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  1. Default LA to Boston, mid-July. Question about Grand Canyon

    We are leaving Tuesday, July 17th for a cross-country road trip. We are leaving from LA and our first stop is the Grand Canyon. Neither of us have been and don't know what to expect or how to plan. We are are going to spend the day driving, find a hotel near the GC, then visit/explore the following day.
    Because we've never been and haven't done enough proper research, we are wondering what our best plan of attack is. We don't want to do any tours or hiking or mule-rides, just simply spend a chunk of the day seeing the sights, then either staying a second night and leaving early the next morning (so 2 nights there total), or taking off late afternoon and driving a bit more (1 night there total).
    We are on a budget, so that's a factor. I just have no idea what part to visit, what the hotel situation is, where to go once were there, etc etc.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Two nights.

    Hi and Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    My first time to the GC was exactly what you describe. Not knowing what to expect, not knowing how long to take. Three visits later I am just that bit wiser.

    The first night, stay in a place close to the GC - Williams or Flagstaff - then visit the GC early the next day and spend the day there, seeing all the sites. Easily fill the complete day, even without major activities such as hiking, mule rides, etc. You will get a lot of information on your entrance to the park, and these will list all the activities and sites to visit. I would however urge you to stay till sundown, and watch the sun set over the Canyon. It is spectacular... the colours changing on the rock. You could then exit via route 64, and stay at Cameron, or go back to Flagstaff. Whichever fits your budget and / or fits the rest of your trip.


  3. #3


    In July, Grand Canyon will be very, very busy - to the extent that just finding a place to park can be a problem. That problem can be eliminated if you spend a night or two at one of the in-park lodging facilities in Grand Canyon Village or at one of the facilities in nearby Tusayan. The downside to this is that lodging in the Village or at Tusayan is much more expensive than staying in Williams or Flagstaff and making the Canyon a day trip. Lodging in the Village also books up far in advance and you may already be to late to get a reservation. Often overlooked is the Desert View Drive (Arizona 64) along the east rim. There are some very good viewpoints along this road and they are much less congested than the Village or the west rim which can only be reached by shuttle during the high season.

    If you don't stay in the Village, I would suggest spending a night in Williams, driving to the Canyon for the day via Arizona 64, spending the day at the Canyon and then driving on to Flagstaff via Arizona 64 and US 89.

  4. Default

    Okay, so staying on-site isn't an option due to the budget-unfriendliness and the unavailability.
    It looks like our best bet is it to stay somewhere local but off-site like Williams (I'm just repeating what someone wrote) that first night, driving to the West Rim where it's less crowded (is this good advice?) and spending a chunk of time/half day there. Then late afternoon, heading out to drive a bit more (5-6 hours) to our next destination (Albuquerque?).

    What do you all think of this plan? If we wake up very early and get to the western rim at an early hour, will we have a better chance at parking and not be totally crowded?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    The truth is: at MOST parks, the earlier you are out there, the less crowded it is. Years of going to the national parks has proved to us that being out there by 7:30 am gets you cooler weather, less crowds, and easier parking. Williams is a great place to find a place to stay -- you could stay overnight there, get up and go to the GC *early* (remembering that it's about 35 miles to the park from Williams), do the park, use the public trams whenever possible. Get back to your car after sunset, drive to Flagstaff.

    Albuquerque is about a 6 hour drive and I just wouldn't recommend trying to do that after a long morning in the park.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default wrong way

    Quote Originally Posted by natalieh85 View Post
    driving to the West Rim where it's less crowded (is this good advice?) and spending a chunk of time/half day there. T

    What do you all think of this plan? If we wake up very early and get to the western rim at an early hour, will we have a better chance at parking and not be totally crowded?
    Um, I think you've made a mistake here.

    The West Rim is not part of the National Park, it is on Indian Reservation Land and is also where you'll find the Skywalk.

    The bigger thing in your case is that it is at least 3-4 hours away from Williams, and the wrong direction from where you want to go (its back towards Kingman. It is more quiet, because it is quite remote (requiring long drives on rough gravel) and extremely expensive (about $80 per person if you do the skywalk).

    Unless you are talking about West Rim Drive within the National Park, which is more commonly called Hermit Road, as it goes to the Hermits Rest Viewpoint and avoids confusion with "GC West". If that's what you are thinking, you can not drive on that road in summer, access is only via free shuttle bus, to avoid overcrowding and parking problems.

  7. Default

    Oh no! Well thanks for clearing that up. Now I'm even more confused as to what our best option is. We might try to hit up AAA this weekend before the trip, but I don't know how successful it will be, which is why I'm here.
    Any other suggestions in terms of my original question?

  8. #8


    I'm confused as to what you're confused about. Can you restate your question?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you are on a budget, drive to Flagstaff and spend the night, book the hotel for 2 nights. There are plenty of low-cost hotels and motels there. Leave early in the morning and take US-89 to AZ-64 and enter the park through the east entrance. If you want a diversion before getting to the park, continue past the AZ-64 turnoff for a short distance to the Cameron Trading Post. It will take you about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the entrance if you don't stop at Cameron. Work your way toward the village, stopping at the viewpoints. When you get to the village, park the car, check out the visitor's center, and hop on the Hermit's Rest shuttle bus, getting off at each viewpoint and getting back on the next bus. There is a snack bar at the end of the road if you are interested, and ride the bus back to the village without getting off. Return to Flagstaff via the south entrance, AZ-64, and US-180. It will take you about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get back to Flagstaff from the village. You could stay for the sunset and then go back to Flagstaff.

    Flagstaff to ABQ is 5 hours with no stops, so you could do some sightseeing on the way if you want that to be your next overnight. If you are in a hurry, you could make it as far as Amarillo that night. In between ABQ and Amarillo, there's Santa Rosa and Tucumcari.

  10. Default

    Oops! Someone gave me advice to try the East Rim, and I mistakenly wrote 'West Rim' in my previous post. That's where the error was.
    Thank you all SO much for the great advice! If we have any questions on the road I'll be sure to come back to this forum.

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