Antelope Canyon is one of those places you’d immediately recognize in pictures if you’re familiar with it. But before you know that it’s a place that exists on this planet, it’s impossible to believe it’s real.
We got to experience it’s beauty first-hand this week, and there’s so much to tell you about it! I’ve received so many questions since I shared about it on our @Happy.Loud.Life Instagram (and over at @BabyRabies, too), so I’m typing out this blog post to answer as many as I can while we drive away from Page, Arizona toward our next stop.
We came to the Lake Powell/Page area really with only one intention- visit Antelope Canyon. The lake is gorgeous, but it’s too cold for us to really experience it right now, so this is a short stop for us. Also, the RV park we stayed at has the BEST views of any park we’ve been, but it’s over $50/night, so we can’t stay too long.
Knowing that ALL we wanted to do here was see this canyon, you’d think we would have been a little more prepared, but life and 4 kids and you know the story. We didn’t realize until we pulled up that you can’t possibly access Antelope Canyon (neither upper or lower, and I’ll touch on that in a minute) without paying for a tour guide. That was a pretty expensive surprise. It cost about $130 (and an additional $20 tip) for our family of 6 to access Lower Antelope Canyon via Dixie Ellis tours.
That said, we now completely understand why tour guides are necessary and money well spent. Antelope Canyon is on Navajo land and the tour companies are operated by Navajo families. Our tour guide – Wila- was not only knowledgeable about the canyon, but he also shared so much about his own Navajo heritage with us. We all learned so much from him.
We’ve been having conversations with our kids about racial stereotypes recently. The older two have been excited to visit “Indians” and asked where the people with all the big feathers on their head were. We did our best to explain why the term Native (American) is better and that it’s wrong to assume that all Native people wear feathers on their head. That was actually a car conversation just a few days ago, and during our tour Wila kindly explained all of this to our group in such a way that had a huge impact on our kids. He showed pictures of Navajo regalia and showed how that differed from Cherokee, who sometimes wear a feather headdress. This wasn’t in response to questioning. It was just a part of the tour, and we were thrilled that our kids (and Scott and I!) got more from the experience beyond seeing a pretty canyon and taking some pictures.
Of course, we did take a lot of pretty pictures. And Wila was also an incredible photographer. Not only did he show the kids how to get the best shots with our iPhones, but he took several for us, including so many awesome family photos! I can’t even put a price on what a treasure these are.
As I mentioned, this was LOWER Antelope Canyon, and what I gather about the difference between the two is:
Lower Antelope Canyon is harder to hike through since you must climb down and up stairs and ladders (sometimes very steep) while Upper AC is all one flat level.
Tour prices into Upper AC are more expensive than Lower, and many reviews I read online said Upper is more crowded than Lower.
I also read some reviews that said Upper was “prettier” to photograph, but I think that’s a matter of opinion. Upper has more natural light streaming in, and if you go at the right time of day, you can capture rays of light pouring into the canyon. Those ARE incredible shots, but I wouldn’t say Lower was any less beautiful. As a photographer, I loved nearly every shot I got.
While we did have to climb down and up steep steps, it wasn’t too hard for the kids to navigate, and Scott was able to navigate it all just fine (though he had to be extra careful with low clearances) with Wallace in our Deuter pack on his back.
Our tour was about an hour. They don’t allow food, drinks, GoPros, tripods, or backpacks (though, obviously, they made an exception for our baby carrier). We made sure to eat a snack before we left and were handed a complimentary water bottle when we finished.
The length of the tour was perfect for our family. The kids who walked it (ages 4, 7, and 9) didn’t have any problems with the length of the hike.
So while the Lower Antelope Canyon tour may be more physically challenging than Upper AC, and maybe not as “pretty” to photograph, I think it wound up being the best option for us, and I would 100% recommend using Dixie Ellis Lower Antelope Canyon Tours to anyone with or without kids.