Upper vs lower antelope canyon: pro’s and con’s for each

by James R
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Arizona is home to some of the world’s most iconic and breathtaking landscapes, but few are quite as spectacular as the upper and lower antelope canyon. These impressive land formations are a type of slot canyon that has to be seen to be believed. Carved over the millennia by wind, these zig-zagging canyons look as though they have been carefully sculpted into a series of narrow, winding pathways. Featuring an otherworldly ambiance, choosing to make the trip to lower or upper antelope canyon should be an easy one for most travelers.

With that said, the two distinct canyons have their own drawbacks and appeal. So if you’re considering upper vs lower antelope canyon, it can be helpful to know which one best suits you. In this article, we’re going to take a look at lower vs upper antelope canyon to help you decide which one is best to visit. So, which is better – upper or lower antelope canyon?

The advantages of choosing upper antelope canyon


When choosing between upper or lower antelope canyons, there are a few things to consider that set upper antelope canyons apart. We’ve included some of the advantages of the upper antelope canyon below:

The light beams


The most noticeable advantage of the upper antelope canyon is the famous light beams that shine through the slot canyon here. It’s worth noting that although the light beams are iconic, they aren’t visible all day. You’ll need to book your visit during one of the prime time slots if you want to enjoy the light beam show!

Easier access


When deciding between antelope canyon lower vs upper, accessibility might be a consideration for you. The upper antelope canyon is slightly easier to reach and doesn’t have any stairs to navigate. It’s a relatively flat and manageable path that only spans 0.5 miles. The drive to the upper antelope canyon can be a bit bumpy, so go prepared and take a 4×4 if you can.

Photography tour


Another consideration when deciding between antelope canyon upper vs lower is whether you’d like to take quality photographs. The upper canyon has a guided photography tour that gives you full access to some of the most iconic shots in the area. The guide can even help you get the best shot to capture your experience in the canyon perfectly. It’s also worth noting that the light beams are incredibly photogenic and can only be experienced in the upper antelope canyon.

Drawbacks of upper antelope canyon


There are a few drawbacks to choosing antelope canyon upper vs lower that are definitely worth factoring into your final decision. Some of these drawbacks include:

It gets busy


The upper antelope canyon is significantly more crowded than the lower canyon because it’s more famous and has a few more unique features like the light beams. Between the guided photography tours and short windows to enjoy the light beams, it can be close to impossible to enjoy your time here without sharing the experience with others.

It’s more expensive


When choosing between upper antelope canyon vs lower, it’s important to consider the price of the experience. The tours for the upper antelope canyon are about twice the price of the lower canyon tours, largely because of the popularity and unique features of the area. If you want to save a chunk of money, opt for the lower antelope canyon tours instead.

Spots are hard to secure


Again, due to the popularity of the upper antelope canyon, you might struggle to find a booking that suits your itinerary. If you’re determined to make it to the upper antelope canyon, make sure that you book far in advance to make sure that you’ll be able to enjoy a tour. This is especially true if you want to enjoy the light beams, as they fall under the primetime slots.

The advantages of choosing lower antelope canyon


Although not as popular, there are a lot of benefits associated with choosing lower antelope canyon vs upper. Below are some of the main advantages of the lower antelope canyon:

It’s less busy


The lower antelope canyon used to be significantly less well-traveled than the upper canyon, but today the lower canyon is gaining popularity. It’s still less busy than the upper canyon, and it’s a longer route that spreads out the traffic. If you don’t like crowds, then the lower canyon is definitely for you.

It costs less


If money is a factor when choosing between antelope canyon lower or upper, then it’s definitely a good idea to go with the lower antelope canyon tour. As we’ve mentioned, it costs about half of what you’d pay for the upper canyon tour and you’ll still get to experience all of the marvelous rock formations the area has to offer.

The drawbacks of visiting the lower antelope canyon


Even though it costs less and is the less busy route, there are a few drawbacks to choosing the lower antelope canyon. Below is a summary of these drawbacks:

It is less accessible


The lower antelope canyon tour is quite different from the upper canyon, particularly in terms of accessibility. The lower canyon tour features a lot more challenging terrain and features a stairway section to enter and exit the canyon. It’s also a long walk from this portion of the canyon to the car park, about a quarter of a mile. It’s because of this that if you have mobility issues, then the lower antelope canyon may not be suitable for you.

It lacks the light beams


One of the biggest draws for visitors to the antelope canyon is the light beams that break through the canyon and drape the floor with gorgeous beams of light. This is unfortunately only found in the upper antelope canyon, so if you’re wanting to experience this natural wonder then you should avoid the lower antelope canyon tour.

If you can, take both tours!


It’s really worth mentioning that if you can take both the upper and lower antelope canyon tours, you should. They’re both breathtaking experiences in their own right and they offer a unique experience that will be hard to forget. We recommend trying both out and aim to visit the upper antelope canyon in the morning (around 10 am is ideal for the light beams!) and enjoy the lower canyon tour in the afternoon.

If you’d like to find more incredible experiences in and around Arizona, take a look at our travel guide at https://gointernationaltravel.com/.

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