Antelope Canyon is on the bucket list of every traveller who comes to Arizona. It’s located near beautiful city Page, on indigenous land. The only option to get there is with a special tour. Due to the high demand, it has to be booked well in advance (ideally months before your trip).
I started looking for a tour two weeks before the trip and of course, it was completely sold out (both upper and lower). Here’s how I managed to book a tour for exactly the date and time I wanted.
Luck! Of course, but also a strategy.
READ ALSO: 6 Days Southwest USA Road Trip Itinerary
What you can do if Antelope Canyon tour is sold out
1. I googled all the official companies that sell tickets. One of them, Ken’s tour, has a waiting list. I signed up, and 2-3 days before the date they actually sent me information that there were spots available. But I already had tickets.
2. I checked all the reseller sites and tours on Viator, Get You Guide in case anyone cancelled. Found tickets on the National pass Express website. Easy-peasy (actually not so easy, of course, I had a problem with payment and solved it with a support team, the customer service at NPE is awesome!)
3. I found an alternative to the famous Antelope Canyon. We hiked it too and really enjoyed it (in some ways even more than Antelope). I’ll tell you about this “secret” canyon further.
Also, I could ask some random people on random Facebook pages if they wanted to sell me tickets.
Btw: no video is allowed in Antelope Canyon unless you have permission from the tribe.
Buckskin Gulch – secret alternative to Antelope Canyon
According to Wikipedia, Buckskin Gulch is the longest and deepest slot canyon in the Southwestern United States (>21km long!)
This place is not too touristy, you can visit it without any guided tours, but you still need a special permit. I got one at recreation.gov as soon as I knew the license plate of the car we rented. $6USD/person. The canyon is one hour drive from Page or Kanab town. It’s an unpaved road, with a sign “impassable when wet”. We were lucky with the weather!
The trail starts at the parking lot on the right (google “Wire Pass Trailhead”). We left a printed permit on the dashboard of our car. Signed in at the trailhead register (a small book near the bathroom)
Path to Bucking Gulch is very easy. Nice rock formation all around. The canyon itself is unbelievable! We went there at 4pm, the sun was low, lots of shadows and brown colours. Around 11-12 pm, I think, it has a similar tint to the Antelope.
We hiked 9km inside. Quietly. With almost no one around. It was chilly, wild, a little scary and so cool! In Buckskin Gulch I could feel nature. And it seemed like nature could sense our presence too! In a Giant Cave we explored ancient petroglyphs, had some hot tea and returned to the sun.
Don’t make me wrong, Antelope canyon is stunning! But with other tourists, annoying guides and rules I didn’t have time to really enjoy it. There, in Buckskin Gulch, it was adventurous and live.