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Timing is everything!

Houston, TX
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Timing is everything!

I am planning a trip to see the GCNP next summer with my adult daughter and her two kids, ages 8 and 11. We haven't had many opportunities to travel and I want to pack as much in to this short visit as I can. I'm not in great hiking shape, but ...

So, here's the plan - please help with timing the drives and the site visits. It's important and hard to guesstimate from here. The miles and times shown are from Mapquest - which is not always reliable. Plus, I am in Houston which is TOTALLY FLAT!!!

You guys are amazing and your help is invaluable!! Thank you so much in advance!

Day 1 (Saturday)

Depart morning

Arrive Las Vegas, NV

Get rental car

Hotel Check-in

Cruise up and down the Las Vegas Strip day/night to see the sites

Day 2 (Sunday)

Early Check-out

Drive to Boulder City, NV [26 miles] [31 minutes]

Hoover Dam Tour [2 hours]

9:25 – 4:55

Dam Tour ½ hour

Power Plant Tour 1 hour

Water bottles are permitted

Tour 1-1/2 hour

Drive to Tusayan, AZ [243.54 miles] [3 hours, 49 minutes]

Arrive Tusayan, AZ Appx 4:30 p.m.

Grand Canyon IMAX Theater:

AZ 64/U.S. 180, Tusayan, AZ 86023


[1 mile south of Grand Canyon]

See Grand Canyon IMAX [40 minutes]

Purchase Park Entry Pass here

Question: Do they have a guard at the front gate? Couldn't you just buy it from him? Well, I guess it would have to be manned day and night. But, this is something I hadn't thought of and am a little confused by. Like they have a fence or something. Plus, how do you know when and where you need these passes? If I've missed one please let me know!

Check-in Lodge (2 nights) GrandCanyonLodges.com

See the Bright Angel History Room

Hopi House

Hermits Rest (ring bell for luck)

Day 3 (Monday)

Shuttle to see the south rim of Grand Canyon - all day

Apache Stables


Campfire trail, evening (if available that day)

Day 4 (Tuesday)

Lodge check-out

Drive to Flagstaff, AZ via Desert View, [107.36 miles] [2 hours 13 minutes]

(plus stops)

Grand Canyon Visitor Center

East – Desert View

Tusayan Museum and Ruins

Tusayan Visitor Center, also has 22 minute movie

Watch Tower

Check-in Flagstaff hotel

Question: So I've read some comments about staying in Sedona rather than Flagstaff but Flagstaff seems much more central to the majority of our excursions. Flagstaff also seems to have a greater selection of inexpensive hotels. Am I correct?

Visit Flagstaff Visitor Center

Buy National Monument Pass

Day 5 (Wednesday)

Wuptaki National Monument ruins

Sunset Crater

Walnut Canyon ruins

Meteor Crater

(tune into 1610 AM at Meteor Road exit)

Question: Can all of those be seen in one day? Again, it is distances and timing. I realize that you could spend all day at each but for a nice visit and viewing what would be an adequate amount of time to alot to each?

Day 6 (Thursday)

Sedona [29.74 miles]

Drive through and around Sedona to see the sites

Pray at Chapel of the Holy Cross

Palatki Ruins [1 to 1-1/2 hours]

Make reservations 928-282-3854

Forest Road 525 to Forest Road 795, Coconino National Forest, Sedona, AZ

Cliff Dwelling Ruins and Petroglyphs

Parking Fee: $5.00 (per day)

These passes can be purchased at many commercial vendors, government offices and machines throughout the area.

Lowell Observatory

1400 West Mars Hill Road

Flagstaff, AZ 86001

No reservation needed open 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Dress in layers

[1 mile west of downtown Flagstaff]

Day 7 (Friday)

San Francisco Peaks [2 hours]

Snow Bowl – Ski Lift

Open only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10:00 – 4:00

Day 8 (Saturday)

Hotel Check-out

Bearizona [3 hours]

Williams, AZ

Opens at 8:00 a.m.

Drive back to Las Vegas [249.18 miles] [4 hours 10 minutes]

Depart – Late afternoon

tucson az
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for Tucson, Arizona, Northern Mexico
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1. Re: Timing is everything!

Relax. Don't have a minute by minute itinerary for this trip or no one will have fun. Don't try to see everything.

Driving up and down the Las Vegas Strip is a pointless activity. Drive it once on arrival, and park. You can take a monorail between the downtown old Las Vegas and the Strip. You can also take a monorail on the southern end. I would concentrate on the area between the Venetian and Bellagio. You want to see the insides of both of those, and the water jet performance outside the Bellagio. Pick a place for buffet supper in one of the better casino hotels. Expensive but worth it.

If you are arriving late afternoon to GCNP, skip the IMAX. Buy your pass at the entrance to the park, which is more than 1 mile from Tusayan. Pay the $25 per vehicle entry fee. Yes, there are rangers at the gate 24 hours a day. There is not such a thing as a National Monuments pass that I know of. An American the Beautiful pass is $80, but you aren't going enough places I think. It is good for a year at other parks and monuments. Go check in at your hotel. Relax.

Hermits Rest is a half hour shuttle ride from Bright Angel. Save it for the next day. Relax and get supper. Go out to the rim of the canyon an hour before sunset and watch the changing colors in the canyon.

Shuttles operate within the GC Village area and a separate shuttle to Hermits Rest. The things to see in the GC Village area are the rim lodges, Kolb Studio (which may not interest kids), visitor center and Hopi House. You can drive to the geology museum at the Yavapai overlook. Take the shuttle west towards Hermits Rest and see the views in that area.

Think about whether you want to spend the money riding horses away from the canyon. Those are very expensive trail rides. On arrival, find out what activities are offered by Rangers and Junior Ranger program.

Save the east area to Desert View for exit as you plan. Eat lunch at the Cameron Trading Post which is a bit north of the Hwy 64/Hwy 89 intersection. You can feasibly do Wupatki, Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon in the afternoon, but Meteor Crater is out of the way, expensive and not worth the time to go there. Now, you just saved a day.

I would suggest going on to Sedona and spending the rest of the time there. Do enjoy yourselves. Be flexible and spend more time where you're having fun. Don't try to see everything. Plan your activities but don't worry about time so much.

Edited: 24 October 2013, 18:59
tucson az
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2. Re: Timing is everything!

Forgot to add. The entry fee to GCNP is good for 7 days for a vehicle which includes the occupants.

Houston, TX
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3. Re: Timing is everything!

As Bob B says, the America the Beautiful Pass costs $80, is good for one year, and covers admission to all national parks, national monuments, and other federally controlled lands. If you do a google search, you will reach a site that shows, by state, which properties are covered. You won't save any money on this trip by buying it, but if you plan to travel to any other federal lands within the year after you buy it, it might be worth it. You buy it at the gate at your first park (GCNP for you). The ranger will put up to two names on the pass itself in permanent marker. At each subsequent entrance, one of the pass holders must be physically present and show photo ID along with pass, and then in you go.

The drive for Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano National Park is a good one. There is a walk you can do at the crater as well as being able to be out among the ruins at Wupatki. There is also an overlook with parking along the way where you will get a good view of the Painted Desert in the distance. Depending on your interest level, allow about 1.5 to 2 hours for Sunset Crater and Wupatki.

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Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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4. Re: Timing is everything!

Agreeing that this is a case of over planning. You are right to research and anticipate and plan day by day, but don't fret about minute details.

Once you arrive at the GCNP, you'll be drawn to places and you'll want to give some more time than others. NEVER be in a rush to get to someplace else.

The gate at the park is not manned 24/7 though it is open. if there is no one at the gatehouse, you are on your honor to return at some point and pay the entry fee, $25 per car good for 7 days. Given some of your other planned destinations, it might make sense to purchase the $80 annual NPS pass.

Your list of attractions does indeed put Flag close to the center. The issue as I see it, is that you don't realize what Sedona offers. Don't worry, most other visitors can't imagine it either. But once they (and you) see it, you'll wish you had dedicated more time there.

Do some more general research. Book your GCNP reservations soon. Everything else can be flexible

Houston, TX
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5. Re: Timing is everything!

As I knew you would, you have helped a great deal. I want to enjoy every minute of the trip but, you are right, I am over planning it.

I have the worst case of travel bug of anyone I know! And I haven't won the lottery yet and haven't been able to indulge the bug enough! I can relax at home - when I'm away I need to go, see, do while I have a chance!!

As far as skipping the IMAX, I have worried that after being strapped down in the car for hours that it would be difficult to have to sit through a movie - even one that is less than an hour long. Especially for the kids.

I think I saw on one of the monument websites that there was a fee of $25 that covered just those three - Wuptaki, Sunset Crater, and Walnut Canyon.

I need to research some more but, are there things for kids to do in Sedona? It (from the computer screen) looks like something adults would enjoy doing but not necessarily with little kids.

Thank y'all so very much!

I cannot tell you how excited I am to go!! Whoopieee!

Sedona, AZ
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6. Re: Timing is everything!

Sedona is a kids paradise in the summer. The opportunities to be in a real outdoor wilderness environment abound. Jeep tours are thrilling for youngsters. Too many good old fashioned swimming holes to list. If your kids have any sense of adventure, they will choose Sedona over the historic ruins sites in a second.

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7. Re: Timing is everything!

My grandsons were the same age their first time to Sedona and it was the highlight of their first trip to AZ. Sedona and The Desert Watch Tower of the Grand Canyon. They had a ball. The youngest, now 15, was on a mission trip this summer in Navajo area and on the way home they stopped off in Sedona and treated the kids to a jeep ride and he couldn't wait to get back and have the other kids experience how great Sedona was.

8. Re: Timing is everything!

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