We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

2 night stay, what MUST we do?

Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
67 posts
88 reviews
Save Topic
2 night stay, what MUST we do?

We (family of four including two teenage girls) are visiting GCNP in mid July 2014. We are staying the night before at Sedona so are planning to get to the South rim by lunch time (staying at Kachina Lodge). We are only staying two nights and will be leaving for Las Vegas afterwards. We obviously want to make the most of our short trip as we may not have the opportunity to return (live in UK) so would be grateful for suggestions as to what we shoudln't miss. We are thinking about a flight and/or water trip but they are not essential. (I have seen some other posts on this topic and will read them more thouroughly but, if anyone has any specific points, please make them.) Many thanks.

Mentioned in this post
Sedona
Sedona
Arizona
Kachina Lodge
Kachina Lodge
979 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Special Offer
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Helicopter...
6,627 Reviews
from US$399.99*
US$520.00
Special Offer
Grand Canyon 45-Minute Helicopter...
531 Reviews
from US$276.99*
US$299.00
Grand Canyon and Sedona Deluxe...
629 Reviews
from US$179.29*
Special Offer
Grand Canyon Skywalk Skip-the-Line...
404 Reviews
from US$529.99*
US$541.00
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
8,041 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

The South Rim visitors area of the National Park is a vertical mile above the Colorado River. There are no roads, just rugged trails. So, no water trips at the South Rim. There are 30+ miles of dramatic viewpoints into the Canyon; you get nice panoramic views of the Colorado River at the far western and eastern viewpoints. For maps and other visitor information about the park, browse their website:

http://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm

Helicopter tours at the South Rim fly over parts of the Canyon. These are commercial tours originating at a small airport in Tusayan, the closest town to the Park. Read about them at the appropriate links under 'Top Questions' at the right of this page.

For 'must do's', I would utilize the park shuttles to explore Hermit Road viewpoints (going west from the Village) and drive to the eastern viewpoints in your car. Be sure to be on the rim for sunset (get there at least an hour before the official time) and sunrise (my favorite.)

Here's last summer's season visitors guide to the park. Lots of useful info about ranger programs, shuttles, park layout (maps), restaurant/store hours, etc.:

nps.gov/grca/…2013SRsummer_letter.pdf

Mentioned in this post
Colorado River
Colorado River
35 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Tusayan
Tusayan
Arizona
Hermit Road
Hermit Road
131 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

I'd enter GCNP by its east entreance coming from Sedona and you already can see many viewpoints on the way to GC Villgae. desert View is the first (and already one of the best). You also can make the scenic loop coming from Flagstaff on us89 via Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki and also make a stop at Cameron Trading Post before heading into GCNP via 64. Then on the way to Las Vegas leave GC by its south entrance.

Mentioned in this post
Sedona
Sedona
Arizona
Flagstaff
Flagstaff
Arizona
Seattle
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
9,387 posts
73 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

The only "must do" is to enjoy this scenic wonder you have come so far to see. I like Tet's idea of entering through the east entrance as you will then drive the entire East Rim with opportunities to stop at viewpoints. Perhaps bring a picnic lunch for a long stop. I believe Grandview has picnic tables. You will not be able to check in to your lodging until after lunch so no big hurry to get there. (official check-in is 4:00; some rooms are available earlier but you cannot count on it.)

I am not a fan of the Hermit Road shuttles. The one time we used them (in April) they were so crowded it became an ordeal getting on and off. I think a better way to visit the Hermit Road viewpoints is by bicycle. The Greenway Trail goes along the rim at some places and shares the road with the buses at others. You can rent bikes from Bright Angel Bicycles right near the visitor center:

bikegrandcanyon.com/bike-rentals/…

You may want to take a short hike down one of the main South Rim trails (Bright Angel or South Kaibab). In July you will have to time this carefully to avoid the heat, so early morning is best. Take plenty of water and do not walk down more than an hour at most as the heat will increase as the day goes on. Bright Angel trail leaves from the hotel area. South Kaibab is reached by a shuttle---the early morning ones, called Hikers Shuttles, do not require a transfer and are easier if you can manage the early hour. South Kaibab offers more expansive views but offers no shade, so in summer most people only go as far as Ooh-Ah Point (.75 miles down) or at most Cedar Ridge (1.5 miles one-way). There are restrooms at Cedar Ridge.

Another morning activity we have enjoyed is watching the mule riders mount up and depart for Phantom Ranch. They leave from the mule corral just past Bright Angel Lodge. The safety briefing given by the head wrangler is impressive. After this walk down the Rim Trail to Trailview Overlook (stairs involved) and look for condors while you wait for the mule procession to come into view.

Attend a condor talk if there is one. the other ranger programs are interesting and informative as well.

Be sure to visit Kolb Studio for old photographs and the exhibit on the Harvey Girls in Bright Angel Lodge (particularly since your teens are girls). Look for information on Mary Jane Colter, the architect/designer of Bright Angel Lodge, Phantom Ranch, the Watchtower at Desert View (the east entrance), Hopi House, Hermit's Rest, and numerous design features within these buildings. This at a time when women were not generally hired as architects.

I suggest you eat dinner one night at El Tovar. It is one of two nicer restaurants but the only one you can reserve in advance (you can do this by email from the UK a few weeks in advance). The food is Southwest-inspired and they do a pretty good job given the remote location. They have vegetarian options is that matters. Breakfast at El Tovar is even better than dinner, so maybe do that one of your two mornings.

Have fun and enjoy this beautiful place.

Mentioned in this post
Hermit Road
Hermit Road
131 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Bright Angel Lodge
Bright Angel Lodge
2,647 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Rim Trail
Rim Trail
1,225 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Trailview Overlook
Trailview Overlook
57 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Kolb Studio
Kolb Studio
145 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Hopi House
Hopi House
143 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Hermit's Rest
Hermit's Rest
402 Reviews
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
67 posts
88 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

Many thanks for your links and suggestions. I'll take a look and bear them in mind when putting together our mini itinerary!

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
63,594 posts
247 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

Route wise follow Tet's advice. Plan to enter the park at the east gate at Desert View. On the way there from Sedona, take an extra couple of hours to tour the ruins at Sunset Crater/ Wupatki. Then have a meal at historic Cameron Trading Post.

Once you enter the park, use the rest of your afternoon to tour the view points along the rim leading to the GC Village. Be on the rim an hour before sunset and be there again for sunrise. A short walk down Bright Angel or South Kaibab will give you a taste of the environment below the rim. You needn't go far. Walk down for 20-30 minutes and expect to need an hour to climb back up. Take water with you at all times.

Tour the historic buildings and sites around the GCV and on the rim.

I too am not a fan of, the west road shuttle system. Not because of the shuttle, but because of the annoying crowds at the stops. Get off as often as you can and get back on only when you need the rest. You can walk between several of the view points.

As noted, there are no water trips from the south rim. You'll understand why when you get there. Helicopter over flights are a thrill, but certainly not a must do IMO. Nothing can compare to time on the ground at the GC. It doesn't need gimmicks.

Mentioned in this post
Sedona
Sedona
Arizona
Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
67 posts
88 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

Thanks RedRox, some great ideas there. I see you are from Sedona - we will only have a short time there but any recommendations on place to stay and eat? Also, are there any things we should try to see/do if we have time? Thanks.

Mentioned in this post
Sedona
Sedona
Arizona
Seattle
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
9,387 posts
73 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

If you would like to see what the Grand Canyon looks like from the air, you might enjoy the IMAX movie, showing in Tusayen.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
63,594 posts
247 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

Choose a place to stay in Sedona that fits your style and budget. It doesn't really matter where you sleep. Look at restaurant reviews and links and then ask specific questions about the places that sound appealing. Again, there's something there for everyone. Tell us what you like, budget and how many days you'll be there.

Mentioned in this post
Sedona
Sedona
Arizona
Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
67 posts
88 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

Hi RedRox. We had a look at a number of hotels and B&Bs last night and a lot are expensive! We quite liked the look of the Best Western Plus in Uptown Sedona and can get a room for just over $200 which is a bit above budgett but doable. Is this a good place to stop or would Western Sedona or Oak Creek be better? Will get back on restaurants later.

We are travelling from Palm Springs so are likely to only have half a day and evening to spend in Sedona; not long but better than nothing. We would like to make the most of that time so any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

Mentioned in this post
Palm Springs
Palm Springs
Greater Palm Springs, CA
Sedona
Sedona
Arizona
Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: 2 night stay, what MUST we do?

Coming from Palm Springs take I10, loop 101 west in Phoenix and north on I17 to Sedona. On a map it may look shorter to drive via Prescott but that will take a lot longer with the curvy roads.

Mentioned in this post
Palm Springs
Palm Springs
Greater Palm Springs, CA
Phoenix
Phoenix
Central Arizona, AZ
Sedona
Sedona
Arizona
Prescott
Prescott
Arizona