For travellers looking to explore the awe-inspiring beauty of Arizona’s iconic slot canyons, Antelope Canyon is a must-visit destination. It has become world-famous for its mesmerizing light rays and smooth curved walls. While the Upper and Lower Canyon tours are undoubtedly popular, we found 2 secret ways to access this canyon that are less busy, longer, AND even allow photography equipment.
When you google things to do in Arizona, your screen is flooded with photos of Antelope Canyon. Defined by its narrow twisting corridors, steep sandstone walls, and the beams of light that dance among them, this place is fascinating.
What you don’t see in photos, however, are hundreds of people being syphoned through each area with no time to stop and enjoy the views, no photo ops, and no personal space.
For us, that was a huge no thank you.
After a little bit of research, we found 2 different ways to access the canyon that did not involve taking the Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon Tours. The first is a third tour, called “Antelope Canyon X”. The second is a free method of accessing Antelope Canyon on your own via Lake Powell. Obviously, we tried both.
In this blog post, we will outline the pros and cons of these options. We will go over how to get to each one and why we think they are more worthwhile than Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon Tours.
The Antelope Canyon X Tour
Located very close to the other canyon entrances, Antelope Canyon X offers a unique and unforgettable experience. It caters to adventure enthusiasts, photographers, and those looking to avoid crowds.
Antelope Canyon X is a slot canyon located within Antelope Canyon. With only 1 company providing tours here, it is less crowded and just as beautiful as the upper and lower sections. If you are seeking a more intimate and peaceful experience, Antelope Canyon X is the place to be.
This lesser-known gem offers substantially smaller group sizes, ensuring you have plenty of space to take in the beauty of the canyon in solitude.
While the Upper and Lower Canyons offer relatively shorter tours, Antelope Canyon X provides you with a more extensive visit. The average tour duration is 2-3 hours, allowing you to explore the canyon at your own pace. Our local guide from the Navajo Nation was incredible, sharing information on how the canyon was formed and how it was used in the past.
An enticing feature of the Antelope Canyon X Tour is the opportunity to take photographs without the usual restrictions. In the Upper and Lower Canyons, tripods are forbidden and there are very few photo stops.
The fact that Antelope Canyon X has a specific photo tour was something we really loved. We were able to bring our tripod and spend more time in the canyon to ensure we could capture everything we wanted to. Our group was only 4 people, making it absolutely incomparable to the massive groups on the other tours.
This area is only accessible via Taadidiin Tours. The regular hiking tours are $50 USD and the photography tours are $130 USD per person(2023).
Self Guided Visit to Antelope Canyon Via Lake Powell
The second option is to visit Antelope Canyon all on your own. This requires either a kayak or SUP. While it takes a little more effort and planning, we really enjoyed the adventure and the fact that we had it all to ourselves.
There are a handful of tours that come through this entrance every day. Visit before 10:30 AM if you want to avoid them. If you do not have experience in a kayak, SUP, or hiking, we would recommend getting a guide this time around. We have never taken this tour, but Lake Powell Adventure Co. has excellent reviews.
If you would like to attempt it on your own, here’s what you do.
Bring your SUP or kayak to the Antelope Point Boat Launch Ramp. We are very comfortable paddling around together and one SUP was all we had. However, 1 vessel per person is a much safer option.
Go left from the boat launch and paddle into the first opening you see on your left. In total, this took about 45 minutes. Once you hit the sand, find a good place to stash your SUP/kayak. The water height varies throughout the year, so the exact spot will change. For reference, we hit solid ground around here.
Next, start hiking! We spent a few hours admiring the canyon walls. Although it is not as tall as Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon, it is amazing to have it all to yourself.
IMPORTANT: It is extremely important not to cross the border into the Navajo Nation. This section of Antelope Canyon is protected by the Navajo Parks and Recreation and only authorized tour companies can take visitors here. This boundary is easily seen on Google Maps, so keep an eye on it as you go.