Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous, or maybe insta-famous, places in the southwestern United States. The slot canyon looks like it’s from a different world and the infinite compositions and leading lines made by sand and time make for some truly epic photos.
Since the slot canyon is on Navajo land, only authorized Navajo tour guides and organizations can lead tours. There are usually two types of tours of Antelope Canyon: the general “for everyone” tour where you’re crammed into the canyon with a ton of other people all using their phones and it honestly feels kind of contrived and the “photographer only” tour where your guides cram everyone on the regular tour out of your shot so you actually have time to take a proper picture with a tripod and it honestly feels kind of contrived.Petapixel reports that, as of December 20th, 2019, Navajo National Parks will no longer allow “photographer only” tours of Upper Antelope Canyon. All tours after that will be the regular tours with no tripods allowed.
I see the good and the bad here. While the canyon is desperately overcrowded and no doubt everyone has seen incredible pictures of it by now (and claimed to sell them for millions of dollars), it’s still an awesome experience for any landscape photographer. Yes it’s a bit contrived but man it’s worth it. I went in 2013, before I knew what I was doing with a camera, and loved every second.
The good news is they can now focus more on the regular tours and bring in more money for the Navajo people. The bad news is that will mean more people are crammed into the tiny slot canyon. The even worse news is, where you used to see lots of the same well-exposed shots, you’ll now just see everyone’s phone shots or grainier handheld shots with nice cameras.
It appears to be the end of an era at Antelope Canyon. But not until the 20th. And guess who booked a last-minute trip to Arizona today 🙂