Tucson - Sedona - Grand Canyon - Vegas in February?

I need some advice, hopefully from someone who lives in these areas. In February my Husband and I are travelling around the USA. We have most of it planned, however, we are flying to Tucson where we have 3 nights stay booked in a lovely B&B in the desert, then we have 2 nights booked in Sedona, a place I really want to visit and then a night in the Grand Canyon wich we havent booked yet before travelliing onto Las Vegas. Can someone advise me of firstly the journey from Tucson to Sedona, are the roads heavily travelled, are there plenty of rest stops, how hilly / mountainous are the roads?. I need the same info again for Sedona to the Grand Canyon, in mid february will the roads be icy?, busy?, rest stops? and how high will we be travlling up to the south rim? Also, what is Tucysan like? as we are on a budget i note the hotels there are cheaper than on the rim but it is an OK place to stay? Finally, is the trip from Grand Canyon to Vegas ok to do in a day?, same question applies to roads here too. I would appreciate any help / advice as i'm sure you can appreciate driving in the UK is alot different to the USA and we want to know what to expect!.

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Like his namesake our own Jack Kerouac has apparently never been on the road that he is referring to.

    I have driven up and down the snowy and icy switchbacks of US 89A that go from the floor of Oak Creek Canyon to the Scenic Overlook that's on the top of the Mogollon Rim literally dozens of times under winter conditions...and they will get the attention of even the most experienced of bad weather drivers

    To your questions:

    First of all rent the biggest car that you can get your hands on that has a V-6 and front wheel drive because on the long stretches of the West driver comfort becomes important as does the ability to safely make high speed passes on 2 lane roads >like US 89 & US 89A

    Tucson to Sedona is a fairly easy trip with one major uphill climb up on I-17 going up Black Canyon and one major down climb from the top of the mesa heading down into Camp Verde

    You can avoid running thru downtown Phoenix by taking the Loop 2002 exit off I-10 at Chandler

    over to Loop 101 and then connecting that to I-17 N> get gas at the first I-17 exit and make a "pit stop " if need be


    Sedona to GCNP

    btw the S.Rim of GCNP is at 7000'msl

    This is the best way to do this trip .

    Assuming that the switchbacks on 89A are open and that you feel safe about driving up them

    then.. [If not then head back to I-17 and use that for your uphill ]

    Take 89A to the Pulliam Airport turnoff

    Get on I-17N

    btw "I" means Interstate Highway and US Highways are what preceded them


    I-40 E 2 exits

    Take US 89 North to the Junction of SR 64 at Cameron AZ and make a left

    Get gas in either Cameron or Grey Mountain which is 8 miles south

    As long as you're in Cameron getting gas

    This the best place for a pit stop and possibly lunch



    Climb up SR 64 and when you see a sign that says "Entering Kaibab National Forest "pull over get out of your car and check out the view behind you because you can literally over 100 miles across the barren technicolor landscape of the Navajop and Hopi Reservations


    You will enter GCNP at the Desert View entrance

    When I used to live an hour from the S.Rim Lipan Point was the place that we took all of our vistors to for their first view of the Canyon. and the reason was that unlike many other places on the S.Rim , in the view from Lipan and Desert View the River is clearly visible and in fact dominates the landscape below you.

    What's also visible between Desert View and Grandview Points are almost all the rock groups that make up the Canyon including the GCN Supergroup


    Drive on SR 64 stopping at everything that says "Point" on it>

    Watch out for the mule deer ..and don't feed them

    When you get to the "T" make a left to get to Tusayan or a right to get to the NPS Visitors Center,Grand Canyon Village and the rest of the hotels on or by the Rim.

    Personally I would hold off making any hotel reservations beyond your Sedona dates and then call around just before you leave your hotel in Sedona to see what's available either in Tusayan or the Park or even the Cameron Trading Post

    btw :"ya -ah -teh "means hello in Navajo

    In a worst case scenario you could always find a place to stay in Flagstaff which has thousands of hotel /motel rooms available in every price range imaginable


    To Las Vega from GCN

    From a weather perspective the trip has only one potentially bad spot in it ;the 20 miles from Williams to Ash Fork. Under heavy snow conditions the downhill trip in heavy truck traffic can get interesting at times

    Once the world flattens out ,you're home free and it's an easy and boring trip to Las Vegas

    Get gas at exit 48 and try to resist the urge to do 100mph..it's actually tough to do


    Just so you know :there is another stunningly lonely ,empty and beautiful way to get to 'Vegas

    that takes you over the top of the Canyon

    Weather permitting you may want to think about it

    Pop this into mapquest exactly like this

    GCN>Leees Ferry AZ>Mount Carmel Junction UT>Hurricane UT>LAS

    Have a safe trip


    Update :

    Help me out here: If you guys are on a budget then why are you using airport and car rental combinations that will easily add hundreds of dollars onto the cost of your vacation?

    My experience tells me that if you fly into and out of major airport like LAS and you pick up and return your car to the same location it's just a lot cheaper.

    Granted it's 400 mostly empty miles from Las Vegas to Tucson but if you don't hit too much Dam traffic or PHX traffic you can do it in under 8 hours ..something to think about

    Source(s): Me>Canyon hiker , former NoAZ resident [although the place never ever leaves you] and former NoAZ to PHX commuter
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  • 1 decade ago

    Mr. Danger above is quite familar with the area and gives some good and accurate advice. Here are some of my own additions and suggestions regarding a few of your specific questions:

    In terms of Tusayan vs staying at the rim, I would highly recommend trying to get a lodge on the rim. Since you are only staying one night (and doing long drives both coming and going), you are going to want to maximize your time at the canyon. Tusayan is basically a string of tourist-oriented hotels and cafes lining the highway just before the park entrance. Nothing wrong with them, but it not a very pretty or interesting area and it is still a good 15-20 minute drive until you get the rim. If you stay at the rim, than you will really feel like you are at the canyon and can just pop out of your room to the rim to catch a sunset or have a quick walk before dinner any time you want.

    While it is true that they frequently get cancellations at the last minute (especially in winter), I would recommend trying to get something reserved ahead of time so that you don't have to worry about it. If there is nothing available online, try calling them directly as last minute cancellations sometimes take a while to show up in the online system.

    As far as weather goes, as Mr. Danger notes, the South Rim is at 7,000 feet elevation (2,330 meters) which means it is higher than Denver and has a real winter including snow storms and sub-freezing temps. Northern Arizona winter weather is hard to predict (especially the last few years which have tended to be drier and warmer). In Feb, it might be completely dry and clear with temps in the low 50s or there might be a foot of snow on the ground, ice on the roads and a full storm in progress. Better to dress for the later and hope for the former. Fortunately, even when big storms do occur they tend to be short-lived and roads get cleared off quick.

    A couple of notes on routes... the most direct route from Sedona and Oak Creek to Flagstaff and the canyon is up the backend of Oak Creek canyon along 89A. This is a very beautiful and interesting drive, but also very winding and steep - can be a little intimidating for flatland drivers in good weather and scary for everybody in bad. If the weather is looking bad or roads are icy, you probably want to backtrack from Sedona along AZ179 and go up to Flagstaff on I-17 instead.

    As far as Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon goes, going up 89A to Cameron and accessing the park via the less-used East Entrance is a more interesting drive and takes you past some nice and less crowded overlooks in the eastern park, but it will also more than an hour to your drive to the lodges or Tusayan compared to going straight from Flagstaff to the canyon along US180 and AZ64 (more so if weather is bad or roads are icy). Given your short time at the canyon and long drives coming and going, you may want to make a beeline to Grand Canyon Village so you can enjoy walking around and being there without feeling more rushed than you already will.

    Lastly, since you are going to be in Tucson for a bit, be sure and check out the Sonoran Desert Museum - a world class combination of zoo, botantical garden and museum (west side of town).

    Have fun! Its sounds like you have planned a great trip.

    Source(s): Life-long Arizona resident and frequent Grand Canyon visitor and hiker. Live in Phoenix, but grew up in Flagstaff (near Sedona and the canyon) and went to school in Tucson. My own non-commerical website with recommendations regarding frquently asked questions about visiting the canyon (also pictures and stories from canyon hikes and other places): http://www.desertmarmot.com/grandcanyon/ten_gc_que... Xanterra Reservations Website (Xanterra runs all the lodges at the South Rim): http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/ Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum: http://www.desertmuseum.org/
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  • 1 decade ago

    lots of questions

    tuscon to sedona--depends what day of the week but there is always some traffic not too bad tho don't worry about it rest stops? not really but lots of exits where there amenities...(ie rest rooms gas etc)

    hilly? its the desert---its not really hilly or mountainous in arizona

    sedona to grand canyon same answers there are more curves and small hills from the grand canyon to vegas then anywhere else you mentioned...even then not bad and from the canyon to vegas in a day--yes and that will be eh busiest amount of traffic to and from vegas...especially to vegas on a friday--try to do that on any day but friday.

    roads icy? shouldn't be---depends on the weather tho--i really doubt you will find ice...on the roads. oen thing i can garuntee it will be COLD especially in the mornings...the desert doesn't hold heat.. it will be warmer in vegas --because concrete holds the heat...warmer but still cold

    now as to driving..the easiest way to remember is the driver of the car should be in the middle of the road (when two lanes). will take a half hour or so to kind of get used to it..but you will.

    i think i got all your questions...the biggest thing: don't worry have fun welcome to usa.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I can answer the vegas

    grand canyon part, yes,

    you can do vegas to the canyon

    in a day, and take something

    very warm to wear at the canyon,

    i went in march 2005,and it was freezing,

    and snowing at the canyon...

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