Antelope Canyon is ending its photo tours – No more from 2020

Dec 11, 2019

Dan Zafra

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

Antelope Canyon is ending its photo tours – No more from 2020

Dec 11, 2019

Dan Zafra

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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The Upper Antelope Canyon Photo Tours, one of the most popular and controversial Photo Tours in the United States, will be discontinued from 2020 and beyond, according to the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation organization.

Antelope Canyon is one of the most renowned slot canyons in the US southwest, famous for the light beams that are created in the canyon when the sun is high on the sky during the summer months. It became increasingly popular in recent years after being the location where the most expensive photograph ever sold (for 6.5 million) was taken, and especially with the rise in social media.

Visiting the Canyon is only possible through the tours run by one of the official Tour operators of the Navajo Nation. In the last years, they have been running two types of tours: Sightseeing tours and Photography tours.

Taking photographs in the standard tours is challenging due to the big sizes of the groups, the number of people in the canyon, and the prohibition to use tripods and monopods. For that reason, they created specific photography tours, allowing for a longer amount of time in the canyon in a smaller group to increase the chances of shooting better images. In the photo tours, the guides also block other groups from entering the photographer’s frame, in addition to helping with tips and the creation of the compositions.

These tours have been equally successful as controversial over recent years, generating a debate about paying around $140-190 per person to photograph under pressure scenes that are created by the guides.

Along with the popularity, in the last few years, there has also been an increase in the negative opinions and reviews of the attendees, complaining about the overcrowdedness of the canyon and the stress under which the tours were taken. For this reason, all the tour operators belonging to the Navajo Nation Parks and recreation unanimously agreed to discontinue the Photo tours from 2020, with the goal of freeing up space in the canyon and making the experience more enjoyable to the visitors attending the sightseeing tour.

They didn’t confirm if the space of the Photo tours will be used for running extra standard “sightseeing tours”, simply confirmed that this decision is aimed at improving the image that the general public has formed about the Antelope Canyon tours in the last few years.

About the Author

Dan Zafra is a Spanish-born travel photographer living in the USA. His passion is to travel to where you can not only create beautiful photography but also to soak in those experiences which leave a permanent mark on your life. You can find out more about Dan on his website and follow his work on Facebook and Instagram. Images used with permission.

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11 responses to “Antelope Canyon is ending its photo tours – No more from 2020”

  1. Henrique Kerch Avatar
    Henrique Kerch

    Done both tours (lower antelope) and they are very fast paced almost not exciting because the operator keeps telling you to move to the next thing. And then big tour groups.

    1. Dan Zafra Avatar
      Dan Zafra

      I agree, I also took both tours and it was truly stressful!!

  2. Jeff Whitford Avatar
    Jeff Whitford

    So glad we went to lower in 2011. We paid $25 for a photo pass and had all the time in the canyon we wanted up to two hours.

    1. Dan Zafra Avatar
      Dan Zafra

      Those were the good times! Wish I could have visited back then before social media ruined it!

  3. Katy Anne Plies Avatar
    Katy Anne Plies

    Good

    1. Dan Zafra Avatar
      Dan Zafra

      Good as long as they don’t fill up the canyon with more standard tours I guess…

  4. Juan Martin Gerardi Avatar
    Juan Martin Gerardi

    I paid 80 and was 300 people in there

    1. Dan Zafra Avatar
      Dan Zafra

      Yes, it’s insane how crowded it can be in normal tours. Sad because the place is a natural gem!

  5. Carol Bauer Avatar
    Carol Bauer

    Karrie Daly our time there was awesome. Maybe we just got lucky with a great guide.

  6. Pom Chaiyakal Avatar
    Pom Chaiyakal

    It’ll pass once the next IG spot is found and overrun with Brotographers

    1. Dan Zafra Avatar
      Dan Zafra

      It’s sad news when a new spot is ruined by the social media flow…this just one more victim.