MapTopoQuest topographic map of Upper Antelope Canyon
; the short upper narrows are southwest of point 4657T, while the lower narrows begin just north of AZ 98.
Upper Antelope Canyon:
When approaching upper Antelope Canyon, there is no obvious clue as to its location. The trail seems to end at the base of a red sandstone plateau about 20 yards high, but the sight of an Indian jewelry stall soon indicates its position - the entrance is a narrow curved slit in the cliffs only a few feet wide. Once inside, the temperature drops as much as 20 degrees as the visitor enters one of the most beautiful of all natural formations. The sunlight filtering down the curved sandstone walls makes magical, constantly changing patterns and shadows in many subtle shades of color. Some sections of the canyon are wide and bright, while others are narrower and more cave-like, with no light reaching the sandy floor. After only 150 yards or so, the canyon becomes suddenly much shallower near the top of the plateau. It may take only 3 or 4 minutes to walk through, but the canyon is well worth the arduous trek or expensive journey required to get there. Pictures taken here adorn camera shops and photographic manuals throughout the world, and usually there will be many people waiting with tripods and light meters trying to compose the perfect shot, and grumbling when other people walk in front of their two minute exposure. There are other equally short but pretty narrows further upstream, though these are not open to visitors.
Lower Antelope Canyon
The lower canyon is longer and deeper than the upper section, but also slightly more challenging, requiring climbing down ladders in some places to descend several sheer drops. It was here that 11 people were drowned in a flash flood in August 1997, when water 50 feet deep from a thunderstorm 5 miles away swept through the canyon, eventually deepening it by 4 feet. Lower Antelope Canyon was closed for 9 months before reopening with improved safety features, and now all visitors must now be accompanied by a guide. Both parts of the canyon are still beautiful, but any sense of adventure or tranquility is long since gone - best to try one of the hundreds of other Southwest slot canyons for these qualities. The nearest alternative, free except for the standard Navajo hiking permit, is lower Water Holes Canyon
, the section west of US 89.