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 if you know that your Grand Canyon vacation is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime (or at least a blue moon) event. 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!

55 thoughts on “Grand Canyon Vacation Planning: Your Biggest Challenge”

  1. I like your advice to not squeeze in too many destinations in your trip. You want to enjoy your trip, after all. I want to book a tour so I can see a lot of the canyon without having to stress about travelling.

  2. My husband and I have booked a flight to Phoenix from Belgium in November. We will have 12 days: The plan for now is to drive to Sedona for 2 nights. Then Grand Canyon for 2-3 nights (inside the park). Then Bryce and Zion (is it doable?). We also want to go to Los Angeles for 3 nights visiting friends. Then we will go back to Phoenix for our flight back to Belgium.

    Is it too rushed? Should we skip Bryce and Zion? What is the best route to Los Angeles?

    1. Jean,

      This is all doable, however, you will drive right past Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona on your way to Bryce and Zion…you may want to consider those stops.

      This would be a packed itinerary. 2 nights Sedona, 2 nights Grand Canyon, 1 night Page, 1 night Bryce, 1 night Zion, probably 1 night Vegas enroute to Los Angeles, 3 nights Los Angeles, then drive to Phoenix Sky Harbor to return to Belgium. Here’s the Route on Google Maps that I would recommend to you: https://goo.gl/maps/nV6RAtmY6vq



      1. Hello,

        My son and I are planning a 3 week cross country trip form Panama City. We are going to head to the Grand Canyon for a 3-5 days and then head up to Yellowstone for 3-4 days, followed by Mount Rushmore for the 4th of July. Does anyone have any suggestions for us. Would like to hit the Hoover damn and take the “damn tour” LOL

  3. Hi,

    My husband and I are planning 6 day trip to Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. We wanted to cover both south and north rim. Also, we plan to do hiking and camping. How should we plan our trip? We plan to visit in first week of September.


  4. I really liked the advice to take some time to truly make the tour of the Grand Canyon worth it. This is really helpful since if you do parts of it in a short amount of time, then you won’t see all of it. My fiance and I will keep this in mind as we look into the Grand Canyon as a vacation spot.

  5. Hi, I am planning a road trip in that area for June, and I’m trying to figure out the best itinerary. I arrive late in Las Vegas at the 6 and leave early on the 16, so would probably sleep in Vegas from 6 to 7 and from 15 to 16. For the rest, I’m thinking 2 nights in Bryce, 3 in Zion, 1 in Page and 2 in the North Rim. Does that make sense? I feel a bit sad in leaving Monument Valley and Sedona out, but haven’t found a way to squeeze them in. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks!!

    1. Julie,

      That’s a pretty In-Depth visit itinerary. I am wondering what you are going to do with 3 days in Zion unless you are a Very Avid hiker and are taking in the Narrows, Subway and Angels Landing…and more. It’s pretty warm in Zion…so 3 days will be a lot without more to do…that is where I’d squeeze a day out for Monument Valley, if you can. Yes, Sedona is probably just far enough out of the way that is would be better to combine with a Phoenix and South Rim of the Grand Canyon visit.



  6. My husband and I would like to see Glacier National Park, The Grand Tetons, Antelope Canyon, Bryce, Zion, and Monument Valley.. (maybe the Grand Canyon). Is this doable or too long of a trip? The ones we think the we would like to see the most are Glacier National Park, the Grand Tetons and Antelope Canyon.

    1. Susan,

      Glacier and Grand Tetons are closer together. Antelope Canyon will be the farthest outlier for you. However, if you are crazy like me…sounds like a great road trip. I’ve driven from Fairbanks, Alaska to Key West, Florida via San Antonio, Texas in a week. It just takes some 24 hour a day driving…relief drivers are nice…sleeping in the back seat, not so much. I’ve also driven from Seattle, Washington to Page, Arizona (Antelope Canyon) in a day twice now…so, it’s all relative to your traveling comfort factor.

      So I’ll have to leave Doable and Too Long of a trip in your judgment. Yes, it’s doable…however, you might not be up for that much travel…



  7. we would like to visit LA, Vegas and Grand Canyon, Zion National Park and Antelope Canyon by a road trip within 7 days. Is that possible?
    My parents are older and wouldnt want to walk much but be able to see the highlights
    Thank you for your input.

    1. Chicks,

      Yes, it’s possible, however, it’ll be fairly quick.

      Spend most of your time in Zion, Antelope and the South Rim…would be my recommendation.

      However, I’m biased…I lived in Las Vegas and enjoy the Outdoors much more…

      Here’s a Google Map using Los Angeles as the beginning and ending point:



  8. Hi Karlyn,
    Thanks for the time you put in to respond to these interesting itineraries. My wife and I are travelling to US in October this year from Australia and are very keen to visit Arizona and Utah. More than likely we will start driving from LA. We will have 17 days (have some flexibility around this). In no particular order, the “like to do” list includes the following: Sedona, Grand Canyon, Page, Bryce, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Zion, Monument Valley and up to Moab. Happy to be advised if I have missed anything!
    I know it sounds like a lot but need guidance on the route and potential timing. I’ve spent hours researching but have become somewhat confused as to sequence and timing. We have been to Vegas before so 1 night there is probably enough for us. Thanks again for your help!

    1. Ross,

      You are pretty much hitting all of the best highlights here in the area.

      Here’s the sequence I would recommend-
      Los Angeles – Las Vegas 1 night – Grand Canyon South Rim 2 nights – Sedona 1 or 2 nights – Monument Valley 1 night – Page/Antelope Canyon/Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell 2 or 3 nights (where I’m located) – Zion 1 or 2 nights – Bryce 1 or 2 nights – then over to Moab 2 or 3 nights via Highway 12 as I think you’ll enjoy this backcountry of Utah and you could see Capitol Reef National Park on the way if you want to. You’re closest departure point is either Salt Lake City or Denver from Moab. However, if your International flights are best priced out of Los Angeles (and I suspect they are…that’s how I visited Australia back in 2006)…you will need to hop on I-70 and head back to Los Angeles.

      Here’s a Google Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/Ts3SJMnSPJndoTVJA

      I hope this helps.



  9. Hi, i was just wondering if grand canyon, antelope and horseshoe bend tours are doable in a day or two? Were staying at flagstaff (1night) then do grand canyon and antelope and horseshoe (for the whole day) and then stay at Las Vegas. Would highly appreciate your help in this. Thank you!

    1. MM,

      They are doable in One Long Day IF you can arrange everything around your Antelope Canyon Tour Time!

      You can go in the East Entrance off of Highway 89 coming from Flagstaff to Page to see the Grand Canyon, then continue up Highway 89 to Horseshoe Bend before or after your Antelope Canyon Tour time. Then it’s 4 1/2 hours to Las Vegas from there. The critical factor that drives the day is Antelope Canyon…which is selling out more and more in peak of season.



  10. Hi Karlyn,

    I am just in the early stages of planning a trip for 2021 for my family of 4. My husband and I with our two boys who will be 16 and 14 at the time of travel. We are very active outdoors and would like hiking and maybe even rafting down the Colorado River. I am leaning more towards Sedona, Grand Canyon and my son, Bryce, doesn’t want to miss Bryce Canyon. We can probably take up to 12 days off. What would be your suggestions? I have also heard there is an amazing safari out somewhere near Sedona or Flagstaff?

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Diane,

      At the Grand Canyon, you have the Viewpoints, Hiking, Air Tours, Ground Tours and more.

      There are 1-18 day Whitewater Rafting trips in the Grand Canyon:

      Sedona has the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour that is a long term attraction. Oak Creek is beautiful to drive through, as well.

      If you are going to go to Bryce Canyon from the South Rim, you may as well include Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon in Page…and probably Zion, as well.

      Here is the link to the Out of Africa Safari park in Camp Verde, Arizona:

      I like Rafting, Air Tours and Hiking, myself…and there’s plenty of each of those to chose from here in Northern Arizona.

      I hope this helps,


  11. My husband and I want to plan a trip in mid to late May to Vegas and Grand Canyon amd are having trouble figuring out where we should flyin/out of. We would like to visit upper/lower Antelope, horseshoe bend, and possibly south rim? We’ve never been there before so it’s overwhelming trying to google how to plan this. Should we fly into Flagstaff and rent a car, see south rim for a couple days and drive to Antelope? Then drive to Vegas and say ya couple days and fly out of there? Should we fly in and out of Vegas and book a tour to take us to some destinations? We are pretty flexible with staying longer than a week and estimate about ten days?

    1. Amy,

      We usually recommend people fly in/out of Las Vegas for the reason that the Airfares to/from Vegas are the lowest in the area. Also, it’s a good starting/stopping point if you want to visit Grand Canyon West where the Skywalk is, the South Rim, East Rim (Horseshoe Bend/Antelope Canyon)…and the North Rim. It makes for a beautiful loop…and you can add in Sedona, Monument Valley, Zion National Park, and possibly Bryce Canyon National Park.

      Something like this:
      Las Vegas -> Grand Canyon West with Skywalk
      Grand Canyon West with Skywalk -> Sedona
      Sedona -> Grand Canyon South Rim
      Grand Canyon South Rim -> Monument Valley
      Monument Valley -> East Rim area: Page, Arizona with Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon
      East Rim/Page, Arizona -> North Rim of Grand Canyon
      North Rim of Grand Canyon -> Bryce Canyon National Park
      Bryce Canyon National Park -> Zion National Park
      Zion National Park -> Las Vegas

      That can be too much or too little depending on your Travel style. However, it would make for one very memorable visit to the Grand Canyon area!



  12. Sophie Krentzman

    Hi Karlyn,

    I am planning a trip with my husband and my daughter of 13 to the Grand Canyon mid July. We will driving from LA to Sedona 2-3 nights, then Grand Canyon 2-3 nights then Lac Powell 2-3 nights and then back to LA.
    Questions: Is it a good idea to Stay at “Under Canvas” at the Grand Canyon to visit the Grand Canyon or to visit Antelope/Lac Powell/horseshoe? We would like to stay there for the experience but I have no idea of the distance and the drive. What do you recommend? How should we plan our days around the Grand Canyon? Also if we stay in a different hotel to see Antelope/Lac Powell, is “Lac Powell resort” worth it? What do you recommend?
    My daughter love water sport and so we are looking hotel with pool beside “Under Canvas” of course.
    Last question but not least, can I bring my dog during that trip and is it fairly easy to find daycare for her during the time we can’t take her with us, or really not a good idea to bring her at all?

    Thank you,


  13. I was reading the suggestion of flying into Phoenix, spending 2-3 days in Sedona, then Page/ Lake Powell 2 nights, 2 nights Grand Canyon, then end and flying out of Las Vegas! Is it in this order. I also would like to go to the skywalk.

    1. Cheryl,

      If you are wanting to add the Grand Canyon Skywalk to that Itinerary, then you should Fly into Phoenix, go to Sedona, then go to Page/Lake Powell/Horseshoe Bend (hopefully, Antelope Canyon will Open again soon too!) and THEN go to Grand Canyon South Rim, and on to the Grand Canyon Skywalk as it is between the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. I hope this re-routing helps you in your visit to this area. Also, go watch Mitchell Tenpenny’s “Bucket List” video on YouTube to inspire you further: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhtvXNBoq5c



  14. Karlyn,
    My husband and I are planning a Grand Canyon trip for approximately 8 days, but could possibly stretch it to 10. We have four children ages 17, 15, 15, and 13. We like to be active and would rather not spend more time driving than actually enjoying the sites. We are coming from the east coast and would be flying. I’d love some suggestions for how to make the most of our trip without feeling rushed. I’d appreciate any insight you’re willing to offer. We would really like to make the trip at the beginning of April 2022, however if the weather is not great then we can schedule it for mid May. Thank you so much!

    1. Jill,

      I would invite you to watch Mitchell Tenpenny’s “Bucket List” video on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMalroN-wzY
      And, here is the VLOG which lays out his Itinerary which he landed in Phoenix then went out Las Vegas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJaYrPaeg_U
      They’re both kind of fun video’s to help you dream…now, he did this in January 2021 and the Antelope Canyon hike wasn’t open, so he visited Antelope Canyon on Lake Powell by Boat.

      Mid-May is better weather for water related activities…if Rafting interests you at all. Beginning of April can go either way…either be great or be rainy/snowy with wind. We won’t know until the day arrives.

      the Half Day Raft Trip in Page is a very popular activity when visiting.

      To take a leisurely enjoy the sites, drive less…I’d recommend the following:
      Fly into Phoenix, drive to Sedona…spend a day or two there.
      Drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim and spend at least 3 days/2 nights. Catch Sunrises and Sunsets. Visit the Viewpoints. Possibly a Helicopter, Airplane, or Hummer Tour. There’s the IMAX Theater that is a great show in Tusayan too.
      Drive to Page for Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon…also Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam are here too. So spend 2 days checking things out. There’s bicycling the Rim Trail in Page too…if that appeals.
      Then I’d head off to Zion National Park for 2 to 3 days and then fly out of Las Vegas.
      That’s a fairly relaxed Itinerary…however, if you were to cut anything out, you could trim off Page and Zion and spend more time in Grand Canyon and Sedona to make it very relaxing.

      I hope this helps,


  15. Hello Karlyn,

    My family wanted to visit several places in your area at the beginning of June, but I could not get everything planned in time. Now we are looking at March 12-19. Our hope is to start in Los Vegas, drive to the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon, drive to Sedona, drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, drive to Monument Valley, drive to Page (Horsehoe Bend and Antelope Canyon), then the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before returning to Los Vegas.

    Here are my questions:
    1) Is March a good time for this trip?
    2) Is there anything you would scrap, considering we have only a week?
    3) Is there anything you would add?
    4) How many days/nights should we devote to each place? (“We” includes my husband and 21 year old son. My husband and I are hikers and kyakers. We originally had a much more robust trip planned, but I was out of my league in planning it and our son is not really into hiking that much. He does want to see the Grand Canyon. For these reasons, I pared back. However, I read your comments to other posters that less is more.)

    Thank you for your help!

    1. PDB,

      I would invite you to watch Mitchell Tenpenny’s “Bucket List” video on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMalroN-wzY
      And, here is the VLOG which lays out his Itinerary which he landed in Phoenix then went out Las Vegas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJaYrPaeg_U
      They’re both kind of fun video’s to help you dream…now, he did this in January 2021 and the Antelope Canyon hike wasn’t open so he did it on Lake Powell by Boat.

      I just Googled where I believe you are from based upon your email address to see what kind of weather you are used to at that time of the year. Again, it’s an assumption on my part, however, Google says the average is from 37 – 61 degree’s…which is very similar to the Temp’s at the Skywalk, Sedona, Monument Valley and Page (Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon). The South Rim will be colder at night during March…yet can warm up dramatically during the day, by the way. It is drier out here, so it’ll feel warmer to you without the humidity. The caveat I always throw out in March is we can get snow storms that time of the year…and you need to be flexible in rearranging or spending more time at one of those locations than you had originally planned. The mountains around Flagstaff can be snow magnets…we hope as we’re in a major drought right now.

      1) Is March a good time for this trip?
      This is a very popular time of the year for this Trip as many Families visit for the Spring Break time period from School. Kayaking will be a bit cold still…so I’d leave that out of any plans. If you leave water related activities out of the plans…it’s a good time to visit. If you are wanting to go kayaking or swimming…which usually involve the Colorado River…it’s still too cold. Obviously, swimming at an inside pool is not an issue.
      With that said, the Half Day Raft Trip in Page is a very popular activity when visiting…and, honestly, it depends on the weather that day that you are there. It can be a beautiful Spring day or it can be windy and cold. You just don’t know until the day arrives.

      So, with weather covered…now let me try and pair down your itinerary from Las Vegas:
      Here’s a Google Map link of what this would look like – https://goo.gl/maps/eU69GUzBPrV6xuiZ7

      March 12th Fly into Las Vegas on March 12th, then stay the night to get a taste of Vegas.
      March 13th Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West where you will visit the Skywalk and take the Ground Tour…then I’d head onto Sedona…it’ll be long day, though.
      March 14th Sedona – Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour or get the Visitor’s Guide and see the places around there you want to see. Then head to Grand Canyon South Rim that night.
      March 15th Sunrise Grand Canyon! Hike down the Bright Angel Trail a bit or more, see the Grand Canyon Village, Hermit’s Rest, eat at the El Tovar, Maswik Lodge, or Yavapai Lodge…visit more viewpoints…then Sunset Grand Canyon!
      March 16th Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley out the East Entrance where you’ll see the Desertview Watchtower too – tour Monument Valley, then dinner at The View or Goulding’s Lodge. I prefer Goulding’s because I’ve gone there so much over time. The View is new to me.
      March 17th Drive from Monument Valley to Page (Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon) for an Antelope Canyon Tour around 11am – 1pm, then go to Horseshoe Bend. (I live here…and I forgot to mention Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam that you need to take a little time to Enjoy too! I take them for granted…Sorry!)
      March 18th Drive to Zion National Park because it’s on the way to Vegas…well, a little bit of diversion…but you’re here, so take it in. Spend the day viewing Zion on the Shuttle. Then off to Vegas or overnight in Springdale, Hurricane or St. George if you are flying out of Vegas on the 19th mid to late day or evening.
      March 19th Drive to Vegas or Fly Home!
      This is a fairly fast moving itinerary…but covers the major points you originally laid out. It’s a matter of IF you want to put more Discovery Time in there.

      NORTH RIM IS CLOSED in MARCH. The North Rim opens Annually from May 15th – October 15th…but normally the gates are not closed until December 1st unless there is a big snow storm. So this is paired off of your itinerary because of the time of the Year you are visiting. I put Zion National Park in there…because it’s all but on the way from Page to Vegas.

      2) Is there anything you would scrap, considering we have only a week?
      NORTH RIM gets scrapped because of the Time of Year automatically. It’s NOT Open.
      3) Is there anything you would add? Zion because it’s on the way to Vegas.
      4) How many days/nights should we devote to each place? (“We” includes my husband and 21 year old son. My husband and I are hikers and kyakers. We originally had a much more robust trip planned, but I was out of my league in planning it and our son is not really into hiking that much. He does want to see the Grand Canyon. For these reasons, I pared back. However, I read your comments to other posters that less is more.)

      Less is more…is very subjective. I have put it all in there for you above…it is moving. However, there’s flex time in there too. If you were to spend more time somewhere…I’d recommend the Grand Canyon. Sedona is primarily Hiking…but there’s Jeep Tours and UTV’s there too. The Grand Canyon has more viewpoints and places to visit and discover. I did put Sunrise and Sunset in there for you…those are like the two main things. You could work in a Helicopter or Airplane Tour too. Also, there’s Hummer Tours from Tusayan too!

      I love all of these places…so without knowing exactly what you like and expect…I covered them all for you. This itinerary will work…and you could spend more time in Zion with it too. There’s a lot to see there, as well.

      I hope this helps,


  16. Hi, lots of great information but most travel plans include Vegas. Can you describe a trip seeing all the sights flying into Phoenix or ?. Should I try to do June instead of July? We are from Florida.

    1. Renee,

      For a direct, get value, get to the Canyon Itinerary, I would suggest the following:

      Fly into Phoenix, get your Rental Car
      Then go to Sedona and enjoy at least a day there, learn more here:
      Then go to the Grand Canyon and enjoy at least 3 days there…that’s what we’ve found works for most visitors…some people need more, some less.
      Must do’s at the Grand Canyon:
      – Sunrise and Sunset
      – Tour the Historic Grand Canyon Village area and Xanterra Grand Canyon Lodges has a great guide right here:
      – Visit the East and West Rim Drives of the South Rim including Desertview Watchtower and Hermits Rest amongst many other viewpoints along the way.
      – Optional, however, greatly enjoyable – Motorcoach Tours, Hummer Tours, Airplane Tours and Helicopter Tours to see it all from above and with Guides who can share so much.
      Then Return back to Phoenix.

      As for June or July from Florida…remember it’s much drier in the West…we joke about a dry heat, however, that will be no joke to you coming out of all of that humidity. The end of June and early July are the hottest times of the year at the Grand Canyon…with that said, it can still be a cool 40-50 degrees at Sunrise and then 80-90 degrees during the day…wide temperature swings. Both are beautiful, however, Monsoons tend to start in later July…and, unfortunately, the last few years forest fires proliferate in both June and July that can obscure your views in the Grand Canyon.

      So, Plan and come enjoy the Grand Canyon,


  17. Hello,

    Your recommendations are superbly detailed and insightful for someone who’s never visited there–like us! I would like to bring my son for his fall break from school (he just turned 15) and we would be flying from Indiana 10/20-10/25 this year.

    With SO much to see and do in such little time to do it, I would really appreciate your suggestions on designing a route that would give us the ability to see the “must dos” while not being exhausted from trying too much.

    We enjoy road trips so my plan was to rent a car when we land in Phoenix and start our adventure. I’m wondering if we should also fly out of Phoenix, or perhaps somewhere else and also, should we try to squeeze any water activities in given that it will be October?

    Thank you!!

    1. Marsha,

      You are asking the question I am literally struggling to write a Book about right now…yet, we all want the Quickest Possible Answer…uh, for us! 🙂

      The Answer is what’s the Best Itinerary…so there’s 2 to 3 Itinerary’s that I think you should consider:

      1 – Fly into Phoenix, go to Sedona either drive thru or spend a day there doing a Jeep Tour or Hiking, then drive up Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff and on to Grand Canyon, spend a couple of days at the Grand Canyon (being sure you experience AT LEAST a Sunrise or Sunset, preferably BOTH) and go through the Grand Canyon Village and visit Yavapai Point, Mather Point and Grandview or even out to Desertview if you have the time, think about a Helicopter or Airplane tour to see it all from above too, then go to Page, Arizona and visit Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon (Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge along with Lake Powell are there to enjoy too), then back to Flagstaff via Wupatki if there’s time, then back down to Phoenix with a side stop to Montezuma’s Castle just off of I-17 to break up the trip back to Phoenix. That’s a tight 5 day itinerary…cut out things that don’t appeal to you.

      2 – Fly into Phoenix, go to Sedona either drive thru or spend a day there doing a Jeep Tour or Hiking, then drive up Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff and then to Grand Canyon, spend a couple of days (being sure you experience AT LEAST a Sunrise or Sunset, preferably BOTH) and go through the Grand Canyon Village and visit Yavapai Point, Mather Point and Grandview or even out to Desertview if you have the time, think about a Helicopter or Airplane tour to see it all from above too, then go to Page, Arizona and visit Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon (Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge along with Lake Powell are there to enjoy too), then go on to Bryce Canyon National Park (late October some snow sometimes shows up) and then back down through Zion National Park an on out to Las Vegas to return Home. Again, that’s a tight 5 day itinerary…cut out things that don’t appeal to you.

      3 – Fly into Phoenix, go to Sedona either drive thru or spend a day there doing a Jeep Tour or Hiking, then drive up Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff and then to Grand Canyon, spend a couple of days (being sure you experience AT LEAST a Sunrise or Sunset, preferably BOTH) and go through the Grand Canyon Village and visit Yavapai Point, Mather Point and Grandview or even out to Desertview if you have the time, think about a Helicopter or Airplane tour to see it all from above too, then go back down to I-40 and go over to Grand Canyon West via Kingman, AZ and walk on the Skywalk and see Eagle and Guano Point, then go visit Hoover Dam and Lake Mead on your way into Vegas (or just walk over the Colorado River Bridge)…and again return Home.

      Interestingly enough, Mitchell Tenpenny recorded his “Bucket List” video in January doing many of these activities…so, you can enjoy it on YouTube at:
      (I failed to even tempt you with Monument Valley and the UTV in that Video is in Sedona…so if not a Jeep or Hiking in Sedona…the UTV’s have become wildly popular there too!)

      Now, I am a maximalist, so I’ve naturally tried to put TOO MUCH into all three of those itinerary’s. However, see which one appeals to you and go from there in trimming it down to what works for You and Your Family. Remember I’m a guy who’s wife simply wanted go straight home from Albuquerque in 6 1/2 hours and I talked her into going via Alamosa, Colorado (I thought putting Taos in that day might be too much!) because I wanted to go over Wolf Creek Pass and through Pagosa Springs…um 12 1/2 hours later…we got home! 🙂

      Oh yeah, you asked about Water activities…um, that’s right in the time period where you need to be dressed well for it. There is a Smooth Water Raft trip out of Page, Arizona from the base of Glen Canyon Dam that is gorgeous. So, you might consider that: https://www.riveradventures.com/horseshoe-bend-rafting-trips/horseshoe-bend-rafting-experience/half-day/ It depends on your tolerance for colder temps…now, in the West that means 40-50’s, sometimes 60-70’s in late October. It can be either a really cool day or divinely perfectly warm at the end of October. You won’t know until you get here. If you’re outdoor winter sports type people…it’s no big deal. If not, you might find it a cool. But, if you dress well in layers it can be a lot of fun and beautiful!

      I hope that helps!

      Enjoy your visit to the Canyon,


      1. This is SO helpful–thank you!! I’m going to book the flights today and thinking in and out of Phoenix is best for us this trip.

        We would arrive mid-morning on the 20th and leave at noon on the 25th. I have no idea where to stay once there…do you recommend any options in Sedona and/or the Grand Canyon? Is it worth staying two nights in Sedona, which would leave us three nights to stay elsewhere?


  18. Hi, I am trying to plan a surprise trip for my family next year, possible looking at April-May or late August-September! The more I look the more overwhelmed I become trying to pick out the bed places to go, so I was wondering if you could give me your opinion.

    As of right now I was thinking of flying into Phoenix, but I am not apposed to Las Vegas airport. And going to the Grand Canyon for 1-2 nights and doing the south rim, horseshoe bend, and the skywalk, but not sure the best order. Would maybe like to do 1 hike but definitely something on the easier side. Also looking into doing some kind of water activity while there as my family loves rafting and kayaking. Do you have an opinion on staying on the rim vs staying a little outside of the canyon?

    Also wanting to go to Sedona maybe 2-3 nights and do some hiking and a pink jeep tour. For Sedona some hikes that I have seen recommended are Devils bridge, cathedral rock, bell rock, Baldwin loop. Are there any others you would recommend or cross off of this list? Then, possibly stopping at slide rock state park, chapel of the holy cross, and driving through red rock sonic byway.

    Do you think this is possible to squeeze into a 5-7 day trip? Or are there some things I need to change up?

    1. Claire,

      Don’t know how I missed this one…but here’s my recommendation.

      That’s a Lot for a 5-7 day trip!

      I’d recommend flying into Vegas, then Skywalk, on to the Grand Canyon South Rim on your way to Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon. There’s Rafting and Kayaking in Page too..then I’d go to Sedona for Slide Rock and the other attractions you mention and finally fly out of Phoenix…kind of like this Google Map route:

      It sounds like a great trip to the Southwest!


      Rafting in Page, AZ:

      Kayaking Lee’s Ferry:

  19. Adriana Gonzalez

    Hello!!! I’m planning a 3-day (thur-Sun) trip in mid May for my 15 yr anniversary. We want to fly into Pheonix,Az. We are outdoorsy and would like to do something adventurous (i.e. UTV or take flight) and also love food! We have to stop at Mesa, Az for an appt to see the progress on our toy hauler getting build (RV). What itinerary do you suggest? We are from Miami, Fl. We have done Vegas and driven to see Grand Canyon (helicopter tour) in the past. I would really appreciate your help! Thank you 🙂

    1. Adriana,

      Since you’re flying into Phoenix, I would recommend going through Sedona and possibly doing an ATV there. (Sedona is like being in the Canyon because you are below the rim of Redrock surrounding Sedona.) There are lots of UTV Rentals in Sedona: https://www.google.com/search?q=sedona+utv&rlz=1C1EJFC_enUS805US805&oq=sedona+utv&aqs=chrome.0.0i512l2j0i457i512j0i512l4j0i390l3.5151j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

      There is also a UTV Rental at the Grand Canyon, as well: https://www.grandcanyon-rentals.com/ This is more of a Forest UTV experience, although, you’ll be in Forest around Sedona too.

      And, if you’d like a Helicopter or Airplane Flight from the South Rim, check out these two links:
      EcoStar Imperial Helicopter Tour: https://grandcanyon.com/tours/south-rim-tours/imperial-with-ecostar-2/
      Grand Canyon South Rim Airplane Tour: https://grandcanyon.com/tours/south-rim-tours/grand-canyon-south-rim-airplane-tour/

      Enjoy your visit,


  20. Hello!! I love how you are helping people like me who have no idea how to plane a trip to Grand Canyon because there is a LOT to do and see. I have notice a lot of peole are flying either to Phoenix, AZ or Las Vegas, ND but, I was wondering if you could help us plan a trip driving from Kansas City, MO. We are planning on leaving July 12 and be back by July 17. We want to see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend but what else can we see or do in such a short time?
    Please helpnus if you can, I would really appreciate your help!!!
    Thank you!!

    1. Diana,

      Sorry for the delayed response.

      Here is a Google Maps route that I would recommend for multiple reasons:
      -Rocky Mountains
      -Wolf Creek Pass
      -Pagosa Springs
      -Four Corners
      -Monument Valley
      -Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend
      -AND Grand Canyon!
      I’m not going to lie to you…that is cutting right through the heart of a LOT of beauty here in the Southwest!

      You can go home either a South route along I-40 and catch more Native American cultural attractions and geologic like Meteor Crater, Acoma, Albuquerque and across the plains to KC
      shoot back through Monument Valley, maybe catch Natural Bridges National Monument the on to Canyonlands and Arches National Park near Moab and then More Beautiful Mountains on I-70 back to Denver then on to KC

      Whichever way you return, you have lots of beautiful and interesting options.

      Enjoy your Grand Canyon area vacation,


  21. Hello!
    We are trying to plan a mid April trip from the northeast. Based on your prior answers, am thinking flying into Phoenix, seeing Sedona, then south rim of the grand canyon would be good. We would have 7 days not including flight days. We would like some less strenuous hiking/outdoor options that are busy but not too busy. What order should we do things? Should we do Lake powell? We have three kids 10-14, two who love active stuff and one who loves museums. Any other recommendations to consider? Thank you for your advice and time!!

    1. Leah,

      Multiple things come to mind…I’m gonna tell you that Roger Naylor posted a short post on West Fork Trail in Sedona that has been on my List for awhile. (Sadly, I have NOT hiked it yet.) It is a 3 mile path along a stream…and I want to go do it! I have hiked to Devil’s Arch, Bell Rock and much, much more in Sedona. There is SO MUCH to see there. I need to go back! (Don’t tell the NSA, but while I was supposed to be in Lockdown in 2020…I was hiking in Sedona…and the Paria…and anywhere else that was open to Hike in Northern Arizona! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Actually, for awhile, Southern Utah was closed to Hiking unless you lived in Kane County..and I’m just across the border in Arizona…so I stayed out!)

      Northern Arizona Museum in Flagstaff on Highway 180 came to mind as you told me about one who is interested in Museum’s…it can be on your way to the Grand Canyon going out of Flagstaff. Of course, there’s the Yapapai Geological Museum, Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio and the Room in the Bright Angel Lodge that all are types of Museum’s full of history and lore of the Grand Canyon. All, right on the Rim in Grand Canyon Village too!

      If you are a hiker, then you need to do a portion of the Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trail. I like going down to 1 1/2 mile or 3 mile on the Bright Angel Trail. Also, Ooh Aah and Cedar Ridge are nice on the South Kaibab Trail.

      Now, I live in Page, Arizona…so it’ll be hard not to tell you all about this area…Lake Powell. In this area, you definitely need to visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. In April, I would say Lake Powell itself is optional…although, do go visit the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge at a minimum.

      Order? Phoenix – Sedona – South Rim – Page/Antelope/Horseshoe – back to Flagstaff and down to Phoenix…I am assuming you are roundtripping Phoenix. If you decide to come in Phoenix and go out Vegas…then Sedona – South Rim – Page/Antelope/Horseshoe – go to Zion – then out Vegas.

      I hope that helps. Northern Arizona can be beautiful some days, windy some days, and even show others in April…it’ll just depend when we get there.

      Come Enjoy,


  22. Hello,
    We were thinking of flying into Las Vegas, renting a car then taking in Sedona, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and finish up back in Vegas. Not sure if we should fly into Phoenix, do Sedona, Grand Canyon, then drive to Hoover Dam, finishing at Vegas and flying out from there.

    1. Tessa,

      You will make it much easier on yourself to Fly into Phoenix, rent a car, then do Sedona on the way to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, THEN drive to Hoover Dam, finishing in Vegas and flying out of there.

      However, sometimes roundtrip tickets into Las Vegas are the least expensive.

      Compare options and see which works best for you!

      We’ll see you at the Canyon,


  23. Hi! I want to bring my 12 yr old grandson to see the Grand Canyon in June. I believe we want to see both the South & North Rims with a mule ride down for an overnight stay at Phantom Ranch. We can spend 4 or 5 days exploring the Canyon area (Zion? Monument? train?) We will make our way back to Sedona to meet his mother who will join us for a few days to explore that area before returning back to NC. I will plan about 10 days for the total trip. Any input is so appreciated!

    1. Meecy,

      That sounds like a great plan. You will need to contact Grand Canyon Lodges immediately at: 1-303-297-2757 or toll-free within the United States at 1-888-297-2757

      The Famous Grand Canyon Mule Rides sell out quickly, however, there has been some open/closing of Phantom Ranch going on because of Trail/Water Pipe maintenance plans, so you might get very lucky!

      It depends where you are coming in from – Vegas or Phoenix, but generally I’d go Vegas – Zion – Bryce – North Rim via Page/Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon – South Rim, then on down to Sedona with what you’ve laid out above.

      If you can get it all booked, it’ll be a Great Trip!



  24. Hello! My husband and I are both turning 50 this year and have decided to celebrate with a trip to the Grand Canyon area. I have read many of your posts and I’m very impressed by your knowledge of the area and would be honored if you would lay out an itinerary of the “must-dos” on our trip. It will just be the two of us coming from Florida, first week of May or last week of September and we’ll have 6 days start to finish. We are not extremely adventurous and not looking for camping, horseback riding, white water rafting, strenuous hiking, or helicopter tours but would enjoy some easy hiking, driving or guided tours, antiquing and local sightseeing. I would love to include a train ride and my husband’s one wish is to pan for gold! Would love to have your expert guidance!

    1. Crissy,
      Greetings and thank you for your kind words.
      Congratulations also on your milestone birthdays. We’re honored that you’ve chosen to spend it with us in the American Southwest!
      Firstly, if you can schedule your trip for late September, you’ll find the weather is much more bearable at that time of year. Plus crowds tend to thin out a bit after Labor Day, which is another plus.
      With 6 days to work with, flying in and out of Las Vegas, NV, I propose you do something like this:
      Day 1: Fly to Las Vegas, NV, overnight in Las Vegas
      Day 2: Drive to Williams, AZ (~3.5 hours from LAS), stopping at Hoover Dam if desired. You could also make the detour off I-40 via Old Route 66, and stop at Hackberry General Store if you like antiques! If you take me up on that suggestion (Route 66), save your appetite for Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, AZ (which was the partial inspiration for Radiator Springs in the “Cars” movies!); good burgers, good laughs. Overnight in Williams
      Day 3: Take the Grand Canyon Railway to Grand Canyon South Rim, 2nd night in Williams
      Day 4: Drive to Page, AZ (~3 hours), optional stops/detours at Wupatki/Sunset Crater National Monuments, Marble Canyon/Lees Ferry; visit Horseshoe Bend on the way into town, overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 5: Tour Antelope Canyon first thing in the morning, then drive back to Las Vegas (~5 hours), optional detour through Valley of Fire State Park (gorgeous!), overnight in Las Vegas
      Day 6: Visit El Dorado Canyon mine, then fly back to Florida
      RE: El Dorado Canyon, I couldn’t ascertain whether they offered gold panning experiences there, but it is an actual historic gold mine dating back to the late 1800’s. For more information on actual gold panning, you might contact the local chapter of the Gold Prospectors’ Association of America at (702) 452-1049 and assure them you’re not a “claim jumper.” LOL
      Also, the Grand Canyon Railway experience warrants a little clarification before you trot out your credit card. It’s more of an “Old West Historic” experience than it is a scenic ride. Williams, AZ, its point of origin, is 60 miles due South of the Grand Canyon, therefore, you won’t see the Grand Canyon from the train. You see it when you disembark from the train and walk to the rim. Also, it doesn’t break any speed records getting to and from the Canyon. It takes roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes to travel from Williams to the park, a journey you could make in your own vehicle in just 1 hour. Another issue is the relatively short time you get at the park going this route: only 3.5 hours, where by self-driving, you could spend as much time as you wanted. For more detailed comparisons of the two methods of getting to the park, watch this video: The Grand Canyon Railway vs. Driving The video itself is a little old, but the points it makes remain valid to this day.
      Whatever you decide, be sure to reserve all hotels, guided tours, dinner reservations (where needed), etc. ASAP.
      And if we can be of further assistance, please contact us directly at [email protected]
      Have fun and Happy Birthday(s)!

  25. Hi!
    I am planning a two night roadtrip to the Grand Canyon with my husband, I am getting overwhelmed by all the things to do and feeling sad that we don’t have more days.
    We are driving from El Paso, Texas and checked that for first time visitors the south rim is recommended.
    Now I’m deciding on whether to book at Sedona, Parks or Williams. What would be better? And what are the top things we must see on those days? We have never done hiking before so I’m also nervous about it.

    1. Ale,

      Not to worry, Williams and Parks are the closest to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim on Interstate 40. There are also Rooms in Valle and Tusayan up Highway 64 on the way to the South Rim that put you even closer.

      #1 The number 1 things, obviously, is the Grand Canyon itself.
      #2 If you want to see the most of it in the least amount of time, I highly recommend the EcoStar Imperial Helicopter Tour:
      #3 I highly recommend a Sunset at the Grand Canyon and the Sunset Hummer tour is a nice way to do that:
      #4 Make sure you walk thru the Historic Grand Canyon Village to include the El Tovar, Verkamps, Lookout Studio, the Kolb Studio and the Bright Angel Lodge with the Ice Cream shop near the Rim!
      #5 The East Rim drive out to the Desertview Watchtower is a great way to spend a half day, as well:

      That’s plenty of time to accomplish those.

      Enjoy your visit,


  26. Thank you so much for taking the time to help vacationing families with valuable knowledge and insight. My name is Joe and I have a family of 5. My wife Theresa and I have 3 kids – 22, 19 and 7. We are planning a trip in late June, early July and are looking at 6-9 days. Our initial thought was to fly into Las Vegas (as you have said flights are cheaper) and drive over to the Grand Canyon. We want to visit the Hoover Dam. We would love to see the Skywalk (even thought it is north rim). We enjoy watersports and riding ATV. I have seen that you can rent ATV’s for 1/2 and full day. Wanted to know if that is worth it – can you see all the sights and what might be good routes to send a day doing that. We like staying in cabins but would also like to have a place with a pool for a couple nights. Our thought was to finish up in Vegas for the last night or two before flying out

    Thanks again for your time and help.

    Joe and Theresa

    1. Hello Joe and Theresa!

      Your trip to the Grand Canyon area sounds exciting, and with your family’s interests and ages, there’s a lot to do and see. Here’s a tailored itinerary for your 6-9 day trip:

      ### Day 1: Arrival in Las Vegas and Hoover Dam?
      – **Arrive in Las Vegas**: Spend a night or head to Hoover Dam and stay in Boulder City, NV.
      – **Accommodation**: Choose a family-friendly hotel with a pool.

      ### Day 2: Grand Canyon Skywalk
      – **Drive to the Grand Canyon Skywalk**: It’s about a 2 hour drive from Boulder City, NV.
      – **Activities**: Choose the Grand Canyon Skywalk Package:
      – **Stay in Kingman or Grand Canyon South Rim (If you’re up for the 4 hour drive from Grand Canyon West after the Skywalk)

      ### Day 3-4: Grand Canyon South Rim
      – **Drive to the Grand Canyon South Rim**: It’s about a 3-hour drive from Kingman.
      – **Accommodation**: Stay in Tusayan at the Squire Resort or Holiday Inn Express for Pools.
      – **Activities**:
      – Hiking along the rim.
      – Enjoy a Helicopter Tour over the Grand Canyon.
      – Take a Guided Hummer Tour along the Rim.
      – Junior Ranger program for your youngest.
      – Enjoy the various viewpoints, like Mather Point, Yavapai Point, Grand Canyon Village, Hermit’s Rest, Grandview and Desertview Watchtower.
      – Don’t miss a Sunset on the Rim of the Grand Canyon!

      ### Day 5: UTV and/or ATV Adventure
      – **ATV Rental**: Rent ATVs for a half or full day from Grand Canyon Rentals Adventures.
      – **Routes**: Explore the forest roads around Tusayan, AZ for more ATV trails.
      – **Note**: Ensure you follow all safety guidelines and regulations.

      ### Day 6-7: Drive to Page, AZ for Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon
      – **Drive to Page, AZ**: It’s about a 3-hour drive from the South Rim.
      – **Accommodation**: Choose one of the many Hotels in Page with Pools.
      – **Activities**: Experience Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and either take a Raft tour on the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry or go Kayaking on Lake Powell for a Watersport.

      ### Day 8: Drive through Zion National Park on your way back to Las Vegas.
      – **Location**: Consider heading thru Zion National Park back to Las Vegas.
      – **Activities**: Incredible scenery in Zion.

      ### Final Days 9-10: Enjoy Las Vegas
      – **Leisure in Las Vegas**: Spend your last days relaxing in Vegas, maybe catch a show.
      – **Departure**: Fly out from Las Vegas.

      ### Tips:
      – **Book in Advance**: Make reservations for accommodations and activities early, as they can fill up quickly.
      – **Stay Hydrated**: The desert can be very hot, especially in summer.

      This offers a mix of adventure, relaxation, and sightseeing that should cater to all ages in your family. Enjoy your trip!


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