Grand Canyon National Park

Our first real adventure vacation other than ski vacations and it was a success! We included surrounding parks and sites.

Our goals for this trip:

1) keep the driving to no more than 4 hours in the car at any one time
2) enjoy the parks and do outside activities that fit our family
3) leave “down time” each day for our teenagers to relax
4) select accommodations for a family of 5 that included sitting rooms/refrigerators
5) stay a little longer in one of the spots (we chose Sedona)

You will see that while we went to places with a ton of “adventure” potential, we really took the mild routes. If your family is up for it, there are all levels of hiking, biking, rafting, horseback riding and climbing activities just about everywhere. You may book ahead of time or wait until you arrive, it really depends on the season. We found that it was not as crowded as we expected and found out that the last two weeks of August are actually less traveled than the rest of the summer–although hot!

The itinerary which worked well for us:

Day 1: Fly into Phoenix, arrive late, pick up rental car, stay near airport
Day 2: Drive North on Rt. 17 heading towards Grand Canyon

Take scenic Rt. 395 , side visit to Sunset Crater Volcano & Wupatki National Monument

Rt. 395 loops back into Rt. 89 North, in Cameron stop for lunch at the reservation Pick up Rt. 64 West to the East entrance to Grand Canyon Nat’l park

End day just outside the South Entrance of the Park, stay in hotel there

Day 3: Drive into the part early, walk rim trails or catch one of the free ranger talks;stay for sunset; stay in hotel there
Day 4: Drive back into the park and exit the East entrance to Rt. 64, pickup Rt 89 North to Rt 160 , to Rt. 163 North towards Monument Valley
Tour Monument Valley, stay night there
Day 5: Leave Monument Valley, pick up Rt. 191 south toward Canyon de Chelly Visit–then take Rt 191 south to Petrified Forest and Painted Desert
Continue on Rt. 40 West to Rt 89 S, end up in Sedona, spend night there
Day 6: Sedona: Visit Bell Rock, climb/hike easy trail
Day 7: Sedona: Take a sunset jeep tour/visit Red Rock State Park
Day 8: Drive south out of Sedona on Rt. 89 toward Phoenix, stop and visit old town
Visit Taliesin West, in Scottsdale
Stay at hotel near airport
Day 9: Early morning flight home


Hotel “Recommendations”

These hotels worked for our family of 5 including our autistic son. We wanted two rooms/suites/connecting or close; refrigerator in room for snacks etc; convenient location. You might find others that fit your particular needs and also fit the budget that you set for your trip.

Near the Phoenix airport: Doubletree Guest Suites Phoenix

Outside the South Rim of Grand Canyon: Best Western Grand Canyon Squire Inn

In Monument Valley: The View Hotel (Note this is the only hotel in Monument Valley, a really cool experience)

In Sedona: Hilton Sedona Resort & Spa

Overall, the accommodations worked well. The hotel near thePhoenix airport had a free shuttle for our last trip to the airport. We booked late so we were unable to book inside the Grand Canyon, which of course is preferable although we didn’t feel as though we missed out, our hotel was literally outside the South Rim entrance.

The Hilton in Sedona, worked out well although it is outside of the town. There are other accommodations in town and in the areas around Slippery Rock park that looked interesting.

Trip Highlights

On a trip like this the sites are truly overwhelming. The scenery in Arizona changes during a fairly short drive from canyons to deserts to vast areas with soaring red rocks–it’s amazing. We enjoyed all of the sites but if you don’t have a lot of time, then we suggest these “top picks”:

Grand Canyon: walk the trails along the South Rim; stop and have lunch on the porch of the El Tovar Hotel .The hotel serves an appetiser menu which has something for everyone and isn’t too costly. You can sit, enjoy a cool drink and just soak in the view beyond. The porch was open into the evening so you can also enjoy the sunset!

Monument Valley: this is really a wild place. Highly recommend staying at The View Hotel so you can watch sunrise over the “monuments”. Many movies have been filmed here you will recognize the sites!

Sedona: The red rocks of Sedona are everywhere you turn. Soaring high above the ground, you can walk/hike most of them (we did with our family) and Red Rock State Park has easy walking trails also. We took a Pink Jeep Tour at sunset, we did the “easy ride” as opposed to the more rugged one–this is really up to your family to decide. They have a web site with detailed information. Definitely worth doing.

Tip: Individuals with a permanent disability may obtain free access to the National Parks with an America the Beautiful pass. Proof of disability is required. For more info:

Moon at Monument Valley

Moon at Monument Valley

Sunrise at Monument Valley

Sunrise at Monument Valley