LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON
Near Page, AZ
Lower Antelope Canyon - the Antelope Canyons (both Upper and Lower) are a photographer’s playground. The surreal colors created by the reflective sunlight combined with the ever-changing sandstone waves can produce some of the most exquisite abstracts anywhere in the southwest—or even the world. I can say without hesitation, these canyons are some of the most incredible places I have ever visited.
The canyons are constantly changing (from flash floods) so the time of year and even the time of day can make the same location look completely different. What makes photographing the canyons so distinctive is that the camera often will see a totally different color spectrum than the human eye will. The unequal color temperatures (Kelvin, not Fahrenheit) inside the canyons render reds, purples, blues, and oranges that your eye simply does not see.
There are two separate Antelope Canyons just outside Page, AZ: The Upper and the Lower Canyons are just up the road and across the highway from each other. It is a bit confusing, as the Upper Canyon is south side of the highway and the Lower Canyon is on the north side of the highway. The Upper Canyon is wider and shorter and is home to some unbelievable photographic opportunities. The Lower Canyon is narrower, longer and possesses some of the greatest abstracts anywhere.
Trail Difficulty - MODERATE
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 2 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). The Lower Canyon is about ¼ mile from front to back and is below the ground about 30-40ft. To enter/exit, you have to walk down a series of steep metal stairs, which can be unnerving to some.
The canyon is very narrow in places and would be difficult to navigate for a large person. Finally, when the canyon is full of tourists and you are stuck in a narrow place, you can experience claustrophobia.
Warning: On Aug. 12, 1997, 11 people were killed in a flash flood at these Lower Antelope Canyons. The owners of the tour groups are very firm with restrictions on when they allow hikers in the canyons. NEVER, EVER take lightly a flash flood warning in these canyons.
GPS Coordinates & Elevation
4,141 Ft. Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click link above to view location in Google Earth
CLICK HERE to get driving directions to the Lower Antelope Canyon parking lot.
From Page: Head east on AZ 98 for 2.2 miles and take a left on Indian Rte. 222 (just before the power plant). Drive ½ mile and turn left on a dirt road down to the parking lots.
Lower Antelope has two and only two tour groups that can guide you into the canyon (you cannot enter without being accompanied by a guide). The tour companies are Dixie Ellis Tours and Ken’s Tours. I have used both companies and each provides the same basic services and photography tours at roughly the same price. Both tour groups employ great folks that are friendly, helpful, and informative. Hours of operation in spring, summer, and fall are 8am – 4pm. Winter hours are 9am – 3pm.
Lower Antelope Canyon Tours - Dixie Ellis
Indian Rte 222, Page, AZ
Indian Rte 222, Page, AZ
Best Time of Day to Shoot
For the Lower Canyon, in the winter months, I prefer the early morning for the front of the canyon and mid day to afternoon for the middle and back of the canyon. This is mainly because of the direction of the sun in relation to the north/south direction of the canyon. This is almost reverse in the summer months.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
I don’t really care for large crowds, so I much prefer late fall, winter, and early spring to avoid the avalanche of tourists and photographers. The Lower Canyon is very narrow in many places and during peak tourist season can be very frustrating and unproductive.
What Lens(es) Do You Need
Most shots in the canyons are with ultra wide to standard lenses. My recommendation is to carry only 1 zoom lens (16-35 or 24-70) so you are not tempted to change lenses while in the canyon. The micro sandstone dust in the canyons is very destructive to photography equipment. If you must change lenses, do so outside the canyon.
There are no permits required, but a Navajo guide must escort you while in the slot canyons. The guides are usually good folks and provide great insight to the best locations, angles, times of day, and compositions. And some play a pretty good Navajo flute.
Direction of the Shot
The whole time you are in the canyon you will out of the sun.
Special Nuances of Shot
Photography inside a slot canyon is different than any other place you have ever been. The canyons are much darker than the outside and usually require a 2-10 second exposure. Also, the abstract formations are often seen differently through a viewfinder compared to your eye.
Special Equipment Needed
I am sad to report that as of this update (July 2018) Lower Antelope Canyons no longer offers photo tours and will not allow tripods in the canyons!!! This is a very sad decision for photographers as it makes it VERY difficult to compose and produce great images.
Make sure you bring something (bag and rag) to protect you camera/lens from the very fine sand that is always present in the canyons. I would suggest not changing your lens once in the canyon as the sand/dust will make its way onto your camera censor.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
Depending on the time of day and the time of year, the number of tourists/photographers can range from a madhouse to a complete circus.
Page, AZ is an arid climate at over 4,000ft. above sea level. The temperatures range from 95° in the summer to below freezing in the winter. The slot canyons are below ground and can be 10°-15° below the temperature outside. Make sure you bring the appropriate gear.
I use Verizon, and there is NO cell service in the slot canyons. There is cell service once you get back to the parking lot.
Page, AZ, is nice town with plenty of lodging and places to eat. The only campground/RV park in Page is the Page Lake Powell Campground. It is a very nice facility with good Wifi, laundry, and showers.
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Page Lake Powell Campground - Page, AZ
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
Hampton Inn & Suites
294 Sandhill Road, Page, AZ
Holiday Inn Express
643 S Lake Powell Blvd, Page, AZ
600 Clubhouse Dr, Page, AZ
I really enjoy the town of Page, AZ. It is a nice place with friendly people along with some good restaurants and watering holes. A nice place to relax after a long day in the canyons is the Dam Bar & Grille. The Dam Bar & Grille has a good menu, cold brew, and a fun sports bar.
Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review
Dam Bar & Grille
644 N Navajo Dr, Page, AZ
Into the Grand
148 6th Ave, Page, AZ
Other Photography Opportunities Around
The closest international airports are McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, NV (345 miles west) or Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) in Phoenix (390 miles south).
There is a small regional airport in Page: Page Municipal Airport (PGA / KPGA) that services: Great Lakes Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United, and Scenic Airlines.
Area Guides and Workshops