Ultimate Guide: Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Scottsdale/Phoenix
Have you ever had the desire to live in a place you’ve never been to? For me, that place was Arizona. Constantly making the top places to live list, cheap cost of living, and close proximity to California had me intrigued since day one. After extensive research on things to do, best time to go, and everything in between I created the ultimate itinerary. If Arizona wasn’t on your bucket list before, it will be after this read!
Antelope Canyon is one of the most visited attractions in the United States, as well as a top Instagram worthy location (yea, I said it) but beyond that this structure holds a lot of history as well. Seeing it in person is unreal, the formations and colors of the canyon are truly breathtaking and definitely worth the roadtrip.
Antelope Canyon is located in Page, Arizona which is around 4 hours from both Las Vegas, NV and Phoenix, Arizona. I decided to do a road trip from Phoenix since I wanted to visit anyway. They do have tours that will take you from either place to Page but those are usually way overpriced, just rent a car & drive yourself. I booked my flight with Southwest a month in advance and actually got a good deal (from DC, returned to BWI). My flight landed at 5pm, I picked up my car from Enterprise (standard size will do) and got right on the road. The drive wasn’t bad at all, very scenic and its a straight shot. I recommend choosing an earlier flight if you don’t want to drive in the dark though.
There are a few hotels in the Page area but I decided to use Airbnb because I always want the real experience when I travel. I loved my place! It was a great price, super close to the canyons and they allowed flexible check-in.
Lower VS Upper
The main difference between the lower and upper tour is price, views, and tour duration. Upper is more expensive because its intended for photographers so they have more time to shoot. You also see different views of the canyon and its a smaller group tour. I decided to go with the lower because, cheap and I’m not a professional photographer. The views were still incredible and I had the best tour guide (more on that later) so I was satisfied with my decision!
Best Time to Go
To get the most out of your trip to Antelope Canyon you’ll want to go when the light beams are most visible, which is during the summer months, March – September. Of course this is also peak season so I recommend finding a sunny day in March or April to beat the crowds. I went the 1st week of April (8:00 a.m. = best time!) and the weather was PERFECT with minimal crowds which allowed me to really enjoy the tour. If you don’t mind crowds or absolutely want to go ASAP (don’t blame you) just be sure to get there early & in the summer months so you capture the best views of the canyon and you beat the extreme heat temperatures.
I was craving Mexican food as soon as I got off the flight and found this gem. The chimichanga and machaca beef tacos were bomb! It’s super authentic, cheap and right by the airport. While in Page, I planned to go to El Tapatio (heard their margaritas are good & strong) & Ranch House Grill based off recommendations but I drove past this BBQ spot that smelled amazing & had to stop. The brisket, ribs, cornbread and pulled chicken salad were bomb!
- Check the weather (NO rain or they’ll cancel your tour).
- make a reservation at least 1-2 months in advance with Kens Tour, my tour guide Shane was AMAZING. Went at a slow pace so we could enjoy the tour, gave great area recommendations, and most importantly took the BEST photos of me, he also provided iPhone tips on how to take good shots. Definitely ask for him when you go!
- Don’t bring anything on your tour—only water, small clear bag, camera, phone.
- Save $$ & get souvenirs from Walmart.
- Go to Horseshoe Bend after your tour at Antelope Canyon for breathtaking views of Lake Powell, its right next door and you’ll get there before 12pm which is the best time to beat the crowds. (Or you could go at night for a bomb sunset!)
- Dennys overlook dam is similar to Horseshoe Bend, didn’t get to go but I hear its great and less crowded.
- On the way back stop in Sedona for wineries. I’m having total FOMO because I didn’t but I hear its worth the stop! You’ll also see signs for Navajo Jewelry, I stopped at a roadside stand to check out their unique pieces, as well as learn more about the culture. They’re super friendly!
- Most importantly, BE SAFE!! People have died from falling from these scenic overlooks so please don’t risk your life trying to get that pic for the gram!
I really enjoyed the scenery and slow pace in Page but now…I was ready for some city fun! I ended up leaving after my tours around 3/4pm and arrived to Scottsdale late that night. I was tired but I only had a couple days left in Arizona so I planned to enjoy it to the fullest. I stayed in Scottsdale over Phoenix mainly for the nightlife. My Airbnb was literally in the perfect location, 5 min drive or less from everything and it had a great pool, cute decor, and friendly neighbors.
I was honestly blown away by the nightlife in Scottsdale. I knew they were known for it but I didn’t know it would be so poppin on a random Thursday night! My Airbnb was a 3 min drive from the strip of bars. I loved how all the bar entrances were open so you could hear the music and see everyone inside, similar to Mexico if you’ve been. I ended up at a bar called Bottled Blonde which had great music & good drinks. *FYI* the dress code for guys is pretty strict in this area, camouflage print wasn’t allowed so keep that in mind if you decide to go. As far as the day parties….you’re basically in Vegas. I went to a pool party at Maya and had the time of my life. They also have a crazy Sunday funday but I didn’t get to experience that (next time, for sure!)
The food choices in Phoenix/ Scottsdale are endless! My favorite spot was SumoMaya for brunch. SO SO good! Bottomless margaritas too 🙂
Overall, my trip to Arizona was AMAZING. From the scenery to the weather, I’m even more obsessed now and after further consideration… I will be making that move one day. Have you been? What were your favorite places? Let me know in the comments section below!
*Bonus* here’s a copy of my itinerary for your trip! 🙂