Where/how to spend a couple extra days betw Phoenix/Grand Canyon?

We are visiting the Grand Canyon this August. Staying at the rim Sun night, then hiking down, staying at the bottom for 2 nights, then at the rim for another night on Wed. We are flying in/out of Phoenix Sat and Fri. It is about 4 hrs drive from airport to canyon.

Any ideas on how/where you would spend the day before and the 2 days after our stay at the canyon?

We live near Chicago and tend to prefer the natural over the metropolitan, and the the offbeat rather than the commercial. Any strong recs for eats/stays?

Are you set on August for some reason? It’s a truly horrendous time to visit the GC. The temperature in the Inner Canyon will make it an unpleasant experience. You won’t be able to enjoy your day at the bottom, and you will likely have to leave well before dawn to hike up safely unless you’re in very good shape.

October or November is a much better time.

As for other stuff - are you equipped for backpacking, or were you planning to stay at Phantom Ranch accommodations?

I would consider making the drive to Monument Valley.
It’s spectacular. Most of the interesting sites can only be visited with a Navajo guide, but that ends up being a plus, because they know all the neat places to see.

It’s going to be brutally hot in August, so be very prepared.

Thanks. But we are set for the time. Going the last week in Aug for various reasons. Staying at the ranch. Having mules haul our gear.

Yeah - looks like there are lots of neat stuff OUTSIDE our 2 endpoints. I was hoping for some suggestions that might be closer to a “scenic route” from on to the other, rather than an extra couple of hours. But we’ll see…

So you guys think we should spring for AC in our rental? :wink:

Based on your schedule, you really only have one full day available on the Thursday, right? And that will be after a tough hike up on the Wednesday. If it’s your first time, I’d just plan to take another relaxed day on the rim of the canyon. The Grand Canyon is so spectacular that it’s far more deserving of your time, I think - it vastly outshines anything within 1000 miles, let alone a few hours drive.

The Rim temperature will be much more comfortable than Phantom Ranch. You can take some gentle walks along the rim trails to recover from your exertions the day before. The Hermit Road has a tourist bus (and no cars allowed) and many great view points, you can hop on and hop off with the option to walk parts of it. Or hire bikes. It’s less crowded than the central Village area. The geology museum is worth visiting, it’s small but it’s one of the best viewpoints anywhere in the canyon.

If you can’t get Rim accommodation for Thursday night, Flagstaff is only just over an hour away. It’s a pleasant little town, and the closest place with a good selection of restaurants and facilities (there’s nothing much in Tusayan). And, of course, you will get much better accommodation for your money, as you’re not paying for the location.

Between Phoenix and the GC you could stop in Sedona, it’s a nice enough spot with some hiking and decent restaurants. But it’s not remotely comparable to the GC, and it will be crowded and expensive in August.

I think Monument Valley is the closest other big attraction, but it’s too far to drive on your schedule, and the drive to get there is pretty dull.

Well, Flagstaff is beautiful, and has some nice hikes.
There are lava tubes that you can hike into.
Meteor crater is not too far away.
Sedona / Oak Creek Canyon is beautiful (red rock country), but it will be crowded in August.
Jerome is a really neat artist community.
Prescott is a good stop for a beer.

Ooh - last time I was out that way we decided not to visit the meteor crater! May need to correct that!

For your free day at the bottom, the temperature will likely preclude doing too much, but I’d recommend wandering up Phantom Creek. It’s a narrow side canyon that enters Bright Angel Canyon from the W side less than a mile up from Phantom Ranch. Head up the N Kaibab trail from Phantom Ranch, and when you see the mouth of Phantom Canyon wade across Bright Angel Creek. There’s no trail up Phantom Creek, you’ll be walking in and out of the stream, so ideally running shoes are better than boots. You can go miles up it if you’re an experienced scrambler, but more likely you’ll just wander up a short way, hang out, and enjoy cooling off in the stream. In the 100-degree temperatures, you will not want to venture far from water.

Yes, that’s a good call. Easy half day visit from Flagstaff.

Prescott is kinda cool.

Flagstaff has the Lowell Observatory. It’s where Pluto was discovered in 1930. Also nice downtown area with some quirky shops. As others said, Meteor Crater nearby too.

Flagstaff is great fun for about a day and a half, after which you’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see. Get breakfast at Tourist Home (or La Bellavia if you’re really hungry), lunch at Diablo Burger, and supper at Root Public House. Mountain biking, lava tubes, or Sunset Crater, bouldering at Flag Climbing, and the Lowell Observatory after dark are all recommended activities, as well as strolling around downtown. I was somewhat underwhelmed by Meteor Crater bit to each his own. Prescott just feels like an exburb of Phoenix.

The South Rim is going to be lethally hot in August (not hyperbole; one of my WFR instructors worked in the canyon and said they regularly have to treat and evac people with extreme hyperthermia in summer). If you are going to hike down try to get acclimated to hot weather (takes about two weeks of exposure), wear loose fitting clothing with long sleeves that covers the neck and head prevents sunstroke, drink plenty of water and get enough electrolytes, and take it really easy on the way back up; leave plenty of time so you aren’t in a rush.


What kind of gear are we talking about? If you have camping equipment, then that opens up more possibilities. Camping on the Mogollon rim (say south of Winslow after stopping by the crater) would be nice and would be that much closer to Phoenix.

If you have any interest in architecture, you might want to take a tour at Taliesin West; that was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school in Scottsdale. That’s a suburb of Phoenix, but it’s in a fairly natural setting and blends in quite well.

If you decide to visit Meteor Crater, afterwards you could continue east to Holbrook and then head south to Show Low. From there take Hwy. 60 back to Phoenix. It’s a very scenic drive, especially going through Salt River Canyon.

oak creek canyon rocks! take a trip down slide rock.

There are two things I’d recommend:

Meteor crater.

And another day on the South Rim. There’s a whole-day package that leaves around 6 a.m. from the GC airport. The plane flies over the canyon (gorgeous views), up the canyon to Page; tour of Antelope Canyon; transfer to rafts for a trip down the river; buses back to the airport. I don’t remember the price, but it’s worth it.

To be clear, the Rim temperatures are fine, highs around 80 (Flagstaff will be similar). It’s the Inner Canyon at much lower elevation that gets lethally hot.


^This^ The thing people forget is that while the south rim is about 7,000 feet, that “mile deep” canyon puts you at 2,500 at the bottom, not much higher than Phoenix* plus you’re surrounded by hot rocks making it a sort of natural reverberatory oven. There are signs about keeping hydrated all over the place in the village, especially if you hike in, and they ain’t kidding.

We go to the canyon every couple years and we love coming in the south entrance then when we leave, out the east entrance, towards Cameron, then south on 89 and 89A to Sedona in the Red Rock country and Oak Creek canyon before connecting back up to I-17 for the rest of the way to Phoenix. Going out the east entrance lets you see parts of the canyon 90% of the tourists bypass including Mary Colter’s Watchtower (but then I’m a big Mary Colter fan).

*And you’ll get a sample of how hot Phoenix is when you leave Sky Harbor.

The Petrified Forest is another good half day adventure. It’s a couple hours from Flagstaff, but as above, it will be horrendously hot in August. You could just motor through and run your air at full blast. There’s no place like it.