Get Your Guide Now

Grand Canyon Vacation Planning: Your Biggest Challenge

Good morning travelers. Today's TripAdvisor forum thread has to do with what is probably the biggest challenge for people planning a Grand Canyon vacation.   To sum it up, it's "so much to see, so little time!"

OP 'Alex D' writes:

I'm starting to plan a trip for my family to the Grand Canyon area and am finding that its a little bit overwhelming with pretty much no knowledge of the area (we're from the east coast). We're family of 4, 2 fairly active mid 50's adults and 2 20 something boys and are looking at spending a week in the area. I as wondering if anyone has advice regarding an itinerary for a road trip starting from Sedona, with possible stops including Bryce canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion, Lake Powell, etc. I'm not sure if you can do all of those in just one week, and would appreciate any insight into whats best to see or leave out.

Sedona resident and Arizona Destination Expert RedRox responds:

All of the destinations are desirable, but none wil be meaningful if you include them all and just rush through. Less is more. Quality time is more important on your Grand Canyon vacation than numbers of places. ... Skip Zion and Bryce. Give Sedona 3-4 nights, Grand Canyon National Park 1-2 nights and Page 2-3 nights, OR do Zion 2 nights, Bryce 1 night, Page 2-3 nights and Grand Canyon National Park 1-2 nights.

Indeed, trying to squeeze too many destinations into the typical week-long vacation is something many Grand Canyon vacation planners attempt to do. In a separate thread, 'vivian y' is finding out that Utah's Arches National Park looks to be close enough to include in one's Grand Canyon vacation, but in reality, she'd be better off saving it for another visit. Hey it's perfectly understandable, especially if you're coming from overseas or the USA, or if you know that your Grand Canyon vacation is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime (or at least a blue moon) event. You can consider flying into these Airports in Vegas, Phoenix or Flagstaff.

What's more, there are so many attractions in addition to the Grand Canyon out here that it's a shame not to try and see them all.

As for 'Alex D,' another bit of knowledge that would help us advise him better is knowing where he's starting his trip from:

If Sedona is on your "wish list" (as it deserves to be), then I'd suggest flying into Phoenix (PHX). As RedRox says, if you do that, you might indeed want to take Zion and Bryce off the agenda since Sedona deserves some real quality time, 3 days at least. Page/Lake Powell also deserves a couple of nights as there is a lot to see and do there. 2 nights would also be ideal for Grand Canyon South Rim, but if you find yourself having to shave off any time, you can scoot by with just 1 night there because a good portion of your Grand Canyon sightseeing would actually occur on the drive to Page.

If Bryce and Zion are "must do's," then you might want to fly into Las Vegas instead of Phoenix. Very easy to do a 1-week Grand Canyon-Page-Bryce-Zion park loop using Las Vegas as your start/end point. But, you'd probably have to take Sedona out of that loop.

Or - and here's where rental car dropoff fees may prove cost-prohibitive, but some people do this - you might start in Phoenix and end in Las Vegas. That way you can kind of have the best of all worlds, but then again, I'd recommend trying to find some extra time to make your "dream" Grand Canyon vacation a reality.

The American Southwest is anything but typical, especially when it comes to a Grand Canyon vacation. The "typical" week's vacation that most of us take usually turns out to be insufficient time to see and experience all that's out here. A better timeframe guideline for this part of the country: 10 days. Enough to enjoy some quality time at the destinations that warrant it, such as Sedona and Lake Powell, and enough to see everything on your "bucket list."

Let Mitchell Tenpenny's "Bucket List" inspire you too. He went from Phoenix to Sedona, from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim, from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley, from Monument Valley to Page/Lake Powell/Horseshoe Bend, from Page/Horseshoe Bend/Lake Powell to Las Vegas:

Here's a video with some excellent ideas for Grand Canyon vacation itineraries using Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) and Las Vegas McCarran (LAS) airports as your - pardon the pun - "jumping off places:"

Till next time - make this day a "grand" one!