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newby Jun 23rd, 2002 05:52 AM

Grand Canyon first time - newby question
Hi all !<BR>I will be visiting the Grand Canyon during the 4th of July weekend. I am a foreigner - this is likely to be my only visit to the GC. <BR>I will be flying into Phoenix on the 4th (Thu), staying in the park Thu and Fri, returning to Phoenix on Sat, and flying out on Sun. <BR>I'm planning to drive into the park from the East (Cameron/Tusayan) rather than the "standard" route (Flagstaff). Is this a good idea ?<BR>Also, I am not clear on whether I can drive my car inside the park. If I understand correctly, people have to park their cars somewhere, then use the park shuttles. Is this correct ? I am interested mainly in viewing the GC from several locations - I don't plan to do any hiking.<BR>I will have about half a day in Phoenix - what are the one or two things I "must see" here ? <BR>Thanks,<BR>TJ

Bob Brown Jun 23rd, 2002 06:43 AM

If you drive from Phoenix to the GC, you will go through Flagstaff. There is no other practical route. Also, some of the other roads are closed right now because of forest fires.<BR>I am not sure which "standard" route you mean. There are essentially two routes to the South Rim from Phoenix. Both of them start by taking I 17 from Phoenix to Flagstaff.<BR><BR>1. At Flagstaff, take route US 180 north to the Canyon through the motels at Tusayan to Grand Canyon Village.<BR>2. Take the eastern route, US 89, north from Flagstaff to Cameron. Turn west at Cameron on State Route 64 to the rim and ultimately Grand Canyon Village, where you find the major lodging centers such as Maswick Lodge, the El Tovar, and Bright Angel Lodge. <BR><BR>The different routes described are essentially a loop. I suggest you come in one way and go out the other. <BR><BR>The old adage of a picture is worth a 1,000 words applies here.<BR>I think one glance at a map and all will be revealed better than I can possibly describe it in words. <BR><BR>Once you are at the South Rim, you will find it more convenient to park your car most of the time and use the shuttle bus system. The West Rim Drive is a bus only route. The shuttle bus runs frequently and stops often.<BR>You can get on and off at each stop going out to Hermits Rest. I like to ride to the first stop and then walk two or three stops along the rim where there are beautiful views, particularly from Maricopa and Hopi Points.<BR><BR>Some of the other view points to the east of Bright Angel Lodge are closed to private vehicles as well. Yavapai Point was closed the last time I was there, so visitors had no options other than to take the bus or to walk.<BR>Also parts of the rim trail are not on the paved roads.<BR><BR>One word of very loud caution: Be prepared for the sun. The altitude is high, there is less atmosphere to filter the UV rays, the sky is usually clear and there is very little shade. As a result, the sun burns fiercely. <BR><BR>The climate is also very, very dry. Without drinking water frequently, you are at risk for severe dehydration. <BR><BR>I have seen many people with beet red skin by the end of the day. This redness is indicative of a severe sun burn, enough of one to mar the vacation. <BR><BR>You did not say where you were from, so my suggestions might be totally beside the point. But, on my last trip, I saw enough misery from sunburn to feel obligated to mention it.<BR><BR>(I once suggested precautions against sun burn to a guy who turned out to be from Morocco. He grew up in the Sahara!!)

Larry Jun 23rd, 2002 09:52 AM

At Tusayan, don't miss seeing the IMax theater. Has views you can't see from anywhere else. Shows run all day so no problem catching one. If taking color photos, consider a polarizing filter. With adjustment, it can take the shine off the rocks and bring out the deep colors. Also will darken the sky and make clouds stand out. A wide angle lens is a must - or a panoramic camera. July 4th weekend will be very crowded so take your time. In gift shop, consider getting a CD or tape of southwestern indian music by R Carlos Nakai. Canyon Trilogy is a favorite. Enjoy!

kam Jun 23rd, 2002 10:34 AM

BAck for two weeks and my lips are still peeling--be sure to bring sunscreen for them as well. Hat that ties around your neck is best because winds have been very high. Suggest you see the Heard Museum and old Scottsdale on your day in Phoenix. Heard museum is Native American art--old and modern. I wouldn't bother trying to go through Cameron if it's the trading post that sounds interesting to you. Drive straight up I17 to Sedona--look at the red rocks a bit, then continue up 89A through Oak Creek Canyon (if it's open---it's been closed because of extreme fire danger) to Flagstaff. Flagstaff is actually a pretty nice little town and will give you a feel of a small Western town. On San Francisco Street is the Burrito Palace--a little hole in the wall but some of the best Mexican food to be found in all of Arizona. You can drive your car into the park and there is parking for rim hotel guests. The fee is $20 but it gives you a 7 day in and out pass. I also recommend the IMAX movie to get a feel for the history of the canyon and some great helicopter shots. The driving restrictions you were talking about were proposed but haven't been put into effect yet. There is a stretch of the rim that is accessible only on buses that run every 10 minutes or so. They stop at various look outs and end up at Hermit's Rest. If one of the rangers is giving a talk, do attend. Especially interesting is the one about the California Condors. If you want to eat at the El Tovar hotel, make reservations NOW ENJOY.

kam Jun 23rd, 2002 10:38 AM

P.S. Once parked, we never used our ca for two days and saw the IMAX on the way out of the canyon. It's show every hour on the half hour and takes 30 minutes--well worth it.

traveller Jun 23rd, 2002 10:45 AM

Good suggestion about sunblock. <BR><BR>I have had skin cancer (the mildest form) from many hours of exposure as a teenager.<BR><BR>My best suggestion for a good block is BioTherm 40+. I find that I can wear this BioTherm sunscreen and I never burn. And I still tan slightly.<BR><BR>Whereas, my daughter is using a 60+ prescription and she still burns. <BR><BR>Biotherm is the best, IMHO.<BR><BR><BR>But, don't go out without a good block, suncscreen. <BR>

Polly Jun 23rd, 2002 11:19 AM

My opinion (for what it's worth)...take Kam's suggestion to drive from Phoenix via Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. Then take route 89 (route #2 as suggested by Bob) and 64 to the canyon. The advantage of this route is that you will see the Painted Desert on the horizon as you approach the route 64 turn-off. You will also see "hogan's" in the meadows/pastures along the road. The overlooks from route 89 to GC Central are wonderful, Desert View particularly. I have been to GC three times; once taking the shuttle to outermost sites inaccessible to motorists, once just seeing this spectacular place from the 'exterior' vantage points and once to the North Rim. The canyon is SPECTACULAR, but I can't say that one view is much different from another. I consider the overlooks along the way to be representative of anything you will see otherwise, unless you choose to hike! Ditto to previous remarks about Cameron Trading Post and the IMAX

ss Jun 23rd, 2002 11:59 AM

In is a little too hot to be out walking and enjoying the scenery (unfortunately because it is beautiful there) but do take a drive... be sure to check out a baseball game at the ball park or have lunch at the Friday's inside the ball park. Heard museum is interesting. Scottsdale shops in old town Scottsdale are worth a look. Drive to Tempe and around ASU.

newby Jun 23rd, 2002 12:25 PM

Wow, six replies already ! Many thanks folks !.<BR><BR>Bob: I was referring to Route #1 as the "standard" route, I suppose both routes are equally popular. I will follow the advice to use Route #2 to GC, and Route # while leaving. Thanks also for your advice on the hat: though I have been "blessed" with a tan that Caucasians can only dream of, sensible precautions never hurt ...<BR><BR>Kam: the "Burrito Palace" sounds inviting - I love Mexican food.<BR><BR>Thanks again ..

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