Antelope Canyon is one of the most iconic slot canyons in the world, and most people think you have to book a ticket and go with a guide. But did you know you can kayak Antelope Canyon (and explore it on foot) without a tour?!
Kayaking to Antelope Canyon is one of the very best things to do in Page, Arizona. Along with exploring Horseshoe Bend and walking through the many protected sections of Antelope Canyon, kayaking to Antelope Canyon is a must-do on your southwest road trip.
Paddling Lake Powell to Antelope Canyon allows you to explore this picturesque slot canyon by kayak and on foot without a tour!
On this wild adventure, you’ll be kayaking several miles through Lake Powell to the entrance of Antelope Canyon. You’ll paddle through the flooded portion of the canyon and have the option of beaching your kayak and hiking the dry portion on foot. All without a tour and without a special permit!
If you’re interested in kayaking Antelope Canyon, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to kayak to Antelope Canyon, including where it is, when to go, how to rent kayaks on Lake Powell, how to explore the canyon by kayak and on foot without a tour, must-pack items, and a detailed map of exactly how to get to Antelope Canyon by kayak.
Kayaking to Antelope Canyon: Complete Guide
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What Is Antelope Canyon?
Antelope Canyon is a picturesque slot canyon known for its wavy orange, red, and purple sandstone shaped by centuries of precipitation.
Antelope Canyon is divided into four sections: Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, Antelope Canyon X, and Cardiac Canyon. All of these sections are protected by the Navajo Nation and require a guided tour to access.
The other piece of Antelope Canyon is located on Lake Powell and isn’t protected by the Navajo Nation, so visitors can explore the flooded portion of the canyon by boat and the dry portion on foot, without a guide and without a tour.
Where Is Antelope Canyon and How Do You See It?
This beloved slot canyon is located in Page, Arizona near the Utah/Arizona border.
To access this unique slot canyon, you have a few options. ⤵️
Antelope Canyon Hiking Tours
The only way to see the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons, Cardiac Canyon, and Antelope Canyon X, which are all protected by the Navajo Nation, is through guided tours.
Antelope Canyon Kayak Tours
If you want to kayak to Antelope Canyon but you don’t want to go by yourself, there are plenty of guides who will take you!
Kayaking to Antelope Canyon Without a Tour
If you want to see Antelope Canyon without a tour, you’ll need to get in the water! Due to the low water levels of Lake Powell, kayaks are the only watercraft that can get all the way into Antelope Canyon.
✨ This option is what this entire blog post is about, so keep reading to find out how to kayak to Antelope Canyon without a tour!
Kayaking to Antelope Canyon: Map View
Each point of interest on the map is mentioned in this blog post! This map will help you visualize the route.
How Long Is the Paddle to Antelope Canyon?
From the Antelope Point Launch
The paddle from the Antelope Point Launch to the mouth of Antelope Canyon is about 1.1 miles, which typically takes the average kayaker about 30 minutes.
The paddle from the Antelope Point Launch to the beach and the hiking portion of Antelope Canyon is about 2.9 miles, which typically takes about 1.5 hours to paddle. (This mileage varies depending on the time of year and current water level).
From the Antelope Point Marina
The paddle from the Antelope Point Marina to the mouth of Antelope Canyon is about 2 miles, which typically takes the average kayaker about 1 hour.
The paddle from the Antelope Point Marina to the beach and the hiking portion of Antelope Canyon is about 4 miles, which typically takes the average kayaker about 2 hours. (This mileage varies depending on the time of year and current water level).
When to Kayak to Antelope Canyon
The best time of year to kayak to Antelope Canyon is from March through October.
The best time of day to kayak to Antelope Canyon is first thing in the morning. You’ll beat the boat and jetski traffic and the pile-up of kayaks at Antelope Canyon’s beach.
☀️ PAGE, ARIZONA WEATHER ☀️
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Kayaking to Antelope Canyon Packing List
- Sturdy water sandals. A pair of sturdy water sandals has two uses: paddle sandals and hiking sandals. You’ll need both to kayak to Antelope Canyon and explore it on foot, so why not just have one pair that does it all?
- Quick-drying clothes. I’d recommend wearing a bathing suit and/or quick-drying workout/hiking clothes. Layer up if the weather is chilly in the morning or if you go in the colder months.
- Sun protection. Wear a sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. That hot desert sun is brutal!
- Dry bag. A quality dry bag like this one ensures that all of your belongings don’t get wet. Better yet, get a dry bag that turns into a backpack so it’s easy to hike through Antelope Canyon with it!
- Waterproof camera or phone case. Protect your phone with a waterproof phone case attached to a lanyard OR skip the hassle and just bring a waterproof camera like a GoPro or Insta360.
- Water. It’s super important to stay hydrated! You will exert lots of energy between paddling and hiking.
- Snacks. You need to fuel your body for all of the paddling and hiking you’re about to do! Take lots of breaks for snacks during your adventure.
- America the Beautiful Pass. Show your National Parks pass to get into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area for free!
Antelope Canyon Kayak Rental
If you don’t have/bring your own kayak, you’ll need to rent one from the marina or a nearby outfitter in Page.
These are the best options for renting a kayak:
- Antelope Canyon Marina. The best and most convenient option for vacationers! Since the launch is right at Lake Powell, you won’t need to worry about hauling kayaks in a vehicle. You can just launch right at the marina!
- Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks. Pick-up/drop-off points include Antelope Point Boat Launch, Wahweap Boat Launch, or their store location in Page.
Where to Launch
Antelope Canyon is located in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Whether you’re launching your own kayak or renting one from the marina, you’ll need to pay the $30 entrance fee to access the canyon. This fee is waived if you show the ranger your America the Beautiful pass! This will come in handy, especially if you will be hitting up other NPS sites in the area like Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, etc.
If you’re renting directly from the Antelope Point Marina, which is the most convenient option, you can launch directly from there.
If you’re bringing your own kayak, or you’re renting one and hauling one from an outfitter in Page, you can launch at the Antelope Point Launch. Due to the low water level, this ramp is only for non-motorized boats. There is a little bit of a walk from the parking area to the ramp, so bring all of your belongings from your vehicle, and be prepared to carry your kayak a ways.
Kayaking to Antelope Canyon
Once you launch your kayak from Antelope Point Marina, you’re going to paddle to the left.
For the first 2 miles, you’ll be on a stretch of Lake Powell where wake is permitted, so jet skis and motorboats are commonly seen. If you go early in the morning, waves and boat traffic won’t really be an issue for you – it could, however, pose somewhat of an issue on the way back.
In 0.8 miles or so, you’ll pass the boat ramp where people who have their own kayaks or bring kayaks from local outfitters launch.
After about 1 hour of paddling, you’ll reach a junction in the lake. It’s marked with a buoy and a sign that says “Antelope Canyon – 5 MPH – wakeless speed – paddlers in canyon.” You’ll turn left – this is the entrance to Antelope Canyon. And good news, wake isn’t allowed in the canyon, so this stretch is a much more relaxing paddle!
From this point, you’ll paddle on flat water for about an hour (depending on your speed) to get to the beach. During this hour, you’ll wind through the bends of Antelope Canyon, towering walls on your right and left, growing narrower and narrower the closer you get to the beach.
The beach is the point at which the flooded portion of the canyon dries up. The beach will be obvious because this is the point where you can’t paddle any further, and you must get out and walk. You’ll likely see other kayaks piled up, unless you’re the first one there in the morning.
Pull your kayak onto the beach far enough away from the water so it won’t float away. Don’t leave any valuables in your kayak.
If you’re renting a kayak, make sure you take a photo of it before abandoning your watercraft and hiking into Antelope Canyon. You don’t want to forget what color/number kayak you have; oftentimes, lots of kayaks look the same, and you don’t want to accidentally grab the wrong one!
Hiking in Antelope Canyon
The hike into Antelope Canyon is a fun one. It’s a classic create-your-own-adventure. You can walk 10 minutes into the canyon and walk right back out, or you can explore the wavy orange and red walls for hours.
The most common route is the 1-mile walk from the beach, through Antelope Canyon, and to the junction. Note that this mileage varies based on the time of year and the current water level. The beach location changes constantly, and therefore, the distance from the beach to the junction in the canyon varies.
Once you reach the junction, most people choose to turn around and hike back to their kayaks, but if you want your adventure to continue, you can turn right or left to explore more of the canyon.
Going right will take you through a labyrinth of narrow orange walls toward the classic Lower Antelope Canyon. You won’t be able to get to the protected Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons because they’re protected by the Navajo Nation, and you’d be trespassing. But you can hike for about 1 mile before reaching a point that would be impossible to pass without climbing gear.
Going left will take you on a more adventurous route that involves a lot of scrambling, climbing, and in many cases, wading through muddy water. You can hike for about 0.5 miles before reaching an impasse.
Most people only hike to the junction because they don’t leave themselves enough time to paddle back. Only hike as far in as you have time for; you don’t want to get stuck in the canyon after dark, and you also don’t want to get stuck paddling in the dark. Leave yourself plenty of time for the journey back to the launch.
Note that if you rent from an outfitter or directly from the marina, they often have strict pick-up times. Don’t arrive back to the marina/outfitter after hours, or you could be looking at penalties.
Kayaking Back to the Launch
The journey back to the boat launch will be a much harder, much longer paddle. This is because more boats will likely be on the water at this time, causing more waves to ripple through the lake.
Choppier water = harder paddling conditions.
Plus, if you paddled with the wind on the way in, you’ll be paddling against the wind on the way out. Once you leave Antelope Canyon and enter the main waters of Lake Powell, those crosswinds that blow off the canyon walls are brutal.
Antelope Canyon Kayaking FAQ
Can You Kayak to Antelope Canyon?
You can kayak to Antelope Canyon with or without a guide and with or without your own equipment – the choices are yours!
Kayaking into Antelope Canyon without a guide requires you to launch your own kayak or rent from the convenient marina or a nearby outfitter.
Kayaking into Antelope Canyon with a guide requires you to book a tour ahead of time with a local company.
Can You Kayak Antelope Canyon Without a Tour?
Yes! There are guided tours that paddle into Antelope Canyon but you can also go on your own and explore at your own pace.
Parts of Antelope Canyon are protected by the Navajo Nation. These are the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons, Antelope Canyon X, and Cardiac Canyon. You can only see these sections on foot with a guide.
The other part of Antelope Canyon is not protected by the Navajo Nation, and therefore, visitors can paddle to it and explore it by boat and on foot without a tour and without a permit.
Are There Kayak Rentals Near Antelope Canyon?
There are rentals conveniently located at the Antelope Point Marina (which is where you’ll launch your kayak) or you can rent them from nearby outfitters in Page, Arizona, and haul them to the Antelope Point Launch yourselves.
One final option would be to have a company deliver the kayaks to you at the boat launch.
Can You Paddle From Antelope Canyon to Horseshoe Bend?
No. The Glen Canyon Dam blocks access from Antelope Canyon to Horseshoe Bend in one single paddle trip.
If you are interested in paddling to Horseshoe Bend, you can take a single or multi-day kayaking or rafting trip. Launch sites near Horseshoe Bend include Petroglyphs Beach, Lees Ferry, and Glen Canyon Dam. There are many riverside campsites near Horseshoe Bend, which would make for such a bucket-list adventure! It’s definitely on my list when I go back.
→ READ NEXT: 10 Things to Know About the Horseshoe Bend Hike
Is It Free to Kayak to Antelope Canyon?
The only fees associated with kayaking to Antelope Canyon are a $30 entrance fee to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (this is waved if you show your America the Beautiful Pass!) and the kayak rental fee (this obviously doesn’t apply if you have your own kayak).
So if you have your own kayak and you have the America the Beautiful Pass, it will be completely free for you to kayak to Antelope Canyon!
You don’t need a permit or reservation to launch your boat and enter the Lake Powell section of Antelope Canyon by boat or foot. If you don’t have your own kayak, I would just recommend reserving a kayak ahead of time.
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