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  1. Default Looking for advice (San Diego -> Flagstaff/Sedona July 4th roadtrip)

    Thanks in advance to all the wonderful people in this forum.
    We are from San Diego and planning to visit Flagstaff/Sedona, Grand Canyon during the 4th July long weekend and looking for some advice to help us plan our roadtrip. Please note that we have a 2 year old and we can start really early morning on Friday (07/01) and return late at night on Monday (07/04).

    - What route should we take and what places along the route we should spend. I-8 may be faster but i guess there won't be much to see.
    - Should we directly hit Flagstaff or should we plan to stay first night in Sedona and then the other 2 nights base ourselves in Flagstaff?
    - Should we try to find bus day tours from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon or it would be better for us to drive early in the morning on Sunday and spend full day at Grand Canyon and return back late at night back to Flagstaff.
    - Any experience with the general morning and evening weather in Sedona. We hope it is not too hot.

    We would really appreciate comment if we would be pushing ourselves with the 2 year old to finish everything between Friday-Monday?

    Essentially we had something on the following lines in mind:
    Leave San Diego at around 6am on Friday. --> Visit places using advice from this forum before hitting Sedona around 7-8pm. --> Stay in Sedona and go around Sedona on Saturday. --> Reach Flagstaff on Saurday night. --> Visit Grand Canyon on Sunday and return back to Flagstaff on Sunday night. --> Go around Flagstaff during the day on Monday before starting back for San Diego around 12 noon or so to reach San Diego by 10pm.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Arizona travel

    I don't see there being an issue with going to Sedona first and then basing yourselves out of Flagstaff. It would probably be better to do the early morning drive into Grand Canyon on Sunday yourselves instead of taking a day tour, which may not head out in time to capture the spectacular morning scenery, and wouldn't have the flexibility of taking your car.

    July in Arizona and "not too hot" may be conflicting interests, though I did a quick search and the average daily temperature in Sedona in July is only in the 70s.

    Seeing that it is a holiday weekend, I would recommend getting reservations squared away at the places you intend to stay.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    I too would drive to the GC. From Flagstaff you could get an early start and head up US89 to AZ64 and enter by the East kiosk along Desert view drive, the first stop being at the Watchtower with open views of the Colorado river. Stop at the viewpoints all the way to the village area where you can get a shuttle bus to Hermits rest, hopping on and off at various viewpoints. At the end of the day head South on 64 completing a loop of the South rim area. You can take 180 back to Flagstaff or look for lodgings in Williams and continue on 64. I would also start heading home earlier than Noon and have Lot's of short stops along the way. It will be a long weekend and come the evening you could become weary and still be a long way from home, which isn't ideal.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    The Netherlands


    Have you tried to stay at the rim? or try All booked? Maybe try to phone for cancellations 888 297 2757
    Btw, I would not recommend to drive back to Flagstaff in the dark. Dark will be really dark. Take 180 on your way to GC or, and that would be my preferred route, drive up us89 to Cameron and enter GC by its east entrance and drive back to Flag via az64 and I40 if you have to that in the dark.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I will agree with Yeehaw - do not, under any circumstances, drive from GC to Flagstaff in the dark. Those roads are laden with wildlife, and you don't want to be responsible for the death of a deer (not to mention what it would do to your vehicle and to your weekend!).

    Sedona is likely to be CROWDED on the 4th of July weekend. If you want to do Slide Rock State Park (a great water place), you will need to be there early-early-early or you won't even get into the parking lot!


  6. Default

    Please can someone suggest ideal route that we should take from San Diego to Sedona/Flagstaff. I guess we would have some time to briefly stop at scenic places if we start from San Diego at 6am or even earlier.
    Also is staying Friday night at Sedona and Sat and Sunday nights at Flagstaff a good idea.
    Or it would be better to directly go to Flagstaff and base ourselves at Flagstaff for all 3 nights.
    I guess nothing good would be available at the Grand Canyon RIM and we can just drive there early morning from Flagstaff and come back on Sunday evening.

    Thanks again.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Fastest route from SD to Sedona is I-8/AZ-85/I-10/Loop-101/I-17/AZ-179. This is 462 miles and can be done in about 9 hours with normal rest, food, and fuel stops.

    You will probably pay a pretty penny to get a room in Sedona over the 4th of July weekend. Flagstaff has quite a few lower priced hotels to pick from. Add about 30 minutes to the 9 hour estimate if you simply stay on I-17 into Flagstaff. I'd book as soon as possible.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    We've taken two field trips for choir competitions from San Diego up to Flagstaff. Both times, the trip I-8>Rt 85>I-10>Loop 101>I-17 was MUCH faster than the original trip taking I-15 through Cajon Pass to Barstow and then I-40 over to Flagstaff. Reason??? That darned Riverside and San Bernardino County traffic!!!

    I agree with glc - try to stay in Flagstaff. But even so, get your reservations NOW. The SoAZonies want to head for the coolness during the long weekend!

    Donna (whose parents are SoAZonies)

  9. Default

    Thanks Donna, GLC, others.....
    Please can someone help us identify some places on route to Flagstaff where we should stop.
    Looking at some other threads it looks I-8 though fastest, may not be the most scenic route to Flagstaff.... But if that is the recommendation then probably we will take I-8.
    Essentially we can start at 5-6am on Friday morning and would have about 14-15 hours to reach Flagstaff by 8pm or so.... Any specific places where we can spend an 30-40 minutes time slots......

    Thanks Again.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I-8 between San Diego and Gila Bend is mostly desert. First you go through the mountains just east of San Diego. There is a scenic view point up there which can be a lovely photo spot. However, that early in the morning you might see a lot of fog, depending on the marine layer.

    You come down from the mountains just before El Centro and that's where the heat starts (though at around 8 am it should still be fairly pleasant). North of El Centro is the Salton Sea - not much there any more, I'm afraid. Just east of El Centro, at one of the exits for Holtville, there's a mineral spring "hot tub" on BLM land. Let me know if you want specifics on that. Just before Yuma, of course, are the sand dunes. During the summer months those are not very populated, but there's a rest area to stop at there. As of April, it was the only rest area with restrooms that was actually OPEN between San Diego and Yuma. (Both of the others - at Buckman Springs and near Seeley - are supposed to be open by now.)

    Between Yuma and Gila Bend, there isn't much of anything except desert. If you need fuel, I'd get it at Yuma or Gila Bend, as any place in between is likely to be higher priced. Yuma would be a good place to have breakfast - there's an IHOP just off 16th Street exit, and a Cracker Barrel (the closest one to San Diego) in the other direction off 16th Street exit.

    Between Gila Bend and Phoenix, you'll have the same issue with fuel. Once you leave Phoenix heading north towards Flagstaff, the fuel gets pricey again. Between Phoenix and Flagstaff you will be climbing into the mountains again (easy grade) and there are places to pull over and view too.

    Donna who makes that I-8 trip all the time!

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