Inside Lower Antelope
Inside Lower Antelope

Lower Antelope Canyon
Page, Arizona

Located on the Navajo Indian Reservation, the slot canyons of Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are a photographer’s dream.  Although we had taken the “photography tour” of Upper Antelope Canyon several years ago, we did not take the opportunity to go through Lower Antelope Canyon. The Navajo Nation accepts fees for tours in both the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons, but they are run very different. Upper Antelope is operated in tours guided by a member of the Navajo tribe with most originating from the town of Page, AZ.  Conversely, Lower Antelope is a self-guided experience.


Antelope Canyon is just a short drive east of Page on Hwy 98. Lower Antelope is quite a bit further down the drainage toward Lake Powell from Upper Antelope, but the parking lot entrance is on the north side of the highway almost directly across from the entrance road to Upper Antelope. In the parking area, there are a few portable restrooms and a small wooden booth. There you pay a small fee to the Navajo Nation for the right to be a guest on their land and tour the slot canyon. Once you are issued a pass, you are pointed to a sandy trail that leads up and over a small hill and you are on your own.

 Top of Lower Antelope

At first, we figured it must be a no brainer – all we had to do was follow the path. Just over the hill, the trail turned into a sandy area with footprints going in every direction. We paused, looked around and became side-tracked by a very narrow crack in the ground. We took a few pictures of the unique land formation and then contemplated going back to the booth to ask directions. While doing so, we noticed footprints heading off in another direction and decide to follow those. The footprints gradually grew to look more like a trail and, after about a tenth of a mile we started to hear voices and walked in that direction. Quickly the trail became distinct and we found the entrance to Lower Antelope Canyon.


Unlike the entrance to Upper Antelope that looks like a cave opening, here you lower yourself into the slot on a steep set of metal stairways. You quickly feel the temperature difference leaving the hot sun on top while descending the stairways deep into the earth and squeezing between the cool rock formations carved by years of water flowing through the canyon. Slightly different from the large rooms found in Upper Antelope, here it is mostly a narrow slot canyon with some areas only as wide as your feet at the bottom. Due to some elevation changes that would require scrambling and maybe ropes, there are a few metal stairways scattered throughout the slot. Some are just a few steps to make it easier and some are fairly tall and steep. I (Mike) took advantage of these for some interesting photography. An advantage of being on a self-guided tour allowed us to move back and forth or up and down the slot shooting some pictures and taking advantage of the ever changing light. When we were done, we moved up a short set of metal stairs through a very narrow opening to exit out of the slot onto the rocks and sand up top. Standing there looking around, we realized this was the same spot where we were confused with our directions in the beginning. We had just exited the little crack in the ground that we found so interesting before.

 Stairs Inside Lower Antelope    Inside Lower Antelope    Inside Lower Antelope    Stairs Inside Lower Antelope

Walking back to the car, we came across a monument that honors the deaths of nine tourists that were killed there in a flash flood on August 12, 1997. It is a very tragic story worth looking up and reading. It is a stern reminder of the severity of flash floods and the caution that should be taken while hiking slot canyons.


Our experience was enjoyable and we can finally make a personal comparison between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons.  They are different and we would recommend visiting both and experience the result of the force of water on sandstone that forms a slot canyon. 

Mike & Patty Poupart
(Date of Trip: August 26, 2008)


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