If you are planning to spend a night at GCNP, then it does make more sense to go to Wupatki/Sunset Crater on your way up there instead. I did that very trip just about two weeks ago.
We left Sedona and drove up through Oak Creek Canyon and then made a few stops in Flagstaff. My friend had never been there so I did a detour through town that added about an hour to our day. Then we headed out 89 and entered the loop drive at Sunset Crater. We drove through making a couple of quick stops for photos and then proceeded on to Wupatki. We chose to stop at the Wukoki Ruins there for our longest stop (about 20 minutes). All of the ruins sites require a short walk and about the same time at a minimum to enjoy and understand what is there. Since we have visited other ruins sites around Northern AZ together, we didn't want to stop at all of them in Wupatki. All totaled, our detour for the loop was about 2 hours. When we got back on 89 we drove up to Cameron and stopped for gas and a quick bathroom break. Then it was up to the GCNP, east gate. We entered the park at about 2PM and got our first look at the canyon at Desert View where we climbed the tower and spent about 1/2 hour. We spent the next 2 hours touring theeast rim, stopping at several view points and taking in the canyon. We arrived at El Tovar around 4:30 and checked in to our room. We got settled and then took a few beverages in a cooler and walked out along the rim trail from the hotel towards Yavapai Point. We walked to a point where we wnated to sit down along the rim, away from the trail just enough, and we sat there watching the canyon until it was almost sunset. It was peaceful and magical.
I'm of the belief that sunset is not about watching the sun disappear on the horizon. Rather, it's about waht happens to the earth as the sun's light is filtered in the sky as it settles in the west. We observed the light cganging in the canyon and took amny photos. Then we walked back to the hotel and cleaned up for dinner.
The next morning after breakfast we spent time watching the mules and the riders preparing for their departure into the canyon on the Bright Angel Path. Then we rode the red line shuttle out along the west rim drive stopping at the various lookout on the way to Hopi Point. When we returned to the GC village we spent some time there at Kolb Studio and Hopi House. We had planned to hike a short distance down the South kaibab trail before leaving for Sedona, but we decided against that idea when we encountered a massive traffic jam and parking challenge at the visitor center where you have to go to get the green line shuttle to the trailhead. So we exited the park and stopped in Tusayan and watched the IMAX movie instead. I've seen it several times, but my friend never had, and he was glad we did, and said that it was a pefect compliment to all we had seen and learned at the canyon itself. The drive from Yusayan back to Sedona took about 2 hours, as expected.