How to Visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

by Shannon
20 comments

Just a small town on the Arizona and Utah border, Page, AZ is home to some of the most photographed places in the United States. Within a short drive of each other, see Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, The Wave, Lake Powell and countless other slot canyons. Page is a bit secluded, 2 hours north of Flagstaff. We drove up one weekend, but you could easily spend a week or two exploring all the area has to offer. Here’s how to visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, plus a couple other spots too!

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon was famous in the travel community long before it was sensationalized on social media. However, this is one place I can honestly say lives up to the hype. There are slot canyons throughout the southwest, but none more iconic than Antelope Canyon.

How To Visit

Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land and guided tours are required. The canyon tours are divided into Upper and Lower. The tours do book up in advance, sometimes by as much as a year. However, we got ours about 3 weeks out for an 11am tour in early August. Keep in mind, that’s the hottest time of year and prone to flash floods, but is also most recommended for best lighting within the canyon.

The day before we visited, all tours were cancelled for flash flooding. If Antelope Canyon is a must see, you might consider a day or two in Page, just in case. If tours are sold out, always try calling the company for cancellation openings.

Alternatively, you can kayak into Antelope Canyon from Lake Powell, and then hike further in. Self-guided and guided kayak tours are available and are generally quite a bit less crowded, but also require lengthy paddles. Due to extremely low water levels in Lake Powell, the kayak option is not always available.

Upper or Lower?

So, what’s the difference and how do you choose? There are several arguments, but nowadays, it really boils downt to two factors. First, which one has tour availability when you need it, and second, how do you feel about steep ladders?

The Upper Canyon tours require a shuttle ride to the canyon entrance, but the hike is mostly flat. The return trip has some stairs.

Lower Antelope Canyon tours depart right behind the check-ins for both Ken’s and Dixie’s Tours, no shuttle required. They are the only two operators for lower canyon tours. A short 10-minute walk brings you to the canyon opening. A series of steep, narrow, ladder like stairs descend to its floor. There are several other staircases along the route, but none as dramatic as the entrance.

Only clear bags are allowed in the canyon. Videos are prohibited, as well as tripods and selfie sticks.

Be patient, its crowded and everyone wants photos. Even so, the canyon took our breath away. The rock appears in motion, flowing caramel flecked with color.

Our tour was scheduled for an hour, but it look about 90 minutes with the crowds. The tour guide was incredible- patient, kind and full of interesting information. She taught us all a few words of Navajo, and imparted a legend or two along the way.

Exiting Lower Antelope Canyon is like crawling through a crack in the Earth. When you look behind you, you’d never believe the surreal landscape below.

The takeaway is that both upper and lower Antelope Canyon are overcrowded, but the canyon is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

How to Visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend- Antelope Canyon Exit

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is just a few miles from Antelope Canyon, so you can’t miss one when seeing the other! Like Antelope Canyon, this horseshoe shaped bend in the Colorado River has seen a dramatic increase in popularity thanks to social media. Your best bet is to arrive early or late. Sunrise and sunset are popular for photography, and are also the coolest parts of the day. The park reports 9-11am and 4:30-6:30 pm as the busiest times. Driving from Flagstaff, we arrived about 8:30am and easily found parking. There are spaces for RVs too.

Horsebend Bend is actually within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, but the parking lot is maintained by the City of Page. There is a small fee to enter. The trail to the overlook is a flat .6 one way, with a few shaded rest areas. During the summer, the heat is scorching!

How to Visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend- Horseshoe Bend Trail

It’s 1,000 foot drop to the bottom of the canyon. I couldn’t bring myself to hang over the edge! For that matter, I keep a good foot or two distance! Honest confession? I crawled near the edge for the photo below, and crawled back!

How to Visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend- Horseshoe Bend
How to Visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend- Horseshoe Bend

Lake Powell

Lake Powell spans Arizona and Utah, with access points in both states. It’s an artificial lake, a huge one, with over 2,000 miles of shoreline. It was created in the 1970s with the building of the Glen Canyon Dam. Motor boat and paddle boat rentals are available in Page.

Looking for somewhere to relax after Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, we opted for Lone Rock Beach. It’s about 20 minutes from Page, just over the Utah border. You’ll drive across the Glen Canyon Dam on the way. Lone Rock Beach is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, so there are bathroom facilities and runing water.

How to Visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend- Lake Powell- Lone Rock Beach

You can drive right down to the water, but proceed with caution. It’s not a road and we watched a few vehicles get stuck in the sand. RVs and tent campers can pick a spot and setup. There were RVs right at the water’s edge.

On a hot summer day, Lake Powell is the perfect place to cool off!

How to Visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend- Lake Powell

Also worth noting, there’s a great Welcome to Arizona sign on Highway 89 South, when you exit Lone Rock. It’s easy to access, and there’s a Welcome to Utah sign across the street.

How to Visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

Page is just a short drive from the Grand Canyon, a sight you cannot miss! Check out our guide to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim here.


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How to Visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

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20 comments

Terri November 19, 2022 - 12:22 pm

I am blown away by your photos of these two places. Your pictures remind me of a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe. Nice post!

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:50 pm

Wow, thank you!

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Jasmina November 19, 2022 - 12:34 pm

Oh wow, that looks spectacular!

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:50 pm

It’s amazing!

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Melissa November 19, 2022 - 12:56 pm

Both spots are so gorgeous!

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:51 pm

Absolutely!

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Alisha November 19, 2022 - 1:38 pm

I’m so glad to know Antelope Canyon lives up to the hype despite the crowds! It’s so stunning in photos – I hope to see it in person one day!

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:51 pm

You’ll love it!

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La Zia Ro November 19, 2022 - 2:51 pm

I love the Instagram VS reality pictures! 😂 I’ve been to places that disappointed me a lot exactly because they tend to be awesome on Web and way lamer on reality! Would a two days trip be worth, to do both upper and lower parts?

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:51 pm

Absolutely! The Page area is worth a weeks stay!

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Lisa November 19, 2022 - 4:21 pm

Looks beautiful! And I definitely wouldn’t be hanging over the edge either# 😂

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:52 pm

Haha!

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Lisa November 19, 2022 - 5:46 pm

Love your photos of this stunning place! Thanks for sharing with us all.

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:52 pm

Thanks!

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Jenn P. November 19, 2022 - 6:13 pm

This is a great post, and as much as I’ve been in southwest United States, someplace I have never been! I love that you highlight how it looks on Instagram versus reality – this is always something that I have a particular interest in!

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:52 pm

There’s so many amazing places in the southwest! Thank you!

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Ashley November 19, 2022 - 7:53 pm

Great photos! I loved visiting this area. There’s so much to explore!

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:53 pm

Yes, I could’ve easily spent a week or two exploring!

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Chelsea Messina November 22, 2022 - 12:54 pm

I love your insta vs reality pic of Antelope Canyon because that’s EXACTLY how it is. They cram as many people as they can on those tours. We visited around 7 years ago so I can’t even imagine how crazy it is now.

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Shannon December 6, 2022 - 3:49 pm

Thanks! The crowds are annoying, but the canyon is still so worth it!

Reply

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