Antelope Canyon Will No Longer Offer Photo Tours Due to Overcrowding

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If you’ve ever caught a glimpse of the whimsical natural formations at Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona, then you know precisely why this place is a photographer’s paradise. With beautifully carved Navajo sandstone at every turn, the colors and composition draw hordes of photo enthusiasts every year.

Accessible only by guided tour, Upper Antelope Canyon has been a long-standing destination for Arizona visitors eager to capture the epic formations. However, recently Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation made the call to shut down their photo-specific guided tours, effective after Dec. 20, reports PetaPixel.

antelope canyon
Images void of any human interference were getting more and more difficult to capture. Photo: Jan Wojcicki/Shutterstock

Many photographers were repeatedly leaving negative reviews of their experience. The reason? Too many people. While the photo tours are pricier, provide more time in the canyon, and tend to offer smaller group sizes, trying to find a quiet, uncrowded area was becoming an impossible task. Even with guides helping to block people from the frame, PetePixel reports that photographers didn’t think it was worth it to spend $200 for a “nerve-wracking and anxious photography session.”

Antelope Canyon has been a wildly popular travel destination for a very long time, but according to PetaPixel, it’s seen a drastic increase in traffic due to social media. Eager photographer’s itching to snap the flowing lines and dreamy colors of these sandstone anomalies have detracted from the area’s natural beauty.

Don’t get too discouraged: Guided tours will still be available, and visitors can still bring cameras and phones. But the use of tripods or monopods will strictly be prohibited. For serious photographers, this is a major hit. In order to get that composition just right, as well as nailing long exposures or time-lapse photography, a tripod is instrumental.

antelope canyon
Photo: Jeremy Reddington/Shutterstock

Of course this isn’t the first time a natural wonder in Arizona has been affected by photography. A few years back, Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River was becoming overcrowded with visitors taking selfies and dangling their feet over the exposed edge of the vista. To meet the demand (and keep visitors safe), a new parking lot, standing platform, and a railing system were constructed.

Head to the Antelope Canyon website for more info about catching one of the last photo tours at this majestic destination.