Our visit to Grand Canyon was in early March. It was part of our amazing USA Road Trip. The weather was getting warmer already and it was a perfect day for a nature walk. It was a dream to see the beauty of this nature phenomenon, so we planned whole day for this visit. Here is our guide Flagstaff to Grand Canyon – How to visit Grand Canyon in one day trip from Flagstaff on your own.
Flagstaff to Grand Canyon – Overnight in Flagstaff
We drove from Las Vegas and stayed in Flagstaff overnight. The motel was called Aspen. It’s a nice property, but a bit cold for winter months – night temperatures went as low as 0 C. There was still snow at mountain peaks. Wish I had a heated blanket with me! On the positive side – it felt like a true nature hike – something completely different from Vegas style hotels. Location of the motel is very convenient, it was clean and fairly good price. There is a supermarket next door and few nice restaurants. I recommend Satchmo’s – amazing BBQ ribs at great price. Their address is 2320 N 4th St, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, United States.
We woke up early in the morning and after a quick breakfast filled our gas tank with fuel and started our trip. The distance is around 86 miles, took us 1,5 hours to get there. The roads are wide and it’s an easy drive from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon. It was fun to ride while streaming our favorite music to car stereo and singing along to favorite songs. At the gates of the park there is a fee to be paid – 30$ per car. The ticket is valid for 7 days. Once you enter the park, there is another 2-3 miles to reach the parking lot. It’s really well organized and easy to understand. Once you park your car, there is an option to check the map, visit a store/cafe or take the shuttle bus to one of the viewing points. Make sure to have a map
Of course, you can drive to the view points as well, but the parking is limited there so I recommend using the shuttle. It’s totally free!
Our first view point was Kaibab trail head. We decided to hike down the trail as long as we feel like and then turn back. It’s an easy hike for beginners, but might be crowded in peak seasons. Once we started off, the temperatures started to increase a lot. It’s a good idea to have enough water and snacks with you. By the way – you can refill your water bottle for free. Also beware of donkey poo.
The views are amazing, as you walk down the trail, you discover the whole beauty of the canyon! It’s not possible to see it from above, so make sure to hike at least one trail (I recommend Kaibab, as it’s one of the easiest). You can decide, how long you’d like to hike, but make sure not to overestimate yourself. Hiking up is very hard! Good shoes are a must!
After climbing up again, we took the shuttle to the next view point – Yaki point, and then took the shuttle back. At that point we were hungry and wished to see the other side. We walked to Grand Canyon Village and visited their huge gift store for some souvenirs. Afterwards we took our car and drove to Grand view point. It was an amazing view, we loved it so much! The pictures speak for themselves!
Next were Lipan Point, Navajo Point and lastly Desert View watchtower. The last stop was really nice place – we stayed longer and enjoyed the view. The weather was getting colder and windier, so we decided to end our tour at that point. It was an amazing trip and so much to see! The nature is breathtaking!
On our way back to Flagstaff we stopped at Tusayan Village (right outside the gates to the park) for a dinner – the place was called Yippee-Ei-O! Steakhouse. Really good cocoa (loved their mugs), the meal was OK too.
Why drive from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon?
If you are looking to visit Grand Canyon, I recommend doing it by car. There are many advantages over tour buses or helicopter tours.
- First, you get to decide where you go and how much time you spend there. The nature is so amazing, you don’t want to rush through. We spent there whole day and it didn’t feel like enough. So think twice and consider renting a car and taking the trip on your own.
- Second, coming by car from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon gives you the freedom to move around and have your own pace. You can always stop at souvenir shops that you like and not the ones that tour guides have chosen for you. There are much cheaper GC souvenirs at gas stations!
- Third, it will be cheaper in the end, especially if you are traveling with a group of friends! You will have better memories of the trip.
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