A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE SLOTS (Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon)

Lower Anterlope CanyonUpper and Lower Antelope Canyons at Page, AZ,  are one of the wonders of the world, as far as I am concerned.  Dealing with photography there is another subject and can be challenging if you don’t know what you are doing, but easy if you do. The canyons are both located close to one another and are on Navajo land. Proper permits and admission fees are required.

Seems we all, myself included who visit the over photographed Slot Canyons ( Lower & Upper Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ)  look for that quintessential image that will forever be indelibly etched in our brains .  There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I thought I’d show a different look on just how it looks with some people included to give you perhaps a different perspective on what it looks to be in the canyons. I was there a few weeks ago and took some images to post here.

Lower Antelope Canyon is quite different than upper. It is more narrow to climb into and requires more flexibility of ones body to transverse some of the tight canyon walls . Once down in the canyon there are many wider “rooms” to photograph in. For photography, I carry a small back pack, minimal equipment and my tripod. Unless you have a steady hand, hand holding cameras are next to impossible if you want sharp images at exposures that may be as long as 2 minutes!

Different times of year affect this canyon as well. After rain there can be deep water in some areas. When it’s windy, sand is blowing into the canyon from above, causing potential problems for camera equipment.

For me, the best time of year to be in these canyons is in April and May. The light is good (at a good angle) and the weather usually  cooperates. You want bright cloudless days to attain the optimum lighting conditions. 11 a.m. through about 1:30 p.m. is the best time to be in the canyons as the suns is overhead casting light off the myriad of sandstone walls. Deep browns to bright yellows abound.

Upper Antelope is a lot easier to transverse. It is completely flat and is only about 500-600′ long. The canyon walls are wider. That’s the good news. The bad news is that because of the less difficult traverse, Upper Antelope is much more crowded. I would strongly suggest avoiding the weekends, especially in the summer months.

As most of you know, there was a terrible flood in Lower Antelope a number of years ago, killing many French & German tourists. They were warned NOT to go into the canyon as there was a storm 20 or so miles away that allows the rain to travel that distance and flood the canyon. They didn’t listen and perished. Be aware of weather conditions, not only around the canyons but far away and listen to the Navajo guides.


 There is much more room to photograph in Upper Antelope.

And after looking at some of the images I shot I think I came home with one or 2 good ones.



16 thoughts on “A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE SLOTS (Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon)”

  1. Nice article, Jack. Lower Antelope remains one of my favorite places to shoot. Last time I was there I was fortunate to have the canyon to myself for several hours. Just me and the ravens … and the skinwalkers.

  2. I’ve only been down in the lower canyon once, but I wouldn’t mind going back. Nice write up on what it takes to get down in there and what to bring.

  3. Jack, I’ve seen a lot of photos of the canyon, but never quite like yours. You’ve brought out deep hues I never noticed before. You must have had a fabulous time, and I doubt anyone can visit there just once. It looks peaceful and so very beautiful through your lens.

  4. Hi Jack,
    Thanks for an alternate perspective report! I am going to Antelope Canyons 6/30-7/2 and have been looking for something like this. I’m going Mon-Wed, so whichever day I am there, hopefully the tourist traffic will be smaller.

    From what I learned, there is only one tour company (Ken’s Tours) that goes to Lower Antelope, and they lead you on a 1-hr tour, but you can get a photographer’s pass and stay for up to 4 hours.

    I learned that Upper Antelope can be accessed via a few diff tour companies, and the max time there is 2 hours.

    I am more interested in Lower Antelope, simply because with 4 hours I will hopefully get at least ONE keeper shot!! (yours was wonderful, by the way)

    Question for you: do you feel the photo opportunities are equivelant in both Upper and Lower? Does it just boil down to accessibility and traffic?

    If necessary, I will do Lower on one day, and Upper the next.

    I’d love to hear from you, and thanks again for this post – bookmarked!

    – Lori

  5. Me again – just one more question. I had sent an email to an Upper Antelope tour company, asking if they did Lower tours as well. They do not, so bear that in mind when you read their response:

    “We offer tours to the Upper Antelope Canyon only. Upper canyon is the only one that offer the light beams and can hold large sums of people. Lower is very crowded because it’s someone wrote on the internet that it was less crowded. It doesn’t hold or offer the spectacular colors as the upper seeing how its in a V shape and upper is /\ and 2/3 higher then lower.”

    What is your take on this? Thanks!

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