6 tips for your family vacation to Antelope Canyon
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Editor’s note: Antelope Canyon is a part of Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park which is currently closed to visitors.
There are dozens of national parks in the United States, each one with a distinct landscape and a compelling reason to visit. One of my favorite national parks is Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, home to Antelope Canyon.
You’ve likely seen dreamy photos of the canyon on social media, but pictures don’t do it justice. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also a great place to visit with the whole family. Below are a few important tips for your family vacation to Antelope Canyon.
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You must have a guide to enter the canyon
To prevent vandalism and protect the land, which has spiritual significance to the Navajo Nation, Antelope Canyon was closed to the public without a guide in 1997. For these reasons, the only way to enter the canyon is with a tour company that’s been authorized by Navajo Parks and Recreation.
A quick Google search will return results for a few tour companies you can choose for your visit to either Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon. We chose Ken’s Tours because they had the most convenient tour times — and our guide, a member of the Navajo Nation, was knowledgeable about both the canyon and the land we were visiting. It was a special experience I’m so grateful we got to have as a family.
Antelope Canyon is absolutely beautiful. It’s no wonder people travel from so far out of the way just to take photos. In addition to sharing the canyon’s history and its importance to the Navajo Nation, our guide did a spectacular job helping us get incredible pictures to take home.
Know the difference between the canyons
Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are actually miles apart, but the most significant difference between the two is the famous light beam photos you can get in the Upper Canyon.
Getting into Lower Antelope Canyon also comes with steep stairs down one side and up the other.
Because it’s less accessible (and arguably less photogenic), Lower Antelope Canyon is also less expensive to visit. Our tour to the lower canyon was $40 per adult, not including a 6% Navajo tax and a $32 Navajo permit fee for our group.
Tours for Upper Antelope Canyon start at $70 per adult and $60 per child 12 and under. For our family of four adults and one infant, we paid $212.40. If we’d chosen to visit the Upper Canyon, we would have been out over $350.
Photo tours are especially popular at Upper Antelope Canyon and start at $150 per person.
As I mentioned, you’ll need to descend a steep staircase to enter Lower Antelope Canyon and take a slightly less steep set of stairs to exit on the other side. If you’re traveling with anyone who has mobility issues or prefers to avoid heights, you may want to stick with Upper Antelope Canyon, which is even wheelchair-friendly.
Additionally, visiting the Lower Canyon with an infant might prove challenging with the stairs. Luckily, my husband held our then 14-month-old son down the steps which eased my mind tremendously. You could also wear your baby in a carrier. Older children should be able to go up and down the stairs at the Lower Canyon with adult assistance.
Where to stay during your visit
Antelope Canyon is located in Page, Arizona, just beyond the Utah border and about a four-hour drive from Phoenix. If you prefer to fly, the closest airport is in Flagstaff, Arizona (FLG) and then a two-hour drive to Page.
We stayed at the Courtyard Page at Lake Powell for just one night, as Antelope Canyon was a stop on a larger Arizona road trip. This is a Category 5 Marriott property available from 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night on off-peak dates, or $126. Be warned, there isn’t much else to do in Page except marvel at the scenery, which is beautiful nonetheless.
What to pack for Antelope Canyon
It can be very windy in the area right above the canyon and the sand can easily get blow into your eyes and mouth. So, be sure to bring sunglasses and a scarf or mask to cover your mouth and face to protect yourself from the sand. The wind will also follow you into the canyon, so a light jacket might make you more comfortable.
The best time to visit Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is located in the Arizona desert, and so the weather is less than ideal in the summer months. The best time to visit would be in the spring or fall. While the average temperature is still in the mid-80s during these months, it still beats triple-digit highs in Arizona in the summer.
Winter is also a good time to visit the canyon because there are fewer crowds. The temperatures, however, range from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which may be less favorable for some travelers.
Antelope Canyon tours can last from one to three hours, depending on the type of tour you choose and which canyon you visit. There were tours every 30 minutes when we visited which gave each group time to get far enough through the canyon and not hold up any of the following groups.
Visit other parks during your trip
Our trip also included stops at the Grand Canyon, which is a little more than a two-hour drive from Antelope Canyon and Page, Arizona. Zion National Park is a two-hour drive across the border in Utah while Horseshoe Bend, a winding curve in the Colorado River, is only a 20-minute drive from Antelope Canyon.
Antelope Canyon is a mesmerizing destination and a great choice for your next family vacation. Not only will you walk away with amazing family photos you can cherish forever, but you’ll also have the opportunity to experience the Native history of the U.S. through an authorized Navajo Parks and Recreation guide.
Upper Antelope Canyon is best for travelers with mobility concerns, as it’s wheelchair-friendly. Unfortunately, this is also the pricier canyon because of the arguably better photos you can get there. Lower Antelope Canyon is more affordable and, in my opinion, it’s just as stunning, though there are steep stairs you should take into consideration before booking.
No matter which canyon you choose to tour, you and your family are sure to make lasting memories.
Featured photo courtesy of Ashely Onadele for The Points Guy
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