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So I want to visit both the Grand Canyon, and Meteor Crater in Arizona.

Having little to no idea about getting around in Arizona, I'm assuming there are three acceptable options:

Drive - I picked the Skywalk as a random point and asked Google for directions to Winslow - it suggests 5.5 hours - is this fair?

Train - Amtrak goes through Winslow - but does it go anywhere near the Grand Canyon that is convenient and useful?

Bus - again, I'm not sure that this is useful - time schedules and so on.

So assuming driving is the more sensible option, and that I'd want to spend at least a full day at the Grand Canyon, and some time at the crater during daylight, are three days in the area sensible? Or would I come away feeling like I'd robbed myself? I'd like to see some more of the canyon than just the skywalk, but while I can hike for hours on the flat, slopes tend to do me in even when fit.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

According to the Grand Canyon Site it's a great day trip from the Canyon by car.

Several other sites also refer to accessing the Crater by car.

Getting there:

Car - Is 5.5 hours fair Based on ending next to the Crater instead of Winslow I'd say it's more then fair. Of course you could change where you start your trek to the Crater which will cut your drive time almost in half. Problem is it's not as spectacular.

Bus - Lots and lots of tours from Phoenix, Las Vegas, Sedona, going to the Grand Canyon but couldn't find anything going to the crater.

Train - Outside of major Metropolitan areas train isn't really a convenient way of getting anywhere in the US, so you could use a train to get to Flagstaff or Winslow but there you would need to rent a car to get around.

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Do you plan to have a "base" somewhere in Arizona and start exploring from there, or are you on a trip and want to pass those places?

I was stuck with a broken car in Arizona last year and a rather small town, and learned that they cancelled all bus routes to smaller towns in that area a few years ago. Even if the town was half way between Tucson on Phoenix and the (old) bus station was just 2 blocks away from the highway, they just didn't want to stop there - so i would not bet on a public bus service, but rather visit the next big city with a population >100.000 and try to find a tour operator who will take you there.

Grand Canyon south Rim

Also, what part of the Grand Canyon do you want to visit? There is the North Rim and the South Rim. The South Rim is the more scenic one you know from the pictures, and this is where all the tour buses stop and you have a Information center there, overnight parking, a Campsite and there is even a small landing strip for planes nearby. You could visit the north rim as well, but it is probably another day trip away by car since you have to drive ~80km back to Cameron, and then ~200km up to Marble Canyon where the nearest bridge is to cross the canyon, and then a few more hundred kilometers from there all the way to the south rim - see map.

If you stay in a hostel in that area you will most likely find other backpackers or tourists who want to explore the grand canyon, so hang out in the kitchen or the hostel lounge, check the notice board or ask at the reception.

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I wouldn't mind where I was based each night - I want to fly into the area (Vegas, or Flagstaff or something) and then get about with one of the aforementioned means of transport. It's looking like car at this rate tho, given the answers about buses and trains. However your mention of tours has made me wonder if that may make part of it easier, thanks, will look into that. –  Mark Mayo Apr 20 '12 at 4:13
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