Antelope Canyon is a stunning slot canyon that can be found just east of Lechee on sacred Navajo land in the southwest state of Arizona.
Most people who have heard of Antelope Canyon, have heard of it because of the natural light beams that shine through the canyon and create a captivating sight to behold
However, if it is light beams that you’re searching for, there are certain times of the year that these miracles of light are visible and there are times that they are not.
In this article, we are going to fill you in on the best seasons, months, and times of day to visit Antelope Canyon in all its light-filled glory.
Best Time To Visit Antelope Canyon
Upper Versus Lower Antelope Canyon
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of when is best to visit Antelope Canyon, there’s something you need to know about the place – it is actually split into two canyons – Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope.
Upper Antelope Canyon is where the majority of tourists flock to because that is where the famous light beams can be seen.
Lower Antelope Canyon has its charm, but the way nature formed it over the last 60 million years, unfortunately, didn’t account for any light beam magic tricks.
Lower Antelope is also more prone to precarious canyon conditions, which is why most visitors tend to skip the Lower Canyon and book onto one of the many Upper Antelope Canyon tours instead.
If you are interested in checking out both, the established and respected Antelope Canyon Tours are currently taking bookings for this coming season. But, best to book in quick as these tours tend to sell out faster than hotcakes.
Upper Antelope Canyon Light Beam Season
Now we’re going to cut straight to the chase, and give the people what they want. Because we secretly know that most of you are here for the light beams.
The Upper Canyon’s iconic light beams that shine through to the canyon floor can be seen from mid-March until mid-October. Outside of these months, the sun’s rays cut a path across the southern sky that this canyon’s roof can’t quite catch.
Because summer is the only time of year to witness the light beams, it is, unsurprisingly, also the busiest time of the year in Upper Antelope Canyon. However, once you take one glimpse at this naturally created spectacle of light, the crowds you battled to get there should simply wash away.
If you can’t help getting frustrated by crowds, and you can already see your experience getting tarnished by the masses, try to avoid the peak season months of May to September as these are noticeably busier than March, April, and October.
Optimal Time of Day to See the Light Beams
Being at the mercy of the sun shining means that the light beams don’t appear when you’re ready, they appear when they’re ready. Luckily Arizona is one of the sunniest states in the country, so at least you won’t have to factor in a cloudy sky very often (although it can happen).
Between 11 am and 1:30 pm is when the sun reaches its peak in the Arizona sky, and this is when it is go-time for the light beams.
The tour companies know this, and they make sure that the day’s events center around being within striking distance of the light beam hot spots when Upper Antelope Canyon does its thing each day.
Best Time To Visit Antelope Canyon – Off Season
If visiting Antelope Canyon is the game, and avoiding crowds is your aim, then a sneaky off-season trip could be exactly what the doctor ordered. In many respects, Antelope Canyon is a more pleasant place to visit in the off-season because the serene beauty of this sacred Navajo land is more on show when it’s quiet.
Not only will you get the canyon almost to yourself, but the canyon walls can also create a dazzling display of changing colors that, quite smugly, can’t be seen in peak season.
When we’re talking off-season at Antelope Canyon, we are looking at the months of November through to February, as it is in these months that there is 100% no possibility of seeing the light beams.
The low-hung winter sun means the canyon will feel much cooler, so remember to pack warm gear accordingly. But it is also this winter sun that gives the canyon walls their unique display of colors, and for that, it must be thanked.
On a side note, if you are thinking of traveling to the canyon in the off-season, remember to be switched on to the weather patterns. This is essential because heavy rain can make the canyon fill up extremely quickly, and you most certainly don’t want to be down there when it does.
Thankfully, there are a few guided tours that operate in the off-season months, so if you’re not confident in your weather map analysis, we would recommend booking onto one of the winter Antelope Canyon Tours.
On these tours, experienced Navajo guides will walk you through the best red-rock sections of Antelope in a stress-free manner, and get you back home safely.
As you can see, there is no right or wrong time to come and see the stunning natural beauty of Antelope Canyon. The swirling passageways of this historic red rock canyon are open, ready, and waiting for you at all times of the year.
Knowing that these sacred canyons can be found on Navajo land helps to give them a deeper sense of meaning, and is what has made them such a special sight to visit for so many years.
So whether your sole quest is to witness the light beams in full-flex, or you believe the quieter winter months are a more desirable time to come, we hope this article has been a helping hand in getting you to the magnificent Antelope Canyon.