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  1. #1

    Default 16 day grand circle in September, begin and end in Phoenix

    Hi. I'm new to this site. My husband and I are planning a trip for September 13 through the 29th, which will be 16 full days. We are flying into Phoenix and want to visit Sedona and then do the full circle including Canyon de Chelly, Moab, Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon, and Vegas. I wasn't sure whether to go clockwise seeing the grand canyon first, or counter clockwise. Also we are currently booked to fly back from Phoenix, but should we go counter clockwise and end in Vegas and fly back from there. My other thought is maybe I should have just flew in and out of Vegas even though the airfare is more expensive. There are no change fees with Southwest. Also other than booking in advance for something in or around Grand Canyon National Park, is it easy to find rooms without a reservation? Is 16 full days enough time to see all of this at an enjoyable pace or should I take out Chelly and some of the other destinations? Should I plan for 2 nights in Sedona? Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default By the Clock

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Typically, there aren't a lot of reasons to choose clockwise over counterclockwise when doing a loop trip. If it's long enough or wide ranging enough, weather might be a factor. then there's the findings by FedEx that they cam save considerably on fuel costs and drivers' time by making only right hand turns (going clockwise). And occasionally, a particularly scenic road will lend itself to wanting to be on one side or the other to be closest to the pull-offs for scenic views. Here, that would be the case for the Grand Canyon where you'd want to be going west bound along the South Rim Drive, so again arguing for clockwise.

    As far as where to fly into/out of, the beauty of a loop trip is that it doesn't matter. You're going to drive the entire loop no matter what, and any place is as good a start/end point as any other, so you might as well look at which city works out to be the cheapest. Remember to factor in any differences in rental car costs (driven in a big part by state and local taxes and fees) and hotel costs near the airport for your arrival and/or departure days.

    I've done trips on a similar scale in a week and never felt rushed, so you should be quite comfortable with two weeks at your disposal. However, this is an area with a relatively short tourist season, but which is immensely popular during that season. By mid to late September crowds should be starting to thin out, but I would still recommend that you have reservations near some of the more popular attractions such as Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyon de Chelley, the Grand Canyon and possibly Sedona. Besides, if you set up your lodging before departure, you'll have time to thoroughly research prices and possibly find some money saving deals, as well as remove one more hassle from those you have to struggle with while you're trying to relax.


  3. #3


    Thanks for your response. I figured it wouldn't matter which direction I went in, it just seems most of the ideas and tips I have found on all my searches have begun in Las Vegas, so I have to refigure my intinerary. I think I will book motels ahead of time so I can read reviews and check prices. Is it true that you can call xanterra to check for cancellations at Grand Canyon National Park and that they don't show as available on the website, but they may have rooms? I have checked for rooms on the dates we are going and they are booked.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It Couldn't Hurt

    Xanterra handles reservations for all the national parks. While they have a website that you can check for cancellations, it's pretty much a crapshoot on two counts, the cancellation has to get posted to the website and then you have to be the first person who wants it to find it. You certainly should continue to check the website, but in these days of 800 numbers and other free calls, it makes perfect sense to call them and make every effort to talk to a real person. It doesn't guarantee success any more than checking the website but as I say, it couldn't do


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Phoenix?

    The question is, do you actually want to visit Phoenix, or just use it to fly in and out of ? I ask as you have Vegas on your itinerary. If you have no real desire to visit Phoenix, then you could save a couple of hundred miles, which in turn saves gas costs and time, making it slightly more beneficial using Vegas [Other than additional flight cost [$?].] I would also try and squeeze in Monument Valley and Capitol Reef NP that would include a drive along Utah scenic Byway 12 between Bryce canyon and Torrey.

    It would look something like this; LV>Zion>Bryce>Torrey [Capitol Reef]>Moab [Arches/Canyonlands]>Monument Valley>Canyon De Chelley> GC South rim [Cameron Trading post on route or overnight]>Sedona>LV [Possibly via Seligman on route 66 and Hoover Dam.] I would leave GC till near the end of the trip as a highlight and to enter the canyon east to west as mentioned by Buck. The loop would work from Phoenix as well, just adding those miles at the start and end of trip.

  6. #6


    I decided to stay with my original flight to and from Phoenix, as the flight is $400+ less than Vegas. I booked a rental car 10 miles from the airport with a free shuttle for $500 for the 16 days. We plan to go in a clockwise direction and were able to get a room at GCNP. Thanks for your suggestions.


  7. Default

    If your health is up to it, consider booking an advance pass to hike to the Wave. The BLM may still have reservations available for the day you're considering. You would have to take a detour up to Page/Kanab area on your way from Moab to the Grand Canyon, or you could take it in from Zion before heading to Bryce

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