Comparing: Upper vs. Lower vs. X


Antelope Canyon is arguably the most famous and beautiful slot canyon in the United States. Located in Arizona on Navajo tribal land, the canyon has a bunch of different sections that are split into separate tours, and visiting any of them requires a local Navajo guide. The main Antelope Canyon tours are Upper Canyon, Lower Canyon, and X Canyon. They’re all beautiful, but which one is best?

We recently traveled through the little town of Page, Arizona, which is where you’ll normally base yourself for this experience, and we tried all of the Antelope Canyon tours to see which one would be our favorite. We started with the Lower Canyon, then did Upper Canyon the next day, and finally ended with Canyon X. It’s hard to believe these are natural formations!

Each of these slot canyons are amazing, with a variety of rainbow colored walls, sunbeams, and beautifully twisting passageways. However, there are definitely some big differences between each of the canyons, and there are also several companies offering the tours, so finding the right company can be another challenge of visiting Antelope Canyon.

In this travel guide, I’ll compare each of the Antelope Canyon tours (Upper, Lower, and X) in terms of scenery, photography, crowds, fun, access, prices, and availability. Then, I’ll explain which one we liked best overall!

Best Antelope Canyon Tours

We booked our Antelope Canyon tours with GetYourGuide and had a great experience. The price includes your entry tickets and a Navajo local guide. Everything was communicated clearly by email, and they have a refund policy if you need to cancel in advance.

We’ve used GetYourGuide for lots of tours and activities around the world, and they’re great. Highly recommended!

Book Now: Upper / Lower Antelope Canyon / Antelope Canyon X Tour

 

Antelope Canyon Comparison: Upper vs Lower vs X

• Scenery/Photography

Obviously, one of the main things you may be wondering about is scenery and photography. Which Antelope Canyon is the most beautiful? Which one has the nicest colors? Which one is best for photography? Of course, that’s subjective and a bit hard to answer, because they’re all exceptionally nice.

Upper Antelope Canyon is mainly known for its dramatic light beams, which can be seen in the summer months when the sun is high in the sky. During this time, beams of light shine through the narrow roof of the canyon, illuminating the dust in the air. It’s a spectacular effect that’s great for pictures, although I think it’s a little overrated since it can only be seen in the summer during the middle of the day.

Lower Antelope Canyon has a shallower ‘V’ shaped chamber, which means it lets in more light than the Upper Canyon. Because of this, it’s best seen at times when there’s less ambient light, such as in the morning hours. The Lower Canyon has wonderful colors, and it’s full of twisting passageways and interesting rock features that are great for photos.

Antelope Canyon X has both light and dark chambers, so it’s good in a variety of lighting conditions. Even if some sections are dark when you visit, others will be bright and colorful. Like the Upper and Lower Canyon, the Canyon X has great potential for photography. Since it’s a longer tour, you have more time and opportunities for photos. In fact, I took more pictures in Canyon X than I did in the other two Antelope Canyons combined!

The scenery is a toss-up in my opinion. All three of these slot canyons are very beautiful and great for photos. Upper is best if you want to see sunbeams, otherwise Lower and X are better choices.

Winner: Tie

Antelope Canyon Tours Comparison Which Is Best Upper Lower X Arizona

Upper Antelope Canyon is known for its light beams

Antelope Canyon Tours Comparison Which Is Best Upper Lower X Arizona

Beautiful colors at the Lower Antelope Canyon

 

• Crowds

So which Antelope Canyon is less crowded? Which one is the least touristy?

Unfortunately, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are the losers here. They’ve become victims of their own popularity, and the tourist crowds nowadays are so bad you’ll often find it hard to move around or take photos. Forget about ever retracing your steps for a picture; everyone is shuffled through quickly in a line and this is strictly enforced.

In our experience, the crowds were the worst at the Lower Antelope Canyon, because it’s a bigger chamber and they’re able to run more tours through it every day. More tours also means more people. You’ll be in the middle of a crowd at all times, with people sticking their phones in your face trying to take selfies.

The best one for escaping the crowds is Antelope Canyon X. It’s far less crowded than the Upper and Lower Canyon, and we found it much easier to take pictures without other people in them. The tours here are also a lot less strict and almost have a private vibe to them.

Winner: Antelope Canyon X

Antelope Canyon Tours Comparison Which Is Best Upper Lower X Arizona

We were almost alone at Antelope Canyon X

 

• Duration

So what about tour duration? How long are the Antelope Canyon tours?

Once again, the Upper Canyon is the big loser here. Although it’s normally advertised as a 1.5 hour tour, much of that time is spent in transit to and from the slot canyon.

In my experience, only about 30 minutes were actually spent inside the Upper Canyon, and it felt even shorter than that because you can never pause or stand still for more than a few seconds. The tour was extremely rushed, and we passed through one of the main chambers so quickly I didn’t even get to take a photo.

In contrast, the tours at the other canyons are longer and more relaxed. This is especially true at Antelope Canyon X, where we spent more than 1 hour inside the slot canyon sections. We were able to walk slowly and take lots of pictures while also chatting with the Navajo guide about some of the history of the canyon. It was a much better experience and we felt like we got more value for our money.

The results speak for themselves. I took hundreds of photos in Lower Antelope and Canyon X, while I only managed to take a handful of photos in Upper Antelope Canyon because I was so rushed and limited on time there.

Winner: Antelope Canyon X

Antelope Canyon Tours Comparison Which Is Best Upper Lower X Arizona

Twisting passageways at Lower Antelope

 

• Fun

So which of the canyons is the most fun to explore? I know, this is totally subjective, but it’s still important because the reason most of us are visiting Antelope Canyon is to have fun!

I have to say, my wife and I had the most fun at Lower Antelope Canyon. Our Navajo guide pointed out a bunch of different rock formations with unique shapes, including a dragon, an eagle, and a tribal chief.

The narrow twisting corners were also fun for peekaboo type photos, and although not everyone might agree, we even had fun climbing the stairs and ladders!

Winner: Lower Antelope Canyon

Colorful Slot