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HELP! Tucson to Grand Canyon? Ranches in Tucson?

HELP! Tucson to Grand Canyon? Ranches in Tucson?

Old Apr 27th, 2008, 05:47 PM
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HELP! Tucson to Grand Canyon? Ranches in Tucson?

HELP! I have just booked an impromptu trip with my 6 year old son and active 72 year old mother for THIS WEEK, flying into Tucson on Thursday and out on Tuesday. That gives us 4 solid days in Arizona.

(1) Is that too short a time to jump in a bus and head to the Grand Canyon? Or rent a car? I understand it would be a 5.5 hour trip, and I just can't decide if the driving time would be worth it - but we have never seen the Grand Canyon and everyone should see the Grand Canyon sometime in their lives --- right? If this makes sense, which bus/tour lines offer 1-3 day trips from Tucson to the Grand Canyon? I can't find any online and would rather ride than drive.

(2) we arrive Thursday evening and need to grab a cheap hotel near the airport or in the city, just a place to sleep the first night. Any suggestions?

(3) another option would be to book a few days at a ranch outside Tucson. I am a horse person, and my son and mom would happily go along and enjoy a ranch setting. Any experience with Tanque Verde Ranch or White Stallion Ranch?

(4) where can I see donkeys or ride donkeys or mules near Tucson?

I have never been to the Southwest, and this trip is looking awesome already! I love the desert and the whole cowboy thing.
Sandy
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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 06:13 PM
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I don't know of any bus tours from Tucson. If you can get up to Phoenix you'll find some. Open Road Tours has bus tours and shuttle service to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix. The tours are pretty pricey. The shuttle drops you off in Flagstaff, where you have to catch another shuttle to get to the Grand Canyon.

http://openroadtours.com/

Problem with the shuttle is that you should stay overnight at GC, but that is not included with the shuttle service and it might be hard to get reservations at this late of a date. I just looked at the website for lodging inside the park and there is nothing open right now, although there can always be last minute cancellations.

https://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/

If you could rent a car and make the drive, you'd have the flexibility to stay outside the park at Tusayan if need be. You also wouldn't have to adhere to a shuttle or bus schedule, and the car rental will certainly be the cheapest option.
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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 07:22 PM
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With only three full days on the ground, I think you need to decide if you must see the GC. If the answer is yes, start looking for accommodation NOW, and I would suggest renting a car rather than taking a bus. It will be much easier to pace yourselves that way, make stops at scenic overlooks, etc.

That said, since you're flying into Tucson and not Phoenix, you can have a great SW vacation in and around Tucson and save the GC for another trip. I would not stay a night near the airport the first night--waste of time and money. Stay in a B&B (there have been several recommended on this board, do a search), spend a day at Saguaro Nat'l Monument, see the Desert Museum, go up the mountain, drive out to San Xavier del Bac--explore and enjoy the area.

I am not a horse person so can't help you there.
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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 07:23 PM
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You may never want to leave Tucson. It is very spread out and there is so much for your son and mother. Friends and their sons loved their Tanque Verde ranch experiences. Returned twice.

Meanwhile we enjoyed the Desert Museum, Colossal Caves, Old Tucson Film Studios, Pima Air Museum, tour of old Missile Silo, horseback riding, southwest art and artists, road trips to nearby Observatory, Tombstone, Bisbee, Tubac, Nogales Mexico and more.
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 12:28 AM
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White stallion is a must...
The riding schedule is perfect :
you can ride 4 times a day(5 if you take a lesson).
There are slow and fast rides, mountain and flat, some breakfast and allday.
There is a swimming pool,a tennis court some hiking activities for the non riders.
The True family and staff make everybody comfortable.
we go tehre evry fevruray since 8 yeras.
Erik.
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 06:17 AM
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too little time to go to the grand canyon. Stay in Tucson with a day trip to Bisbee and Tombstone. Lots of ok motels around the freeway for your first night
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 08:23 PM
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I agree that's too short a time to get to the Grand Canyon - you can do it but you will have little time for anything else and you'll spend a lot of time driving. Next time fly in to Phoenix and get to the GC from there. Plenty to do in and around Tucson.
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Old Apr 29th, 2008, 02:14 PM
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Thanks for your advice! We ditched the Grand Canyon idea and booked 2 days at a dude ranch instead.

Now I have more questions!

(1) can we do Tombstone and Bisbee in the same day? Where is a good place to stay in Bisbee? a search of this forum came up dry.

(2) how long should I allocate for the Sonora Desert Museum? half a day?
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Old Apr 29th, 2008, 03:36 PM
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all day for the desert musuem. try to get to the free flight show out on the desert loop. it's really great, your 6 year old should enjoy that.
we were just in tucson over the weekend and it's already warming up.
much preferred Bisbee over Tombstone, but that was are personal peference. are you trying to do them in one day from tucson? i think it might be a lot for one day.
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Old Apr 29th, 2008, 04:42 PM
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It's been a few years but I think it took us one and a half hours to drive from North Tucson to Tombstone, where we explored leisurely and had lunch, then another 20-30 min to Bisbee. Didn't stay overnight in Bisbee so sorry, don't have any suggestions. They have a ghost tour there which would be fun if staying over.

With young nieces and nephews in tow, we only spent 1/2 day at Desert Museum which worked out well for everyone.

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Old Apr 29th, 2008, 07:37 PM
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Try to stay at the Copper Queen in Bisbee, it's the grand old historic hotel in town that used to serve rich investors and the like coming to check out the mine. (It's a bit shabby around the edges now, but still cool, and in the middle of town.) Take the tour of the copper mine--don't miss it! It's done by retired miners, and is really cool. They take you way down on the old carts, and you get to wear oilcloth coats and miner's helmets with lights on them.

Allocate about 2/3 of a day for the Desert Museum. Then go to Saguaro National Monument, "next door", and take a short hike to the petroglyphs. They have a cool free film in the visitor's center, too.
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Old Apr 30th, 2008, 06:06 AM
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Get to the Az Sonoran Desert Museum as soon as they open or you will miss the animals' activity. It is definitely worth it. Getting there early can leave you with a good portion of your day left to do other things. I agree w/ the Copper Queen in Bisbee, that's got to be where you stay for an authentic 'old west' visit. Tombstone and Bisbee can be done in one day. Tombstone is very touristy; Bisbee has a lot of shops, artists, antiques, etc.
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Old Apr 30th, 2008, 06:31 AM
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There is also a place in Bisbee that gets a lot of press - the Shady Dell where the 'rooms' are very old travel trailers.

Call ahead to reserve a place on the copper mine tour in Bisbee.

Tombstone is on the way from Tucson to Bisbee. Allow about an hour.
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Old May 1st, 2008, 07:14 AM
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This may be too late, but would agree to see the Desert Museum in the morning, and their recommended time is a minimum of two or three hours. I would suggest a half day in the morning. With an early start, you can easily do Bisbee and Tombstone in one full day and not need to stay overnight in Bisbee. The copper mine tour is great and Tombstone will be great for the 6 year old. Tombstone can be quite an experience if all the touristy activities are going on---stage coach,ladies in period costumes, cowboys,gun fights, horses, etc. on the main dirt streets. Since this is getting to be "low season" you might want to be there on Sat. or Sun. to see it "in action." Many of my visitors really enjoyed the Titan Missle Museum in Green Valley which is only 25 minutes south of the Tucson airport on highway 19. It is a hour tour, with some outside and most underground. It is a good tour for a hot afternoon. San Xavier Mission is on the way to GV and a worthwhile stop(free)for beauty, history, and the church building itself. Tucson and area will keep you more than busy for the week, and waiting to visit GC and northern area will be a good excuse to return to AZ! Enjoy!
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