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“Help! Antelope Canyon Tours Are Sold Out…”

Once upon a time, Antelope Canyon was a relatively obscure attraction near Page, Arizona. Known as “the Crack” or “the Corkscrew,” you could go and visit it virtually any time you wanted; chances were good that you’d have it all to yourself. And if you did bump into other people, they were likely to be other Page, Arizona locals. 

Fast forward a couple of decades, and the times, they have a-changed. Antelope Canyon is a world-renowned geologic wonder that’s on the photographic bucket list of practically every traveler to the Grand Canyon and Northern Arizona. Tours are operated daily by several Navajo Tribal Park approved concessionaires to both the Upper and Lower sections of the canyon, whose popularity seems to grow exponentially with each passing year.

So it wasn’t so much a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” we would start hearing these dreaded words: “sold out,” “booked solid,” “packed to the rafters,” “fuggeddabouddit!” Indeed, this recent lament by Whatnext09 on TripAdvisor’s Page, Arizona Travel Forum is becoming more and more commonplace:

“I am planning to visit the Antelope Canyons in first week of May. The date I want to go, looks like all the tours are full. What are my options now?”

As tourism professionals whose sole aim is to see this family enjoy their visit to Page, here’s what we would ask:

Have you checked with all Antelope Canyon Tour companies?

There are 3 companies that conduct tours to Upper Antelope Canyon, the most popular section, from the town of Page, Arizona:

Antelope Canyon Tours; Website: www.antelopecanyon.comPhone: 928-645-9102

Grand Circle Adventures; Website: www.antelopeslotcanyon.comPhone: 928-645-5594

Adventurous Antelope Canyon PhotoTours; Website: www.navajoantelopecanyon.comPhone: 928-380-1874

There is one company that operates tours to Upper Antelope Canyon from the Tribal Park Entrance Gate on Highway 98:

Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours; Website: www.navajotours.comPhone: 928-698-3384

For Lower Antelope Canyon, there are two outfitters that operate from the Park Entrance Gate on Highway 98:

Dixie Ellis; Website: www.antelopelowercanyon.comPhone: 928-640-1761

Ken’s Tours; Website: www.lowerantelope.com; Phone: 928-606-2168 and 928-640-0032

Be sure you check with them – all of them – before you pass on the chance to tour Antelope Canyon!

Have you checked all available tour times?

Many have heard that mid-day is the best time to tour Antelope Canyon, and during late spring through early fall, they’d be right. That’s when those famous sunbeams descend from above and bathe the chambers of the canyon in seemingly divine light. That doesn’t mean, however, that other time slots like early morning or late afternoon mean “lights out/money blown.” According to one Antelope Canyon tour outfitter’s website:

“The richness of color in the afternoon rivals the morning. Calming and still, the canyon becomes clear of other adventurers. There is a good chance that you will have parts of the canyon all to yourself. It is a time to pause for reflection in a spiritual wonderland, let the quiet and color soak into your bone marrow, and take a bit of the canyon into your heart. If some of the colors are not as brilliant, be assured that at their worst, they are still spectacular!”

So there it is, from a reliable source – there’s no such thing as a bad time to visit Antelope Canyon. Be open to visiting during one of the “off” hours, and chances are you’ll be able to enjoy the canyon on a more intimate and personal level instead of “Wal-Mart on Black Friday” mode.

Have you considered touring a different slot canyon?

If you’ve done everything suggested above and are still striking out on Antelope Canyon tours, all is not lost. Slot canyons are actually numerous in this part of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, and an Antelope Canyon “alternative” tour might just save your vacation!

Ranging in degree of difficulty from easy to super-strenuous, tour groups to Antelope Canyon X, Secret Canyon (aka Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon), Owl Canyon, Mountain Sheep Canyon, Cardiac Canyon (three guesses where that one falls on the DoD scale), Rattlesnake and Cathedral Canyon are deliberately limited to a handful of people per departure, so reservations are still recommended. Due to their more exclusive nature, they’re usually a bit pricier than Antelope Canyon tours, but the vast majority of people who go on them don’t mind a bit after all’s said and done.

Contact information for Antelope Canyon Alternative Tour operators:

Taadidiin Tours (Antelope Canyon X and Cardiac Canyon); Website: www.antelopecanyon-x.comAddress: Highway 98 at milepost 308, 10 miles Southeast of Page, AZ; Phone: (928) 660-8961

Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon (aka Secret Canyon); Website: www.horseshoebendtours.com/Address: 821 Highway 89, Page, AZ; Phone: 435-275-4594

Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo tours (Mountain Sheep Canyon, Owl Canyon, and Rattlesnake Canyon); Website: www.navajoantelopecanyon.com7 Miles East of Page, Hwy 98; (928) 380-1874

Grand Circle Adventures (Cathedral Canyon); Website: www.antelopeslotcanyon.com55 S. Lake Powell Blvd., Page, AZ; Phone: 928-645-5594

Have you considered touring Antelope Canyon from a different perspective?

Slot canyons were carved by churning flash flood waters and relentless desert wind. All that water has to go somewhere, and in the case of Antelope Canyon, that “somewhere” is Lake Powell. See Antelope Canyon, and so much more, from the “waterside,” from the safety and comfort of a tour boat! Antelope Canyon Boat Tours depart daily from:

Lake Powell Marina; 100 Lake Shore Drive; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; Website: www.lakepowell.com/things-to-do/boat-tours/antelope-canyon-tour/Phone:888-896-3829

Antelope Point Marina; 537 Marina Parkway; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; Website: www.antelopepointlakepowell.com/recreation/tours-2/Phone: 928-645-5900

Prefer to make your own way to Antelope Canyon and experience Lake Powell on your schedule and your terms? The above-referenced concessionaires also offer powerboat and personal watercraft rentals. Call the numbers shown above, or visit their websites and they’ll hook you up!

Another fun and wonderful way to experience the waterside of Antelope Canyon is by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Tours and rentals are offered from two outfitters located in the town of Page, Arizona:

Lake Powell Paddleboards; 836 Vista Ave, Page AZ 86040, Website: www.lakepowellpaddleboards.com; Phone: 928-645-4017

Kayak Lake Powell; 816 Coppermine Rd. Page, AZ 86040; Website: www.kayakpowell.com; Phone: 928-660-0778

Of course, the absolute best way to avoid encountering sold out Antelope Canyon tours is to plan ahead. Make your reservations as soon as you have your lodging and trip logistics nailed down. Otherwise, be prepared to get a little creative, but also to be very pleasantly surprised.

Good luck and happy traveling!

About the author

Alley Keosheyan

With 20+ years in the tourism industry in Northern Arizona, including 7 years at Grand Canyon South Rim and 15 years at Lake Powell, Alley has taken part in virtually every commercial tour there is! She has ridden the Grand Canyon mules, hiked rim to rim, rafted the rapids of the Colorado River (and the smooth bits, too), enjoyed many a houseboat weekend on Lake Powell, logged countless hours on both airplanes and helicopters, walked on air on the Grand Canyon Skywalk and frolicked in the blue-green waters of Havasu Falls. About the only thing on her "to-do" list now is the Tower Butte Helicopter tour! She now makes a living as a freelance writer by day, bass player in a cover band by night.

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