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Phoenix - Grand Canyon - Some Advice for a Day Trip

Phoenix - Grand Canyon - Some Advice for a Day Trip

Old Jan 24, 11, 8:17 pm
  #1  
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Phoenix - Grand Canyon - Some Advice for a Day Trip

Wondering if I can get some good advice from fellow FTers on an upcoming trip to Arizona. My wife and I will be in Phoenix on the tail end of a business trip but have a day where we'd like to do the Grand Canyon.

I know it's not ideal to have just a day but it's the best we can do. Trying to figure out the best options:

1) Drive 2) Take a bus/van tour 3) Look at an airplane/ground combo which would likely get us there faster.

If anyone has any experience on the one day in and out we'd be grateful for your insights.

As always, thanks in advance for your valuable feedback.

Neimactor
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Old Jan 25, 11, 8:22 am
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If you drive, it is about 4-5 hours each way (depending on where you are starting,) so that takes a chunk out of your day. If possible, drive up the night before (at least to Flagstaff.)
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Old Jan 25, 11, 9:27 am
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You could also look into staying overnight in Williams and taking the train to the Grand Canyon.

www.thetrain.com
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Old Jan 25, 11, 10:29 am
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Originally Posted by SWCPHX View Post
You could also look into staying overnight in Williams and taking the train to the Grand Canyon.

www.thetrain.com
That was my initial thought, but it takes a big chunk of the day (that is already full of travel to/from.) IIRC, the train leaves from Williams around 9:00, arriving at the South Rim before noon. It then departs the South Rim around 4:00 (or 4:30.) That gives you 4-hours at the Rim, which is a little slim.

My suggestion would be to drive to Flagstaff (or even closer to the South Rim) the night before, spend the day at the South Rim, and then drive home that evening. I wouldn't do it... but that OP may want to.
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Old Jan 25, 11, 12:47 pm
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I've done daytrips to the Grand Canyon--twice--and I really wouldn't recommend it. Possibly if you will never ever be in this part of the world ever again. But otherwise, staying in Flag or closer the night before will make a HUGE difference.

I've also looked into flights. If money is no object, then it may work for you. From what I remember, the flight leaves from the Scottsdale airport (north Scottsdale, Greenway/Scottsdale Rd area), and fly to the Grand Canyon airport. I just couldn't find a car rental at the Grand Canyon to make it work...not sure if that has changed.

One thing I'd highly suggest for a short trip is to enter and exit via different gates. On my 2nd one-day trip, we left the Phoenix area around 8am, grabbed breakfast enroute, stopped in Flag for sandwiches, drove in via Cameron through the East entrance, and ate at a viewpoint near there. Hardly anyone uses the East Entrance, so lines are minimal, and the viewpoints in that part of the park are pretty easy to access (parking isn't bad). We then drove westbound, with our last stop near the El Tovar, which is simply a mess (parking near the village is a PITA). We left via the main exit, drove back to Flag, ate dinner, before the drive back to the Phoenix area.
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Old Jan 25, 11, 1:39 pm
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Thanks for the great suggestions. I was looking at Westwind offering flights into Grand Canyon then a van through the south rim which sounded decent. Would be two one hour flights (return) 30 minute flight over canyon and van in for a few hours there. About $399/pp - didn't see anything cheaper.

Not that we want to pay that much but might give us more time there. Yes, getting to Flagstaff the night before may be a possibility although we have reservations in Phoenix for the extent of our stay. We're traveling in February don't know if that has any impact as i don't think it would be as busy.

Thanks again for the feedback.

Neilmactor
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Old Jan 25, 11, 1:45 pm
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+1 for AZTimm's suggestions, along with staying in Flagstaff or Williams the night before if at all possible.

Also, for anyone experiencing the GC, even those with just a short time, I highly recommend taking one of the trails down below the rim (Bright Angel, south Kaibab), even if its just to go down 100-200 feet. You will get an entirely different experience (sights smells, sounds) than looking in from above. Just keep in mind that it takes at least 2x as long to come out than it does to go down (10 min down = 20 min up).

Also, the colder temperatures and higher altitudes will supress your thirst, so stay hydrated.

For February, the only caveat is to time your return to avoid Hwy 180 into Flagstaff late in the day - if skiing is open. Traffic delays can be horrendous.

Enjoy!
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Old Jan 25, 11, 3:45 pm
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Originally Posted by neilmactor View Post
We're traveling in February don't know if that has any impact as i don't think it would be as busy.

Thanks again for the feedback.

Neilmactor
That can have a big impact... it's called winter. Not that you can't drive in snow, but the locals have problems . Also, I17 & I40 meet in Flagstaff and have been closed occasionally in recent years due to snowfall/ice. It was -18F in Flagstaff on New Years day this year!

(It never ceases to amaze me when the TV reports from the closures in December and show little Johnny and Sue in shorts with no coat shivering in their car because mommy & daddy didn't know that had to drive through the mountains in AZ on their way to see granny in LA.)

I'd budget an extra hour for the drive in February... just to be safe.
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Old Jan 25, 11, 6:26 pm
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Re: weather, tried to do the train from Williams to the Grand Cyn a few years ago in February. Woke up to snow and fog in Williams and very cold weather. Was told that the weather was pretty much the same at the Grand Cyn so skipped the trip and headed home to Phoenix just before they closed the I17/I40. So yeah, weather can happen up there especially in February.
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