12 Enthraling Antelope Canyon Facts

Some places in the world are so magical that they might as well come straight out of a science fiction movie.

This can definitely be said about this stunning canyon in the northern part of Arizona, a natural wonder that can easily be described as breathtaking.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Antelope Canyon, a feat of nature that you simply have to see when you’re in the area.

1. It’s located on the largest Native American reservation in the US

Antelope Canyon is a fabulous canyon located within the borders of the Navajo Nation, a Native American reservation commonly referred to as “Navajoland.”

It’s situated just east of LeChee, a place in Coconino County, Arizona, and just southeast of Page, a small city just south of the Arizona-Utah border.

Navajoland was established in 1868 and remains the largest piece of land owned by Native Americans in the United States. It covers an area of 71,000 square kilometers 27,413 square miles in the American Southwest.

The landscape in this region is pristine and multiple national parks can be found here. The canyon is the main attraction of the Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park along with the Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Antelope Canyon Location
The cracks of the canyon and surrounding area / Pavel Špindler / Wiki Commons

2. The entire complex consists of 5 separate slot canyons

This canyon is what we refer to as a slot canyon. This type of canyon consists of a long narrow crack that is usually formed by erosion.

The entire canyon complex consists of 5 separate slot canyons that are equally magnificent in their own right. These 5 canyons are known as:

  • Upper Antelope Canyon, also known as “The Crack”
  • Rattle Snake Canyon
  • Owl Canyon
  • Mountain Sheep Canyon
  • Lower Antelope Canyon, also known as “The Corkscrew”
Antelope Canyon facts
A view inside the canyon / Luca Galuzzi / Wiki Commons

3. The magnificent spectacle was formed by erosion from flash floods

The exact age of the canyon remains unknwown. The closest guess is that it was formed over a period of between 8 to 60 million years.

Like many other canyons in the world, it was formed by erosion over a very long period of time. The water from flashfloods slowly but surely eroded the Navajo Sandstone.

The result is a magnificent scenery of smooth canyon walls that are illuminated with beams of light that penetrate from the small openings at the top.

How was Antelope Canyon formed
The result of the erosion / King of Hearts / Wiki Commons

4. It’s far from being the biggest canyon in the world

So how big is Antelope Canyon?

Over a period of up to 60 million years, you might expect that this is an enormous canyon that was carved for miles on end by the powerful current of after during flash floods.

The truth is that this extended period of time only managed to carve a small canyon into the magnificent landscape of Northern Arizona.

The Upper Antelope Canyon has a length of 660 feet (200 meters) while the Lower Antelope Canyon has a length of 1,335 feet (407 meters).

It’s also not that deep with canyon walls that reach a maximum height of 37 meters (120 feet).

5. The only way to visit the canyon is by booking a guided tour

If you want to admire this fascinating feat of nature then there’s only one way to get access to the canyon and that’s via guided tours.

Luckily, there are plenty of operators who provide tour guides that allow you to visit either the Upper or the Lower section of the canyon.

The most popular section is definitely the Upper Antelope Canyon, mainly because it’s situated entirely on ground level so no climbing is needed.

It also features the most scenic environment because the light can easily penetrate this section. This makes it a perfect spot to take dazzling pictures!

Antelope Canyon height
The view from down the canyon / Wiki Commons

More interesting facts about Antelope Canyon

6. One of the most amazing facts about Antelope Canyon is that it’s situated right in between two other famous canyons in the region. These are Glen Canyon to the northeast and the stunning Grand Canyon to the southwest.

7. If you want to discover another mesmerizing natural wonder then Monument Valley with its incredible towering red sandstone buttes is another popular attraction in the region. It’s situated just east of the canyon and within the borders of Navajoland.

Monument Valley landscape
The landscape of Monument Valley / Wiki Commons

8. What’s remarkable about Antelope Canyon is that it remained a pristine piece of nature until the early 1980s. The first tours inside the canyon only started in 1983 and it only became a Navajo Tribal Park in 1997.

9. The canyon floor is located at an elevation of 3,704 feet (1,129 meters) above sea level. That’s because it’s situated on a section of the Colorado Plateau. This elevation also makes the temperatures in this region rather enjoyable year-round.

10. The Navajo name of the canyon is “Tsé bighánílíní.” This translates to “The place where water runs through the rocks.” The name of the Lower Canyon is “Hazdistazí” which means “spiral rock arches.”

Antelope Canyon fun facts

11. Although flash floods are the reason for this amazing natural miracle, they are also extremely dangerous. A fatal accident happened in 1997 when a thunderstorm flooded the Lower Canyon. This rain didn’t fall nearby either but about 7 miles (11 kilometers) upstream.

Today, the security measures have increased tremendously but visiting the Lower Antelope Canyon remains a dangerous endeavor.

12. The famous beams that appear through the support part of the canyon aren’t present throughout the year. It requires the sun to be high in the sky so they are only visible between March 20 and October 7.

Upper Antelope Canyon Beam of Light
A beam of light penetrates the canyon / Wiki Commons