Antelope Canyon is easily the most famous slot canyon in the USA! Most people know about the tours that will walk you through two parts of the canyon, one is the upper slot canyon and the other is the lower slot canyon. You must pay a fee, sign up for a tour time, and you are herded through the canyon with a large tour group of people.
BUT what most people don’t know is that you can also kayak to a portion of Antelope Canyon. Located at Antelope Point Marina, you can rent kayaks for the day and kayak through Lake Powell to get to it.
In this guide I will go over the pros / cons to kayaking Antelope Canyon, best way to see the canyon, must pack items, and what to expect during your kayaking adventure!
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Walking Tour v. Kayaking Antelope Canyon
I have personally done BOTH the walking tour and kayaking Antelope Canyon, so I think I am qualified to give my honest recommendation! There are definitely pros and cons to both of them, but truly I don’t think you can go wrong! This slot canyon is absolutely breath taking and a total must-see on your road trip!
Walking Tour of Antelope Canyon
I did the lower Antelope Canyon walking tour with Ken’s Tours back in 2018 (you can read about it here, but excuse the bad pictures that were taken pre-photography days haha!). This was my first time seeing the canyon and boy did it live up to the pictures!
You sign up in advance for a walking tour and you will be given a time slot to show up to the tour. Your tour group will have roughly 20 people that you walk through the canyon with. On top of that, you also have to share the canyon with other tour groups AND Ken’s tours other tours. So to put it lightly, you will feel like herded cattle walking through the canyon! 🙂
The views of the canyon from the walking tour are unmatched though, I would say much better than if you kayak Antelope Canyon. You will see those beautiful light rays shining into the canyon and it will be more narrow.
The cost to walk Antelope Canyon is roughly the same as it is to rent kayaks for the day, so I don’t think that is a big factor.
Kayaking Antelope Canyon
Kayaking Antelope Canyon is FAR less crowded! You get to walk the slot canyon on your own, without crowds, without a tour guide, and without any time constraints. Free to take as much time as you want to enjoy the canyon!
While the part of the canyon is not as impressive as the walking tour, it is still REALLY amazing! I guarantee you will be extremely impressed whichever way you see the canyon.
Now for the downside… majority of the kayaking route is through a wake zone in Lake Powel. Meaning, there are boats wakeboarding and jet skis flying past you. The waves are intense (think kayaking in the ocean) and will make you feel like your kayak is about to tip over at times!! It is also a very strenuous kayak because on the way back to the marina you will be paddling through the waves AND up stream.
Let’s just say I consider myself in very good shape and it was a very difficult time!
After experiencing both, I would recommend neither, ha! 🙂
I would HIGHLY recommend spending the extra money and renting either a jet ski or small boat to access Antelope Canyon from Lake Powel (same way the kayaks go). This way you don’t have to kayak through the miserable wake zone AND get to experience Antelope Canyon at your own pace with no crowds.
Taking a boat through Lake Powel instead of a kayak will save you a ton of time and energy that you can spend hiking deeper into the slot canyon. At the time, I wished I wasn’t so tired from the strenuous kayak and I could’ve spent more time exploring the slot canyon.
You can rent jet skis or boats from the Antelope Point Marina, the same place you would rent the kayaks.
**Keep in mind that if you kayak on a day where the lake isn’t busy, the kayaking wouldn’t be too hard. I unfortunately went on a Saturday when the lake was packed with boats.
Where is Antelope Canyon?
Antelope Canyon is located in Northern Arizona, right on the boarder of Utah. The canyon is fairly large and has a few different access points, one from Lake Powell! To access this point, you will need to start at Antelope Point Marina (or the public boat ramp if you have your own boat / kayak), and head left towards the slot canyon.
You will kayak both in the main area of Lake Powel and in the slot canyon area until the water gets shallow enough for you to park the kayak and walk into the canyon.
Important Info about Kayaking Antelope Canyon
- From Antelope Point Marina to the point of parking your kayak is roughly 3.5 miles (so 7 miles round trip).
- Budget a full day to kayak Antelope Canyon – it will take roughly 2 hours to reach the part of the canyon where you park your kayak and hike into the slot canyon. I say roughly, because if it is a windy day or a lot of boats at Lake Powel, it will take you a long time to get through the wake zone.
- Once you park your kayak, you can walk through the slot canyon for several hours if you choose. About 20 minutes into the walk, the canyon will begin to narrow and you will start to see those beautiful sand stone walls that you see in photos. Personally, I hiked for about an 30-40 minutes before turning around.
- Kayak Rentals cost $45 for the entire day if you rent them from the Antelope Point Marina.
- Rent the kayaks in advance, especially during the weekends! When we showed up to check into our kayak rental at 9:30am, they were already sold out for the day. You can reserve kayaks in advance here.
- Sunblock Packets are a MUST. They are the size of a ketchup packet and make re-applying sunblock a total breeze!
- Travel Size first-aid kit! If you have ever kayaking a long period of time, you know how easily you will get blisters on your hands. Make sure you bring at least a few Band-Aid’s!
- Portable, waterproof speaker. Music always makes time go by faster and will make the kayaking a lot more enjoyable!
- Waterproof case for your I-Phone. You want to be able to document your adventure without risking your phone getting wet!
- Waterproof Hiking Sandals. I know these aren’t the most attractive things in the world, but you will be getting your feet wet! You will also be hiking through a slot canyon and need something that is reliable.
Kayaking Antelope Canyon
Now that you know the pros and cons to kayaking v. doing a walking tour and some important things to know, lets get into all the details about the kayaking trip!
You will start by checking into Antelope Point Marina where you will get into your kayak at their dock. Again, I would recommend booking your kayak in advance because they do sell out!
Once you depart from the kayak dock, you will kayak through the marina in a no wake zone.. enjoy it while it lasts 🙂
You will shortly reach the end of the marina where it will become a wake zone, meaning the boats and jet skis can go their full speed, causing waves! Keep left and kayak along the canyon wall, you will see other kayakers doing the same thing.
TIP: If you go early in the morning or during the week days, you will enjoy your adventure a lot more! There will not be as many boats / jet skis, which will make you kayak a lot smoother.
To reach Antelope Canyon, you just keep left for roughly 1-1.5 hours until you reach the canyon opening. Along the lake you will see beaches to stop at, cliff jumping spots, other boat ramps, etc. It will be very obvious once you reach the opening to the canyon because you will see a no wake sign and a lot of people turning into the area.
Once you reach this point, the kayaking will be very enjoyable!! This is a no wake zone that will have some shade and the canyon walls will begin to narrow, making it a gorgeous and peaceful kayaking trip 🙂
You will continue deep into the canyon for about 30-45 minutes until you reach a shallow beach area. This is where you will find a spot to beach your kayak and begin the hiking portion!
Antelope Canyon is an out-and-back trail, meaning you hike in as long as you want, turn around, and hike the same way back out. The canyon is deep and you can hike into the canyon for several hours before turning around! For me, I hiked in about 30-45 minutes (until the canyon began to narrow) before turning around.
If you opt in for a boat or jet ski rental, you will get to the canyon much faster and can spend more time exploring the canyon – that is what I would recommend!
Once you are done exploring the canyon, it’s time to jump back in your kayak and head back to the marina! Keep in mind that the lake will likely be busier as the day goes on (meaning more waves) and you will also be kayaking upstream. Be prepared to take some breaks and stop at a beach on the way back.
Overall, kayaking Antelope Canyon was a cool experience! I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I didn’t do it on a weekend. The lake was extremely busy with boats and jet skis, making the kayaking very difficult. If you go on a quieter day, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments! 🙂
Want more travel ideas for this area? Be sure to check out these guides!
- Things to do in Kanab (in between Lake Powell and Las Vegas)
- Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon Guide
- One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park
- Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon
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