Sedona to Grand Canyon

Old Oct 15th, 2020, 12:25 PM
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Sedona to Grand Canyon

I need a bit of help with my trip, this December my family and I are going to fly into Arizona from Austin, Texas. We want to stay in Sedona for 4 nights then fly home to SF.

One of the days we would like to visit the Grand Canyon via the Train. Here are my questions.
  1. When I search which airport to fly into, Flagstaff is closest but not recommended, why?
  2. The drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon Railway looks like its 2 hours away, so we could potentially stay our first night in Williams, has anyone done this?
  3. After reading the reviews about this Railway someone wrote they were on a bus for 9 hours? the ride looks to be only 2hours?
  • Day 1 - Fly into Flagstaff, Drive to Williams, stay one night.
  • Day 2 - Take the train to Grand Canyon for the day, take the train back, drive to Sedona?

This seems like a lot of driving? Any tips are appreciated
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Old Oct 15th, 2020, 12:35 PM
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IMO the GCRR is the 2nd biggest tourist trap in AZ. You will be far better off, especially with the short days in Dec, to simply drive to GC village and stay there. Door to door it's ~2hrs Sedona to the GC, which is where you want to be, not in Flagstaff. You'll have the benefit of being able to see both sunset and sunrise and you'll be staying right at the Canyon rim. The route the RR takes is across the flat terrain of northern AZ, through some open land and some ponderosa forest. No views of the GC, period. You will see the same views in your car, but for far less time.

Flagstaff airport is not recommended simply because of he paucity of flights. Sevaral flights a day on a puddle jumper to Phoenix, and 1 maybe 2 a day to Denver & DFW

Last edited by J62; Oct 15th, 2020 at 12:41 PM.
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Old Oct 15th, 2020, 12:40 PM
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Thank you for the tip. Do you have a hotel you like at GC Village?
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Old Oct 15th, 2020, 12:51 PM
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there are only 6 choices of hotel.

The 1st 5 are run by one concessionaire, and the 6th by another.

In order of general ratings; high to low
El Tovar - historic lodge
Bright Angel - mostly small cabin rooms, and not considered great for a family group due to small rooms/1 bed...
Thunderbird / Kachina - ugly 50's or 60;s ish basic hotel rooms.
Maswick. - also basic hotel rooms

And the 2nd concessionaire
Yavapai. - also basic hotel rooms.

Personally, I like Yavapai. It has larger rooms, good for family. Cafeteria / food court / grocery store right there. It's the best value for the money for a larger group...
It is set back ~1/2 mi from the rim, apart from the others.

The 1st 4 above are directly on the rim, with Maswick ~1/4mi back - no more than a 5min walk. All are close enough to walk to the rim.
You are paying for the location, and it is well worth it to be able to sit on a bench at dusk, watch the condors circling in the updrafts, peaceful with all the day tourists gone (incl those who took the train, or did a day trip by bus from Vegas)., or at dawn, as the sun tries to warm the dew (or in december, the ice or snow). or even mid day, to drive to one of the many lookouts and have a picnic away from the crowds...

Yeah - be perpared for winter weather - the S. Rim of the GC is at something like 7000' above sea level. - think of the peaks in the Sierras at that elevation in Dec - all whitecapped....

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Old Oct 15th, 2020, 02:58 PM
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Fly in/out of Phoenix. Drive straight to GC, stay 1 or 2 nights at the in park lodging above or right outside the park at Tusayan. Finish up in Sedona. Time your outgoing flight noonish or early afternoon to avoid commuter traffic.
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Old Oct 15th, 2020, 03:20 PM
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For a family I'd look at Yavapai (West), single-story motel rooms with individual entrances. Not sure if they can accomodate a rollaway, so max capacity 4 people.

Maswick North (two story, no elevator).Two queen beds and possibly a rollaway.

I'm not sure what the status is of the reconstruction of Maswick South, but if you are considering Maswick I would want to ask.

Note that checkin is not until 3pm.

I don't have a recommendation for Tusuyan since I prefer to stay in the park. I've also stayed in Wiliams where there is range of price points. Not sure if everything will be open though.
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Old Oct 16th, 2020, 07:02 AM
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You can check my trip report for the trip my DW and I took to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Winslow and several other places in Arizona last November. I saw all that I wanted to see of Sedona in about 6 daylight hours.
We used a motel in Flagstaff as a base for a week. I agree that the Grand Canyon RR is a big tourist trap.
When we went from Oregon, we flew on Allegiant to the Phoenix/Mesa airport. From Austin Allegiant does fly to Las Vegas but not Phoenix/Mesa. Flying to Las Vegas might work out better and you get to see Hoover Dam on the way to the Grand Canyon as well. For the return to San Francisco, Allegiant flies from Las Vegas to Oakland.
On the morning of the day we drove from Flagstaff to the south rim, it rained for about an hour in Flagstaff. On the way back to Flagstaff we took a different higher route late in the afternoon. I drove through several miles of slushy snow near the Arizona Snowbowl.
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Old Oct 17th, 2020, 12:25 PM
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When I drive to the GC, I like to go north on US 89, giving you the option of stopping/driving through the Sunset Crater National Monument and the Wupatki National Monument in the way to Cameron where you turn left to go to the GC. I return the other way, south on the 64, taking the 180 into Flagstaff, through the forest past the Arizona Snowbowl, instead of going all the way to Interstate 40 on the 64. If there is snow however, stay on the 64. We got stuck with a bunch of other cars last January after a light 4" snowfall two days earlier when snow blew across the road, 12"-15" deep, and blocked it.

There will be fewer people in the winter, which is nice. If you are very lucky, there will have been some snow which makes the forest and the Canyon just stunning. It can be very cold (freezing!) and windy at the Canyon, so have warm coats. One forgets how high the elevation is.

If you get peckish on the drive from Phoenix to Sedona, look for the Rock Springs Cafe. Good food and great pies!
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