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Grand Canyon South Rim

Level Contributor
34 posts
17 reviews
Grand Canyon South Rim

My husband and I are planning a trip to Utah NPs this Sept (2018) and want to include Grand Canyon South Rim. Looks like we would be heading to GCSR after Monument Valley on Sept 18. Checking out on Sept 21 and driving to Phoenix airport. Very expensive lodging left for those dates. Lowest cost I found is Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel. Mixed reviews. Hope it is OK. Reviews do agree it is close to GCSR. Any opinions on this hotel?

We will have all day Wed, Sept 19, and Thu, Sept 20, to spend at GCSR. I am also considering visit to Monument Valley Wed, 9/19, then driving to GCSR (add another day back into our Utah NP plan) which would mean we'd have some time after getting to GCSR on 9/19 and all day 9/20.

I read responses to a forum poster who asked how to see the most at GCSR during a bit shorter timeframe (about 2 half days). Suggestions were (I'm copying and pasting the info I read) to enter the park through the east entrance at Desert View Watchtower, and stop at all the viewpoints along the way to the village.

For sunset, just walk east along the rim from the Hopi House along the Trail of Time.

Next morning, highly recommended getting up early (or just after sunrise) and getting the shuttle bus (there is a hikers express at 7am & 8am) to the South Kaibab Trailhead. Hike down to either Ooh Aah Point or (preferably) Cedar Ridge (3 miles total roundtrip) or Skeleton Point (6 miles total). Early morning and the views of the canyon IMO are some of the BEST in the canyon. You will NOT be disappointed, and you will be glad you made the extra effort. Bring water and some snacks too.

This sounds like a good plan if we add a day back to the Utah NP plan. Any other suggestions on the best use of our time at GCSR? And, do we need to keep that extra day in GCSR plan?

Thank You!

19 replies to this topic
Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Tucson, Arizona, Northern Mexico
Level Contributor
17,891 posts
91 reviews
1. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

Since you are arriving from Utah, Monument Valley, the east entrance at GCNP is the logical entrance. The main/south entrance would be 2.5 or more hours further and not very logical.

Tusayan is just outside the south boundary of the park. The travel to the rim area would be about 20 minutes.

Be careful driving to/from the park in the dark.

I do recommend 2 nights at the park. It is a large park, takes time to get around.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,844 posts
41 reviews
2. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

What is your full itinerary including the Utah parks? You may need that night somewhere else.

Level Contributor
34 posts
17 reviews
3. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

Thanks for your input Bob B.

Connie B, here is what we are thinking about doing:

9/10 Arrive in Las Vegas 6:45am, rent car, drive to Zion NP. Spend the day there. Stay overnight.

9/11 More time in Zion NP, maybe drive from there to Bryce area to stay overnight. We have already been to Bryce Canyon (gorgeous), so won't be doing anything there. This would just cut a couple of hours off our drive on 9/12.

9/12 Calf Creek, Boulder, Fruita orchards, Capitol Reef. Overnight in Torrey

9/13 Capitol Reef, then drive to Moab. Stay in Moab 9/13-16 (checkout 9/17)

9/14 Island in the Sky Canyonlands

9/15 Arches

9/16 Whitewater rafting

Of course, we could do the things listed for 9/14-16 in any order.

9/17 Needles Canyonland, Newspaper monument, lodging somewhere along way to Monument Valley (maybe Bluff)

9/18 Monument Valley, drive to GCSR

9/19 GCSR

9/20 GCSR

9/21 Drive to Phoenix airport for 6:35pm flight.

Do you think we need to move a day to the Utah plan?

Bob mentioned being careful driving to/from parks in dark. Guess I need to find out what time it gets dark. In the Utah plan, we do have days where we were thinking of being at a park then driving on to the next area. Don't know if this is feasible if we need to avoid driving in dark.

Level Contributor
34 posts
17 reviews
4. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

It looks like we could avoid the issue of driving from park to park in the dark if we move a day to the Utah plan.

Stay in Zion NP area 9/10 and 9/11

Drive through the areas noted on 9/12 and stay in Capitol Reef area 9/12 and 9/13

Capitol Reef on 9/13

Drive to Moab on 9/14, leaving on 9/18. We'd have part of 9/14 and 9/15-9/17 for Arches, Island in the Sky, rafting. Move the things in the original plan from 9/17 to 9/18. On 9/18 Monument Valley then on to GCSR. Hopefully, we would get to GCSR early enough to do the viewpoints from the East entrance and sunset as was recommended in the post I referenced. We'd have the full day on 9/20 at GCSR. Checkout on 9/21.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
67,354 posts
250 reviews
5. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

Plan to be at your nightly destinations at least an hour before sunset each day.

Zions could use another day.

At the Grand Canyon National Park lodging location trumps everything. Bite the bullet and stay inside the park. Coming from MV you could get by with a single night there, then move on to Sedona for a night or two on the way to PHX.

Level Contributor
34 posts
17 reviews
6. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

I like the Sedona suggestion. Always wanted to go there. Looked into whitewater rafting and it doesn't look like it would be what we are looking for. So, we can shorten our Moab stay by a day and have that extra day to play with, too.

Unfortunately, I did not find any lodging availability in Grand Canyon National Park.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
67,354 posts
250 reviews
7. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

Keep checking at Grand Canyon National Park check several times a day. Cancelations happen.

Level Contributor
34 posts
17 reviews
8. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

OK will keep checking GCNP!

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,844 posts
41 reviews
9. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

You need.a second night for Zion. It’s quite simple to avoid driving in the dark between destinations if you plan correctly. Also, unless you are doing some serious hiking at the Grand Canyon, you don’t need 3 nights there. For the best experience at Monument Valley, you should stay there overnight so you can enjoy sunset and sunrise.

Consider this:

Sept 10: Vegas to Springdale/Zion. Overnight

Sept. 11: Zion

Sept 12: Zion AM. Drive to Bryce to arrive before sunset. 2.5 hour drive. Overnight

Sept. 13: After breakfast, leave for Torrey. The activities you have planned will take most of the day. But you’ll still arrive in Torrey before dark. Overnight

Sept 14: Brief stop at Capitol Reef. Drive to Moab. 4 hour drive. Overnight

Sept 15, 16, 17: Arches, Canyonlands, Other Moab activities.

Sept 18: Moab to Monument Valley. 3 hour drive without the other stops. Overnight

Sept 19: Monument Valley to South Rim. 3 hour drive. Overnight

Sept 20: Grand Canyon

Sept 21: Drive to Phoenix

Level Contributor
34 posts
17 reviews
10. Re: Grand Canyon South Rim

Thanks Connie B!

I am continuing to check lodging availability in Grand Canyon NP as RedRox suggested. At the moment, there is availability at Maswik Lodge North and Yavapai Lodge. Any input on these? Thanks!

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