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Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

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Fort Worth, Texas
posts: 4
Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

My husband will be in Phoenix on business and we would like to stay over the weekend to see the Grand Canyon. My dilemma is, do we drive to Flagstaff Friday night, get up early Saturday morning to drive the Grand Canyon and return to Flagstaff or should we drive to Sedona to spend the night before returning to Phoenix for our Sunday evening flight back home?

II really would hate to miss the drive between Flagstaff and Sedona during daylight!

Please help with this dilemma, first time to see the Grand Canyon and we are in our fifties.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
posts: 38,342
reviews: 119
1. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

I'd do a night at the GCNP and a night in Sedona. There's no reason to stay in Flagstaff unless you plan to spend time in Flagstaff. Since your destinations are GCNP and Sedona, those are the places you should go to and where you should stay each night.

If you can't leave PHX until Fri afternoon, drive to Sedona and stay there on the first night. Explore the area in the morning and then drive on to GCNP and stay there for the nigh. Book GCNP lodging right now.

888-297-2757 take whatever room you can get inside the park.

Henderson, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Flagstaff, West Yellowstone
posts: 1,896
reviews: 57
2. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

I recommend caution in driving up the mountain (even on I-17) from Phoenix to Flagstaff at night. It can be done, but depending on the time of year, elk can gather in the road and not be seen until it's too late.

If you'd like to advise what you like to do and your goals for the trip, if anything other than seeing the canyon and the scenic drive between Flagstaff and Sedona in the daylight, I'd be happy to throw in another two cents worth.

Flagstaff, Arizona
posts: 1
3. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

Drive to Flagstaff Friday nite and enjoy the scene downtown. Drive to GCNP via US HWY 180 and check out the El Tovar. Take the East Rim Drive to the Watchtower and East Rim Lookout , return to Flagstaff via US HWY 89N , check out Cameron Trading Post. Good Food. Drive South thru Oak Creek Canyon via 89A to Sedona and back to Phx on I-17

Henderson, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Flagstaff, West Yellowstone
posts: 1,896
reviews: 57
4. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

Hi IKnowFlag, welcome to the forums!

Wickenburg, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Wickenburg
posts: 2,458
reviews: 484
5. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

I also highly recommend most strongly that you stay at least one night at the GC, preferably at a rim lodge. This would need to be booked ASAP as vacancies at the rim lodges are at a premium for most of the year and get booked very well in advance especially for peak season – which is much of the year.

For the in-park hotels, visit www.grandcanyonlodges.com or call 888-297-2757.

Failing that you can get lodging right outside the south gate (main entrance to the park) in Tusayan, about ten minutes' drive from the rim. What some people do is reserve a room at one of the Tusayan hotels, but then keep calling Xanterra for cancellations – which do happen, but don’t make it back onto the website before they’re snatched up again. That way you might still get ‘inside’ and then just cancel the prior reservation at Tusayan.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 48,977
reviews: 42
6. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

Agreeing. Spend one night at the rim if you can.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
posts: 38,342
reviews: 119
7. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

I'm not knocking or discouraging Flagstaff. It's just that the OP wants to see GCNP and Sedona and has only two nights. Staying at Flagstaff as a base adds about 4-6 hours of commuting to a plan that doesn't need it if they simply stay at the destinations instead.

We always encourage staying inside the park at the GCNP. The same logic applies to staying in Sedona.

Tempe, AZ
posts: 5,918
reviews: 4
8. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

I drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff at least 20 times per year, often at night (like last Thursday, which also meant snow), and have never once seen elk. The drive on I-17 is a piece of cake at any time day or night.

You should spend 1 night in GCNP if your main intention is seeing the Canyon. Everything else can be planned around that.

Henderson, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Flagstaff, West Yellowstone
posts: 1,896
reviews: 57
9. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

BoxingJohn, I'm not doubting that you've never seen elk along I-17, but I can say that I have more than once and it was potentially dangerous. Once we were speeding along late at night (probably between 10:30 and midnight) coming home after a flight into PHX tired from an overseas trip and literally passed right between two large elk in the left and right lanes between Kachina Village and the airport exit at Flagstaff. Had one or the other of them moved a few inches in to the middle lane we would have had a rather ugly welcome home.

They can and do end up on the road and at speeds upwards of 65 mph, it could be dangerous.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
posts: 38,342
reviews: 119
10. Re: Flagstaff for 1 night or 2 nights?

I must concur. The abundance of elk along I-17 seems to begin near the southbound view point turn off above the Mogollon Rim on up through Munds Park to Kachina Village and everywhere around Flagstaff, especially to the west.