A Hidden Wonder no more!
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 5 tour companies in all that conduct tours to Upper Antelope Canyon, the most popular section.
Two (2) pick up in downtown Page, Arizona:
- Ekis’ Antelope Canyon Tours; Website: www.antelopecanyon.com; Phone: 928-645-9102
- Tsosie’s Antelope Slot Canyon Tours; Website: www.antelopeslotcanyon.com; Phone: 928-645-5594
Three (3) Upper Antelope Canyon tour companies are based at the Tribal Park Entrance Gate on Highway 98:
- Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours; Website: www.navajotours.com; Phone: 928-698-3384
- Adventurous Antelope Canyon PhotoTours; Website: www.navajoantelopecanyon.com; Phone: 928-380-1874
- Tse Bighanilini Tours; Website: www.
tsebighanilini.com; Phone: (928) 310-9458
For Lower Antelope Canyon, there are two outfitters that operate from the Park Entrance Gate on Highway 98:
- Dixie Ellis; Website: www.antelopelowercanyon.com; Phone: 928-640-1761
- Ken’s Tours; Website: www.lowerantelope.com; Phone: 928-606-2168 and 928-640-0032
Have you checked availability for so-called “off-peak” 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. Those highly coveted time slots are also the first to sell out. 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 … 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. During the hot months of summer, touring Antelope Canyon first thing in the morning assures cooler temperatures, which is always a plus.
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 Antelope Canyon (aka Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon), Mystical Antelope Canyon, Ram’s Head Canyon, Wind Pebble Canyon, Cardiac Canyon (three guesses where that one falls on the DoD scale), 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 may be a bit pricier than Upper or Lower 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.com; Address: Highway 98 at milepost 308, 10 miles Southeast of Page, AZ; Phone: (928) 660-8961
- Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon (aka Secret Antelope 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.com; 7 Miles East of Page, Hwy 98; (928) 380-1874
- Tsosie’s Antelope Slot Canyon Tours (Cathedral Canyon); Website: www.antelopeslotcanyon.com; 55 S. Lake Powell Blvd., Page, AZ; Phone: 928-645-5594
- Mystical Antelope Canyon; Website: www.mysticalantelopecanyontour.com; State Route 98, Mile post 306.9, Page AZ; Phone: (928) 640-3852 or (928) 278-5010
- Antelope Valley Canyon Tours aka Ligai Si’Anii Tours (Wind Pebble, Ram’s Head, Ligai Si’Anii Canyons); Website: www.hikingslotcanyons.com, Highway 98 & Indian Rural Route, Page AZ 86040; Phone 928-640-2594
- Waterhole Canyon Experience; Website: www.waterholecanyonexperience.com; Mile Marker 542, US Highway 89, Page, AZ 86040; 928-660-2031
Have you considered approaching the problem of sold out seats from a different angle?
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!
There are 5 Upper Antelope Canyon Tour companies operating from the Page Arizona area. If all these companies’ seats are sold out, you can often find availability on Antelope Canyon Now.
I paid for a Ken’s Tours Lower Antelope Canyon next week. Do I still need to pay the entrance park fee when I get there? Or it was included in the paid package tour? Thanks
According to the reservation form on Ken’s website, you do pay the Navajo Tribal Park fee when you book online.
We (2 adults 2 teens )are visiting the North Rim in July, and will be stopping in Page on our way in. We camp and hike a lot, and would like your advice. We would love to see Antelope canyon, and have a tour of the lower booked for 3:45. The morning was booked. I am concerned it may be closed to heat, or not so enjoyable due to crowds and heat. We’ve looked at Canyon X or a tour of multiple canyons including Owl, but that is pretty expensive. We also plan to rent kayaks for a morning. Is going to another less crowded canyon a better idea? Antelope looks so stunning, but not sure if we would be better off going elsewhere at a better time, or if it’s worth the price to see the multiple canyon tour. Any suggestions?
You have correctly deduced that it will be hot in the afternoon in July, which increases the risk of tours being cancelled for safety reasons. Touring in the morning is definitely preferable. You can check with the Lower Antelope Canyon tour companies periodically for cancellations, but that can never be guaranteed. My advice, if you wish to avoid paying the price of a multiple-canyon tour, would be to book Antelope Canyon X. It bears enough of a resemblance to Lower Antelope, both in physicality and the formations, so that you wouldn’t feel short-changed. Besides, it’s just an alternate drainage of Antelope Canyon anyway.
Another alternate slot canyon you might look at is Cathedral Slot Canyon. It has both “iconic” slot canyon scenery plus a few features that are unique to it alone. You might also consider touring Lower Waterholes Canyon. It is not mentioned on our website yet because until quite recently, all you had to do was get a permit from the Navajo tribe and go in at your leisure. It now requires a tour to enter, but it’s quite reasonably priced. For more information, visit Waterhole Canyon Experience LLC on Facebook. Last but not least, there’s also Wind Pebble Canyon, which is another slot canyon in the Antelope Canyon system, managed by Ligai Si’Anii Tours.
Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
We are planning to visit middle of June, but with a big group, families from cali. Not sure how many, but we have kids ranging from 5 and up as well. There will be about 25+. What’s the best way to do…this? Do we have to have reservations and tour guides? Are there camping grounds we can set up and stay in?
Any info would be greatly appreciated. We are excited to experience this as a family.
Hello and thank you for visiting us today!
With a group that size you definitely need to have advance reservations for everything – tours, accommodations, etc.
RE: camping, you may want to rethink that, especially in the Page, AZ area as daytime high temperatures in June will be very hot. A traditional hotel or vacation rentals may be more comfortable for you as they will have comforts such as air conditioning and proper beds. Vacation rental home could potentially save you even more money as you would be able to do your own cooking in a fully-equipped kitchen.
If you do prefer to camp, there is a decent selection of both tent and RV campgrounds in the Page, AZ area, but again, given the size of your group, advance reservations are a must.
Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
P.S. An activity your family would probably enjoy is the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip. Children 4 and up are welcome to take part and there is no danger as the stretch of river is devoid of rapids.
Thnx for the info. I live in NY and we do get snow so I am used to it.
I wondered how bad or should I say how much snow do you guys get over there at the Canyon?
In Page, AZ, usually just an inch or two, 4-6″ on very rare occasions, but the Grand Canyon can sometimes get up to a foot in a single storm!
How about early January, it is worth visiting the canyons?
It’s absolutely worth it to visit the canyons in January! Although cold weather and the possibility of snow might put a minor wrench in your plans, you’ll have fewer people to contend with than you would during the summer months, and IMO, that’s always a plus.
Take care and safe travels,
P.S. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!