Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are some of the most sought after and photographed slot canyons in the world. They are icons of the American Southwest and photographers and hikers alike strive to get the necessary reservations to see these natural gems.
Upper Antelope Canyon is probably the one you have seen photos of. The glorious, twisting sandstone with a single lightbeam shining down. Unfortunately, getting that famous image isn’t as peaceful as it appears. It is only achievable during a certain time of day, and a certain time of year, with 50 other photographers and guides crowded around you fighting for the same shot. It is a marvelous sight to see, but there is another canyon I would suggest for a similar feeling but a much nicer experience. Enter, Lower Antelope Canyon.
Like it’s sister canyon “Upper,” Lower Antelope Canyon is located on protected Navajo territory and requires a guided tour with a Navajo guide. There are two types of tours.. the ‘standard’ and the ‘photographer’s’ tour. The standard is an hour and a half long and cheaper than the 2-hour photographer’s tour. The photographer’s tour requires everyone on it to have their own DSLR and tripod or monopod- but if you can get your hands on the equipment, the photographer’s tour is THE ONLY way to go!
As you wind through the stunning maze of narrow passages the people on the photographer’s tour are ALWAYS given the best spots, the best angles and the most time in each area. Lower Antelope Canyon is FAR less crowded than Upper and by taking the Photographer’s tour the guides will show you the best places to shoot, teach you the names of the rock formations, and even offer advice on camera settings! Our guide even snatched our GoPro from us and suggested this couple shot (shown right.) It is SO worth the money.
Of all the slot canyons we have hiked, we can definitely understand why Lower Antelope is so protected and so cherished by the Navajo people. In all honesty, the tour isn’t the ideal situation. We have a lot more time to reflect and photograph in slot canyons that we can hike on own with fewer people and no guide… but the only way to see the Antelopes is by following the Navajo rules, and it is worth the money and the challenge of shooting around people to be able to see these beautiful places.
Things to remember:
BOOK EARLY • CASH ONLY • LOWER IS LESS CROWDED THAN UPPER, AND JUST AS BEAUTIFUL • SPRING FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHER TOUR • DSLR AND TRIPOD FOR EACH PERSON • HOLD REALLY, REALLY STILL FOR CLEAR SHOTS • VERY DUSTY! DO NOT CHANGE LENSES IN THE CANYONS •