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  1. Default Need recommendation: San Diego to Phoneix to Sedona to Flagstaff to Grand Canyon

    Hi All.
    I am new to this forum and really appreciate the time and effort put by all the members to help others plan their roadtrips.

    We are from San Diego and on the thanksgiving weekend planning a roadtrip to Phonexi, Sedona, Flagstaff and if possible/feasible to Grand Canyon and then back to San DIego.
    We are planning to leave on Thursday morning at around 6am and would really appreciate some clarifications as well as all the good advice that we can get. We have a 16month old and so we want to be extra careful.

    - We are planning to take 10E from San Diego. What are the places that we can stop in between and make our trip to Phoneix better. Should we stop at Joshua National Park? Would 2-3 hours at Joshua national park good enough?
    - What would be a safe time for us to reach Phoneix. I mean is it okay to be on 10E late at night?
    - How is Sedona and Flagstaff? Is it going to be too cold?
    - Is it worthwhile to go to Grand Canyon from Flagstaff. Would it be snowing by any chance at this time?

    Thanks a lot in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    I'd rearrange the trip to make it more efficient, depending on specific commitments on specific days. San Diego to Phoenix is about a 6 hour drive via most direct (I-8/AZ-85/I-10). I would do this if you need to spend Thanksgiving night in Phoenix. Then you can complete your loop in a counter-clockwise fashion.

    If you don't care where you spend the night, I'd go through Joshua Tree and then up to I-40 through 29 Palms and Amboy, and spend the night in Kingman. Then you can complete your loop in a clockwise fashion.

    Let us know more details and we can help you fill it in.

  3. Default

    Thanks for your response.
    We don't have to spend night at phoneix. Just want to plan so that we can cover most of the places worth visiting in that region. Since we have a 16 month old we don't want to be on freeway after 10pm or so. Being new to the region we would really appreciate if we can get some info on:
    - How much time we should plan to spend at Joshua Tree park?
    - We have time from Thursday morning starting from San Diego and then want to be back in San Diego on Monday evening. Please can someone help us plan our trip and suggest what cities and for how many days/time we should stay.
    - We were planning to stay in Phoneix/Scottdale for Thursday night and then in Sedona for next 3 nights so that we can cover Flagstaff, Grand Canyon as day trips from Sedona. Any other recommendations?

    Thanks again for all the wonderful people on this forum.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I personally think you shouldn't be on the freeway even that late. I'd look at getting off the road at dinnertime and getting early starts in the morning. You can't see anything when it's dark out!

    You can do a quick drivethrough of Joshua Tree in a couple hours, or you can spend a whole day exploring it. It all depends what you want to get out of it.

    What is it you want to see in Phoenix/Scottsdale?

    As nice as Sedona is, I think Flagstaff would be a better place to base yourselves out of for day trips - it's more centrally located and lodging is considerably cheaper with many more choices. You need a full day in the Grand Canyon, and it's just over an hour from Flagstaff, probably twice that from Sedona.

  5. Default

    San Diego to Flagstaff is about 500miles and if we go to Joshua Tree then we cannot make to Flagstaff before late at night. So were planning to stay in Phoenix/Scottsdale for the first night.
    One main reason we wanted to stay in Sedona was that indicates that Flagstaff is going to be really cold during evenings and morning?

    Any other recommendation on a place where we can stay between San Diego->Joshua Tree Park->Sedona/Flagstaff.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The forecast for Flagstaff through the Thanksgiving weekend is calling for highs in the 40's and lows around 20. Sedona is calling for highs in the 50's and lows around 40. If you would prefer to stay in Sedona, so be it! Note that the weather at the Grand Canyon will closely parallel Flagstaff, so bring your warm clothes! There is no snow in the forecast at this time, but we all know how forecasts a week ahead can be inaccurate.

    If you want to go through Joshua Tree on the way out, where you spend the night would depend on how much time it takes you to get there and how much time you spend in the park. For planning purposes, you could make just the trip to JT and in the park be an all-day evolution, and spend the night in 29 Palms. If you want to go farther, it's about 3 hours from there to the Needles-Laughlin-Bullhead City-Kingman area, and I would not drive the stretch from 29 Palms to I-40 in the dark - that would be Amboy Rd and the National Trails Hwy.

    Allow 4 hours to get from that area to Sedona, which means 7 hours if you stay in 29 Palms. Allow 2.5 hours each way to the Grand Canyon from Sedona. For the return home from Sedona, that would be quite doable in one day, the fastest way would be down I-17 to Phoenix, then around the NW side on Loop 101 to I-10/AZ-85/I-8.

    You have plenty of time, there's no need to make this a rushed trip. You will have all day Saturday and Sunday to see things - one day in the Grand Canyon and one day exploring other stuff in that part of Arizona.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Different angle.

    I think you need to focus on what it is you want to do, and how you want to spend your time on the trip, and then work out where your overnight stops will be best spent, rather than the other way around. For instance, do you want to spend a day in Phoenix or is it an overnight stop only ? My preference for short trips like this [especially over busy weekends] is usually to break a lot of ground early, and then meander back home catching the sights along the way. As an example, if you spent your first day driving to the Grand canyon, you would have 3 day's to come back via Sedona, Phoenix and Joshua tree, in the knowledge that if you spend a little more time in one place you can simply miss, or shorten one of your other stops. I imagine it would be a lot less stressful being closer to home on your last day, than it will having a lot of ground to cover on a busy weekend.

    Work out your plan for the trip, and then we can help with overnight stops.

  8. Default

    I would be driving back on Monday so i am hoping the traffic won't be that bad on the way back from Sedona to San Diego.
    I am narrowing down on the following plan. Please please comment if something does not sound right.
    One additional question i had was about Joshua Tree park. Is there a specific entrance which gives the best view of Joshua Park. If i enter from Cottonwood Visitor Center area which is near to I-10 would i be missing all the good things? Also are there some trails where we can drive or carry the baby in the stroller?

    - Start from San Diego at 6am and take I-10.
    - Reach Josua Tree park (Cottonwood Visitor Center) around 9am or so. Spend 4 hours in Joshua Tree park.
    - Leave around 1:30pm or so from Joshua Park towards Scottsdale.
    - Reach Scottsdale at 6pm. Please let me know how is the I-10 route near Scottsdale. If it is okay to drive there till 8-9pm and night driving is not risky we can spend more time at Joshua and start only at 3pm.
    - Spend the night at Scottsdale. Go around the city next morning and drive to Flagstaff via Sedona.
    - Spend Fri/Sat/Sunday night at Flagstaff. Plan day trips to Grand Canyon and may be even to Sedona.
    - Return back to San Diego on Monday.

    The other option as someone suggested is to stay the first night at 29 Palms and visit Joshua tree park from there.
    Then head to Flagstaff and make it the base for next 3 days and visit Sedona/GC from there. Or make it the base for 2 days and visit GC. On Sunday visit Sedona and come to Scottsdale for night stay and then happily leave for San Diego on Monday noon or so.

    Thanks a lot for everyone's help. From zero i find myself to be little more educated about the area.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I personally like Dave's idea best - drive from SD to Sedona or Flagstaff without delay on Thursday via I-8 and around Phoenix, then arrange your sightseeing accordingly. Spend 2 days coming back and enjoy Joshua Tree, spending a night somewhere between Kingman and 29 Palms. You could take a side trip up into Oatman and/or Lake Havasu City as part of this - in fact, that could be a decent overnight. Yes, Flagstaff will be cold, but is more centrally located to be able to spend a full day in the Grand Canyon.

    If you want to research Joshua Tree, spend some time on the NPS site. The rangers at the staffed visitor's centers are also very helpful. Be sure to click the "Things To Do" link.

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