Why I Regret My Visit to Upper Antelope Canyon

Why I Regret My Visit to Upper Antelope Canyon
[This is how I pictured Upper Antelope Canyon – quiet, serene, stunningly gorgeous]
Upper Antelope Canyon was absolutely beautiful – I’d even argue breathtaking. Like I literally had to remind myself to breathe again because I was too busy staring at the gorgeous canyon walls, mouth agape, which let in a horde of flies causing me to choke on my own spit.

And Rattlesnake Canyon – we added this onto our tour before going to Upper Antelope – was amazing! I liked that so much more than Antelope. I’ll go more into why below.

Rattlesnake Canyon near Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
[This is Rattlesnake Canyon – we added that on to our tour, which made it a little more expensive – but so worth it! It was practically empty, and gave us the time to appreciate it. We were also able to interact more with our Navajo guide, and ask him questions about the history, etc.]
Ok, so – a little background. Antelope Canyon is on Navajo land, and the Navajo have used it for many many years as a place to gather inspiration and to admire its beauty. Water has literally sculpted the canyon walls, and the sand that’s swept up with it rubs against them, creating amazing and intricate patterns in the rock. Navajo also hunted antelope in the canyon, and used it to hide when enemy forces came into their territory.

It’s a place that’s full of history, and not something you want to rush through. At least for me, I wanted to leisurely enjoy its beauty and really take the time to appreciate it, and what it meant to the Navajo people.

Rattlesnake Canyon near Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
[Another photo of Rattlesnake Canyon – those COLORS and CURVES! Be still my heart.]
But, of course that’s not why I wouldn’t return! I love all the pretty things. So, while it was beautiful, it was also crowded AF.

Like it pretty much felt like someone took everyone from Disneyland, airlifted them to Arizona, and dropped them into this canyon.

And it’s not a very big canyon. It was mayhem, to say the least.

Upper Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
[A more accurate photo of Upper Antelope – but imagine it even more crowded! This was after our tour guides started asking people to move for our shots. AND we went on a weekday]
And yes, my pictures don’t show the craziness that it was – that’s because we were on a photography tour, and our tour guides shooed everyone out of the shot so we could snag it sans Disneyland.

So, if pretty pictures are what you’re after – GO! If solitude and contemplating the beautiful canyon walls are what you’re after, you will not get that.

Rattlesnake Canyon near Page, Arizona
[Another shot of Rattlesnake Canyon – the ladders were very exciting]
If you do want to get photos with no one in them, be sure to go on a specific photography tour! I cannot recommend our tour company enough – Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours. They were a little more expensive, but our guides were amazing, and navigated their way through the canyon and sea of people like a BOSS. They also knew the cool photos to get, told us where to stand, and helped us out with any questions.

Upper Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
[Upper Antelope Canyon – our guides threw sand to make the sand “waterfalls” I guess you could say]
So that was cool. But I also just felt like I didn’t get a second to appreciate the beauty I was experiencing, and I felt like I was just taking the same exact photo as everyone else just to share it on Instagram, or show other people this amazing place I’d been. It felt a little fake, a little like a lie?

Because when I showed anyone else the photo, it would look like I had been in this amazing place, in complete solitude, loving every second.

Upper Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
[Here’s a pretty photo I’d show everyone that would make them think it was empty AF and perfect]
In reality, it was crowded and awful and I was definitely not loving every second.

BUT! It is absolutely stunning. So, if I did go back, I would probably go during the off season (mid-October to mid-March), later in the day (our guide said the afternoon tours were usually pretty empty), or go to Lower Antelope. You won’t get those beautiful light beams, but I would’ve enjoyed it so much more! Or, I would just try and find a free one somewhere – it seems like there are plenty in Utah.

Upper Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
[Sigh – Upper Antelope really did have that perfect lighting, though]
And so, that’s my take. It’s a beautiful place, but I would’ve skipped it altogether had I known what it would actually be like.

I’ve heard that Antelope Canyon X is actually a much less crowded option, so that could be something to look into, as well! Although, again – you don’t get the light beams. So, up to you!

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16 thoughts on “Why I Regret My Visit to Upper Antelope Canyon

    1. I was there at the end of April last year! πŸ™‚ I thought it was a good time to go – it wasn’t too hot yet!

    1. Yes, I wish I had known how crowded it was really going to be before I decided to go! It was beautiful, though, and yes I think you’ll enjoy it more at a different (less-crowded) time of year πŸ˜‰

  1. THANK YOU for such a candid post. I’m with you – when I visit somewhere I want to appreciate the space and soak it in. That’s hard to do if you feel like you’re in a queue, always having to move along with a crowd. I’ll definitely consider your POV when we travel to the SW next year. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. YES exactly! I love being able to appreciate places for what they are sans crowds. I hope you enjoy the SW – it is such a beautiful place, like nothing else I’ve ever seen!

  2. It seems more and more these places are becoming very popular! It’s almost not worth it to try and fight the crowds. Thanks for mentioning some alternatives and more quiet times to visit.

    1. Yes, totally! And of course, I honestly probably would have tried to go at a different time of year (even if I wouldn’t see the light leaks) had I known.

    1. Yes, I totally agree! I’m at least happy that you have to book a guide – that somewhat helps manage it and gives back to the Navajo people, but at the same time, it’s getting soooo crazy crowded.

  3. Hmmm, I am really torn about visiting those canyons. I mean, I looove cool rock formations, but I am not sure I really want to be in a huge crowd enclosed in small space.

    Good for you being honest about your experience. People will see those photos and always want to go…but it is good to be ready to expect the Disney-like madness.

    1. Yes, exactly – honestly, I’m sure you can find another canyon that’s similar without all the crowds. Antelope is just so popular and people love it for the light beams, but Utah/southern AZ is FULL of slot canyons that look almost the same. I just haven’t done a ton of research looking for them, but if I ever go back I’m planning to do that instead!

    1. Yes, totally! I know some people don’t mind crowds, but I can’t stand them lol. I should’ve probably known what I was in for visiting such a popular place, but I thought that by visiting on a random Monday in spring it would’ve been ok. Oh well!

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