Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: a detailed guide to each one
Jan 10, 2024 By Juliana Daniel

Have you ever wanted to experience the stunning beauty of Antelope Canyon? With its magnificent soaring walls and sun-catching curves, Antelope Canyon is a must-see destination for any Arizona traveler.

But which area of Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon should you visit? Let's analyze their distinctive charms to determine which canyon best suits your travel requirements. Everything will be covered, from variations in access permit specifications to picturesque elements within each canyon!

Understanding Upper vs. Lower Antelope Canyon

The Arizona natural wonder, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons, is divided into two separate regions. Visitors should visit this site because of its magnificently high walls and sun-catching curves. The key distinctions between the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons are the access permission requirements and the visual characteristics found in each canyon.

Access permits are required for both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon.

However, some key distinctions should be noted. For example, access to Upper Antelope Canyon requires a Navajo Tribal Permit, which can only be purchased through a tour guide or authorized vendor onsite, while access to Lower Antelope Canyon does not require this additional permit.

Furthermore, visiting Upper Antelope Canyon often requires reservations and proper approvals from the Navajo Tribe.

There are two unique parts of the same Arizonan natural wonder called Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. With its magnificently high walls and sun-catching curves, this monument is a must-visit location for any traveler.

The principal distinctions between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are the need for access permits and the picturesque elements found in each canyon.

Light beams in the Upper Antelope Canyon

The light beams in the Upper Antelope Canyon are an iconic part of the experience and draw countless visitors annually. The phenomenon is created by the unique shape and orientation of the canyon walls, which allow light to pass through from above, creating stunning rainbow-like reflections on the rock below.

As the sun moves across the sky, its rays interact with the curved surfaces and cast spectacular patterns that constantly shift throughout the day.

The most photogenic time for capturing these remarkable light beams is around midday when they are at their brightest. During this time, you can witness a mesmerizing display of golden shafts spilling into calm pools in what looks like a fairytale setting. It's an unforgettable sight that looks almost too magical to be true.

The light beams provide a photogenic backdrop and tell a story about the people who have lived on this land for centuries. Navajo folklore says that these beams represent fireflies sent by the gods to bless their ancestors and light up their way in the darkness. To this day, visitors often come to Upper Antelope Canyon looking for beauty, peace, and spiritual renewal.

Light beams in Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon is home to its unique light beams, created by the same natural phenomenon as Upper Canyon. During sunny days, these beams appear as shimmering sun rays that affect canyon walls. Visitors can often spot incredible shapes and colors embedded within the walls due to their reflection from sunlight penetrating through the upper crevices of the canyon.

The most photogenic time to see these remarkable light beams is midday, when they are brightest and most visible. The experience is awe-inspiring, with golden shafts spilling into tranquil pools beneath in an almost surreal setting. It's an unforgettable sight and a reminder of how amazing nature can be.

For those looking for a more active experience, Lower Antelope Canyon also features an abundance of ladders that visitors can climb. These ladders lead to some truly incredible views and provide the perfect opportunity to take in the breathtaking beauty of the canyon walls from a unique perspective.

Lower Antelope Canyon is also home to several small seasonal pools, filled when heavy rains occur during monsoon season. These pools are popular with visitors who witness the tranquil reflections of light beams on their still surface and enjoy a peaceful moment away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Upper vs. Lower Antelope Canyon

No matter which section of Antelope Canyon you visit, you’re guaranteed to be taken away by its stunning beauty. Both sections boast majestic soaring walls and sun-catching curves, giving visitors an awe-inspiring experience. However, many travelers note that Upper Antelope Canyon is more photogenic due to the quality of light entering the canyon, creating rainbow-like reflections on the walls as they interact with the sun’s rays.

The light beams in the Upper Antelope Canyon are an iconic part of the experience and draw countless visitors annually. On the other hand, Lower Antelope Canyon is home to its unique light beams created by the same natural phenomenon as Upper Canyon.

Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon Walk length and difficulty

The length and difficulty of the walkthrough of Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon vary based on the section you choose to visit. Lower Antelope Canyon is generally shorter and less strenuous than Upper Antelope Canyon due to its gradual incline. The average walking distance in Lower Antelope Canyon is about one-mile roundtrip, while the distance in Upper Antelope Canyon is closer to two miles.

Upper Antelope Canyon can be challenging due to its steep and narrow pathways, which require visitors to climb numerous ladders throughout the tour. The ladders range from a few steps high to nearly twenty feet tall, so visitors must come prepared with proper footwear and safety gear if they plan to explore Upper Antelope Canyon.

Lower Antelope Canyon is more accessible due to its wide and less steep pathways, making it much easier for visitors of all ages to explore. Most of the trail is wheelchair-accessible, and plenty of benches make for a comfortable walk.

Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon Tours/Amount of people

Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon offer guided tours for visitors to toCanyonsr Canyon in safety and comfort. The number of people safely and comfortably depends on the tour provider, but most companies limit the size of their groups to ensure that each visitor can fully enjoy their experience without feeling overcrowded or rushed.

Upper Antelope Canyon also offers private tours for those who wish to have a more personalized experience. Private tours are limited to two guests per tour guide, usually lasting about two hours, giving guests plenty of time to take in all that Upper Antelope Canyon offers.

Lower Antelope Canyon does not offer any private tours. However, its group hikes are still intimate enough, with around 8-15 people in each group. The tour is usually about one hour, and guides offer plenty of information regarding the canyon's history, geology, and culture.


Q: How do I know which one to visit?

A: It depends on what you’re looking for! If you want to take stunning photographs without many people in your shots, then the Upper Canyon is an ideal choice. However, if you’re looking for breathtaking natural formations but don’t mind crowds or require a guided tour (which might be fun!), Lower Antelope Canyon is a great option.

Q: Is there an easier way to access Upper Antelope Canyon?

A: Yes! While most tours of Upper Antelope Canyon require guests to take a 4x4 vehicle or ATV, some tour companies offer helicopter tours that provide stunning aerial views of the canyon. Helicopter tours are often more expensive than ground-based tours, but they are the quickest and most efficient method of accessing the canyon’s beauty.

Q: Are there any other activities to do in the area?

A: Absolutely! Though Antelope Canyon is the main attraction, there are plenty of other things to see and do nearby. You can explore Lake Powell and its beautiful shoreline, take a day trip to Horseshoe Bend or Monument Valley, or enjoy some of Arizona’s amazing local cuisine. No matter your interests, you’ll find something great to explore near Antelope Canyon!


When deciding between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, it’s important to consider your desired experience and budget. Both are great options for experiencing the beautiful Arizona desert, so choose the one that best fits your needs! With stunning aerial views or a secluded experience with fewer people, you'll surely have an unforgettable time in either canyon. Whichever one you choose, we wish you luck in your travels!