Everyone is aware of the Grand Canyon, a sprawling hole in the ground so vast it´s hard to even comprehend when you’re there and it’s in front of your eyes.
But the lesser known Antelope Canyon is an equally exciting prospect for those with a love of geology, the planet´s history and generally for adventure.
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in Arizona, with tight, winding crevices. It’s made up of two separate canyons, the upper and lower Antelope Canyons . It’s perfect for exploring and photographing, with its light-bending curves and sandstone walls.
But when exactly is the best time to visit Antelope Canyon?
For Best Light
Upper Antelope Canyon is famed for giving off incredible light beams. When the sun is right it reflects through the canyon’s tight turns like light through a prism.
These beams are visible throughout a large amount of the year, from the end of March to early October. Even still, there are better times than others to view these marvels of nature, with the best months being from June to July.
This is also the peak time for other visitors, which can be great to meet other like-minded travellers, but for some this can be a little distressing, especially in a fairly tight space. To avoid crowds during these periods, visit as early in the day as possible and avoid any regional or national holidays, and weekends.
For those looking to dazzle their Instagram followers with this spectacular sight, check out these 10 quick tips from Digital Photography School.
- Plan ahead – Know the place you’re going to take photos
- Gear – Use the widest angle lens from your arsenal
- Try not to change lens
- Make use of your Live view – The canyons are generally crowded. So expect people both in front and behind you.
- Go Manual mode and shoot RAW.
- Look up
- Look for hidden slots – Find what is hidden, and show it in pictures.
- Try to put people in the picture – Bring some life to the pictures
- High contrast – Look for frames with the most contrast.
- Carry a water bottle – You can’t carry food inside, remember to eat beforehand and bring a water bottle.
You may want to have the best camera stabilizer for stunning picture
For Solitude and Self-Exploration
From April to September, the upper canyon is very much a crowded place, especially come midday. The best time to visit upper Antelope Canyon is between the end of October and early to mid-March to avoid the crowds.
Far fewer tourists visit during this period as the magical light beam season is over. This is sad for those looking to witness that spectacle, but perfect for those looking for a bit of alone time and space to wander the canyon themselves.
Another option for visiting during peak periods and still getting to venture the canyon with relative peace and quiet, away from the hustle and noise of crowds is to venture into the lower Antelope Canyon.
Lower Antelope Canyon is the place to go for the more adventurous trekker. With a larger area to wander and more difficult ladders to climb to different compartments, helping to keep the crowds at bay. It is becoming a more popular second destination, but visiting in April or September will provide the most solitude.
Although winter months don’t provide the same light beam action of the peak summer months, they’re still a spectacular time to visit Antelope Canyon. Upper Antelope is much quieter during these months, although weekends can still get a little busy.
Lower Antelope offers the ultimate in solitude during these months, with very few visitors, even at weekends. The weather can be a little cold during this period, but wrap up warm and you’ll still be able to enjoy the utter splendour of this amazing canyon.
Despite the lack of sunlight emanating through the canyon at this time, the colour from the rock formation alone is a sight within itself. Providing picture perfect scenes with very little human interruption.
For Best Weather
Peak months offer the ultimate in weather, with June, July and August reaching highs of 35 Celsius or 95 Fahrenheit. Making the canyons themselves a cosy place to be for those who love the hot, hot heat. This is the time when the majority of visitors come to the canyon to enjoy the light shows and generally explore the canyon through tours.
June to August is the best time for meeting many people, taking the most amazing photographs and enjoying the canyons in shorts and a T-Shirt.
The first fringe of the peak months, March, April and May offer slightly more mild temperatures. In March, the average is 16 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit), rising to 26 Celsius in May (78 Fahrenheit). This is still a very busy time to visit, if less so than the peak. There are also excellent opportunities for capturing the light beams during these months.
September and October at the other end of the peak provide relatively high temperatures of 28 Celsius (83 Fahrenheit) and 21 Celsius (70 Fahrenheit) respectively. Again, still a busy time to visit, but less so than the peak time.
The winter months of November to February provide average highs of 10 and 12 Celsius (50 and 54 Fahrenheit) in February and November. Lows of 6 and 7 Celsius (43 and 44 Fahrenheit) in January and December make the canyon fairly cold, especially with limited sunlight getting in.
Positives of the winter months are that there are far fewer visitors, giving you the ultimate setting for exploring and picture taking.
In conclusion, the best time to visit Antelope Canyon really depends on your preferences. It is a beautiful destination year round, and as long as you are prepared for the time you would most like to visit, understanding its pros and cons, for example, you will have an incredible time regardless.
If you have any tips for the best time to visit Antelope Canyon from your own personal experience, do leave a comment below.