I was presented with this particular challenge by a caller the other day. She was staying in Tucson, had one free day and wanted to tour Grand Canyon. But here was the problem: she wouldn’t have access to the family car. If memory serves, her hubby needed it so he could go check out University of Arizona with one of the kids. So the question was, could she still accomplish her goal of touring the Grand Canyon even though she was staying in Tucson?
Turns out that very question was making the rounds on TripAdvisor a couple of weeks back. A young lady who had come all the way from Bangladesh to check out U of A was in a similar situation. She posed the question to the TripAdvisor panel, and we basically all told her she couldn’t, or more appropriately, shouldn’t attempt it, the main reason being that the driving distance from Tucson Arizona to Grand Canyon National Park is about 6 hours, one way. So if a day is all you have to work with, that’s going to mean a LONG day behind the wheel. That’s why there are virtually no Grand Canyon tours whatsoever that depart out of Tucson Arizona. Tours from Phoenix or Scottsdale to the Grand Canyon are readily available, but that still leaves the question of how do you get there from Tucson if you don’t have a car? Which leads to yet another problem (a constant challenge for first-time visitors to the Southwest US): mass transit, or lack thereof. Busses, trains, etc. are almost non-existent out here. What is available can be hard to use due to awkward arrival/departures times, layovers that are too short or too long, etc.
After a whole lot of nay-saying, prodding and cajoling, this very determined young lady found a way to make her goal of a Grand Canyon tour from Tucson happen! Here’s how she did it:
The plan I did was really a hectic one. But due to time constraint we had no other choice. The plan was as follows:
1. To take Arizona Shuttle Service up to Phoenix (www.arizonashuttle.com) early in the morning 1:30 am or 2:30am which arrives at phoenix airport at around 4:45 or 6:15am respectively.
2.Took public bus to drop off at any of the hotel where you will be picked for the Grand Canyon tour.
3. Then to take the tour bus that departs 7:00 am using Platinum Grand Canyon & Sedona Tour from Phoenix which takes 13 hrs. So it arrives at around 9 pm to Phoenix.
4. Using the same Arizona Shuttle Service back to University of Arizona at around 1:30 am.
The things to remember are: you need to book everything in advance. The last and first service that departs Tucson Arizona for Phoenix are 8 pm and 1:30 am respectively, and the last service that leaves Phoenix for Tuscon is 11 pm.
You need to have a credit card to book Grand Canyon Tours which requires a print out in paper format what we found was the most difficult for a conference visitor like myself. I hope this whole plan might help if any young fit student visitor do have a dream of visiting Grand Canyon from Tucson Arizona in a day.
So with a little determination – and probably a lot of coffee – touring Grand Canyon from Tucson can be done. Those with a little – OK a lot – more money to spend might consider an air charter. Tucson Aeroservice Center, based at the Marana Airport just on the outskirts of town, can fly you up to Grand Canyon, let you hang out for the day, then fly you back in an 8-seater turbo-prop aircraft.
For those who wish to stay on solid ground, here is the 411 on the services used by our very determined and energetic friend from Bangladesh to make her Grand Canyon tour happen:
- From Tucson AZ to Phoenix AZ: Arizona Shuttle Service www.arizonashuttle.com or call 800-888-2749 Phoenix drop off at Sky Harbor Airport
- From Phoenix Sky Harbor to pickup location for Phoenix Grand Canyon Tour: public transit such as Valley Metro, taxi or Super Shuttle.
- Phoenix Grand Canyon Tour: GrandCanyon.com recommends Detours’ Platinum Sedona Grand Canyon Tour, which can also be upgraded with a 30-minute helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon! Duration: about 13 hours. Cost for advance booking (basic package) $155 person, includes lunch.
- From Phoenix AZ back to Tucson: Arizona Shuttle Service
So there you have it! Tiring? Yes? Expensive? Slightly. Unforgettable? You bet! But that’s the Grand Canyon for ya