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Grand Canyon Tours from Tucson AZ

Frankie Valli described it best: "so close and yet so far!"

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?

Grand Canyon Tours from Tucson AZ

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 Groome Transportation Shuttle Service from Tucson up to Phoenix by calling 928-350-8466.

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 using Detours American West's Grand Canyon South Rim Tour from Phoenix & Scottsdale with Sedona. Call Detours at 480-633-9013.  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.

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: Groome Transportation Shuttle Service or call 928-350-8466  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 American West at 480-633-9013. You can Upgrade to a 30-minute helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon! Duration: about 13 hours. Starting at $235 person, includes lunch.
  • From Phoenix AZ back to Tucson: Groome Transportation Shuttle Service

So there you have it! Tiring? Yes? Expensive? Slightly. Unforgettable? You bet! But that's the Grand Canyon for ya 🙂

7 Responses

  1. Hello, this is my first time going to the grand canyon and im 18 years old. What do I need to reserve this trip?

    1. Marco,

      You will need a place to stay unless you are just doing a day trip. You will need to pay the entrance fee of $30 per vehicle to enter the National Park. We recommend the South Rim for a first-time visit.

  2. Hi,

    I actually wanted to take a car or private shuttle from Tucson/Phoenix to the Grand Canyon. If anyone could help me find a tour/travel company. I would be indebted.

  3. I recently visited Grand Canyon west, the skywalk. We will be going to another entrance to the Grand Canyon early next spring. Always a great time in Arizona.

  4. Hello, I am Amanda, coming to Tucson next Saturday, one free day before my classes begin - Sunday, would love to see the Grand Canyon, is it possible to go and come from Tucson on a one-day trip?

    1. Amanda,

      The unfortunate truth is that Tucson is so far from the Grand Canyon that a one-day trip without renting a car is very difficult. You would need to rent a car to get up to Phoenix in time to take a Tour from there. And, in that case, you might as well rent the car and go all the way to the Grand Canyon. It will be a very long day due to hitting traffic both going through and returning back through Phoenix. Drive time would be approximately 6 1/2 Hours each way...leaving you very little time to enjoy the Grand Canyon.

      I would save a visit to the Grand Canyon for the next time you come to Arizona. I'd probably take a look at visiting Sabino Canyon or Saquaro National Park for that open day you have in Tucson.

      Sorry, but enjoy Tucson,


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