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Old 11-15-2020, 09:57 AM   #1
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Need first hand info on planning a trip to Antelope Canyon - anyone been there?

We're planning a trip this coming June, and one of the stops my wife is looking forward to is Antelope Canyon. She's seen the beautiful photos and it's a must see on her list. I've started looking into it and I expected to have to make reservations. What I'm surprised by is how complex the reservations are.



Antelope Canyon is on Navajo land and it's mandatory that you use a Navajo guide. Obviously they're trying to maximize the income of their tribal members and I completely get that. From there is gets very complicated. They have upper vs lower canyon tours. They have photography vs. regular tours. Tours are apparently decided by if you have a SLR and tripod vs. a smartphone or compact camera? If you book one type of tour and you have the wrong type camera, they supposedly throw you out and if there is no space on the "other" type camera tour you're out of luck? On one type of tour they give you the bums rush and hurry you through, on the other type you get more time and space?


Wow, this sounds like a real mess. I Google it and all sorts of tour operators using similar names pop up with conflicting or self serving info. It's very hard to get a clear picture on what the real deal there is. Does anyone have a first hand experience they can share and a simple what's what about going there? We're not photo buffs, of course we'd like to take a few photos of our experience but we're not there just for photos, we don't have super camera equipment. We just would like a few snaps for our memories.



Darn, this sounds far more confusing and complicated than it needs to be. If it didn't appear to be so darned beautiful I'd just skip it.
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Old 11-15-2020, 10:09 AM   #2
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I have always avoided the place, there are lots of other slot canyons. Especially in Utah. I am a semipro photographer, or was anyway. And I have heard from other photogs that the light you see in all those great shots only exists for a short time each day. The sun has to be in a certain position. That is probably when the photography tours are scheduled. I also hear that those are very crowded with the photo gear and photographers. I suspect that they have found that the casual cell phone users and serious photogs don't mix well. But that is just a guess. The cell phone folks probably get in the way or trip over the gear or somesuch is my photographer centric view...heh.
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Old 11-15-2020, 10:15 AM   #3
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Been a few years, but...

There’s a tour operator/consolidator in Page. They were highly rated and we used them. We were quite happy with the tour. There are also dozens (hundreds?) of “independents” - basically anyone with a truck or old bus.

The type of tour does make a difference. I’m a photographer, and we took the photo tour. The pace is much slower to allow everyone to setup and get their shots. The guides will also point out photo op’s that can only be captured with a tripod and long exposure. They won’t kick you out if your SO has a p&s or phone camera.

The non-photo tours are quicker, and I believe they were cheaper as a result. They won’t give you a lot of time, and they won’t wait on you to setup a tripod or take a 60 second exposure.

We did upper Antelope as it’s more accessible. The lower canyon requires climbing up and down ladders to visit various parts of the canyon.

They will cancel for rain, and they won’t be argued out of it. The weather may be 10s of miles upstream, and invisible in Page or at the canyon itself. They’ll also have weather spotters at both ends of the canyon and may order everyone out at a moment’s notice. People do die there due to flash flooding, and they take it very seriously.

It’s an awesome place. You’ll enjoy it. The best time to visit is a few weeks either side of midsummer (June 20-ish) and within an hour or two of noon. That’s when you’ll get the glorious sun-shafts and dramatic shadows.

Regards,

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Old 11-15-2020, 11:56 AM   #4
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The price has gotten even worse than 10 years ago ...agree there are plenty of other slot canyons in southern UT that are free.
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Old 11-15-2020, 01:55 PM   #5
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Are the other slot canyons you guys speak of as beautiful as Antelope seems to be? Can anyone name a few so I can look them up? $145 a pop for a "tour" of Antelope seems pretty steep, that's for sure.
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Old 11-15-2020, 02:09 PM   #6
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Quick Google search
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Old 11-15-2020, 02:13 PM   #7
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Here’s plenty of Antelope pictures for free: plus no hot, dusty ride in the back of a OU truck.https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/a...rt=mostpopular
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Old 11-15-2020, 02:35 PM   #8
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FWIW, we did a fabulous tour of Antelope Canyon on 20th May 2017. Our guide "RO" was fabulous, taking my basic camera and taking some shots underneath rocks, knowing the light intensities to demonstrate the detail in the photos of grading etc. An absolute fabulous experience for both my husband and I and not rushed in the slightest. We pulled up in carpark at Kens Tours Lower Antelope Canyon, parked RV and they told us what time available (about hour wait I think for us) and cost us $67 plus tip for our fabulous guide. So informative, and for us a grown up disney world we felt.

Everyone will experience different I'm sure based on their nature, but I'm the type that usually feels we didn't get our monies worth on most things - on this tour I'd pay it again and again and again for the experience. Just saying and YMMV.

We did the half mile hike (think this might have changed since!) from where we parked to experience the overlook from rock outcrops of the Horseshoe canyon (Colorado River), seeing the rafters and campers waaaaaay below. Only a mile south from Page where we Overnighted at Walmart. Awesome to see Doug and these notes are taken out of my journal I keep.
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Old 11-15-2020, 04:09 PM   #9
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The camera regulations is something new - I believe, in the past year or two so don't go by older reviews.

The Upper tour holds more people and is easier to walk. Book a tour between 11-1 for more color but anytime is very nice. You'd get your vacation-type photos, for sure.

The photography tour was for serious photographers. They limited the amount of participants and you have a lot more time because that's what serious photographers need. As of 2020 they will not offer the photography tour anymore.

https://www.diyphotography.net/antel...0organization.

The Lower tour involves climbing short, very sturdy ladders and because of that there will be fewer people.

Be sure to read the cancellation policy especially now for COVID. Hopefully, there won't be an issue next year! I believe they are closed at this time so don't know if you can call for addt'l info or even if you can make reservations. If COVID is rampant I don't think I'd take this inside tour; plus it may not even be offered.

Definitely do one of the tours if you have your heart set on it.

As to other slot canyons... there are plenty but most are not as easy to access and some require a long hike to get there. Any slot canyon is beautiful.... just because!

Here's an excellent site to find others. We've done Peek-A-Boo and Spooky.

https://www.discovernavajo.com/antelope-canyon.aspx

https://www.discovernavajo.com/antelope-canyon.aspx

You can easily see Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River on your own. It's only a 5-mile drive from Page. You can also schedule a separate boat trip on that part of river. It's a calm section... no rapids and a short day trip. By the way.... the river in this link won't always be that beautiful color.... it can be very muddy at times.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...e_Arizona.html

Here's a good account of the flood/death tragedy in Antelope. This could happen all over the Southwest. It could be a sunny pleasant day where you are but up river it could be raining. That water can't seep into the sandy soil fast enough so it sends a torrent 10 miles away. Always check weather reports if doing a slot canyon on your own. Antelope Canyon has strict rules now for giving tours.

https://archive.azcentral.com/travel...n-tragedy.html
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Old 11-15-2020, 06:16 PM   #10
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We've done Antelope. I suppose it was worth it. It was probably 4 years ago. They tend to rush folks through, I suppose to get the most $$ in the shortest possible time.

Interesting that we chose an independent company thinking we'd get an enclosed van but ended up on the back of truck just like most everyplace else. And I think we paid extra back then. When the truck got to the reservation entry place the driver did not have his driver license with him so we had to wait for the tour company to send another person who had their license with them. What????? This is private land. I think it was a matter of the native americans vs. non-native's (independent operator tour) flexing their 'muscle'. geesh

Lat year we toured a different canyon; one much less popular and less busy, privately owned, and did a lot of hiking and up and down climbing (rocks and ladders). It was nice and, like Antelope, timing and sun angles are key.

As for Horseshoe bend..... Ya kind of have to go look. They charge to park and you walk to the overlook (short walk). When we were there it was CROWDED and the primary language was not english. It was like walking around Times Square with crowds it was so busy with 60 passenger tour busses lining up to unload their 'cargo'. But ya gotta go.

We got to see Horseshoe bend from the river too as we took the full day float trip. That was fun, we lucked out as only 12 people were on the tour on a 24 person float. They even served us a Subway sandwich lunch at a stop along the river.

I searched... here are a few things I found....


I almost hate to give away this spot because (at least as of last year) it wasn't nearly such a zoo as Antelope but..... google Waterhole Canyon...

Safe travels. Have fun.
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Old 11-15-2020, 08:52 PM   #11
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twogypsies has it right.
Only thing to add is June will be toasty temps. Check historical temperatures for Page the period you are planning. Upper Antelope is via a 4x4 outside shuttle truck. You are able to drive up to the Lower Antelope, but do have stairs and ladders you must negotiate.

Wife and I did Upper in October couple years ago. We had a great Guide, she controlled the tour ahead and behind ours to get great photos without people in them. (there are 4-5 tours at a time in the Canyon) We were not pressed but yes tours do need to stay moving.
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Old 11-16-2020, 08:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug427 View Post
Are the other slot canyons you guys speak of as beautiful as Antelope seems to be? Can anyone name a few so I can look them up? $145 a pop for a "tour" of Antelope seems pretty steep, that's for sure.

https://thedyrt.com/magazine/local/s...-slot-canyons/


Top 10 Slot Canyons in Utah β€” the wild is waiting


The hike into some of these canyons can be tough if you are not used to hiking steep trails. We've done several of these near Escalante and some near Capital Reef. Be very aware of the weather, if rain is in the forecast stay out all these canyons will kill you given the chance.
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