My wife and I went to Page a couple weeks ago and had a wonderful time. Seeing the slot canyons is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so it was a must for our Southwest vacation. Wanting to get the most out of my slot canyon experience, we went to both the Uppers and the Lowers… and let me just save you the hassle… skip the Uppers.
As others have said, the Uppers are WAY over crowded. Too many tour companies and too many people. I had originally booked a "photography tour", but for some reason the lady put me in the normal tour. I stopped by the place early just to make sure I had the right location… glad I did. The tour company quickly caught the mistake and apologized, but said there was no way to get me in the photography tour at that point because it was full. After further discussion I found out that there were 80 people booked for that particular group (this is just one company mind you) and the photography tour, at most, would have two minutes per stop in the canyon to take pictures. 2 minutes... on a photography tour. Luckily we had shown up in time to catch an earlier tour, which didn’t have as good of light… but only had 40 people scheduled. On the way in I straggled behind a bit and had sufficient time to setup my tripod and take a couple pictures, however was politely encouraged to hurry up as other tour companies would be right behind us. On the way back out we passed the MOB of people coming through for the later tour (the one we were supposed to be on) and there was no way at that point to take any pictures with a tripod as you’d be blocking the path. I asked the tour operator how many people were usually there at prime time (around noon when the light is best for the uppers) and he said that at any given time there could be as many as 300 people in there at once. That’s a LOT of people for such a tiny space.
Now… the Lower canyons on the other hand… completely different experience. I showed up with a tripod, as I always do, and they gave my wife and I a 4 hour pass and told us to have fun. No need for an appointment, you just show up to the site (right across the street from the Uppers). The guide led us to the entrance and turned us loose. VERY cool. Apparently the tripod is the key… they assume you’ll be taking a long time setting up, etc, so they just let you go do your thing (it’s not like you can get lost…). My wife and I had the canyon pretty much to ourselves through out the two hours we were there. 1 small group came through (maybe 5 people), we simply moved to the side and let them pass… after a few minutes we had the whole place to ourselves again. I would personally suggest going around 2PM or so and stay till they close at 5PM. If you want to get your complete 4 hours worth, show up at 1PM, but the light in that canyon is really better a couple hours on either side of noon because of the way the top angles. Oh… and did I mention that the Lowers are cheaper?
All in all we REALLY enjoyed our trip to the canyons, but if we were to do it over again, I’d not bother going to the Uppers… and go to the Lowers TWICE. =)