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As part of a trip to the USA I'd like to include the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. To save time I'd like to know if I can get to the North Rim from San Francisco in day light hours (I don't want to drive in the dark) - as follows;
Fly from San Francisco to Phoenix.
Take a shuttle to Flagstaff.
Pick up a rental car and drive to the North Rim
I hope to stay at least two nights at the North Rim and then drive to Monument Valley to spend another two nights before heading back to Flagstaff. A "must do" for me is to take photographs at sunrise and sunset in both places!
This will be my first trip to the Canyon and I ought to include the South Rim but I've read too many negative comments - I can only visit in July next year - a very busy time at the Canyon!
It's about a 3-1/2 to 4 hour drive from Flagstaff to North Rim. As to doing the enter trip from SFO in one day, it would depend your air/shuttle schedule and whether you want to stop for any of the sights along the route. Sun sets late in July--7:30-7:45 or so. Yes, it can be done.
You would save some time renting the car in Phoenix instead of Flagstaff.
We enjoyed the south rim, but we were there in October.
billiv makes a good suggestion about renting a car in Phoenix. It will save time -- and probably money as well.
The North Rim sees far fewer visitors than the South Rim, and is indeed much quieter. If you hate crowds, then it is a better choice. I sometimes refer to the South Rim as the Disneyland of national parks.
However, I wouldn't let the issue of South Rim crowding worry you too much (unless you're visiting during the national holiday on July 4). As an overnight visitor, you won't have to contend with the traffic nearly so much. Once day tourists leave in late afternoon, things get very quiet. The South Rim also has better views of the bottom of the canyon, as it's about twice as close to the Colorado River. As an added bonus, you'll reduce your driving time by a couple of hours, plus another hour when you drive to Monument Valley.
Whichever rim you choose, it's a good choice. Have a good trip!
Here’s how to make the most of the South Rim: Enter from the East, at the Desert View Watchtower entrance on highway 64 (start out from Flagstaff going northeast on highway 89). Full-service location, toilets, restaurant, plus that watchtower - awesome views, and as you then drive west along the rim, make sure you stop often, every pullout and lookout provides a different set of colors, different rock formations, an incredible variety of looks. Not many people until you get to the main location where everybody hangs out, near the Village, and by then you’re almost blasé - sure, what you see from there among the crowds is fine, but you’ve been spoiled, so you don’t mind those crowds.