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Dinner or Sunset?

San Jose, California
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1,690 posts
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Dinner or Sunset?

We only have one night at the Grand Canyon, so we are trying to do this right.

We are going to the Grand Canyon on mid July, that day happens to be my daughter's 9th birthday. I want to make a dinner reservation at the El Tovar Dining Room. Is this dining room a good place to catch the sunset as we dine? The pictures seemed outdoorish.

Or should we eat before or after the sunset? The website said the sunsets at around 7:45PM in July . If we should walk elsewhere for the sunset, how far should we plan to walk from this restaurant? (Trying to figure out when to make the reservation)

Thanks!

tucson az
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for Tucson, Arizona, Northern Mexico
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1. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

There are few tables in the El Tovar Dining Room at the windows looking toward the canyon, and, even if you did sit there, you can't see into the canyon. The beauty of sunset or sunrise is watching the changing colors in the canyon as the light changes.

The service is very good in the dining room, but count on at least an hour for dinner .... better an hour and a half. You want to be out on the rim at least a half hour before sunset. My suggestion would be dinner at 5:30 at the latest. A good place to watch sunset is right there at El Tovar and walking east. Make sure you have flashlights for the return. Then go back for dessert.

If you're not staying in El Tovar, you can make dinner reservations 30 days in advance. But if you call and plead that it's your daughter's birthday, sometimes exceptions are made. If you are staying at El Tovar, call and make the reservations now.

Wickenburg, Arizona
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for Wickenburg
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2. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

Definitely. Go out to the rim for sunset, and make sure you're in place before 'it starts'. Right by the lodges will be where it's most crowded, so walking along the rim a bit first would give you a more private and quiet spot to enjoy it.

Arizona
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for Scottsdale
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3. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

Agreed, get an early dinner reservation (5 or 530) and head outdoors for the sunset when you are done...great way celebrate a 9-year old's bday! The beauty of the sunset is not just watching the sun disappear under the horizon, but looking around and seeing the red rocks change color with the diminishing light.

Make sure you take her outside again when it is dark for a chance to view that night sky full of stars. Good advice to take a flashlight, the walkways are dimly lit and sometimes you will catch some of the park deer nibbling on the grass outside the lodges on the rim.

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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4. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

You cannot and never should expect to see sunset from inside any building at GCNP south rim. Have your early dinner at El Tovar and then head outdoors, as much as an hour before sunset, if possible, and settle in for the evening show.

Given the choice between dinner and sunset, focus on being outdoors for sunset. Have a picnic meal. It will be unforgettable.

Edited: 30 April 2012, 00:10
florida
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812 posts
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5. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

How about the opposite?

Watch sunset then dinner reservations? We do not have a9 year old.

If we watched sunset near El Tovar, would 8:00 reservation work? Or should we make a little later?

Casa

Tucson, Arizona
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6. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

An 8:00 reservation would definitely work. Once the sun has set, the canyon walls will just be shades of gray. So if the sun sets at 7:45, you will have timne to walk back to El Tovar.

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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7. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

It would mean a long day and a late dinner for a 9 year old to have dinner after sunset. That is when the restaurant gets slammed the hardest. Personally, if I wanted to go to eat at El Tovar and be there when service would likely be the worst it could be all day long, then I'd go right after sunset.

If the child is used to eating at 8:30 or later, go for it. But it would be my last choice. I'd sooner skip ET in favor of a sunset picnic on the rim. That could be the most special birthday dinner ever for a child that age. Bring something unique, including a cake and candles.

San Jose, California
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8. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

Thanks everybody!

We are in a group of 10 people. So organzing a picnic on the rim for all of us might be too much work. It is a lovely idea if it were just the four of us. I would totally do that. So, I have to think about eating very early or very late...

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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9. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

I don't see why organizing a picnic for 10 would be out of the question. In fact, I think it would much easier and far more cost effective than diner at ET.

Your choice.

Tucson, Arizona
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10. Re: Dinner or Sunset?

My post about having dinner AFTER sunset was in response to casamurray, who said they don't have a 9 year old child. WITH a child, I would definitely have dinner before sunset. But with a group of 10 people, dinner at ET would probably take more like 2 hours.