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jlsct Jul 21st, 2006 10:21 AM

GRAND CAYON
 
We are considering a first-time trip to the Grand Canyon at the beginning of October. We will plan about 5 or possibly 6 days from the time we leave the East Coast until our return.

We may actually get married while we are there. I am hoping someone with experience can share information with us.

Is it best to fly into Phoenix or Las Vegas?

How far is the approximate driving distance / driving time from Phoenix?

How far is the approximate driving distance / driving time from Las Vegas?

Do you have any particular hotel recommendations for either city?
Any bargains we should know about?

Is this a good time of the year to experience the Grand Canyon? What will the weather generally be like then?

How long should we plan to stay at the Canyon? We are thinking two or two and a half days will be enough time to look at the views and perhaps take one or two of the side tours that are offered.

We will definitely take one of the helicopter rides if we go. Any preferences regarding companies? What is the best time of day to take the flight? Daytime? Sunset?

Is it worth staying at the Hotel El Tovar? We are willing to pay up to $200 a night at the Grand Canyon. Any special tips we should know about to get a room with a memorable view?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks JLSCT

MFNYC Jul 21st, 2006 10:35 AM

The drive from Pheonix is close to 4, and from LV is closer to 5.

We stayed at the Kachina Lodge with a canyon view, because it was all that was available at the time. It's just footsteps away from El Tovar and also Bright Angel. Did yo ucheck avaibility for your dates?

The Pheonix/Scottsdale area has some lovely resorts. LV is mostly mega-hotels. TOtally different atmospheres. You probably can get some good deals on Priceline for either of those cities (check biddingfortravel.com).

Photodog Jul 21st, 2006 10:38 AM

This late in season would suggest you check the hotel website www.grandcanyonlodges.com/El-Tovar-409.html before you make any other plans. Did a quick check and could not find availablity at any hotel through mid-Aug. El Tovar is booked through end of Sept.

scouring Jul 21st, 2006 10:42 AM

Here's another option:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa..._name=scouring

enzian Jul 21st, 2006 10:47 AM

First of all, have you checked for availability of rooms? www.xanterra.com, the website for booking within the park, shows no rooms whatsoever at El Tovar for the whole month of October. Thunderbird Lodge, a more modern motel style building between El Tovar and Bright Angel Lodge, has scattered availablity, but the only consecutive nights are October 12 & 12. Bright Angel Lodge, same thing---only scattered availability. The lodges back from the rims might have something; I didn't check. The point is simply that lodging books up well in advance. You might want to see what is available before you pick your actual dates. You might want to also check the outside-the-park motels in the town of Tusayan.

As for which to fly into, we flew into Las Vegas last time, but next time will fly into Phoenix. The drive from Las Vegas was 4 to 4.5 hours, depending on how the traffic is over Hoover Dam (you can avoid that but the route is longer). Phoenix should be a little less, but the main reason we would fly there is that we found the Las Vegas airport congested and difficult.

zootsi Jul 21st, 2006 11:13 AM

The best idea might be to do an open jaw - fly into Phoenix, fly out of Vegas. The airfare will be about the same. That way you can do a night in Sedona, 2 nights at the Canyon, then a night or 2 in Bryce and or Zion, then a night in Vegas.
Unless you are serious hikers, 2 nights at the Canyon should be plenty. On the other hand, Zion is beautiful, Bryce is unique, and Sedona is lots of fun.

enzian Jul 21st, 2006 11:18 AM

Zootsi----others have remarked that the drop fee is horrendous if you rent one place and drop at the other. So that might not be a good option, even tho' your suggested itinerary looks great.

zootsi Jul 21st, 2006 12:33 PM

Yeah, we did have a drop fee on the car we rented from Dollar, but it wasn't that bad - well worth it in my opinion.

TheWeasel Jul 21st, 2006 01:42 PM

Since you "may actually get married" while there, I'd say it makes the most sense to fly into Las Vegas where you'll have many options for a quick, spontaneous wedding.

LindainOhio Jul 21st, 2006 05:12 PM

We flew into Phoenix and out of Las Vegas. We rented our car off-site in Phoenix--really high airport taxes there. Budget was the only car rental agency that did not have a one way drop off charge.


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