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My December Arizona initial Itinerary, --Now open for input

My December Arizona initial Itinerary, --Now open for input

Old Aug 16th, 2009, 08:37 AM
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My December Arizona initial Itinerary, --Now open for input

I've taken the plunge based on feedback here about visiting the Grand Canyon in December, and am now making plans. I've bought the airline tickets and have a good part of the lodging set. I'm a little anxious about a road trip in winter, but hopefully have built in enough time to on the driving days to allow for delays. One always has to make choices, and I have made those regarding the places we want to visit. I'm open to suggestions on the driving routes, places to stop en route, guides to use in Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly, etc. So, here is what I have so far.

Tuesday 12/22 - travel to Phoenix, spend night at Residence Inn at airport (points)

Wednesday 12/23 - drive to Sedona, stopping at Montezuma's Castle and Montezuma's Well on the way, see whatever else we can see, view sunset, stay at Best Western Inn of Sedona

Thursday 12/24 - sunrise at Sedona, visit a few other sites, drive to Grand Canyon, stay at Bright Angel Lodge, sunset at Grand Canyon

Friday 12/25 (Christmas!) - Sunrise at Grand Canyon, all day at Grand Canyon visiting the different lookouts, taking walks etc, Sunset at Grand Canyon, stay at Bright Angel Lodge
Saturday, 12/26 - Sunrise at Grand Canyon, work our way east for more lookouts and exit the park to head to Monument Valley, stay at The View, Monument Valley, sunset MV.

Sunday, 12/27 - Monument Valley, sunrise and sunset, tour?, stay at The View, sunrise, sunset.

Monday, 12/28 - Sunrise MV, drive to Canyon de Chelly, overnight Holiday Inn

Tuesday 12/29 - Canyon de Chelly, South Rim drive? Tour? overnight Holiday Inn.

Wednesday 12/30 - This is a long haul day, drive all the way to Tucson, thought about driving through Petrified Forest, but a lot will depend on the weather and hours of daylight, need to check the daylight thing.

Thursday 12/31-January 2 - Tucson area--this is really my husband's time, he has to do his research. He is a birder, so that will dictate where we stay. Maybe Madera Canyon, I don't know. Would like to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park (East and/or West) I know.

Saturday January 2 - drive up to Phoenix and overnight at same Residence Inn for fligyt out morning of the 3rd.

I have all the lodging reservations made except down in Tucson, and was able to use some Marriott and Priority Club points for four of the nights. I do have to arrange the car rental. I think some people have mentioned Fox before? Also, since we are road-tripping in winter, want to have down phone numbers for travel advisories. So, do rental cars have things like chains in the trunk? Any advice on size of car? I wouldn't normally worry about this, but do know that snow is possible in the areas we are visiting.

Thanks in advance for your input.
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Old Aug 16th, 2009, 10:39 AM
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Toucan2,
I live in Northern AZ and wish to add a few observations on the GC in Dec. We took our adult kids there last Christmas week for a day trip from our house. Yes, you should expect snow especially at that elevation and will most likely experience it on your drive up. Chains are frequently required in the high country around Flagstaff. We have a CRV and it came in handy during our day trip which was sunny at our house by snowing at the rim. If there is snow at the GC- we have noticed that the NPS does not do a great job of shoveling the pathways around the lodges so be very careful and bring appropriate footwear. Having said that - you will be in for a magical experience, very few visitors and a chance to see plenty of wildife. Just remember that at 7,000 feet elevation you will have snow and slippery conditions.

All the best!
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Old Aug 16th, 2009, 01:28 PM
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Captb93, thank you. I wonder if rental cars have chains in the trunk. Something I have never had to think about. I'll check, and if not then buy a set on the way out of Phoenix? I would imagine most autosupply shops would care them, right?

I know this is an unusual time to visit, but it is the time we have available and from what you and others have said it will be pretty, we just need to be prepared.
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Old Aug 16th, 2009, 02:58 PM
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Toucan, I have never seen chains in the trunk of a rental car. Christmas at the Canyon sounds lovely. We were there last year in November and it was definitely chilly.

I live in Tucson, so if you come up with any questions for this area I'd be happy to help. If you want to stay in Madera Canyon itself, there are a couple of B&B's and a small inn that look charming - we hike down there frequently but haven't stayed overnight.
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Old Aug 16th, 2009, 03:49 PM
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Thank you Lennyba. The Tucson part is more my husband's responsibility, and he doesn't plan nearly far enough in advance for me So, I'll probably be back with questions on that closer to the trip. I did visit the GC (a short one) once in February and it was cold, but still so beautiful. Secretly I would like to see some snow on the canyon.

I just found that on the South Rim drive there are cell phone tour signs. If you see one you can dial 928-225-2907 and enter the number on the sign to hear a 2 minute interpretative talk by a ranger. so cool! If one gets signals of course.
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 05:41 AM
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3 years ago we did arizona in the summer. At Canyon de Chelly horseback rode GREAT. Take a pick jeep tour in Sedona. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (GREAT)a(like NO other)and Saguaro National Park (East and/or West) I know. Burger King near Mounument Valley has a museum about Code Talker(inside) GREAT ENJOY
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 05:56 PM
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Thanks Srosenb. I read about that Burger King museum somewhere, I'm glad to hear it is good. We'll have to be sure to make a stop there. What a funny place to have a museum! I'm trying to remember that movie about the code talkers, I should watch it before we go.
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Old Oct 16th, 2009, 05:18 PM
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I've just scheduled and put a deposit on an all day tour with Adam Teller at Canyon de Chelly for Tuesday December 29. I gulped a little at the all day cost, but figured what else am I going to do all day, right Plus, one never knows when one will get to return to such remote places.

I am thinking of holding off on arranging the tour at Monument Valley until we get there. I heard from Trailhandler Tours and they wouldn't guarantee Richard, and I keep reading that he is the best guide. So I wonder if I should just wait till we get there.

I'm also looking at maps and trying to figure the best route between Monument Valley and Chinle. It looks like more main roads if you go 163 south to 160, take 160 NE to hit 191, then take 191 south all the way to Chinle. But it also looks like there is a paved road, 591, that you could take south of 160 and connect with 191. However, although the legend says it is a paved road, it looks like a lot thinner line. Is anyone familiar with those highways and can give advice?

I have now also booked Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon for our last three days in AZ. We will do a long haul drive from Chinle to there on December 30. I'll also be trying to figure the best route there. It looks like a lot out of the way to take 40 back west to 17 and drop down to 10 for Tucson, but, it is also all major highway if we do that and I wonder if that would end up being faster. Any advice?
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Old Oct 16th, 2009, 05:46 PM
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I'm also looking at maps and trying to figure the best route between Monument Valley and Chinle.

We've driven this several times and the fastest route is to Kayenta, then about 8 miles to the east on 191 take the turn-off (I *think* this is 59 instead of 591, can't tell for sure on my map). This goes past Chilchinbito and Rough Rock, intersecting with 191 at Many Farms. Chinle is a short drive south from Many Farms. If memory serves this save about 40 miles of driving.

This road is more narrow than 160 and 191, more like a farm-to-market road than a highway, but it's paved and there is very little traffic, typically just a couple of vehicles.

If it's snowing hard (unlikely but possible) I'd probably stick to 160 and 191 since if you skid into a ditch it could be a while before someone comes along to help. Though probably the 'someone' will be a Navajo in a pickup with a tow rope who will pull you from the ditch.
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Old Oct 16th, 2009, 06:28 PM
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Thanks Bill, just the info I needed! It looks like on the regular AAA map 591 and 59 are on and the same, or at least one becomes the other. So I dug out the AAA Indian Country map, which is a bit more detailed, and I can see what you are talking about, that I should go over to 59. On this map 591 doesn't look paved although it does hook up with 59, so I will definitely avoid that. The weather, then, will dictate the route as to 59 vs 160 and 191. Thanks so much.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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I checked a more detailed map and the road I mentioned is called "Indian Route 59" on that one, so you're good to go.

Make sure you have gasoline before leaving Kayenta. Both Chilchinbito and Rough Rock are actually well off of 59 on spur roads, both are very small rural communities and neither seemed to have a gas station.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 08:24 AM
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Okay, thanks again Bill. I'll be sure to gas up in Kayenta as well.

do you have any thoughts on the route down to Madera Canyon? It is south of Tucson, near Green Valley. Should I try to stay on the interstates even though it looks longer milage wise?
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 10:05 AM
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Tucson to Madera Canyon on the interstate is a pretty quick trip. I'm not familiar with where you're coming from, so not sure how far out of the way it really is.

This is a completely unhelpful post, LOL. Have fun!
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 10:19 AM
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do you have any thoughts on the route down to Madera Canyon?

From Chinle taking the freeways (I-40 to I-17 to I-10 to I-19) would be the simplest.

But it is about 100 miles shorter if you stay to the east, something like 191 from Chinle to I-40 to Holbrook, then 77 to Show Low and 77/60 to Globe, then 77 south to Tucson and the freeway. This would surely be a more varied, interesting route than the freeways, but again if there is any snow or ice it's going to be more difficult.

Maybe someone from Tucson could comment on which route is preferrable (I've driven it from Globe north but haven't taken this south of Globe).

Mapquest seems to think the route thru Globe is better. They spec that route (Chinle to Green Valley via Globe) at 6 hrs 55 minutes, 390 miles. Mapquest specs the interstate route at 7:40 and 496 miles.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 01:43 PM
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http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/312304.php

Thought you'd like this article and photo from the local rag, Toucan. Last time we went past Santa Rita lodge there was a herd of wild turkeys lounging in the parking lot.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 04:24 PM
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That was an enterprising deer Lennyba! Thanks for the link.

I tracked that route through AAA too, Bill. I guess it is kind of like the MV to Chinle route, dependent on the weather. It seems like I read somewhere that at least one part of that route is pretty winding, and if it were snowy/icy, I'm not sure I'd want to be on it. Unless someone comments, I'll probably play it by ear until the time for th drive.
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Old Dec 21st, 2009, 05:42 PM
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We leave for our trip tomorrow. Thanks again to all of you for your valuable input. I am so looking forward to this! For the next several days, anyway, it doesn't look like snow, albeit a bit chilly. But we have long underwear, coats, hats and scarves, so we should be okay
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Old Dec 22nd, 2009, 04:52 AM
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Have fun! We've got a storm heading our way, fyi. "Storm" here equalling "mildly unpleasant". Have a great time!
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Old Dec 23rd, 2009, 05:59 PM
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Lennyba, that sudden dust storm (near Casa Grande I think) certainly sounded scary! And I am glad I wasn't on my way up to GC yesterday with that big accident by Williams. Instead, I am indeed some of the lovely red rocks of Sedona with skiffs of snow on them
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Old Dec 23rd, 2009, 06:16 PM
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Make sure you have dinner at Cafe Elote at the Kings Ransoms hotel and also Enchantment Resort for a great lunch/dinner at Yavapai.
Sedona is goregeous with a little dusting..
Glad you are having a great time!
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