On Friday, March 13, 2020, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez declared the Navajo Nation in a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to reduce the risk of exposure, President Nez closed all Navajo Nation Tribal Parks. Among these closures was the wildly popular Antelope Canyon. Nearly 500 days later — on July 12, 2021 — the parks were reopened, but with some safety measures still in place.
In March of this year, I had the opportunity to visit Page, Arizona, and explore many of the area’s natural wonders. It was an amazing two days! But since Antelope Canyon was closed at the time, I knew I wanted to get back. In July, the Hyatt Place Page/Lake Powell had begun offering exclusive packages that included a tour of Lower Antelope Canyon, and I knew I had to go. I had been to the Hyatt Place previously and had a great experience, so a return trip was in order.
My trip was hosted by Hyatt Place Page/Lake Powell and Ken’s Tours, but all opinions are my own.
What To Expect At Antelope Canyon Right Now
First, it helps to understand that there are actually two parts of Antelope Canyon, Lower and Upper. Both are part of the Navajo Nation Tribal Parks and subject to the same safety requirements.
I visited Lower Antelope Canyon with Ken’s Tours, one of the seven companies approved by the Navajo Nation. Booking with one of these businesses is the only way to see these slot canyons.
At check-in, we signed paperwork confirming that we were COVID-19 free and had our temperatures taken. Then we lined up and waited to be assigned to our guide, Jerry. At this time masks are required during the entire tour.
Jerry led us to the canyon entrance while sharing with us the historic and geological background. According to local legend, these canyons were discovered by a young Navajo girl while she was tending to her sheep. Formed over millions of years by water, the canyon walls are made of Navajo sandstone. Lower Antelope Canyon is 120 feet high and one mile long.
As an added protection against COVID-19, the size of tour groups was reduced from 15 to seven. However, my husband, Jason, and I were fortunate to be in a group with just four people. I really like the small group sizes which made it easy to move around and take loads of great pictures.
Jerry led us down five flights of stairs and onto the canyon floor. I had high expectations for this tour, but they were exceeded. The gently rolling and curving reddish walls of the slot canyon are truly beautiful and endlessly fascinating. Each chamber that we entered was different from the last. I was disappointed when we reached the end and it was time to climb out.
Tips For Visiting Antelope Canyon
Your visit to Antelope Canyon will be amazing, but here are some helpful things to know in advance.
Tours to Antelope Canyon have always booked far in advance, but this is even more true with the smaller group sizes. If you’re coming during peak season — late spring and early fall — or on the weekend, make reservations as soon as you’ve planned your travel.
The Navajo Nation continues to take COVD-19 safety precautions very seriously and strictly enforces masking during tours. This is different from the surrounding jurisdictions, so plan accordingly. Even while taking photos you’ll be expected to keep your mask on.
People with a fear of heights may prefer Upper Antelope Canyon to avoid the five flights of stairs.
To get the best photos, plan your visit when the light is best, typically between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Serious photographers may want to consult your tour company in advance for further guidance or book a photography tour in Upper Antelope Canyon.