Antelope Canyon is not managed by the National Park Service, because it is located on the Navajo land of Page. Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are both accessible by permit in the Navajo Tribal Park and do not allow visitors to enter privately. It is necessary to participate in their local tour to enter the Canyon and the local tour guides will do everything they can to help you get the best photos. Although there are many other canyons in the entire Navajo Tribal Park, the most famous ones are the Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower Antelope Canyon, and this guide will tell you the difference between them.
Upper Antelope Canyon Tour
Upper Antelope Canyon is “Tse’ bighanilini,” which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” Upper Antelope Canyon is the most famous canyon because of the stunning mid-day light beam phenomenon that takes place in the summer months. The price of visiting the Upper Antelope Canyon is higher than the Lower Antelope Canyon, and you will also have to pay extra if you want to visit during light beam hours. The tickets of Upper Antelope Valley are very hot, so I do not recommend visiting there without reservation.
To get to the canyon, you must go to the meeting point of the company with which you booked the tour, and once there, you will be taken with your group in a 4 x 4 to the canyon mouth through a sand track.
The Upper Antelope Canyon is located above the ground so you do not need to go down a long stretch of stairs as you would in Lower Antelope Canyon. But there are more visitors here, and the route within the Canyon is short. The sidewalk in the Upper Antelope Canyon is a two-way road, where to go from where to return, and the road inside the valley is narrow. For this reason, backpacks are not allowed during the tour.
Check the Upper Antelope Canyon schedules:
>>> Upper Antelope Canyon Tours
Lower Antelope Canyon Tour
Lower Antelope Canyon, is called Hazdistazí, or ‘spiral rock arches’ by the Navajo, is located several miles from Upper Antelope Canyon. Prior to the installation of metal stairways, visiting the canyon required climbing along pre-installed ladders in certain areas.
Recently, more and more tourists have chosen to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon because it is not as crowded as the Upper Antelope Canyon, and also the price is more reasonable. However, the Lower Antelope Canyon is carved into the ground, as usual canyons are, so you must descend a steep metal stairway that takes you to the bottom of the canyon. It is difficult and not suitable for the elderly and children.
As this might be dangerous, the guides make sure that members of their group go down one by one which creates a significant delay at the entrance. But luckily, Lower Antelope Canyon is longer and wider than Upper Antelope Canyon, and the tour only goes in one direction, so you will have much more space when you get inside.
Although you cannot see light beams, the shapes and patterns on the rock walls are more special. Moreover, the Navajo guides here usually do not rush you like the Upper Antelope Canyon, so you will have enough freedom and space to enjoy the time in the canyon!
Check the Lower Antelope Canyon schedules:
>>> Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
1. If you want to save money, I recommend the Lower Antelope Canyon.
2. If you like photography, I recommend the Upper Antelope Canyon. If you like to shoot portraits, I recommend Lower Antelope Canyon because there are fewer people.
3. If you choose to enter the Canyon at noon, I recommend the Upper Antelope Canyon. If you choose to travel at other times or in winter, both are fine.
4. If you have enough time and budget, both Canyons are recommend to visit.
Upper Antelope Canyon Sightseer’s Tour vs. Photographic Tour
The biggest advantage of participating in the photo tour is the right to make other visitors not appear in your photos. For example, if you set the camera for two minutes long shutter speed to take a photo, then your guide will help you to create cleaner compositions with no people on your frame and will allow more time to shoot every main spot inside the canyon. Also, your guide will also give you an introductory talk at the beginning of the tour explaining the basic parameters that you can use on your camera. He will also provide useful information like never changing the lens inside the canyon to prevent getting dust on your camera sensor. He also provides basic tips about compositions, because you pays more, so you will get better service.
Tips for Photographic Tour
1. To take part in the Photographic Tour of Upper Antelope Canyon, you need to prepare at least a SLR camera and a tripod.
2. It is recommended to wear a raincoat or dust jacket for the camera, because there are lots of sand in the Antelope Canyon.
3. The flash is not allowed in the Canyon, so the camera parameters must be set manually. If you are not familiar with that, you can ask the tour guide.
4. Personal backpacks are not allowed in the Canyon, and the SLR camera must be mounted on the tripod.
5. It is not recommended to carry an additional lens, because it is very inconvenient to change the lens in the canyon. If you need to replace it, be sure to carry the camera cleaning equipment.
6. If your photo is for sale, you will need to obtain a license from the Park Management Office to pay the fee.
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