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Exploring Arizona’s Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon in the Navajo Nation within Arizona is a beautiful place worth exploring. A hike within the slot canyon offers the opportunity to see layers of red rock formed under the surface of the Earth. I recently had the chance to visit several slot canyons in Utah and Arizona, and Lower Antelope Canyon stands out as the most impressive.

Taking a tour of Antelope Canyon means entering land belonging to the indigenous Navajo people. When you venture here, it’s vital to comply with all posted signage and directions given to you at your tour facility. Dixie’s Lower Antelope Canyon Tours operated my group’s tour, and the company is a great option if you’re looking to visit too.

What to Expect on Your Tour

Image by Keira Ezzo

Lower Antelope Canyon is completely unique to the region. All guides are indigenous Navajo people who are very knowledgeable about the history of the canyon and the surrounding area.

The Navajo land in which Antelope Canyon is found intersects both Arizona and Utah, which meant our phones kept switching between Mountain Standard Time and Mountain Daylight Time. Our tour was in the early afternoon, during the hottest time of the day. Most of the tour takes place underground, though, with the sun being blocked by the rocks.

The walk from the welcome center to the canyon took about 15 minutes. After the walk in the desert, guests face a long set of grated steps that look a little daunting. Once you’ve made it to the bottom, you can take in the beautiful sandstone formations. The light coming from above changes the color of the rocks throughout the day.

Tour guides point out a variety of geological features that make the canyon stand out from other formations, including the chief, the lady of the wind, and a seahorse. Even if you’ve seen a canyon, if you haven’t seen a slot canyon, you’re in for a real treat. In fact, even if you’ve seen this slot canyon before, I saw a slightly different canyon than you did. For example, our tour guide said “the chief” rock formation is constantly being shaped by erosion. It has been eroding over the years to be what it is today, and it will continue to change thanks to forces of nature. 

We learned about a recent development in the canyon that actually changed the route guides use to give tours. Previously, the canyon tour took guests up a ladder and into a smaller portion of the canyon. After recent storms and erosion, they changed the path to go through a newly created arch that delights visitors.

Lower Antelope Canyon itself is a bit tight when you walk through it, but if you’re not claustrophobic, it’s well worth it for the opportunity to get an up-close view of the layers of stunning sandstone. Once you are in Lower Antelope Canyon, the tour is about 30-45 minutes depending on how fast your guide (and the other guests are moving). Tours of the canyon go in back-to-back, so make sure you stay with your tour group. The tour guides will point out the best places to take photographs and will even offer to take photos of you and your group at certain locations. Tour guides will also be able to show you what settings to change on your phone camera to enhance the colors of the canyon.

Good to Know Before You Go

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  • exploring-lower-antelope-canyon
  • exploring-lower-antelope-canyon

When you book a tour of Lower Antelope Canyon, there will be waivers that you have to sign beforehand. The waiver will be sent to the person who signed up’s email address. On the day of your tour, you will have to arrive at your tour location 45 minutes prior to the start time. This will give you time to check in, use the restroom, and do a little shopping. 

When it rains and Lower Antelope Canyon fills with water, tour guides use pumps to try to remove rainwater so tours can resume. If that doesn’t work, your tour might get canceled, due to safety concerns. If it happens to rain in the middle of a tour, visitors must leave the area.
Please note if you have chronic back or knee pain, you should not sign up for a tour of Lower Antelope Canyon. The tours are active participation activities and involve a number of stairs and ladders that you will need to climb to get in and out of the canyon. If you have other medical conditions that could limit your physical activity, please tell your tour guide beforehand.

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