I always dreamed to be an astronaut, but to reach this unearthly-magical land I didn’t need a spaceship nor Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster. Stepping inside the Antelope Canyon, near Page in Arizona was like taking a walk on Mars. The sunlight seeping in was filling the space with vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, pinks and purples.
I could spend days in there: the colours change constantly as the sun moves across the sky. The ever-moving sunlight bounces across the narrow canyon’s walls, creating a dazzling display of light and shadow. The red sandstone walls of the canyon, carved for millenniums by rain and wind, looked like petrified waves that flowed unendingly, turn after turn. I had never seen anything else in nature like it.
How to visit the Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Protected by the Navajo tribe, the Antelope can only be visited with authorised Navajo guides. There are two main sections: Upper Canyon and Lower Canyon, just a mile or so apart. We chose a photographic tour that brought us first to the famous Upper Antelope Canyon or Tsé bighánílíní, the place where the water flows through the rocks, and then to the less frequented Rattlesnake Canyon which takes its name from the sinuous shape of the rocks.
If you are an adventurous traveller I recommend you to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon or Hazdistazí, spiral rock arches. This canyon is underground, less touristy and with several metal ladders to climb. This section of the canyon is V-shaped, narrow at the base and wide on top. Here the sunlight shines directly into the canyon and the vivid colours are more visible. The groups are limited to 10 people only and this gives you isolated time to enjoy the landscape.
When to visit the Antelope Canyon, Arizona
You can visit the Antelope Canyon all year round, but depending on the season you will experience different aspects of the landscape. Winters are quiet, less crowded but also less spectacular. Summers are busy and hot and the risk of flash floods are higher, particularly during the monsoon season.
What’s the best time of the day to visit the Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Surely, a place like this will blow your socks off at any time of the day, but if you really want to see the magic the best time to go is on a sunny day between April and September, from 11 am – 1.00 pm. The sun, at its highest in the sky, creates unique dramatic sun beams. The best place to see the sun beams is the Upper Antelope Canyon, while the best time to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon is in the early morning to avoid the crowds. The midday tours usually fill up quickest, so book the tour as soon as possible!
The Navajo lands have their very own time zone (1 hour ahead compared to the neighbouring lands in Arizona). So make sure to arrive in time for your tour calling the tour company you booked with.
Did you know that the Antelope Canyon got its name from the pronghorn antelopes that grazed in the area when the canyon was discovered?