Antelope Canyon is canceling photo tours due to overcrowding

Dec 24, 2019

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We are willing to bet you can’t go a day without scrolling past an image of Antelope Canyon on Instagram. It’s a slot canyon in Arizona beloved by tourists and photographers alike for the remarkable way the red sandstone undulates and catches the light.

 

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The canyon is located on Navajo land in Page, Arizona. Technically, there are two slot canyon sections — Upper Antelope Canyon (called The Crack) and Lower Antelope Canyon (The Corkscrew).

Lately, though, the canyon has been receiving a ton of negative reviews because of the hordes of people trying to snap a picture. While the photos might look great on social media, the lines behind the scenes tell a different story.

Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation finally took action. As of Dec. 20, all photography tours have been banned from the Canyon, according to the Arizona Republic. Tripods are also not allowed.

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USA Today reported that, because the number of visitors to the canyon has increased exponentially in recent years (some 4 million people come here to add the natural wonder to their photo collection), tour operators found it challenging to find time for professional photographers to get the shots they needed.

The good news, though, is you can still take photos with your phone or camera on regular tours. The hope here is that this should cut down on wait times, as a group tour is the only way to see the canyon at all.

If you want to make the most of your trip to Antelope Canyon, you’ll want to book your tour as soon as you can. Don’t worry, you can still take photos; you’ll just have a tour of the canyon, as well. In our book, that’s a win-win.

While the canyon is located in the Grand Canyon State, the closest airport is actually in Las Vegas (LAS). A handful of companies even offer one-day Antelope Canyon tours from Las Vegas. Rates range from anywhere from $65 to around $200 dollars per person, depending on which tour you choose.

If you’re planning on flying into Las Vegas, you can find flights from virtually every major airline from all major (and minor) U.S. cities. Of course, you’ll want to pay for your flight on a card that earns you bonus points on airfare, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline or via amextravel.com), Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x).

Related: Getting to Las Vegas with points and miles

No matter where you’re coming in from, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to explore. The tours are usually an hour to an hour and a half in duration, and you’ll often pay a premium for a prime time afternoon tour. That’s because the canyons will be filled with beams of light during the middle of the day, when the sunlight floods the canyon.

Depending on what you want out of your visit, there are a few optimal times to go. To see the aforementioned light beams, you’ll want to plan your trip between late March and early October. On the flip slide, if you just want to avoid as many tourists as possible, your best bet is to go from November to March — and the earlier in the day, the better.

There are a ton of variables to consider depending on your personal preferences, but the good news is that no matter which route you go, you’re in for a fantastic trip … and hopefully one with far fewer crowds.

Featured image courtesy of Brian Baril Photography/Getty Images.

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