January 11, 2024
by Sunny Samaroo
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Are you dreaming of a trip to the iconic Antelope Canyon? If so, you might be debating between which of the two sections — Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon — to visit.

While both are breathtaking, one immediate difference is that Upper Antelope Canyon tends to be pricier. What's up with that? Why is Upper Antelope Canyon more expensive?

Short answer: Upper Antelope Canyon is more expensive because it has much higher demand compared to Lower Antelope Canyon.

Long answer: Upper Antelope Canyon's higher demand can be explained by factors like accessibility, lighting, and capacity. Let's dive deeper into these reasons why Upper Antelope Canyon is more expensive and explore what makes it a must-visit destination!

Antelope Canyon's interesting landscape attracts people from all around the world.


One of the factors contributing to the price difference is accessibility. Upper Antelope Canyon allows tourists to enter at ground level on a flat, sandy path. This makes it more accommodating for a wider range of travelers. Lower Antelope Canyon, on the other hand, requires navigating narrow and steep stairs

The canyon floor at Upper Antelope Canyon is also relatively smooth compared to Lower Antelope Canyon which has more uneven terrain. Upper Antelope Canyon also has fewer twists and turns.

Light Beams

Objectively, Antelope Canyon is in the middle of nowhere. Yet, it draws in so many tourists. The famous light beams that illuminate the narrow passageways of the Canyon are definitely to thank for a large portion of those visitors.

Light beams can be seen in both sections of Antelope Canyon. However, they're much more common in Upper Antelope Canyon. This is perhaps the biggest reason for the higher demand and the price difference. 

The sunlight on sandstone creates breathtaking scenes that every photographer and nature enthusiast craves to capture. Fun fact: Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed places in the world!

Related Reading: Antelope Canyon Tour from Las Vegas 

When to Visit Upper Antelope Canyon to See Light Beams

These enchanting beams are more visible and frequent in Upper Antelope Canyon during specific times. 

The best time of year to witness these incredible light beams is from May to September, and especially during June, July, and August. As for the time of day, your best bet is between late morning and early afternoon.

Tours scheduled during these peak times are in high demand, leading to higher prices. If you're aiming for that perfect shot, be prepared to pay a premium for it.

Light Beam at Antelope Canuon
The light beams at Antelope Canyon sometimes have a mystical look about them.

Capacity and Crowds

While the Upper Antelope Canyon may be more popular and more convenient for many visitors, capacity is a big consideration.

Though it has a higher capacity than its lower counterpart, Upper Antelope Canyon can still only accommodate a limited number of people at a time. Remember, Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, characterized by narrow passages and confined spaces.

To limit crowds and maintain a peaceful and enjoyable experience for all, tour operators have to limit the number of visitors during each tour, which further drives up the price. If more people could be safely accommodated at once, prices would probably be lower.


For the photography enthusiasts out there, Upper Antelope Canyon is often the preferred choice due to its unique lighting conditions and more frequent light beams.

This once led to the creation of specialized photography tours that cater to those looking to capture the canyon's beauty through their lenses. These photography tours provided additional time in the canyon and were led by guides who understood the best angles.

Sadly, these tours are no longer being offered, but you can still capture awesome photos by following Antelope Canyon photography tips. The potential for amazing photography is there all the same, which drives prices to be higher. 

Beyond the light beams, the colors of Antelope Canyon make it truly a photographer's paradise.

The Bottom Line: Demand

All of the above reasons for Upper Antelope Canyon being more expensive boil down to one thing: demand.

Due to its ease of access, more frequent light beams, low capacity in comparison to popularity, and better photography opportunities, Upper Antelope Canyon attracts more visitors. This results in higher demand for tours and permits. As demand increases, so does the price.

Should You Visit Lower Antelope Canyon Instead?

If the price tag is making you reconsider, or if you simply want to weigh your options before you make a decision, you may be wondering about Lower Antelope Canyon.

We've discussed what makes Upper Antelope Canyon popular at length, but both sections of Antelope Canyon are beautiful and have their unique charms. We at MaxTour prefer Lower Antelope Canyon, and take all of our guests there. Here is why

  • Sense of Adventure — As mentioned, Lower Antelope Canyon offers more of a sense of adventure because of its more rugged terrain and narrow, twisting passageways. It has the nickname "The Corkscrew" for a reason! This makes the journey through the canyon even more exciting.
  • More solitary tour — Tours of Lower Antelope Canyon start to spread out as you go along, giving you the chance to experience sections of the canyon without other people, or maybe more importantly, get photos of you in Antelope Canyon without other people in your photo.
  • Longer Expereince — The tour through Lower Antelope Canyon is twice as long as the tour through Upper Antelope Canyon, clocking in at over 1200 feet vs only 600 feet for Upper Antelope Canyon.

Though Upper Antelope Canyon is more popular, we're quite partial to Lower Antelope Canyon. It's the section we visit on our Antelope Canyon tours from Las Vegas!

View of Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon is more rugged than Upper Antelope Canyon.

Final Thoughts

Tour operators and the Navajo Nation, which manages the canyons, need to maintain a balance between preserving the canyon's natural beauty and making the experience available to tourists. Their dedication to striking this balance is seen through how they are always fine-tuning guidelines to meet both visitor expectations and cultural respect for the canyon. 

Remember that the prices of Antelope Canyon tours go towards preserving the canyon and providing for the Navajo tour operators for whom the canyon is an important cultural site.

Related Reading: History of Antelope Canyon

While it may be more expensive than Lower Antelope Canyon, the unique features and ethereal beauty of Upper Antelope Canyon make it an unforgettable experience well worth the cost.

Whether you choose to explore Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon, prepare yourself for an otherworldly adventure that will leave you in awe of Mother Nature's remarkable artistry. Happy exploring!


Sunny Samaroo

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