Contrary to popular belief, the Grand Canyon is not the only breathtaking canyon in the world, let alone the U.S. While it's worth a trip, there are other canyons around the state of Arizona, such as The Wave, which procure an equally stunning experience and do so without the lines. One canyon, in particular, sports the title of being the most photographed in the country, according to Atlas Obscura, and is well-deserving of the title: Antelope Canyon.

This crevice slot in the middle of the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation, on the edge of Arizona and Utah. It takes some work to reach and is only open to be seen via guided tours for the sake of guest safety. This is what you need to know before visiting Antelope Canyon.

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What Makes Antelope Canyon Such An Incredible Feature

The curves and wave-like geological features of Antelope Canyon make it one of the most unique natural rock formations in the country. It's also one of the most dangerous, as the area is prone to flash flooding that can happen in a matter of minutes. The last thing any hiker wants is to be caught in one of these crevices - with no texture rock to hold onto and climb out of - which is why only guided tours are permitted on its trails. On a perfectly sunny day with no rain in sight, though, hikers will be treated to a light show that's nothing short of spectacular.

Due to the formation of the canyon, its varying wall heights and shapes create various shadows and light beams, creating somewhat of an optical illusion. This, combined with the red and brown colors of the striping in the sandstone, make for a truly wild and otherworldly experience. Thanks to millions of years of rainy weather, wind, and erosion, this slot canyon has been turned into one giant rock 'hedge' maze. It's now known as the most famous slot canyon in the world, according to Atlas Obscura.

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Touring Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is divided into two parts: the upper canyon, known as Tsé bighánílíní by the Navajo, and the lower canyon, known as Hazdistazí. The first means 'the place where water runs through rocks' while the second is translated to mean 'spiral rock arches.'

When it comes to touring the canyon, the upper level is currently the only trek that hikers can register for, as the lower canyon is too treacherous and dicey for hikers to navigate, guided tour or not. The upper level is a narrow passage that extends through the canyon with a wall height of 120 feet, making for a miraculous display of sandstone and waterways.

What Hikers Will See On The Way

The best way to see the upper canyon is by signing up with a tour group, such as Antelope Canyon Tours, which is Navajo-owned and operated by Carolene Ekis. These tours take hikers through the entirety of the upper canyon which, surprisingly, comes out to just under a mile-long hike. However, hikers will be traversing plenty of terrain in the process and can expect to walk through anything from sand to ramps and even staircases.

The temperature of the canyon can also be somewhat misleading, as well; it's easy to believe that the sun won't reach the crevice due to the sheer height of the walls, but this region can experience temps of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months. During the winter, temperatures can be equally extreme but on the lower end of the temperature scale.

Along the way, hikers will hear the history of Antelope Canyon and learn of its origin and how it was created. Tour guides will also be able to point out the best locations from which to take photos, as well as showing off the best overlooks. Needless to say, it's a memorable experience that's well worth the price of the tour.

Antelope Canyon Tours

  • Open: Seven days a week, year-round
  • Cost: $77 for adults, $67 for children
  • Length of Tour: 90-100 minutes, with 40 minutes consisting of driving to and from the canyon
  • Transportation: Shuttle buses are provided by Antelope Canyon Tours
  • Departure Times: 8 AM, 10:10 AM, 12:10 PM, and 2:20 PM
  • Additional Things to Know: Visitors should dress hike-appropriate according to the weather conditions. It's advised to bring water, as well as some type of head covering. Conditions can also be dusty on the trail, so it's advised that hikers store cameras and other electronics in a rainproof bag or case that keeps dust out.

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