When Is the Best Time
Antelope Canyon is a unique year-round destination. However, every season is different in terms of visitors, light beams, and tour availability. We visited this special place in Arizona multiple times and talked to many local experts to provide you with the best tips for every season, month, and time of day.
The best time to visit Antelope Canyon is from mid-March until mid-October when the light beams occur. It gets busy during that time, and tours sell out very quickly. It is quieter in the low season from November to February but without the light beams.
The best time of day to visit Antelope Canyon is between 11 AM and 1:30 PM when the sunbeams occur. However, there are no light beams visible during that time on a cloudy day. It must be sunny.
For more useful details and tons of Antelope Canyon tips, read this complete guide. Use the quick navigation/table of contents for your orientation. If you’d like to know who we are, check out our About Us page.
- Light Beams (Sun Beams) Tips & Facts
- Avoiding Busy Times & Crowds
- Monthly Weather for Antelope Canyon
- Stay 1-2 Nights (Recommended by Experts)
- Tour Tips & Photography Tours
- Upper Canyon vs. Lower Canyon
- 9 Antelope Canyon Must-Know Tips
- Prices and Fees for Antelope Canyon
Scroll down to the end of this article for even more tips. We cover every aspect of an Antelope Canyon visit. Feedback from our users: ‘You got the best Antelope Canyon guide on the internet!‘
Tip: Are you planning to do more than Antelope Canyon in Arizona? Then get the latest edition of ‘Fodor’s Arizona & Grand Canyon (click the link to view it on Amazon). It has amazing insights and is definitely the best guidebook for the area. It has so much great and helpful information you should use!
Must-See Nearby Places
Besides Antelope Canyon! Visit the must-visit nearby places:
- The Wave – Everything You Should Know
- Zion National Park – Monthly Guide
- Bryce Canyon National Park – Season Guide and Best Easy Hikes
- Monument Valley – Our Complete Guide
And if you’re staying in Las Vegas, definitely check out our complete Las Vegas – Best Time to Visit – Monthly Guide with tips from a local.
Update 2021/22: Antelope Canyon is open and tours are available. Follow our tour tips below for the best times!
From Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon | Tour Tips
This is such a great tour if you like it hassle-free: Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend Tour (Particularly great in winter!) Why this one? The tour guides are extremely friendly and have so much insider knowledge. Also, you save time, energy, and the whole tour is very comfortable in a small group! Pick up from your Las Vegas Hotel!
Light Beams (Highlight)
Light Beam Facts:
- No light beams from mid-October until mid-March
- No light beams before 11 AM and after 1:30 PM
- No light beams on a cloudy day, even during ‘light beam season’
- Book the 10:30 AM / 11:00 AM / 12:00 AM tours to see the beams
The light beams in Antelope Canyon start around March 20 and last until early October. The best months for the beams are June, July, and August. The higher sun brings more light into the canyon.
Time of Day: Each day, the light beams are visible in midday between 11 AM and 1:30 PM on a sunny day only. There are no light beams when it’s cloudy.
Upper vs. Lower: Most beams can be seen in Upper Antelope Canyon. They occur in Lower Antelope Canyon as well, but light beams are few and far between.
You might be wondering if it’s still worth visiting Antelope Canyon during the off-season, without the light beams? Yes, definitely! Read on for more details:
Avoiding Busy Times and Tourist Crowds
Antelope Canyon by Ron Holder, CC BY
Upper Antelope Canyon became a mass tourism spot, especially during high season as well as during shoulder seasons. Even Lower Antelope got a lot busier in recent years.
High Season – Shoulder Season | Spring – Summer – Fall
Update 2022: Masks are still required, but the tour capacities went up to 75%.
Expect fully booked midday tours from April until September. It’s worse during peak months (June, July, and August) when the light is just perfect. Midday tours are often sold out early throughout the season.
You have to choose between a busy place with the magical beams during the season (end of March – early October) or fewer tourists without the beams in the off-season (mid-October – mid-March). You may also book a less busy tour in the early morning without the beams in ‘light beams season’. You can still take great photos regardless of the time of day.
Alternative: Another option is Lower Antelope Canyon: Larger area, ladder climbing, fewer beams but also fewer crowds (or a slightly higher chance of reserving a spot in 2021/22). However, Lower Canyon became much busier than it used to be. Book mid-week and try to go in the shoulder months (April/September), when there are already/still light beams but without the massive summer tourist crowds/bookings.
Low Season | Winter Visit
In the off-season (mid-October – mid-March) there are no light beams, but both places are still magical. While Upper Antelope Canyon is slightly less busy from November to February, there is no more real off-season these days. The lowest visitation occurs in the first half of December and in January. However, even in winter, avoid weekends if you visit Upper Antelope Canyon. It’s less busy mid-week.
From January 2022: We did a tour through Lower Antelope Canyon end of January. This is undoubtedly the time to avoid the crowds! We seriously had the whole canyon to ourselves. They allow six people per tour and 15-20 min between each group, but they didn’t have a tour scheduled after us, so we had all the time we wanted.
For even more solitude: Visit Lower Antelope Canyon in the winter like we often do. It’s quieter during the colder months, and although there are no light beams at all, the colors are gorgeous. Check the weather forecast and try to go between 10 and 11 AM because of better light conditions.
Antelope Canyon Weather
Temperature-wise, you can visit any time of the year. In the winter it’s much quieter but also cold sometimes. Snow is very rare. Canyon closures due to winter conditions did happen in the past but they are very unlikely.
In the warm summer months, thunderstorms can occur during ‘Arizona’s Monsoon Season’: From roughly mid-June until mid-September. Thunderstorms are usually afternoon thundershowers and more wind and lightning than rain. But still, dangerous flash floods are possible.
More weather details (you can switch between °C and °F): Page, Arizona Climate Details
Tourists / Sunbeams (Highlight) Calendar
Expert Tip: Stay One Night (Hotels & Lodging)
Expert Destination Tip: We always spend one night in Page (the town right at Antelope Canyon). Why? Lodging is cheaper in Page compared to the central Grand Canyon area. It gets better: You’ll enjoy your Antelope Canyon visit a lot more and can visit Horseshoe Bend (10 minutes drive) as well.
Still not convinced? Read the destination expert advice on TripAdvisor: Antelope Canyon – Spend the night? Also, newer posts highly recommend it: Lodging between Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon – TripAdvisor. Even more important:
It’s too dangerous to drive at night in the area! Roads have little or no shoulder and there is a risk to hit larger mammals at night! Read here: Driving at Night? – TripAdvisor Sedona Forum. Planning to visit Upper & Lower Canyon? Staying the night is almost a must as you’ll enjoy both magical canyons (Upper and Lower) without any stress.
- Page: La Quinta Inn & Suites (Rating 8.8. With booking.com price guarantee! Tip: Bookmark the link): One of the best hotels there. It’s quite new, incredibly clean, neat and well maintained. The staff is also very friendly, from reception to kitchen. They help you as much as they can. (La Quinta Inn & Suites TripAdvisor Reviews)
- Page: Hampton Inn & Suites (Rating 8.9. With booking.com price guarantee! Tip: Bookmark the link): Excellent hotel! We loved staying here! Slightly higher rates than the La Quinta but brand new and with a room layout like a small apartment. Comfortable bed and very clean. Great free breakfast choices! Bookmark the hotel link if you’d like to book later. (Hampton Inn & Suites TripAdvisor Reviews)
- Page: Hotel Deals in Page at Antelope Canyon (via booking.com with price guarantee). Tip: Sort by ‘Star rating and price’ and bookmark the results
If you’re coming from Las Vegas, visiting Grand Canyon as well or staying in Flagstaff, then check the following hotel deals with (via booking.com):
- Flagstaff: Hotel Deals Flaggstaff – Arzizona (with price guarantee)
- Grand Canyon: Hotel Deals in/near Grand Canyon (with price guarantee. Bookmark the link)
- Las Vegas: Hotel Deals – Las Vegas (with price guarantee. Tip: Bookmark the link). If you’re staying in Las Vegas without a rental car and prefer it hassle-free: Check the fully organized day Tours to Antelope Canyon by GetYourGuide
Antelope Canyon 2 Days Itinerary (With Car)
Day 1: Visit Upper or Lower Canyon with a midday/morning tour (check the main section below for timing tips). In the afternoon we recommend the spectacular 30 Minutes Flight Lake Powell – Horseshoe Bend (via GetYourGuide, highly recommended. We did this flight as well) or any other activity at Lake Powell (TripAdvisor Lake Powell Activities). In the evening visit stunning Horseshoe Bend (10-minute drive). You may even go there around midnight which is amazing.
Day 2: Depending on which canyon you went on day 1, you now visit either Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon. Please keep in mind that you can of course visit for one day only. However, staying 2 days is an expierence you’ll love: More relaxed, more to see and really unique to visit both Upper and Lower. You may also spend 3 days (2 nights) for an even more relaxed time.
How to Get There (Rental Car)
It’s highly recommended to rent a car to get to Antelope Canyon. Some drive to Page from Phoenix, others from Las Vegas. Tip: Book a car in advance to get a better deal and start your trip without any worries. You’ll save a lot of money with pre-booking! Don’t make the mistake and rent one at the airport. We use Rentalcars Alamo, Enterprise, Thrifty, Avis (Tip: bookmark the link!)
‘Very beautiful, but very crowded nowadays. Especially at noon, it fills up pretty bad and of course, they charge you extra US$ for the “beam” at upper antelope canyon. But I think it is still worth it. The second one is lower antelope canyon both on Navajo land. Antelope is a slot canyon and means “the place where water runs through rocks.” There is a risk of flash flood danger. Rain miles away can quickly flood the canyon, especially in summer.‘ (reviewed by Christian Engel)
Antelope Canyon Tours
- Great Day Tours: Antelope Canyon Tours + (safe booking, very reliable, some from Las Vegas)
- Lower Canyon: Ken’s Tours – Lower Antelope Canyon
- Lower Canyon: Dixie Ellis’ Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
- Upper Canyon: Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours
- Upper Canyon: Adventurous Tours
If you’d like to take photos, a photography tour of the Upper Canyon is highly recommended. Especially if you want to catch the light beams. The guides keep everyone back and out of the shots. And they don’t allow others on non-photography tours to use tripods.
Booking a photography tour is your only chance during ‘light beam season’ to get high-quality shots.
Please note: You can also take photos on a general tour. However, no tripods or monopods are allowed on a general tour, and you won’t be able to stay at one spot for several minutes. But still, we were able to take some great shots when we went on a standard tour.
Lower Antelope Canyon Photography Tours
Both tour operators for Lower Antelope Canyon (Ken’s Tours and Dixie Ellis’) do not offer dedicated photography tours anymore since 2018. Not even in the off-season. They say that even the Lower Antelope Canyon got too busy for that kind of tour. However, you can still take photos on the general tours, just no tripods or monopods allowed.
Upper Antelope Canyon vs. Lower Antelope Canyon
UPPER: Timeless by Waqas Mustafeez, CC BY, LOWER CANYON by Parker Knight, CC BY
Lower Antelope Canyon is below the ground, while Upper Canyon is above the ground. Despite this fact, the most striking difference between both is the light beams (sunbeams): The views with the light beams in the Upper Canyon are just sensational. In the Lower Canyon, there are significantly fewer beams. However, we still loved Lower Antelope Canyon every time we visited, as it is just beautiful!
Lower Antelope Canyon
- Light Beams: Not the iconic light beams from Upper Canyon. However, although rare, sunbeams exist. Also, the light makes the wall glow. Still gorgeous.
- Tour Operators: 2 (see above)
- Self-Guided Tours: Not allowed.
- How to Get There: No transports are being offered to Lower Canyon from Page by both tour operators. Use your own car: Driving Directions from Page. No car? There is a service called ‘Powell Shuttle’ which can get you to Lower Canyon.
- Canyon Location: From the parking lot/main building, it’s a 10-minute walk with your guide.
- Tour Duration: 1 hour (standard tour), 2+ hours (photography tour, only offered in the off-season). It’s a ‘real’ round trip. You enter through the entrance and get out close to or either directly at the tour operator building: Map – Ken’s Tour
- Difficulty: Slightly more strenuous than Upper Canyon as you’ll descend 5 flight of stairs (35m) and then ascend up 8 staircases. However, it’s not a big deal unless you have some mobility limitations.
- Crowded: Much quieter years ago, now only slightly less crowded compared to Upper Canyon. You’ll also feel like being pushed through, though not as much as in Upper Canyon.
- Price: Slightly cheaper than Upper Canyon (see below)
Upper Antelope Canyon
- Light Beams: Iconic, stunning, and famous light beams.
- Tour Operators: About 5
- Self-Guided Tours: Not allowed.
- How to Get There: Upper Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours starting point is ‘just across the road’ from Lower Canyon (on the south side of Highway 98). Some operators have their starting point at a different location: Antelope Canyon Adventurous Tours starting point. You need to get there by car. Other tour operators even offer transports from Page.
- Canyon Location: The Upper Antelope Canyon entry is a little further away from the starting points/parking lots. Your tour operator will take you to the entrance in an open truck. It’s a short but really bumpy ride.
- Tour Duration: 1 hour – 1,5 hours (standard tour), 2 hours (photography tour, offered year-round). At the end of the canyon, you’ll turn around and walk back the same way. This makes Upper Canyon even more packed and crowded.
- Difficulty: It’s an easy and flat walk. No stairs. However, it’s even narrower than Lower Canyon and not suitable for those who are claustrophobic.
- Crowded: Extremely busy between spring and fall. You’ll feel like being pushed and herded through the canyon. It’s slightly better in the off-season.
- Price: A little more expensive than Lower Canyon (see below)
Despite the fact that it’s extremely busy during light beam season, both canyons are still worth visiting! It’s a unique experience. Our summary for the Upper vs. Lower discussion:
Upper Canyon Pros: + Stunning light beams +Less strenuous +Photography tours during light beam season still being offered Cons: -Tours are a little more expensive -Heavily crowded
Lower Canyon Pros: + Slightly fewer crowds and easier to photograph +Slightly cheaper tours Cons: -Very few light beams -No more dedicated photography tours -A little more strenuous (ladder climbing)
9 Must-Know Tips and Facts
- General Facts: Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Land. The entrance fee is $8 per day and person. Some tours have it included in the tour price.
- No Self-Guided Visit: Both Upper Canyon and Lower Canyon can only be visited via guided tours (self-guided tours in Lower Canyon were possible years ago)
- Upper & Lower: We recommend doing both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon because it’s a truly magical experience. Our tip is to spend one night (see hotel tips above).Itinerary: Day 1: Upper Antelope in the morning or around noon. Horseshoe Bend Helicopter Flight in the afternoon. Horseshoe Bend (see below) in the evening (maybe even midnight). Day 2: Lower Antelope in the morning.
- Stay 2 Days for Upper & Lower: You may also do Upper and Lower in one day if you like. However, you’ll only be able to see the light beams at one of them. The beams don’t last long enough around noon. The drive between both takes about 5 minutes: From Lower to Upper Antelope Canyon – Google Maps
- One Day: If you really want to do Upper and Lower on a single day, we suggest the following from our experience: We visited Lower first thing in the morning or the afternoon and Upper during light beams time around noon (11:00 a.m. tour).
- Water& Snacks: No restrooms, food, or water available directly at the canyon. It’s a very good idea to bring at least a small water bottle. No large backpacks are allowed in Upper Canyon.
- Visiting with Kids: You can bring a baby/toddler to both canyons. You just need to use a front carrier. Keep in mind that Lower Antelope has steep stairs. However, it’s totally doable. If the child is old enough to climb stairs safely, then Lower Antelope Canyon is a great adventure for them. Consider our tips to avoid the crowds (see above), especially when going with kids.
- Reservations: Online reservations are strongly recommended for Upper Antelope Canyon, regardless of the season. And we suggest making reservations in advance for Lower Antelope Canyon as well, especially during peak season.
- Photography: You can take photos on general tours as well. Just no tripods and monopods allowed. An excellent camera you can use on general tours is the Sony RX 100 V (and a great travel camera in general)
Crowd Tips for Upper Antelope Canyon
- Midday tours are heavily crowded between April and September.
- Less busy if you book an early morning tour during the week. No light beams though.
- Slight chance for a less busy time but with light beams: Late March / early April or late September / early October combined with a mid-week tour. But still, don’t expect a quiet visit.
- Less busy in the off-season from mid-October until mid-March without light beams. But still, avoid weekend tours and book your slot online in advance!
Fees/Prices (per Adult / Updated 2019)
- Navajo Park entrance fee (regardless of upper/lower): $8 (sometimes included)
- Standard Tour (Upper Canyon): ~ $60
- Standard Tour (Lower Canyon): ~ $40 ($80 for the deluxe tour=
- Photography Tour (Upper Canyon): ~ $160
- Photography Tour (Lower Canyon): not offered anymore
- Day Tours (including other sites): ~ $200
Nearby Must-Visit Place
If you are planning to explore more places in Arizona, read our guide about the best time to visit Arizona. We cover every season and all the must-visit places in this guide.
Antelope Canyon Photos by Ray Downs
Visit his amazing website: Ray Downs Photography