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a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

Grand Canyon

From Argentina to Miami - Grand Canyon - LA!

Hi! we are a couple of friends from Argentina, traveling to meet the Grand Canyon and the West coast. We arrive at Miami, and the idea is to fly to Phoenix, rent a car, drive to the grand canyon, then Los Angeles and up.

We have tons of questions so any advice is very welcome! Mainly:

1) is phoenix the best location to fly to?

2) how long our stay on the GC should be? For now, we booked 3 nights.

3) it is OK to go with a car? we are unsure about this, if there will be snow, etc, etc

4) I was told to take a look at the hoover dam, sedona, the famous route 66... I just don't know in what order :)

Please, any advice is very welcome! :)

57 Answers  (showing 1 - 30)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Hi and welcome to Virtual Tourist, doomito! A warm advance welcome to the United States as well.

Yes, Phoenix is a good airport to fly into for visiting Sedona on the way to the South Rim of the Canyon - which is where I assume you've booked your hotel? Sedona is an easy stop on your way north.

Yes, a car is exactly the way to go the canyon: will make that stop in Sedona possible. May I ask how old you are? Not snoopy here - there are just some possible rental challenges if you're under age 25 for so.

3 nights is perfect for the length of your stay. What month are you traveling in? That'll help me to be able to tell you if there might be snow.

I can't quite tell for sure: are you planning on driving to LA from the canyon? Looks like it but thought I'd better check for sure.

And if you're driving to LA, how much time do you have to do that? That may determine a good route and some things to see along the way. I might not recommend going up towards Vegas just to the see the dam, depending on time.

We'll get all those questions answered! :O)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

When are you going? There is only snow in certain seasons.

How long do you have for the trip? The west is large and takes lots of driving time. Are you interested mostly in scenery? Lots of great national parks in the west. Click on the name of Goodfish above and check her Travel Pages on the parks. They are an excellent source of information with links to official web sites.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

You're too kind, Sally. What I do not have is anything on the eastern California parks: that's where YOU come in! :O)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Europe

maybe better to be sure to have a car otherwise it could be a pesadilla.

Phoenix has not a good reputation - imo you better have Las Vegas as destination after Miami as you want also visit Hoover Dam, I found renting a car in Las Vegas is cheaper than other states. From Las Vegas you can go to Dam on the way to G.C. as you have to pass from there, then from Kingman you can drive also a little of 66, but, really, there nothing to see till Williams so better stay on Hwy40.

I understood you're going soon as you are worry about snow, after your visit at G.C., in case you have days, before going west to Los Angeles you can go east or south, maybe north to Page, Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley. There is a lot to see, in any case I suggest to do a circuit so in this way you can turn back the car to Las Vegas and you don't pay the drop off which could be quite espensive.

last summer I noticed that taking the car in Salt Lake C. and leaving in Los Angeles it costed just 10USD less than taking back the car to SLC and air ticket for two to Los Angeles (beside I drove much less!). At LAX we had a new car.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

If driving, it would make more sense to me to fly into Phoenix, drive north through Sedona to the canyon and then head west. Flying into LV, the OP has to backtrack west from the GC. We've flown into Phoenix multiple times and never had an issue.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

Thank you [VT member 8da3d]! We are 35 and 37 years old. The idea is to drive, to see some beautiful landscapes on our way. We arrive to Phoenix on March 29, and our check-out is on the 31st. Our fly back to Argentina is on April 10th, we need two days on Miami, so basically our trip to the west coast will end on April 7th or 8. Leaving the GC we have another week to enjoy. What do you recommend?

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Hi again - glad you came back! I'm just running out the door for the evening so will get back to you as soon as I can, OK? In the meantime, some of our other folks are sure to have some good suggestions for ya!

Whew: relieved to hear that you're over 25 as that solves one potential snag: you'll be good to go where car rental is concerned.

But one little question yet unanswered: were you intending on driving from the GC to LA? You'll probably encounter some stiff drop-off rates but if you want to see the country, there's no better way than behind the wheel.

And help me out here: you're flying into Phoenix, driving to the canyon, driving to LA, and then flying to Miami? Sounds like you have a week to do your 3 days at the canyon and the drive to LA.

Just curious: are you all fired up to see LA?

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

The itinerary is as follows:
- arrive at miami on the 26th
- arrive at phoenix on the 28th (mid day)
- 28, 29, 30 Grand Canyon
- 31 morning we head to west coast
- on April 7th, we have to return to miami, so we have about 8 days to the west coast

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Tampere

Takin R66 from GC to LA is an excellent idea if you love roads and open scenery. If you don't it might be boring. If you still have some historic view, go ahead, forget the highways. You know, R66 doesn't exist anymore, I highly recommend preplanning of the route. I passed R66 on May 2011 with mc and from my pages you find all day travelogues with maps, reviews and book recommendation.It's easy to pass in 7-8 days, but if you take the most original paths, there are small roads with deadends so without good guides your daily mileages are much smaller than using Interstates.Have fun out there and don't hesitate to ask more.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Merseyside

When I went, many years ago,( in July) the temperature was in the 90's in Flagstaff but had dropped considerably at the GC so have a jacket in the car.
I would recommend taking a trip to the Painted Desert also (not too far from GC) It may take a minute or two to actually see the colors but well worth the time.
Flying into Phoenix is the best airport to fly into.
Try to avoid driving through LA at peak times, including lunch time, we encountered horrible traffic taking up valuable time.
Whichever way you choose and whatever you decide to see have a great, safe trip, Franki

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

OK, I think your schedule looks like this:

March 26th Miami

March 27th - Miami

March 28th - Fly to Phoenix/drive toGC/stop in Sedona (what time does flight arrive?)

March 29th - GC

March 30th - GC

March 31st - April 5th or 6th drive from GC west to LA (6 or 7 days)

April 7th - LA fly to Miami

So again, are you going to LA just to catch a flight back to Miami, and is that flight booked? If you're wanting to see some of the city, you should end up there by the 5th. If not, then arriving on the 6th for your flight out on the 7th will be fine.

So end of March/April is still a sketchy end-of-winter period out west so yes, you could see snow. I wouldn't let it interfere with your trip the GC as they plow pretty well up there. In the park, you will be able to drive the east road from GC village to Desert View yourself but the west road from GC Village to Hermit's Rest will have to be explored on foot/via free park shuttle: the road will be closed to private vehicles. Depending on the amount of ice/snow there's a great 8-mile rim hike that covers that entire stretch that I highly recommend. You can also just hike pieces of it from shuttle stop to shuttle stop and pick up one of those buses if you're pooped. It'll be a nice time to be at the park: temps could swing a lot so bring some warm layers and boots/hiking shoes with good traction, OK?

Absolutely make a stop in Sedona on the way up. I'm not sure what time your flight gets into Phoenix, though: it's about a 3 and 1/2 to 4 hour drive from the city to the canyon depending on road conditions.

So after you've done the canyon, you want to head west to LA? You will probably incur some unfortunate drop-off fees for the car versus returning it to Phoenix: that's why I asked if your flight out of LA was booked. If you weren't jazzed about the city (you mentioned being more interested in scenery - not that there aren't some very nice coastal spots in/near LA), there was a possibility of sending you around some of the prettier/more dramatic spots to the east or north of the canyon.

Soooooo, before we go further, let us know if LA is a must, and how much time you're wanting to spend there? That'll help us make the best recommendations for route/great things to see along the way.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from West Linn

Couple more thoughts to keep in mind. If you live near the coast at home and spend time in Miami, you will be used to low elevation. During your time up at the Grand Canyon you will be at quite some elevation. Hiking and drinking (alcohol) can wipe you out a lot faster than you expect. If you aren't planning to hike down into the canyon, then 1-2 days may be enough time at the canyon, and you might really enjoy Bryce and Zion OR Sedona or both. If you ARE going to hike down into the canyon and you come from sea level, be sure you are going up to nearby mountains and put some practice hikes in before your trip. The hike to the canyon floor and back up, often surprises people in how challenging it is, and the elevation is a critical part of that. Challenging from an endurance perspective not from a difficulty of hike/terrain perspective.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

To add to Toddecus note: hiking to the bottom and back isn't something the NPS recommends unless you're a conditioned hiker, and even then they don't like to see it done in the heat of summer.

But heat won't be a challenge you'll have so no problems there.

For sure, do some below-the-rim trekking but remember that every step down is one that has to come back up. :O)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Marina

The nice thing about your timing is that you're coming at the end of the high season for Arizona. Annually, several rental car companies dispatch cars to California for the summer, as fewer people rent in Arizona. During this time, you can get very good one-way deals. It's very fortunate for you that this year, for Avis and Budget, the period starts on March 25th. You can pick up in Phoenix and can drop in a number of California and Nevada locations. The fees may be an issue, so you could always look at an off-airport location, although they're not terribly easy to reach (but a taxi wouldn't be too expensive to the Budget Scottsdale Road office).

I did this several years ago and am doing it again this year (Phoenix to San Francisco). I paid something $5 per day several years ago and will pay $20 per day this year. You can keep the car for up to 7 days, typically.

To get the deal, you have to use the coupon code specified here:
Also look for the Avis version (same company, but different web sites and fleets).

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

I was checking the flights availability and travel duration.

What if I fly from Miami to SAN FRANCISCO, drive down the coast to LA and then drive to Grand Canyon. Take the fly back to Miami from Phoenix.

What do you think, is this best or the other option?

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

That drive is great, for sure, but I thought you had your nights at the GC booked already (March 29 - 30th?). You would try to change those?

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

Yeap, I will try to change it. Anyway, I have to because I made a mistake. I book starting on march 29 and I arrive to Phoenix the 28 6pm aprox. Another option is to spend 1 night in Phoenix or somewhere near. Not a fun of driving on unknown places at night. :)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

OK. Hope they can find some open rooms for ya. So I just posted one of our members who is really good at costal route (SF - LA) insights so hopefully he'll jump in here. For his benefit, now we may be looking at:

March 26th Miami

March 27th - Miami

March 28th - Fly to SF

March 29th -SF (I think you should have at least 1 day here)

March 30th - Pick up car: start driving to LA

March 31st - ?

April 1 - ?

April 2 - Drive from LA to Grand Canyon

April 3 -Grand Canyon

April 4 - Grand Canyon

April 5th - Grand Canyon - drive to Phoenix

April 6th - Phoenix (You chould shift this day to something else - probably the coastal piece, or take 2 days to drive to the canyon as it's a long way. Maybe stop through Death Valley? Maybe Yosemite if snow isn't a problem. The tire-chain law there is sort of a pain.

April 7th - fly from Phoenix to Miami

This is JUST a place to start, OK? Everything but your Miami days can be shifted a bit.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Hesperia

Hey Herman (?), - one of the members asked me to review this thread and see if I had any input to give, since it involves the California coast.

I am sorry, I had a hard time not cracking a smile when I read the Q&As, - for what you want to do including all you have said you wanted to do, would take almost a month.

One of the most common mistakes people make when they want to do a road trip in the U.S., is a gross miscalculation of the vast spaces and distances in this country, especially in the western region.

Flying into San Francisco only to leave the next day, is just a big waste of a great city. You want to fly to Miami/Phoenix/Sedona/GCanyon/Las Vegas/San Francisco/Coast Drive/Los Angeles.....all in a car except the MIa/PHX. The time you have given simply will not cover it. Not even close. The way it is, even without Vegas, you will do a LOT of driving, but you really won't have time to see anything.

I know you are really hoping this works as you, - as I am sure your math skills are better than this, and I quote: "31 morning we head to the west coast. -on April 7, we have to return to Miami, so we have 8 days to the west coast." Eh, no. On the 31, you have to leave early in the morning, and it will take all day. It is a good thing it is on a Sunday, as any other day, it would take a few extra hours. If you leave on the 7th, - you have six days, not eight.

If you cannot be at the very least for two nights in SFO, you may as well skip it. If you spend only one night, (arrive one day, leave the next) you will see nothing. Better with three nights, which is still not enough, and you would agree if you knew more about it. The two greatest cities in the country, or rather the most unique, are San Francisco and New Orleans. To visit either one, without really experiencing it, is a bloody crime....d:o)

The Highway ! route between SFO and LAX needs a minimum of two nights. It should be 3 nights, but by skipping a lot of the reasons to take this drive, you can do two nights. Understand, this drive is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. It needs to be experienced. I used to do a number of Grand California Tours so I know this well.

Depending on what you are visiting LA for, two nights would be an absolute minimum, and you really would only get a glimpse. If you have a theme park like Disneyland in mind, you would need more. However if it means an extra day in SFO or Hwy !, in LAX you can arrive one day and leave the next. Not ideal, but better than doing that in SFO.

Although I have done some tours that included the G. Canyon, - only an enthusiast would need more than two nights, unless you are going to do some hiking. Although I know the canyon, I bow to Goodfish's expertise. Her Pages on the National Parks are required reading for you.

I like Sedona enough to spend a night there, but in a rush it is not necessary, but some time, - more than just driving through it, is definately needed. You could enhance the experience if you research and review a bit of the Navajo indian history. If you do that, then Sedona will be magical.

No matter how you do this, you will have to leave some things out, - like Las Vegas. if you include it, - a minimum of two nights, or skip it. I know that Vegas does not appeal to everyone. I love it, but I am crazy anyway. This does require either driving all day to get there, and leave early to get somewhere else, - rush rush rush.........d:o)

Driving from Phoenix to LAX, is not what you might think. It is pretty much a desert all the way. There are some things to see, - if you had plenty of time, but in a time crunch, those would be the first to be dropped. It is a boring drive.

Question: Why Miami? It takes a lot of time away from the rest. This likely should be done in two land sections. If you skipped Miami and flew directly into SFO, and then down the coast to LAX, and then flew to PHX, and rented another car for Sedona and the GC. and then flew out of PHX back home.

Or you could do this in reverse.

Tell me what you think of this breakdown, and what you feel you can do without? Just realize the vast spaces with looooooong roads, with where your average speed will be1/2 to 3/4 of what you normally do, - because after all, this is a sightseeing trip, so do calculate time to do that.

Please understand I am not criticizing your ideas, but we are trying to bring you back to earth, and the realities of the time frame versus what you want to do.......d:o)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Erik, I got the feeling there was a reason the OP needed to be in Miami (family? friends?) but that was just my assumption. Herman, is that correct and are your tickets already booked?

He had also already booked the GC for 3 nights. Yes, that could be shortened depending on when they arrive on the first day but I kept it at three nights to give them 2 full days should they arrive in the evening.

And I would agree with your take on the drive from LA to the canyon on this itinerary, thus my initial question about how jazzed they were to see LA. As they're looking for scenery on this trip, that SF/LA drive fits the bill but yes, i'd probably fly from there to Phoenix or Vegas: Vegas just to rent a car and leave town for more outdoors-y environs. :O)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

Wow, thank you all for the incredible valuable information. We arrive to Miami, because currently, there is no other frequent destination from Argentina. 90% of the flights enter USA from Miami. Since my friend has never been there, we reserved a couple of 'beach time + shopping days' :)

Based on all you comments, maybe this itinerary is best?

MIAIMI: 26, 27, leaving on the 28th
PHOENIX: 28th, we can spend that night in Sedona which is closer maybe?
GRAND CANYON: 29, 30, leaving 31 in the morning
SAN FRANCISCO: from Phoenix to SF on a plane. SF 31, APRIL 1, 2, 3.

On April 4 start driving down LA. 4 and 5 on the route. Is that OK? (where to stay?)

LA: 6, 7. On the 8 fly to Miami.

MIAMI: 8, 9 returning on the 10th.

What do you think?

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

Another thing... on my last trip, I used the nights to travel (sleep on the bus or train). Do you think that's an option here? maybe to go from Phoenix to LA (instead of going to SF, I reverse the order).

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

That revised itinerary looks a lot better to me! Flying from Phoenix to SF is a very good choice, and you'll enjoy SF: very pretty city, and you will not want or need a car there. And yes, stay in Sedona: it's only a couple of hours from Phoenix.

Erik can probably tell you if there's one direction (LA to SF or SF to LA) better than another for the coastal drive. Viking? What do you think?

As far as bus/train, I'm not sure from what point to what point you're looking at? Phoenix to LA or SF instead of fly? Apologies in advance: will have to get someone else to weigh in on that piece as it's out of my knowledge base!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

@[VT member 8da3d], don't worry at all, you have exceeded my expectations. I'm glad I found people like you so willing to help.

Regarding the bus/train option, don't know from where to where... but just to consider it as an option maybe.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Whew - thanks for that. You know, we don't want to overplan someone else's trip for them 'cause after all, it's THEIR trip but we don't want to let 'em end up exhausted 'cause distances are too far or there's too much in one day...that sort of thing. You're going to be covering some mighty pretty country: we want to you to have the time to enjoy it!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Hesperia

Hey, that is much better indeed.........d:o)

No bus/train. The reason for flying that route is to save time. A bus ride would be miserable and long, - and it is only trasnsport, not geared for sightseeing.

I have said that I prefer to go SFO to LAX rather than the other way around. However if you are quesy about driving on the ocean side of the cliffs, than go LAX to SFO.

I also agree with staying in Sedona. Read up on Sedona and its Navajo people. You will not be disappointed.

If you want I will give you my Cali Coast ideas, but I would have to put it in a message, as the foum cannot take what I put out.......d:o)
Let me know........time is short.......

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

What do you think of this hotel in Sedona?

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Poco Diablo Resort, right ? Looks good but has a lot of stuff that you might not use (but will pay for) if only staying one night? No right or wrong as long as you're fine with the tariff. :O)

Nice that it has a bar so if you want to have a few (or more) pints or cocktails you don't have to drive: it's sort of on the outskirts but should be really pretty. :O)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Hesperia

Yeah, it is a bit on the outskirts of town, but it appears to be fine, - but as Kate said, it is a bit expensive but if you are OK with that, why not. Understand I am only looking at the website, I don't know this hotel personally. (Al my tours were 5 star, so I am not really familiar with the 1 to 3 star places)

All I ask, is that while there and while on indian land, please please respect the culture and understand that the Navajos are an impoverished tribe, so if you see photo opportunities, - ask first if you can take a picture, and slide them a few buck afterwards. Trust me when I tell you, - they need it, and they will appreciate it. Make sure it feels like as payment and not a handout. They may be poor but they are fiercly proud.

Starting to shape up as a great trip........

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Buenos Aires

Thank you for the great advice! I finally made a reservation at super 8 motel. Is just 1 night and for a couple of hours. Half the price :)

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