Upper Antelope Canyon, which is also known as “The Crack,” is the most popular of the two slot canyons that make up Antelope Canyon. It is also the most-visited slot canyon in the American Southwest and the most-photographed in the world. The radiant sun beams that shine through its walls in the spring and summer are one of its main claims to fame, while its changing colors in the fall and winter are another mesmerizing sight to be seen. The Upper Canyon’s ease of access and lack of climbing also make it extremely popular with the family set as well as visitors who may require easy travel but still want an exciting experience in nature.
Antelope Canyon was formed over many hundreds of years by water that ran through sandstone, giving it its unique geography.
Upper Antelope Canyon is called Tsé bighánílíní, 'the place where water runs through rocks' by the Navajo. It is the most frequently visited by tourists because its entrance and entire length are at ground level, requiring no climbing; and because beams of direct sunlight radiating down from openings at the top of the canyon are much more common. Beams occur most often in summer, as they require the sun to be high in the sky.
Lower Antelope Canyon, called Hazdistazí, or 'spiral rock arches' by the Navajo, is located several miles from Upper Antelope Canyon. Prior to the installation of metal stairways, visiting the canyon required climbing pre-installed ladders in certain areas.
Even following the installation of stairways, it is a more difficult hike than Upper Antelope. It is longer, narrower in places, and even footing is not available in all areas. Five flights of stairs of varying widths are currently available to aid in descent and ascent. At the end, the climb out requires flights of stairs. Additionally, sand continually falls from the crack above and can make the stairs slippery.
During your Antelope Canyon trip, you will be subjected to the Arizona sand that falls into its openings.
*Consider wearing a hat and covering your shoulders with sleeves, whether you are visiting in May, July, or December. Boots or other sturdy closed-toed shoes are your best choices for footwear, as you will be exploring an outdoor environment that consists of sand, dirt, and dust. It is a good idea to wear SPF sunscreen and UV-protectant sunglasses all year, as the sun can be strong in the desert even if it is the middle of January.
*Since the temperature will change based on whether you are inside or outside, with the shaded Canyon being cooler no matter what season it is, so make sure that you dress in layers to stay comfortable.