What You Need to Know About Horseshoe Bend + Antelope Canyon ❥ Why our trip was an epic fail.

Horseshoe BendUpper Antelope

A road trip to Arizona cannot be complete without a visit to Horseshoe Bend and the Antelope Canyon. Continuing on with my American Southwest series, I’m sharing with y’all the mistakes we made and the steps you can take to avoid doing the same.

Horseshoe Bend

If you’ve heard about locals in Phoenix baking cookies in their cars, you’ll know that Arizona is HOT during the summer months.

As someone originally from Taiwan, I’m pretty confident in being able to survive in the heat. I’m also the kind of person who hates inconveniences. My camera is heavy enough already and the less I need to carry, the better. That said, I decided to ditch my 2L water bottle in the car. WORST DECISION EVERRRRR!!!!!!!!!!

Horseshoe Bend

When arriving by car, you need to first park in the lot then hike 3/4 of a mile to the actual rim. I figured it wasn’t too far and the way there wasn’t bad at all despite the sand but after standing out in the sun for photos, my body just wasn’t having it. I felt light-headed, my vision started to blur, and each and every limb felt heavy as if gravity was pulling me to the ground. The trek back to the car honestly felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life.

Horseshoe Bend Horseshoe Bend Horseshoe Bend Horseshoe Bend Horseshoe Bend Horseshoe Bend

Since I was dying (literally) in the heat, we bounced early and didn’t even really walk around much to see all the different angles of the rim and what else Glen Canyon had to offer. Lesson of the day? BRING WATER!

Horseshoe BendHorseshoe Bend

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon that consists of two sections: Upper and Lower. Upper Antelope is a much easier hike (walk) whereas Lower involves a lot more climbing and squeezing in between tight slots. Regardless of which you choose to see, visits are only permitted with native Navajo tour guides.

Our trip was a super last-minute one and we didn’t start planning until a week or two before. That said, most of the tours were sold out already. (Note that our visit was during the beginning of September.) We basically had to go with our last and only option which was the 5:00PM Upper Antelope Scenic Tour with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours by Chief Tsosie.

Upper Antelope Tour

The tours are an hour and a half and $96 USD for two. We were to check-in at the tour office half an hour in advance and the embarrassing thing was that after our visit to Horseshoe Bend, we stopped by Denny’s for some food. We had over an hour to kill so we took our time and slowly made our way to the tour office. En route there, we passed by the Navajo Generating Station power plant and as soon as we did, the clocks on our iPhones fast forwarded an hour. We were basically panicking and thought we missed our tour. So here we were hustling our asses there and when we finally arrived, the guy at the office told us that we’d missed it… Except he was kidding and explained that the power plant messes with the phones sometimes and we were all good, still early. If you’re planning to visit, just be aware of the time zone differences (Navajo lands operate on a different time zone than local Arizona time) but don’t panic if you pass by the power plant and your clock turns an hour faster.

Upper Antelope Tour

To reach the actual canyon, we had to take their special trucks and I forgot to time the ride, but I’d say it felt like a good 20-minute ride at least (one-way) – i.e. the tour itself was only around 30-45 minutes.

Upper Antelope Entrance to the canyon.

Upper Antelope Upper Antelope Upper Antelope Upper Antelope Do you see the heart?

Upper Antelope They call this the “dragon eye”.

Upper Antelope Upper Antelope Lincoln’s Nose.

Upper Antelope Upper Antelope Upper Antelope Upper Antelope

Now before you make a comment about how blurry my shots are, I must say that of all the pictures I’d seen online, nobody seemed to mention the fact that it gets dark AF in the canyons. Maybe our timing was off but it was just so sooooo extremely difficult to capture a good photo down here. You might say oh but your photos aren’t that bad. Well there’s something called editing and boy did I crank up that exposure.

Upper Antelope

Aside from having difficulties shooting in extreme low light, we also had a rough time getting pictures with absolutely no one in the background. Because Upper Antelope is wider and easier to navigate through, it’s the more popular one of the two. That said, we weren’t the only tour group around.

Upper AntelopePhotoshopped with no passersby.

Upper AntelopeQuick shot that we sneaked in with the rare occurrence of no one else round. 

If you’re not much of a Photoshop guru and wish to avoid the crowds, definitely book the earliest tour at 6:30AM if you can.

Overall I found the tour to be very rushed. When checking in, we were assigned a number and that was the number of the truck we’d go on. Each truck fit 12 passengers and for the 5PM tour, there were at least 4-5 trucks in total – and that was just our tour company alone. Even though the truck we’d gone on was our tour “group” for the day, 12 was still quite a large number.

I say that because the tour guide would show us a spot that was optimal for photos, but we would each only maybe get 3 seconds for a shot then we had to move out of the way for the rest of the other 11 folks.

Note that there are special photo tours available as well but they are more expensive and you need a camera + a tripod. My friend isn’t big on photography so we opted for the cheaper scenic tour but if you are an avid landscape photographer, definitely consider the photography tours.

What I Would’ve Done Differently:

  1. Book a tour ASAP. We couldn’t help booking last-minute but as soon as you finalize your travel dates, book that tour!
  2. Pick the earliest tour possible to avoid crowds.
  3. OR plan your visit between 10AM – 12PM.  Another reason why most people choose to visit Upper Antelope is for the mesmerizing light beams that shine down from above and these can only be spotted in the morning to noon period.
  4. If you own a DSLR, practice taking photos in low light and get to know your camera if you haven’t already. There will be very little time for you to play around with your settings during the tour so make sure you do some homework first on how to best photograph the Antelope Canyon.
  5. Consider doing a photography tour.
  6. Consider doing the Lower Antelope tour. It’s not as crowded and from the photos I’ve seen on the Internet, I actually much prefer the Lower one tbh.

Antelope Canyon Antelope Canyon

There you have it, mistakes we made and what you can do to ensure a much more enjoyable visit. Don’t forget to sign up for newsletters in the sidebar on the right and I will see you next week for more American Southwest adventures!

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97 Comments

  1. September 23, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    These pictures are gorgeous! Really want to visit here. Heard it gets crowded, but it’s so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

    • JASCHEN
      September 23, 2017 / 9:43 pm

      Thanks Amy! Hope you’ll get to visit someday!!

  2. September 23, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    This was helpful! We’re probably heading there later this fall.

    • JASCHEN
      September 23, 2017 / 9:43 pm

      That’s awesome! Fall would be great in terms of weather. I’m excited for you!! 😀

  3. September 23, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    I think your photos are fantastic! It is always difficult taking a people free shot when there are loads of people on the same tour! I would love to visit Antelope Canyon in the future looks like a great tour to do & I’ll bring water!

    • JASCHEN
      September 23, 2017 / 9:42 pm

      Aww thanks so much Lucy!!! Hahhaa yesssss girlllll bring that H2O with ya 😉

  4. September 23, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    Your photos are incredible, and of course, your tips are super important. 👍

    • JASCHEN
      September 23, 2017 / 9:42 pm

      Thanks so much Becky, cheers!

  5. September 24, 2017 / 12:43 am

    Oh my gosh i can relate to this SO much! We went to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in July. I forgot to bring water to the bend too and quite frankly i nearly died, I was a diva i will admit!
    We didn’t book Antelope Canyon either and managed to get in on the last tour of the day to the lower canyon, we were so lucky! Now we tell everyone you must book in advance!
    Love the photos too 😀

    • JASCHEN
      September 24, 2017 / 8:41 pm

      Hahhahahaa omggg I’m so glad I’m not the only one who didn’t bring water. I feel like that’s just such a silly mistake but at the same time it’s so close… who knew!!! And glad you liked the (blurry) photos, Emma! Cheers <3

  6. September 24, 2017 / 4:45 am

    Amazing photos and love your video! Love your hat as well haha.

    • JASCHEN
      September 24, 2017 / 8:41 pm

      Hehee thanks Laura! The hat is from Zara 🙂

  7. September 24, 2017 / 6:23 am

    Great post! Im planning a trip here in november and was looking at doing the photography tour! I usually book things last minute but now im gonna book that tour asap!!

    • JASCHEN
      September 24, 2017 / 8:42 pm

      Gahhh I’m so excited for you!!!!! Definitely definitely do the photography tour. Let me know if you have any other questions or need recommendations!!

  8. September 24, 2017 / 8:59 am

    Love love love all of your photos! I definitely made a few of the same mistakes as well lol 😉

    • JASCHEN
      September 24, 2017 / 8:42 pm

      Thanks so much Alyssa <3

  9. September 24, 2017 / 5:45 pm

    Love this post with all the little details that go beyond just pretty photos! The power plant messing up clocks was interesting, I so can imagine the panic though 😂

    • JASCHEN
      September 24, 2017 / 8:43 pm

      Holy crap I swear I was on the verge of having a heart attack! Antelope was like the number one thing I was looking forward to seeing. Not sure what I would’ve done if we missed it lol!

  10. September 24, 2017 / 8:38 pm

    All pictures are amazing. We missed visiting antelope canyons in last visit .. but this post will certainly help us better next time when we plan to visit. Thanks for sharing.

    • JASCHEN
      September 24, 2017 / 8:44 pm

      You’re welcome, Krupa! There’s always so much to see and too little time for it all so I’m sure you’ll get to it someday 😀

  11. Abigail Sinsona
    September 24, 2017 / 11:28 pm

    It really is easy to underestimate how difficult the trek is with the heat. I, too, comes from a tropical country. But I probably would not survive the hike too. It is difficult and your tips can be really helpful!

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:24 pm

      Hahaa glad I’m not the only one who underestimates the heat. Cheers dear, enjoy your weekend!

  12. September 25, 2017 / 12:46 am

    Always ALWAYS take drinking water, wear a hat and sunscreen on a walk in hot climates! I’m from Australia so this goes without saying. Your photos are wonderful. It looks like a gorgeous place to visit.

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:26 pm

      Smart. Australia’s high up on my bucket list so I’ll be sure to remember to bring a water bottle and hat when I visit!!

  13. September 25, 2017 / 6:22 am

    Yeah, when traveling in the American Southwest, always overpack on the water. It gets so hot and is a climate unlike any other! I’m so sorry that you overheated! I’m glad you got your pictures though!

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:26 pm

      Thanks Rachelle! It was a silly mistake to make but I’ll remember next time hahaa.

  14. September 25, 2017 / 1:45 pm

    This is so on my bucket list to go to! It’s so gorgeous there, wow. But you had great points about definitely bringing water and checking out your camera settings before your trip. It is ashame how touristy everything gets and rushed- no time to take in anything!

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:27 pm

      Tell me about it! I would definitely recommend the Lower Antelope tour to avoid crowds 😉

  15. September 25, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    My family and I went there 4 years ago and we loved both places. We didn’t even book the slot canyon tour first and we were lucky to get spaces at the 2 p.m. tour. But, hey! You managed to take pictures without people at the background. I don’t think we were that lucky.

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:28 pm

      Oh what!? No way!!!!! When did you visit tho? I e-mailed asking to switch time is possible and we were put on a wait list and never heard back lol.

  16. September 26, 2017 / 11:34 am

    Actually …not sure if I have heard of locals baking cookies in their cars, but can imagine it would be hot! What a stunning area, your pictures are wonderful!

    Need to get out to Arizona, a friend had been wanted to head there with her daughter too… I have heard Horseshoe Bend is the better area to visit.

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:28 pm

      Horseshoe Bend is in the Page area, same with Antelope an there are a lot of other fun attractions to do as well so I highly recommend a visit there!

  17. September 26, 2017 / 1:45 pm

    Ah I did this two years ago and I absolutely loved it. Couldn’t agree more on the tour feeling so rushed though!! Definitely wish I had more time in Antelope!

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:29 pm

      I guess something is better than nothing even if it was rushed XDD

  18. September 26, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    Ohh Jas, sorry to hear you weren’t feeling the best out at Horseshoe Bend! Thank you for sharing your experience, your tips definitely help people like me who’d like to visit one day. You may have cranked the brightness up on your shots but they really are gorgeous. (I had to have a wee laugh at your time difference dilemma!! 😉 )

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:34 pm

      Hahaa oh trust me we had a big laugh about it after LOL! Hope you’ll get to visit soon and fingers crossed you won’t make the same mistake as us!

  19. September 26, 2017 / 6:19 pm

    Great advice and stunning shots! I’ve been to Arizona twice in the spring and it was already pretty steamy then— I can’t imagine what summer must be like!

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:35 pm

      Seriously!? We heard the tour office talking about how it snows in the winter sometimes. The weather difference must be crazy!

  20. September 27, 2017 / 1:40 am

    I don’t know how you were still able to get that awesome pic at the Horseshoe Bend despite the water dilemma. Good job on that! 😉 Great tips by the way… Your photos at the Antelope Canyon looks amazing. Does it trigger claustrophobia while exploring the lower canyon?

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:36 pm

      No claustrophobia at all! Hahahhaa. The top opens up to the sky so it’s not that bad. Although some slots are a bit tight and you just gotta be careful not to bump your head on the rocks 😉

  21. September 27, 2017 / 2:15 am

    Great tips, thank you! It is just unbelievably beautiful, I hope to go some day!! Wow!

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:36 pm

      Thanks so much Claire! Hope you’ll get to it soon 😀

  22. September 27, 2017 / 9:11 am

    First things first, don’t forget the water. :- ) your photos are stunning even the ones shot in low light. I wonder if it can be done DIY, I’m still practicing photography so I usually take a lot of time to adjust my settings and compose my shots. If not, the Photography tour would be a better option.

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:37 pm

      All visits are only permitted with a guided-tour so your best bet would be joining the photography tour 🙂

  23. October 1, 2017 / 5:29 pm

    Thanks so much for these awesome tips. I’ve yet to visit these 2 locations, but can’t wait to see them for myself! Loved your tips about making sure you know your camera setting before visiting a place like this

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:38 pm

      No problem Bruce! Not gonna lie I always shoot on Auto unless for waterfalls or fireworks so this really caught me off guard!

  24. October 1, 2017 / 10:02 pm

    Great photography in this post and throughout your whole blog. I can imagine the effort you could have put to capture these beautiful pictures, specially handling camera gear in the heat. Happy Travels. Specially Adventure Travels like these. Greetings from Sri Lanka.

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:39 pm

      Thank you so much, Malith! Heat doesn’t really effect camera gear handling – it’s more so the weight of the camera gear itself hahaa 😉

  25. October 6, 2017 / 6:17 pm

    Wow, I love your photos and the video! What camera and editing program do you use?
    Thank you so much for sharing I love your page!

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:39 pm

      Aww thank you Anna! I’m so flattered to hear that! I use Lightroom to edit all my photos 🙂

  26. October 6, 2017 / 7:08 pm

    Yeah, water is a must! I can’t believe you ditched your water in the car. Despite all that, you still got some amazing pictures. All your photos are simply beautiful. I’m not one for crowds as it is, so I’d take your suggestion and go earlier to avoid the crowds.

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:40 pm

      You know what they say… The early bird gets the worm 😉

  27. October 6, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    Interesting that the power plant messed with your phones and that the reservation is on a different time zone. The pictures all look amazing and I would certainly book this tour (and bring water).

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:40 pm

      Hahhaa glad to hear I inspired you to book a tour (and bring water LOL), Theresa!

  28. October 7, 2017 / 12:29 am

    I enjoyed this post soo much. The pics were really good, seriously. Although I hate the heat and would always avoid scorching heat your trip made me want to see these places. The canyon looks amazing!

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:41 pm

      Thanks so much Monica! I’m not crazy about the heat but if it means getting to see such beautiful sights like these, then it’s all work it!!

  29. October 7, 2017 / 12:43 am

    Wooooow – your pictures look amazing and so does Antelope Canyon and the Horseshoe Bend. I sadly haven’t made it there so far but it’s definitely on the top of my Bucket List. It’s such an amazing part of this planet! I love that you also included a lot of information! Love your block as well, so I am definitely coming back for more! 🙂
    xx

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:23 pm

      Aww thanks so much Kate! So glad to hear!!! <3 I really hope you'll get to visit soon because despite some difficulties we had with our trip, these two places are truly beautiful. And hopefully you'll avoid the same mistakes as us and enjoy a better time there 😀

  30. October 7, 2017 / 12:58 am

    Great photos and a good lesson to share with others

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:22 pm

      Hope you won’t make the same mistakes as me if you decide to visit 😉

  31. October 7, 2017 / 1:46 am

    Great tips, sorry you had to find out the hard way to bring it though! Your pictures are absolutely stunning

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:22 pm

      Well they were definitely lessons well learnt ahaa and thanks dear! Have an awesome weekend!

  32. October 7, 2017 / 2:56 am

    Stunning views of Antelope Canyon. Greatly enjoyed your pictorial post. I myself relished my travel to Grand Canyons.

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:22 pm

      Glad to hear! Enjoy your weekend, Indu!!

  33. October 7, 2017 / 7:15 am

    Crank up the exposure – that really made me laugh! I love your real talk writing style and your amazing (edited) photos! I’m glad you decided on doing a no-BS post as I’ve seen some posts that sugar-coat the fudge out of an experience!

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:20 pm

      Oh man your comment seriously brought a huge smile to my face LOL! I was soooo upset when I got into the canyons and saw how dark it was tho because seriously like you said, no one seems to really mention the downsides of their visits 🙁

  34. October 7, 2017 / 8:39 am

    Aaaaah! You forgot your water in the car! Eeek, must have been awful, esp after seeing how you could bake cookies in that heat. I felt the dry heat intense just South of Cali! Your photos are stunning by the way, and thanks for sharing these important tips.

    • JASCHEN
      October 7, 2017 / 4:19 pm

      Hahahaa idk how I could’ve been so stupid to leave my water in the car!! Thank Bee for the kind compliments and I hope this will inspire you to give Page, Arizona a visit 🙂

  35. October 7, 2017 / 4:57 pm

    This is definitely a place we want to see 🙂 your photos capture the beauty really well too! Nice to know too go early to avoid crowds, thanks for the tips 🙂

    • JASCHEN
      October 8, 2017 / 1:31 pm

      No problem! Hope you’ll get to visit soon!!

  36. October 7, 2017 / 6:12 pm

    Incredible photos! I agree I think I would go early too to avoid crowds!

    • JASCHEN
      October 8, 2017 / 1:32 pm

      Thanks so much Lee!

  37. October 7, 2017 / 10:55 pm

    I m so sorry your trip to the two most beautiful destinations in Arizona didnt go very well but seems after all the trouble, you did manage to capture some very cool pictures of both the destinations. Good job with the photo editing, I shall keep all your tips in mind ( especially about shooting in dark) when I viist.

    • JASCHEN
      October 8, 2017 / 1:33 pm

      Hahhaa we still had a fun time regardless but yes, hopefully you can avoid our mistakes and have a much more enjoyable time! 😀

  38. October 8, 2017 / 12:59 am

    Love your photos! Great advice about Antelope Canyon as I’ve definitely got it on my bucket list.

    • JASCHEN
      October 8, 2017 / 1:33 pm

      Thanks Laura! Hope you’ll get to cross it off soon 😉

  39. October 8, 2017 / 3:02 am

    Horseshoe Bend is on my bucket list! Wow! Amazing pictures !

    • JASCHEN
      October 8, 2017 / 1:34 pm

      Thanks so much Petya!!! You’d definitely love it there!

  40. October 8, 2017 / 4:46 am

    My god. This is the first time I’ve heard of this place, but man do I really want to go! Your pictures are out of this world 😮

    • JASCHEN
      October 8, 2017 / 1:34 pm

      Aww thank you Jay! Glad to hear this has inspired you to want to visit!!!

  41. October 8, 2017 / 8:32 am

    I really want to visit Horseshoe bend and the Antelope Canyon. Your pics are amazing! I didn’t know that there were different tours. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • JASCHEN
      October 8, 2017 / 1:34 pm

      No problem! Don’t forget to book your tour ASAP if you decide to go 😉

  42. Jackie
    October 8, 2017 / 9:29 am

    Wow antelope canyon is gorgeous! Amazing photos too:)

    • JASCHEN
      October 8, 2017 / 1:35 pm

      Much appreciated, Jackie!

  43. October 8, 2017 / 10:56 am

    Well, travelling is gaining experiences, and I make lots of mistakes even now… and I think the misadventures make the best stories.
    About the Antelope Canyon: I saw you got a pic shot through a hole facing the milkyway (IG) – that’s a blend or composite, right? Are you allowed to enter the site at night?

    • JASCHEN
      October 8, 2017 / 1:36 pm

      Agreed! And it’s the mistakes that make the trip that much more memorable too. The guided tours only take place during the day so unfortunately access at night is not permitted. It was a simple edit I put together of the canyons and the milky way 🙂

  44. October 8, 2017 / 11:56 pm

    You took some pretty pictures! And did some good editing 🙂 For touristic place like this it’s much better to book the earliest tour to avoid the crowds. (note to myself)

    • JASCHEN
      October 11, 2017 / 12:08 am

      Agreed! And book in advance because everyone will want to book the early tours hahahaa.

  45. October 9, 2017 / 2:08 am

    Even though a bit blurry, your picture are still amazing – I also struggle when there is not light, you usually have to have a really good camera and there are pretty heavy. These 2 places are on my bucket list! I prefer nature to cities so my eyes were shining when I was reading your post – these canyons are so beautiful!!!! I hope to go there one day (and if so I’m gonna make sure to use your tips!)

    and you are proper cute 🙂 hi from one traveler to another!

    • JASCHEN
      October 11, 2017 / 12:12 am

      Heavy hence you need a tripod to avoid shaky hands hence more equipment blah blah blah, the list goes on! Hahaaaa! Thanks so much for your kind compliments, Anna. Hope you’ll get to visit soon and don’t make the same mistakes as I did 😉

  46. Joanna
    October 9, 2017 / 6:38 am

    Your post reminded me of the time I went hiking without taking water as well. Of course, it wasn’t in so much heat but it sill was uphill on top of some cliffs. Lesson learned big time. Your photos are amazing and you wouldn’t think it was dark at all inside the canyon just by looking at them. You have managed an amazing job in Photoshop 🙂

    • JASCHEN
      October 11, 2017 / 12:13 am

      Aww thanks Joanna! What can I say, years of Photoshopping pictures of myself hahahaa. (Just kidding.) Hope you’re already off to an amazing week dear!!

  47. October 9, 2017 / 10:30 am

    great tips for visiting! I’m from California so I know how hot summer hikes can be- and you definitely always need lots of water! good to know the info on how soon to book antelope canyon. hope I get to visit soon!

    • JASCHEN
      October 11, 2017 / 12:15 am

      Oh no I’ve been to Cali and this was wayyyyyyy hotter lol! Can’t wait for you to visit and see these beauties yourself!

  48. October 10, 2017 / 11:18 pm

    roadtrips are awesome and this location is stunning. loved your video in this post, keep it up!

    • JASCHEN
      October 11, 2017 / 12:20 am

      Thanks so much Brittany! I’ve got plenty more coming 😀

  49. October 17, 2017 / 8:39 pm

    So many beautiful photos… I love both Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe bend.
    Again, Awesome post! :))

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