Are you wondering when the best time to visit Antelope Canyon is?
I have covered everything about the best time to visit Antelope Canyon in this post.
One of my favourite landmarks in the Copper State and among the top slot canyons in Arizona; I have visited it so many times now that I have lost count, but the gorgeous splendour of this natural landmark never ceases to amaze me even to this day.
Antelope Canyon is a spectacular canyon in the American Southwest, a stunning item on the bucket list of travelers everywhere.
Whether you are a photographer looking to capture the best shots of this canyon or a first-time visitor wanting to experience the beauty of this wonder, read on to learn about the best time to visit Antelope Canyon to help you decide better.
WHY VISIT ANTELOPE CANYON?
Located in the heart of the American Southwest in the Navajo Nation east of Page, Antelope Canyon is an intriguing landmark in Arizona.
The canyon has 6 sections in total, but the two most easily accessible are Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope.
Upper Antelope is the most famous and visited, while Lower Antelope is slightly more challenging to see and receives fewer tourists.
While both canyons are relatively short and offer a slightly different experience, both are incredible slot canyons comprising unique and impressive formations on the tall Navajo sandstone walls.
These striking wonders are millions of years old, formed due to the consistent work of flash floods, carving their famous rugged edges, creating deep and narrow winding fissures through the soft, red sandstone rock.
You can walk directly through these natural rock formations, which reach up to 120 feet tall, and admire the spectacle of light, formations of light beams between the rocks, which draw millions of visitors annually.
You can only access Antelope Canyons on a guided tour, which remains full throughout the year thanks to its immense popularity.
Upper Antelope Canyon, also nicknamed the Crack, the place where water runs through rocks, is the most crowded of the slot canyons near Page.
This tour of Antelope Canyon has incredible reviews, awesome tour guides & transportation to the canyon.
Read excellent reviews and find more details here.
It is best to book the tours in months if you want to explore during peak seasons.
Besides the lower and the upper Antelope Canyon, you can also stop by Secret Antelope Canyon and Canyon X.
If you have more time, I recommend visiting a few fantastic Arizona national monuments nearby, including Canyon de Chelly or relaxing or enjoying a picnic at Lake Powell, one of the best Arizona lakes.
UPPER VERSUS LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON? WHICH ONE TO VISIT?
The most important decision you must make before visiting Antelope Canyon is whether you want to see Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, or both!
If you’ve ever seen a photo of Antelope Canyon, it’s probably that of Upper Antelope Canyon.
If you ask me, I’d say why not visit both, as both are incredible and worth a visit.
But picking only one means looking at your budget, fitness levels, and crowds.
Upper Antelope Canyon, also known as the place where water runs through rocks, is the most crowded of the slot canyons near Page.
Upper Antelope Canyon, spanning 200 meters long, has the largest caverns, with the entire canyon at ground level and no climbing, giving it easy access and attracting millions of visitors each year.
One of the biggest draws of the Upper Antelope Canyon is its higher location at over 4000 feet, leading to the formation of the famous light beams.
The directions and effects of sunlight filtering through the narrow and deep walls create fascinating illuminations of reds and oranges, changing position throughout the year, and create fabulous views.
It is narrow and has more twists and turns than Lower Antelope Canyon.
Upper Antelope Canyons is also easily accessible from Horseshoe Bend and the Glen Canyon Dam.
VISIT UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON
If you only have time to visit one of Page’s famous slot canyons, it should be Lower Antelope Canyon, which also receives fewer people.
Lower Antelope Canyon is known for its spectacular spiral rock arches amidst narrow passages and shallow water on the ground.
Since the lower canyon is v-shaped, the light shines from above onto the canyon floor instead of through specific openings like the a-shaped upper canyon bringing more light into the canyon and offering splendid photo-capturing options.
Although it is only a quarter-mile long and twice as long as the Upper Antelope, it is home to some of the most iconic undulating formations in the rock walls, along with fantastic lighting and colouring, making it one of the top landmarks in Arizona and a bucket list destination for hikers, outdoor lovers and photographers.
On your guided tour, you will pass through a series of fantastic passageways where you can see the floors and the walls illuminated by sunlight pouring in, creating beautiful views.
You’ll have to scale some ladders to access Lower Canyon, but it is worth the extra effort.
As this is one of the most popular canyons, tours for Lower Antelope Canyon can fill up fast, and booking your trip in advance is best.
VISIT LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON
BEST TIME TO VISIT ANTELOPE CANYON FOR PHOTOGRAPHY(LIGHT BEAMS)
The best time to visit Antelope Canyon to see the spectacular light beams is in the summer months when the sun is highest in the sky.
So if you are a photographer keen on capturing the magical paint of sunlight on the Canyon, head there between mid-March and mid-October, especially in June, July, and August.
Both canyons have light beams but the Upper Antelope Canyon has the more famous ones due to upside formations allowing more light at the base.
The light rays at the Lower Antelope Canyon are rare since it is shaped like a “V”, with its bottom narrow and wide open at the top. This creates fewer beams and more general light.
As expected, Upper Antelope Canyon does get crowded during these three summer months.
Visit in the shoulder seasons of April, May, September, and October to admire the stunning light beams with fewer crowds.
I cannot guarantee fewer people thanks to the immense popularity of Antelope Canyon.
Visit on a bright and clear day avoiding cloudy days which prevent the sun from shining through the canyons.
Here are some things to remember if you are serious about photographing Antelope Canyon on your trip:
The light beams are typically seen from 11 AM to 1 PM in the summer, especially the light rays in Upper Antelope Canyon between May and October.
If you prefer the morning, head to Lower Antelope Canyon between 10 AM and 12:30 PM or late afternoon.
Because of this small period of time, these time slots are usually booked 6+ months in advance.
But note that there are no terrible photos at Antelope Canyon!
If you bring a camera, shooting on manual is recommended, as the light constantly changes throughout the canyons.
Lower Antelope Canyon is brighter and thus easier to shoot, and you will not need to use your long exposure here, so it is more photo-friendly to beginners.
Also, you can’t bring a tripod or backpack on a tour, so long exposure shots are impossible.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ANTELOPE CANYON WEATHER-WISE
The best time to visit Antelope Canyon for good weather is in April, May, October, and early November.
Arizona’s monsoon season lasts from June to September and can bring heavy rain.
Although Antelope Canyon remains open, these months are best avoided as sudden heavy rainfall makes the canyon unsafe for visitors.
Monsoon also brings thunderstorms that cause wet days and flash flooding.
So this isn’t the best season to visit Antelope Canyon if you want to avoid the rain.
But even if you plan to visit during the rainy season, morning tours often happen with the slightest chance of cancellation, as thunderstorms mainly occur later in the day.
Antelope Canyon weather plays a role in the visibility of the light beams.
Visit on a very sunny day in the spring or summer to have the best chance of seeing the lights.
Northern Arizona starts to get colder in late November.
Antelope Canyon often reaches below freezing in the winter.
It is one of the best places to watch snow in Arizona although the canyon only gets two inches of snow yearly.
If the winter weather permits and roads and the canyon are open, you will be treated to a stunning, crispy blanket of snow layering the canyon, creating magnificent views.
If seeing the light beams is not a top priority on your list, this is the best time to go, as the crowds will be minimal.
Here is a brief monthly breakdown of Antelope Canyon weather-wise:
January is the low season and the coldest month, and often, tours are available to book, unlike the busiest months.
If you are not here for the light beams but rather prefer to have the canyon walls primarily for yourself, then January can be the best time to visit Antelope Canyon.
Like January, the first half of February often experiences cold, chilly weather with spring slowly following the weeks later in the month.
There are no light beams, but it is one of the best times to visit Antelope Canyon to avoid rain, crowds and scorching heat.
Although the weather begins to get warmer in March, the chances of rain are also there in March with frequent winds.
This is the best time to visit Antelope Canyon to avoid crowds and watch the bright and stunning oranges of the Canyon just before the start of the high season.
As spring break begins, April sees the first rush in the canyon; despite the shoulder season, the chances of spotting light beams are higher with a slight rise in temperatures.
If you have holidays during the spring break, April may be the best time to visit Antelope Canyon.
May is the best time to visit Antelope Canyon to see the light beams as the probability is high as the sun starts to get higher in the sky.
Hence the month also draws crowds, so if you choose to visit in May, it is best to book your tours at least six months before.
The weather is warm, and the sun is at its highest making June the driest month, which means you can witness splendid light beams as the high season advances.
Book everything in advance to secure great deals and the best tours.
July is the hottest month, so if you don’t like the heat, the high temperatures in June and July may not be ideal for you.
But the high sun brings dazzling light beams as well, so if you are up for the scorching days, bring water, a hat, a rain jacket and sunscreen, as July is also the best time to visit Antelope Canyon’s light beams!
August is one of the least preferred months despite the possibility of watching beautiful light beams, as it is a crowded and scorching month.
Because of the holiday season, especially if you are traveling with kids, this may be the best time to visit Antelope Canyon, but make sure to book tours and stay well in advance.
September is the shoulder month and may be the best time to visit Antelope Canyon with fewer crowds, especially in the Upper Antelope Canyon.
While you should still book your trip in advance, the biggest crowds are slowly dispersing following the Summer holidays.
October is the end of the season, but it has mixed feelings for many with both rain and heat.
But I think it’s also the best month to go to Antelope Canyon if you want to enjoy the colorful foliage on your drive through Arizona.
I visited in November on one of my fall trips to enjoy fall foliage in Arizona, and honestly, I think it is the best time to visit Antelope Canyon with fewer crowds and less rain.
It’s also the best time to tour Lower Antelope Canyon.
The best time to tour Antelope Canyon may be December for you if want to add a trip before the Christmas holidays begin.
While the cold weather can reach freezing temperatures, December is early for snow, and around the Christmas holidays, you can expect the crowds to swell, but otherwise, December is quiet in Antelope Canyon.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ANTELOPE CANYON TO AVOID CROWDS
The best time to visit Antelope Canyon to avoid crowds is during the winter.
While you won’t see the spectacular light beams in the winter, you can still enjoy the absolutely stunning formations of unique curved walls and spiral rocks during the colder months.
The weather can get chilly, but the crowds are fewer except for the Christmas holidays and New Year’s Eve.
Another way to avoid crowds is to visit on weekdays, as weekend tours are always busier than expected.
BEST TIME OF DAY TO VISIT ANTELOPE CANYON
Knowing the best time of day to visit Antelope Canyon is vital as the timing tells us about the light conditions, so essential to watch the magical light beams and have a fantastic tour experience!
The best time to visit Upper Antelope Canyon for the light beams is during the middle of the day.
At this time, the light is highest above the canyon, allowing for the biggest and brightest beams to shine through.
Going on a tour between 11 AM and 1:30 PM is highly recommended, especially any tour that begins at 10:30, 11:00, and 12:00.
But note that it can get extremely crowded during these hours, and if seeing the light beams is not your priority, avoid these times and pick a tour later in the day or book the first tour of the day.
If you are wondering about the best time to go to Lower Antelope Canyon without the crowds, choose early morning or evening hours when the temperature is manageable.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ANTELOPE CANYON IN GENERAL
Overall, the best time to visit Antelope Canyon is between the end of March and early October.
During this time, the temperatures are mild, and the crowds are at their lowest, allowing for a more enjoyable experience.
Also, it is the best time to capture the stunning light beams, with the peak season lasting between April and September when the canyon is illuminated by natural light beams, creating a magical experience.
The downside is that it can get scorching during the summer.
If you’re just going for light beams, June or July is the best time to visit, especially for photography.
And if you don’t mind about the light beams, visit in mid-late January for the chance to visit without the crowds.
Since it’s a busy time for Arizona, booking a tour as far in advance as possible is highly recommended.
If you are exploring Antelope Canyon with kids, I recommend booking a trip during spring or fall breaks.
The cheapest time to visit Antelope Canyon is the low season of Arizona, Arizona in winter, between November and February, when the hotels are much cheaper, although you may not get any discounted tours as the prices remain fixed.
There’s less sunlight during the day during these months, as expected.
So without crowds, you can still use the short window to enjoy spectacular views of Antelope Canyon in winter.
TICKETS, TOURS AND OPENING HOURS
You have to pay $8 per person for the permit to enter Navajo Nation attractions, which is included in most tours.
I have covered the best Antelope Canyon tours, including combo tours and day trips, here.
The park is open seven days a week. The opening and closing times of the Canyon vary according to season.
From late March to early November, it is open to visitors from 8 AM to 5 PM and from late November to early March, it is open from 9 AM to 3 PM.