Antelope Canyon is a true geologic wonder. The product of millions of years of erosion, this slot canyon in Northern Arizona forms the perfect centerpiece for photographers and nature lovers alike. Because the sun shines through the canyon at different angles throughout the year, the view can change depending on the season. Book a stay at a vacation rental near Antelope Canyon today. Take a look at these seasonal recommendations to decide on the best time to visit the canyon.

arizona canyon
Source: Flickr/Kevin Tao

Visiting Antelope Canyon in the Summer

Antelope Canyon is best known for the brilliant, nearly magical light beams that filter down into the canyon, painting pictures on its floor and walls. These light beams occur most often in June, July, and August, making these months the ideal time for a visit if you hope to observe the phenomena. Because the only way to visit the canyon is through a registered tour provider, it’s essential to make early reservations during the busy summer months. Aim for a midday tour for the best chance of seeing the light beams, and be sure your tour includes the upper canyon regions, which has far more beam sightings than the less-visited lower region.

The sun only shines at the right angle to produce beams in the canyon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each day, and the beams never occur on cloudy days. Don’t be too disappointed if the sun doesn’t shine on the day of your tour. Every day is a great day to get spectacular photos of the canyons’ richly colored layers and undulating formations. It’s hard to beat the crowds when visiting Antelope Canyon during the summer months, but your best bet for slightly fewer people is booking a tour on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Summer is hot in the in the desert region around the canyon, with highs in the 90s pretty much every day. Expect occasional late afternoon and evening thunderstorms, but they should not interfere with your canyon tour if you make if for midday or earlier. Pack lightweight clothes with a sweater or jacket for evening activities. The dry air in the desert is chilly year-round after the sun sets.

Visiting Antelope Canyon in the Fall

September and October still offer a good chance of seeing the Antelope Canyon light beams, and those months are slightly less busy than the summer tourist season. The temperatures are cooler during the early fall months with daily highs running from 70 to the low 80s, making for a more pleasant visit to Arizona in general. Book a vacation rental in nearby Page, and take in some other attractions during your trip. Horseshoe Bend, a winding portion of the Colorado River, is another great place to take photos, and many local outfitters, including Colorado River Discovery and Wilderness River Adventures, offer rafting adventures on the Colorado River itself.

If you love to hike, take either the north or south trail to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Both trails are challenging, but worth the effort to see the natural-stone, rainbow-shaped bridge formation and the rugged desert terrain surrounding it. When considering what to pack in the fall, remember that lightweight clothing that covers your legs and arms offers the best protection when hiking in the sun. A lightweight jacket keeps out chills in the evening and helps keep sand off you on windy days. There may be occasional afternoon or evening rain in September, but by October, the weather in the region is decidedly dry.

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Visiting Antelope Canyon in the Winter

Winter comes early to the dry, desert region where Antelope Canyon is located. From November to March, the crowds at the canyon drop and temperatures are chilly. In December and January, daytime highs are typically in the lower 40s, and for the rest of the winter season, the temperature rarely climbs to 60. During these months, expect high winds that make the temperature feel even colder, so bundle up in layers when you’re touring the canyon.

On the other hand, it rarely rains in the area in the winter, so the canyon rarely closes due to bad weather. There are some other advantages to heading to Antelope Canyon during the off-season. With fewer visitors, there are more tour options, including photography tours that allow tripods and other oversized photography equipment. There may not be any light beams during the winter months, but the slanting rays of sun still create beautiful color displays for spectacular photos. Book a tour that has you in the canyon from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. for the best lighting for photos.

Visiting Antelope Canyon in the Spring

With daily high temperatures moving back up into the 70s, the spring months of April and May offer beautiful weather for exploring the desert environment around Antelope Canyon. Spend a day boating or fishing at Lake Powell, the second largest manmade lake in the United States, or head to Glen Canyon Dam to tour the manmade wonder that created Lake Powell. Browse the large gift shop at the dam’s visitor center to find a unique souvenir from your trip, and make reservations for dinner at The Grand for a delicious dinner of Navajo specialties plus tribal entertainment during your meal.

Antelope Canyon in spring is not quite as busy as it is during the high summer months, and there’s still a chance of viewing the canyon’s unique sunbeam displays during midday canyon tours. Rain is uncommon during April and May with regular showers returning to Antelope Canyon in June, so the canyon is unlikely to be closed due to weather. If you’re wondering what to pack, start with basics, such as jeans or other sturdy pants and comfortable long-sleeve shirts to keep the sand off while exploring. Add some comfortable shoes and a nice outfit for going out to dinner. Don’t forget a jacket for when the temperatures drop after sunset.

What Is The Best Time To Visit Antelope Canyon?

The best time to visit Antelope Canyon is in April, May, September, or October, when the weather is warm but not sweltering, and there’s still a great chance of viewing the canyon’s light show. If it’s absolutely essential that you get a glimpse of the light beams, plan your vacation for June, July, or August and be ready to deal with the crowds. If you would like to take a quieter photography tour of the canyon with only a handful of people in your group, schedule your vacation for November, February, or March. Those early and late winter months offer far less tourists than the high season without the bitter cold of deep winter.

 
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