No more photo-only tours at Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona

(Julie Jacobson | AP file photo) Tourists stop to photograph shafts of light coming through the sandstone canyon walls while touring through Antelope Canyon, Monday, May 21, 2012, near Page, Ariz.

Phoenix • Photographers will have to throw away their shot at snapping photos of the globally recognized Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona.

Tour operators of the slot canyon, known for its red-orange sandstone walls, on the Navajo Nation announced last week that photo-only tours will cease, The Arizona Republic reported.

Antelope Canyon Tours, which is owned by members of the Navajo tribe, announced the decision on its website. The photographer-only tours have led to long wait times as professional shutterbugs try to get that picture-perfect shot. Visitors with cellphones and cameras on the regular tours can still take photos. But tripods will no longer be permitted.

Guided tours are the only way tourists can reach upper or lower Antelope Canyon near Page in northern Arizona. Photo-tours are not available at Lower Antelope Canyon. The upper and lower canyons are managed by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department.

No one at the agency was immediately available Friday to respond to a call seeking comment.

Tours of Antelope Canyon usually run out of bookings in a matter of months or even weeks in advance. Social media has undoubtedly played a role in the slot canyon's ability to draw millions of tourists a year. Antelope Canyon is a perfect photo opp for a Facebook or Instagram post.

Some tour operators are considering leading photography tours in other slot canyons on the Navajo Nation. Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours will begin photo tours to Rattlesnake, Owl and Mountain Sheep canyons early next year. These spots may not have the coloring of Antelope Canyon, they do have the swirling walls.