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grand canyon tour vs. driving

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Portland, OR
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grand canyon tour vs. driving

We will be in Sedona for the week of Thanksgiving. Am just beginning to research what to see and do. Am wondering whether it is worth the cost for a guided tour from Sedona to the GC, or whether we can save money and see it well on our own in a day trip.

Any suggestions?

CT
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1. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

We visited Sedona and the GC about a year and a half ago. We stayed 2 nights in Sedona and fell in love with the area. Wish we could have stayed longer.

I think to thoroughly enjoy the GC you need to stay at least one night on the rim. We stayed 2 and it was perfect. We hiked down the S. Kaibab trail which I highly recommend even if you only go a mile or so because the perspective of the canyon really changes as you descend.

If you only have one day, I think you should just drive it yourself so you can go at your own pace. The shuttle takes you to a lot of the lookouts so you don't have to drive that much when you arrive. You can walk, rest, take a shuttle, walk down a trail ..do what you like. What I loved about staying overnight was that the main crowds leave about 5pm to drive back to their hotels and then you have it all to yourself (kind of!!)

We made reservations at El Tavor for our first dinner but actually enjoyed the ARizona Room better (I think that is what it is called) It is right on the rim with large windows facing the canyon. You'll definately want to have lunch or dinner there before returning to Sedona.

PM me if you have add'l questions.

tucson az
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for Tucson, Arizona, Northern Mexico
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2. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

You can see more and of course spend less if you drive yourself. GCNP is very "self-touring." There are shuttle buses in GC Village and on the west rim. You can drive yourself to the overlooks on the East Rim.

For a day trip from Sedona, head up Oak Creek Canyon early to Flagstaff. That's Hwy 89A. Catch I-40 east to the exit on the east side of Flagstaff for Hwy 89 North. Go north about 45 miles to Hwy 64. Then west on Hwy 64 to GCNP. Stop at the Desert View tower and overlook, and others on your way to GC Village. This will take about 1/2 hour longer than driving to the south entrance to GCNP, but is quite scenic and takes you first to the best views.

CT
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3. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

Definately go that way, we did.. thanks to TA forum advice and it was VERY pretty.

Cape Girardeau, Mo
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4. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

Literally tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people do day trips to the GC each year. The best way with limited time is to spend one night in the Park at one of the lodges. If that is not possible, it will be a full, but very doable trip in one day. You can and will accomplish much more touring on your own than on a tour bus, plus the money you will save.

There are two routes, one taking you in the South entrance and exiting the East, the other doing the exact opposite as BobBear suggested. While he prefers the East Entrance and Desert View as your first exposurt to the canyon, I do not, but hey, that's what makes horse races right? Either way it is a big loop which is done by many in a day trip. I'm sure if you search that subject, you will get literally dozens of postings on the subject with suggested itineraries.

Brooklyn, New York
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5. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

Just out of curiosity, Do you think the south entrance is better because it's better to get into the village area first? Do we just leave our car all day and find our way to the different lookouts. I have no idea what to expect.

I was thinking of doing a sunset tour because I figured they would know the best spot.

tucson az
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6. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

For exploring the central GC Village area and the west rim, it is better to park and use the shuttles to get around. I usually park in the area near Maswik Lodges and then hop on a bus. The east rim however does not have a shuttle, so you need to drive yourself there, but don't miss it. I don't like the South entrance as the first exposure for newbies is the always overcrowded Mather Point, and no others are like that. But you can enter the South entrance and skip Mather if it's crowded.

Drums, Pennsylvania
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7. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

We just did a day trip last week from Los Abrigados in Sedona to GC.

It was a long day, but well worth the time if you just have one day to do it.

Left Sedona early, 6:30 AM, up 89 to 17 / 40 West to 64 and North to GC. we stopped for breakfast in Willams, but total drive time near 2 hours.

No lines at South gate.

We drove East loop first, stopping at all or most lookouts. The very first look you take withh take your breath away. It is very very impressive. We spent a few hours doing this drive

We had an ice cream at the Desert View Camp store and then drove back west to The Village, parked and hopped on the West Shuttle as you can not drive the West end. We hit all the point on the West shuttle tour and headed back to the Village and had dinner at Bright Angel Point Lodge Restaurant just as the sun was setting. Had burgers and sandwiches which were fine.

Drive home had us back in Los Abrigados at about 10 PM.

It was long and tiring, but all 4 of us loved the day spend at the wonderous location.

Drive home took about

Sedona
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8. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

If you only have one day you should definitely take the guided tour to GCNP. It is worth the cost just to have someone else drive home -- it's going to be a 12-13 hour day.

Because you only have one day you'll want to make the most of it. The guided tour will take you staight to the best places and skip the crowds. Drive yourself and you'll end up wasting time looking for a place to park.

Most importantly, GC is such a huge and amazing place that the knowledge of the guide will increase your understanding and appreciation of it 100 fold. It is true that millions of people drive themselves to GCNP every year. And the average stay is 55 minutes. That means a significant number leave after just 20-30 minutes. They may have seen the Grand Canyon, but they had no idea what they were looking at. I recommend Great Ventures as they best in GCNP tour from Sedona.

Chicago
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for Pompano Beach
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9. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

My issue with a guided trip is you see what they think you should see and not what you want to see at your pace.

We visited Sedona with my son and only had time for a half day trip from Sedona. We stayed for a sundown and drove back to Sedona after a late dinner. No problem.

The following spring I took my daughter to Sedona and we planned a day trip to GC. She wanted to get back for another Sedona sunset, rather than stay at GC.

That said, there is nothing like a sunrise over the Grand Canyon. There are many things to see, if you want to spend a day and overnite there. However, a self guided day trip is certainly doable from Sedona.

Aubrey, Texas
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10. Re: grand canyon tour vs. driving

On more than one occasion, I've seen people perfectly content at a viewpoint like Desert View, peacefully enjoying the scenery, sometimes sitting and writing in a journal. Then someone says that it's time to get on the tour bus and move on. So they have to go.

That isn't what Grand Canyon is all about to me. If you're on your own, you get to enjoy it as you want accordng to your own schedule. It's easy to do. Parking has never been an issue for us and it shouldn't be for you.

For information on the canyon, get a good guidebook or two. The Grand Canyon Association has a wide selection.

By all means, spend a night in the park if you can make it work for you.