Visiting Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon in 2023

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Are you wondering about the difference between Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon? You’re in the right place.

Page, Arizona, has many natural gems to be explored, and Antelope Canyon might be my favorite one. 

Located on Navajo land, the well-preserved walls of the canyon envelop you, welcoming you into the cool orange folds of the slot canyons. The scenery is incredible; it is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Hiking here is a great use of your time while visiting Arizona.

And luckily for you, there are two ways to experience Antelope Canyon. And although Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon share many similarities, each provides a completely different experience. So what’s the difference? Below you’ll find our assessment of the Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon.

Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon

The sun shining through red, wave like rocks.

Antelope Canyon was naturally formed by water running through the sandstone for thousands of years. The Navajo know this canyon as “the place where water runs through rocks.”

Antelope Canyon is located on land owned by the Lechee Chapter of the Navajo Nation and is considered a sacred place to the Navajo. Entering the canyon calls for a spirit of reverence and respect. It symbolizes Mother Nature and passage through time, beautiful mental images to hold onto when passing through the canyon.

We are lucky to be able to access these lands at all due to the cultural importance they have to the Navajo. Antelope Canyon is recognized as a Navajo Tribal Park and requires a permit and a guide to enter.

The canyon is also located just 8 minutes outside of Page, so this would be your best place to stay while visiting the area.

So let’s take a look, is upper or lower Antelope Canyon better?


Where should you travel next?

Upper Antelope Canyon

Light shining through a small slot canyon.

The Upper Antelope Canyon has an elevation of 4,000 feet, with its walls rising about 120 feet in the air. Also known as “The Crack”, Upper Antelope Canyon is about 100 yards in length, making it an easy yet still awe-inspiring hike.

There are a few differences between upper and lower Antelope Canyon. Upper is more easily accessible, making it more heavily trafficked. It is also better for photography.

Easier to Walk Through

Upper Antelope Canyon opens up into a wide area and gets narrower as it goes along; think of an A shape. This allows for your group to spread out at first and makes it a little easier to walk through the canyon with a group.

Better Light Beams, Allowing for Stronger Photographs

All those photos you’ve seen of Antelope Canyon? Yep, those are almost certainly from the Upper section. If you haven’t seen any, go take a look! Some photos have even ended up in National Geographic.

It’s not that the Lower section is any less beautiful, just that the Upper section opens up a little more at a higher elevation, allowing those mesmerizing light beams to touch the sandy canyon floor.

To see what everyone has been discussing and photographing, you’ll want to try snag a permit and book a tour to the Upper Antelope Canyon.

It’s the More Popular One to Visit

View looking up a small, wavy slot canyon.

Since she is so famous, many other visitors, like you, are trying to see what the hype is all about. This can make it much harder to get a permit and schedule a tour into the canyon.

Permits generally cost $8, and a tour can cost anywhere from $40-$200, depending on which tour you choose.

So if you are planning a trip to the Upper Antelope Canyon, then I would suggest looking quite a few months in advance to make sure you get the day and time you want. This is a factor to consider when comparing the upper vs lower Antelope Canyon.

Much More Accessible

If you’re looking to explore Antelope Canyon in the easiest possible way, Upper Antelope will be the option for you.

This part of the canyon is entirely at ground level. Although you’ll already be at a 4,000-foot elevation, you won’t gain any by getting into the canyon or walking through it. You won’t have to climb or do any hurdles while following your tour guide.

If you have a fear of heights or physical restrictions, Antelope Canyon upper vs lower may not even be a question for you. Upper all the way.

Less than a Half Day

The sun shining down a red-orange slot canyon.

Since Upper Antelope Canyon is a relatively short distance, tours normally only last an hour and a half. This means you can explore the beautiful slot canyons while listening to your tour guide share the fascinating history and stories about Antelope Canyon, all before lunchtime. 

Lower Antelope Canyon

The sun shining of a red rock canyon making it look like it is glowing.

To trek through Lower Antelope Canyon, you’ll follow your tour guide into the Arizona earth. Descending into the canyon makes it a trickier hike, but it is longer than Upper Antelope Canyon and just as stunning.

Here are a few more factors to think about when deciding Antelope Canyon Upper vs Lower.

It’s Below Ground

Unlike Upper Antelope Canyon, the lower section is located below ground. This means a couple of different things.

The Lower Antelope Canyon has cooler temperatures and less sunlight. Slot canyons already have a slight temperature change when they’re above ground, so it can get pretty chilly.

Being below ground also means much less sunlight slips through the golden cracks. So if you’re here for those paradisal photos of sun rays, your Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon debate might be decided.

However, this isn’t to say there are absolutely enchanting views in the lower canyon as well. The softer, diffused light dances on the canyon walls in colors and textures you won’t see in the upper canyon. With more of the canyon to look at and a less traversed section, you’ll still be in awe of the sights of Lower Antelope Canyon.

Starts Narrow Ends Wide

View looking up a slot canyon with wave like walls.

Opposite of the upper section, the lower part of the canyon has a V shape. Descending into the canyon takes a pretty narrow path but it begins to widen out as you near the end of the trail and reach the sunlight.

However, the canyon is overall narrower than the upper section, so generally, the groups trekking through the lower canyon are smaller.

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More Difficult To Walk Through

Compared with the Upper Antelope Canyon, the Lower Antelope Canyon includes a much more difficult hike.

The descent into the canyon requires all visitors to walk down five flights of stairs. Your tour guide will keep the pace slow so everyone is able to make it down, but it can be difficult for those with any physical restrictions.

The sand can be shifty and uneven, and there is a ladder or two you have to use to get to the end of the trail.

If you’re looking for a little more adventure while exploring Antelope Canyon, then the lower canyon was made for you.

Tends to be Quieter

Close up view of the smooth orange rock walls of a slot canyon.

For years, the question of Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon didn’t cross hardly anyone’s mind. Many visitors didn’t even know the lower section existed.

Now Lower Antelope Canyon is getting the attention it deserves, but it still does not match the numbers that visit the upper section. Once again, this is great for our adventurous readers. You’ll likely get a smaller tour, and more room to experience the canyon at your own pace.

This is also a better option for a last-minute trip to Antelope Canyon. The lower part is less likely to be completely booked.

Tends to be Cheaper

Due to the upper canyon being much more popular, you can generally find tour prices for the lower canyon to be cheaper.

The tours through both canyons are about the same amount of time, but if you would like a tour guide to show you some of the other attractions around Page, you can book a combined tour. There are various options for these, such as Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon, and Monument Valley.

Final Thoughts: Which is better, upper or lower Antelope Canyon?

When deciding Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon, there are a lot of factors that need to be discussed: price, time, accessibility, the views. And hopefully, you’ve come to the same conclusion we have- Upper Antelope or Lower Antelope? You’ll enjoy both.

But, since we just went through all that, we won’t leave you without a final decision.

Lower Antelope Canyon is an untapped resource of beauty and adventure that is hard to find anywhere else. By choosing the lower section over the upper, you’ll be able to see amazing sights with a smaller group and for cheaper. It’s really hard to do better than that!

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