A fantastic view of the sunset reflecting the walls of Grand Canyon with a beautiful hue of pink and purple clouds in the blue sky

Road Trip From Phoenix To The Grand Canyon

If you're looking for a respite from the scorching heat of Arizona's capital, a road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon might be just what you're looking for. The route mapped out below happens to be incredibly scenic, so your journey will be every bit as gorgeous as the (admittedly epic) destination.

The road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon takes 4 hours and 30 minutes. Make time to cool off at Lake Pleasant and Slide Rock State Park, marvel at Montezuma Castle and the red rocks of Sedona on the way, and explore the scenic Flagstaff area.

This itinerary is truly unlike any other in the States, so continue reading to get an idea of just what you're in for.

How far is Grand Canyon from Phoenix and how long will the road trip take?

The road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon covers around 225 miles and can be done in 4 hours and 30 minutes if you drive through Sedona (and you have every reason to do so!). You can essentially take off whenever you want and still make it to the Canyon that same day.

With that said, this is one of the most unique and beautiful itineraries in this part of America and most definitely the best one in Arizona. Instead of trying to squeeze everything into a single day, stop along the way and do as much sightseeing as you can.

Another reason to split the trip up is that you're very likely to get caught in traffic at least once. Phoenix is a huge city and can really do a number on your travel time, and Sedona is the textbook definition of a tourist town, so you can expect moderate to heavy traffic throughout most of the year.

Interstate 17 at Arizona with several cars and trucks driving along the highway taking in the view of the mountains and green trees

Best road trip route from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

The best road trip route from Phoenix to Grand Canyon passes through the Red Rock Scenic Byway – although you can arrive an hour quicker by avoiding this road and Sedona altogether, you'd definitely be missing out, as this is arguably the most scenic stretch of the entire trip.

Whether you're flying into Phoenix or you simply don't have your own transport in the city, renting a car for your road trip is something you'll want to take care of ASAP.

For an easy-to-compare view of rental options for your road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon, take a look at our partner site, RentalCars.com .

Road trip route from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

Take Interstate 17 out of Phoenix, past Phoenix Sonoran Preserve and Lake Pleasant. Drive through Black Canyon City and cross the Verde River, and check out Montezuma Castle National Monument before resting at The Crack at Beaver Creek.

Past Montezuma Well, get on State Route 179 (or the Red Rock Scenic Byway) and follow it through the quaint Village of Oak Creek. Past Red Rock State Park and the Chapel of the Holy Cross, you'll enter Sedona – this is the perfect place for a stop if you haven't made one yet (and even if you have!)

Leave the city and follow another scenic road, State Route 89A, through Slide Rock State Park and past various hiking trails to the city of Flagstaff. From there, follow Interstate 40 as it runs parallel to the Historic Route, then make a right onto State Route 64 – stay on this road all the way to Kaibab National Forest and Grand Canyon National Park.

 A well preserved Hopi native American cliff dwelling in a mountainside made of stone and dirt framed by the green leaves found in Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona

Best places to stop between Phoenix and Grand Canyon

Short or not, this scenic route will command your full attention, so you'll need to stop somewhere overnight and cover as much ground as you can. These are some of the best hotels along this amazing route:

Explore the unique and beautiful Sedona

Thanks to its signature red rock formations, Sedona is a staple of any good Arizona road trip. Being the tourist magnet that it is, the city features plenty of great hotels, but Adobe Grand Villas stand out among the crowd.

With their unique, adobe-inspired design and exquisite attention to detail, the rooms at this resort are nothing short of incredible – they're all fairly different from each other aesthetically, so every return trip will feel like a brand new experience for you. Besides just looking great, the rooms come equipped with fireplaces, as well as amazing window views of the desert and the colorful garden.

Hiking and canyoneering can take a lot out of you, so Adobe Grand Villas' swimming pool and spa areas will relax you and have you up and running for the next day's adventure. You can enjoy a 3-course meal at the on-site Adobe Grand Restaurant, and you'll be greeted with freshly baked bread before you've even unpacked your bags.

Topping everything off is the great location – many of Sedona's main attractions will be within walking distance or a short drive away. The price you pay for a room at the Adobe is well above those of most other Sedona hotels, but then again, so is the quality of the accommodation.

READ MORE - Click here for more great hotel options

Relax at the Grand Canyon in style

When picking out a hotel at GC (or near any major national park), it's important not to make a hasty decision and pick a lousy hotel – you are on vacation, after all, and there's more to the experience than hiking and sightseeing. A great hotel in the area that ticks all the boxes is the Best Western Plus Inn of Williams.

From its stylish, comfortable rooms to the cozy lounge area, you will feel right at home during your visit. Nothing beats a relaxing dip in a heated outdoor pool or hot tub after a long day spent outdoors, and after a swim, you will go to sleep completely invigorated.

On top of that, throw in a glass of wine and a romantic dinner at the amazing on-site steakhouse for good measure. If you somehow still have the strength to move, blow off some steam in the fitness area before bed.

This hotel also very affordable, all things considered – considering that many mediocre resorts in the Grand Canyon area are usually on the expensive side because they're near the national park, the Best Western Plus Inn of Williams is an absolute bargain in every way imaginable.

An arch with Bearizona, statues of wolves, and bear in it and two cars driving along a curvy road with a sight of tall pine trees

Things to see on a road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

As opposed to rushing straight to GC, wait until you have at least a week of free time to explore as you drive along this route. These are just a few of the countless places worth checking out during your road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon:

  • Phoenix Sonoran Reserve – Featuring plenty of hiking trails and vast expanses of cacti and other desert plants, this reserve is living proof that the desert can be just as beautiful as any field or meadow.
  • Lake Pleasant Regional Park – As it's one of the larger bodies of water in the area, Lake Pleasant is one of the go-to spots for water-related sports and activities in Arizona.
  • Sunset Point – Offers a great view of Black Canyon City and, as the name suggests, a beautiful view of the sun setting behind the mountains.
  • Montezuma Castle National Monument - This early example of a ‘housing complex' is a testament to the resourcefulness of the Sinagua people.
  • Red Rock State Park – Combining unique rock formations, luscious greenery, and the scenic Oak Creek Canyon, there's a reason why this is the state's most significant environmental education park.
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross – Thanks to its unique design and positioning between Sedona's buttes, this chapel is a sight to behold, irrespective of religious beliefs.
  • Sedona – Parks, wineries, red rocks, and the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village all help make this city the heart and soul of Arizona.
  • Coconino National Forest – With terrain featuring everything from deserts to mountains, this forest alone warrants days of exploration.
  • Slide Rock State Park – Features an all-natural water slide and the beautiful red rocks that make this itinerary so special.
  • Flagstaff – A major city sandwiched between various landmarks, each more scenic than the last.
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument – Another example of the ingenuity of the Sinagua, who took advantage of the canyon's unique form to create their pueblos.
  • Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – This monument protects the beautiful Sunset Crater, which hasn't erupted in around a millennium.
  • Williams – A lively, artsy city that carries with it the spirit of the Historic Route 66.
  • Kaibab National Forest – The ‘entrance' to Grand Canyon stands out thanks to its beautiful ponderosa pines among a sea of Aspen trees.
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument – Featuring a beautiful blend of buttes, sandstone formations, and gulches, this area demonstrates the desert at its very best.

Spreading the trip out over several days will leave you room for some bigger detours you might enjoy – taking a few extra hours to check out Prescott, Horseshoe Bend, and other deviations from the route would do wonders for this already-amazing trip.

Best time to go on a road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

A stunning view of the Grand Canyon at first light giving the canyons a highlight that emphasizes the color of the cliffs of red and green trees

There's really no objectively ‘best' season to go on a road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon, but visiting during different seasons can have different perks.

Although the park is definitely still beautiful in the winter, visiting around this time can be hard to recommend – on top of having limited lodging options, you'll mainly just have access to the South Rim, and while every effort is made to keep the roads as clean as possible, the low temperatures and high elevations can make it difficult to get around.

Naturally, the crowds at the Canyon will be largest in the summer, but this is also when temperatures are at their highest. The good news is that Phoenix is generally hotter than any other part of this itinerary (save for some of the lower-altitude spots at GC), so if you're accustomed to the heat in the capital, you should have no trouble driving north once you're out of the city.

If you want to avoid extremes, both in terms of crowds and temperatures, fall and spring are both great for a road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon. The only catch is that you'll want to avoid visiting in early-to-mid spring after a particularly snowy winter, because there's likely to be leftover snow at higher altitudes well into April.

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The Ultimate Road Trip Guide: Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

  • June 30, 2023

pickup truck driving on a road from phoenix to the grand canyon

If you’re planning a drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, you’re about to embark on a road trip adventure that contains many noteworthy stops along the way. We’ve put together the definitive guide for a Phoenix to the Grand Canyon road trip. This breathtaking journey will take you through captivating landscapes, vibrant desert vistas, and iconic landmarks. We’ll help you navigate the scenic routes, find the hidden gems, and highlight the must-visit stops along the way. Buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the heart of Arizona.

Pre-Trip Preparation

The best time to visit the Grand Canyon is during spring and fall, when it is neither too hot nor too cold. Temperatures during the winter season can drop dramatically and the area receives a fair amount of snowfall every winter. During the summer, it can get into the 90–100 degree Fahrenheit temperatures with blazing sun. Whenever you visit, make sure to pack wisely for the season, as the temperatures can differ so dramatically throughout the day! We recommend packing layers, so that you’ll be prepared for both the cooler mornings and the warmer afternoons are can adjust accordingly. 

The nearest entrance to the Grand Canyon from both Phoenix and Flagstaff is the south entrance. It is roughly three and a half hours from Phoenix and about an hour and a half from Flagstaff. The nearest international airport is in Arizona’s capital city of Phoenix. Flagstaff is one of the cities that is nearest to the Grand Canyon, where you will find plenty of adventures and things to do. 

In neighboring towns to the Grand Canyon, you’ll never lack for choice in accommodations. In Flagstaff, there are over 70 hotels you can choose from at various price points! Our suggestion is to book well in advance for the spring and fall season should you choose to visit during that time. We also recommended you book any additional tours or activities you would like to go on, as they tend to fill up far in advance due to their popularity.

jet taking off from phoenix airport in front of orange sky

Exploring Phoenix

Phoenix, Arizona, has the nearest international airport to the Grand Canyon. This dynamic city also boasts an abundance of sights to see and activities to experience before you begin your journey to the Grand Canyon! Before setting off on your Grand Canyon road trip, immerse yourself in Phoenix’s vibrant dining scene and check out its best sites. The following include just a couple of our top recommendations for Phoenix experiences before hitting the road.

1. Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West :

  • It wouldn’t be a true southwestern road trip if you didn’t stop at a Western museum. Here you’ll find all sorts of historical artifacts, arts, jewelry, and much more of the American Southwestern cultures on display. This is a great start to learning about the history of the American West and its variety of cultures.

2. Desert Botanical Gardens :

  • If you would rather spend the day outdoors, this is the place to go. You’ll find some short trails to stroll along to learn about the native desert plants and environments. It truly is a sight to see with the variety of plants present!

phoenix skyline lights at sunset

Must-See Stops Along the Way

Cottonwood & jerome.

In Cottonwood, you’ll encounter some phenomenal vineyards and wineries, as well as some amazing kayaking on the Verde River. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is known for camping, hiking, and kayaking. In the neighboring town of Jerome, you’ll get to learn about the history of a once-booming copper-mining town! You can visit the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum while you are there to learn more about the town’s rich history.

view of the mining town of jerome, az, looking down into the valley below

Prescott is the home of the world’s oldest rodeo, which takes place during the first week in July. Don’t miss Whiskey Row, named for its historic saloons that originated in the Gold Rush era. You’ll find authentic cowboy history and culture here unlike anywhere else. There are also two amazing museums to visit here—the Museum of Indigenous People  and the Sharlot Hall Museum .

colorful buildings of downtown Prescott, AZ

Sedona’s Red Rocks are world-renowned for their beauty. With a desert sunrise or sunset, the vibrant red rocks illuminate the landscape in a unique way that is hard to find anywhere else. Sedona is home to some amazing hiking trails, Oak Creek, and other scenic sites. At Grand Canyon Adventures, we offer an exclusive private tour of Sedona that includes a 15-minute helicopter ride and stops at some of the major viewpoints. Our professional guides and pilots enhance this tour experience. If you can only stop in Sedona for a short time, here are some notable places to see: 

  • This 1.8 mile round trip trek boasts a 54-foot-tall and 45-foot-long natural rock bridge. It’s one of Sedona’s most famous and recognizable viewpoints. 
  • This 1.2 mile out-and-back trail showcases some of Sedona’s beautiful and unique Red Rock formations. This is a popular option for adventurers of all ages!
  • Nestled on Oak Creek, you’ll find a natural slide made out of the landscape that you can swim down. It’s a fun adventure for all ages!
  • This is one of Sedona’s premier shopping locations that is fashioned after a traditional Mexican village! It hosts exclusive art galleries and a wide variety of arts to see. 

a barn in front of cathedral rock in sedona, az

Flagstaff is your last stop before the Grand Canyon, where you will find some great accommodations! It has a rich history as an old logging town that is now a quaint and quiet college town. Flagstaff sits in one of the largest deciduous pine forests in the world, was the first international dark sky city, and is near the beautiful Humpreys Peak. There are some wonderful monuments and sights to see while in Flagstaff that can be seen during Grand Canyon Adventures’ Flagstaff Monuments Day Tour, which is currently only offered as a private tour. 

If you come during the winter, you’ll most commonly find Flagstaff under a blanket of snow. For those looking to go skiing or snowboarding, check out Flagstaff’s local ski resort on Humpreys Peak, Snowbowl. If you come during the summer, you’ll find perfect temperatures and endless amounts of hiking trails, kayaking, and outdoor events to fill your time.

aerial view of a snowy ski area

Arriving at Grand Canyon National Park

Finally, the main reason for your road trip adventure—Grand Canyon National Park! Totaling 277 miles long, 18 miles wide at its largest, and a mile deep, it is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. There are four main entrances to get into the Grand Canyon National Park: the North, South, West, and East entrances. Each entrance provides a unique view of the Grand Canyon, and we can guarantee you won’t see the same view twice while you are there! 

Park Entrances and Information:

  • This entrance only receives about 1/10th of the total visitors for the Grand Canyon each year and it is only open to the public from mid-May to mid-October. 
  • This entrance offers the most popular and common views of the Grand Canyon that you see, and it is an hour and a half drive from Flagstaff! This park entrance is open year round for sightseeing, and at the South Rim you will find over two dozen viewpoints where you can stop (the most out of any of the park entrances)! 
  • The West entrance of the Grand Canyon is most notably famous for its Havasu Falls and The Glass Skywalk. Not many visitors come to this entrance, as it is one of the farthest away from any major city. This entrance also requires a separate fee from the regular Grand Canyon entrance fee since it is on Havasupai Tribal Land. 
  • Like the South entrance, the East entrance is the other popular entry point to Grand Canyon National Park. It’s also the closest to Desert View Watchtower—a great viewpoint with some amazing history!

Activities & Tours:

  • One of most notable activities to do at the Grand Canyon is rafting the majestic Colorado River. This multi-day adventure requires visitors to either have expert river knowledge or go with a professional guide, as it has rapids unlike anywhere else in the world.
  • To see another breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon, take a 30-minute helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon . Grand Canyon Adventures partners with local helicopter tour companies to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for every guest.
  • If you are looking for a comprehensive overview of the Grand Canyon, consider going with Grand Canyon Adventures on our Grand Canyon Day Tour . This top-rated guided tour takes you to the best viewpoints and stops in the Grand Canyon. Our extremely knowledgeable guides curate an experience that involves both adventure and learning. And if you would rather adventure solo or with a group, we can always arrange a Private Grand Canyon Day Tour for you. 

group of rafts on the colorado river in the grand canyon

  • A beautiful overlook point that is popular for hiking. It is a 1.8-mile out-and-back trail. 
  • There are plenty of places to stop and check out the views. This trail does take you all the way down to the river and is a grueling hike if done in its entirety. It is 8 miles long one way. You can turn around at any point to return back to the top and the visitor’s center. 
  • Here at Grand Canyon Adventures, we take care of the trip preparation and planning for our private hiking tours . Your guide is extremely knowledgeable and WFR (Wilderness First Responder) certified. You can trust that your safety is in the best hands. 
  • As always, bring more than enough water for your hikes, sunscreen, and wear proper hiking shoes, clothes, and gear. Be sure to research your trails extensively before embarking on your adventure! 

person hiking in the grand canyon in soft light

  • Some of our favorite lookout points includes: Lipan Point, Mather Point, Yavapai Point, Grandview Point, Moran Point, and plenty more viewpoints in Grand Canyon Village. You won’t find the same view twice at any of these different viewpoints! 
  • We suggest taking the Grand Canyon Day Tour with Grand Canyon Adventures. You’ll get to see the majority of these viewpoints, and you’ll learn more information about the Canyon from our fantastic guides than you would get at museums or from pamphlets.

Nearby Attractions

If your itinerary isn’t already full by now, here are some more adventures to add on to your road trip of a lifetime! Other world-renowned sights to see include Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in Northern Arizona. Antelope Canyon is the site of the world’s most most expensive photograph sold at $6.5 million (as of 2014)! This slot canyon is located on Navajo nation land and has limited availability for tours every day. Horseshoe Bend is located on the east side of the Grand Canyon in Page, AZ. It gets its name from its iconic horseshoe shape that was created by the Colorado River. If you’re looking to visit these sites, we offer a day tour that takes you to both Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend . Come with us, and we’ll show you the best sights and cut the lines! 

If you feel like you have no idea how to see all these amazing sights across Northern Arizona, we also offer our Grand Canyon Excursion 4-Day Tour , which takes you to all of the best stops. We take care of all of the trip preparation, so all you have to do is meet us in Flagstaff to begin your adventure. This 4-day tour sees the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Sedona, and more!

looking up at the orange, glowing curves of antelope canyon

Road Trip Tips & Safety

  • There is a highway that takes you directly from Phoenix to Flagstaff, which is I-17 North. Once you make it into Flagstaff, you can take AZ-664 North to the South Entrance of the Grand Canyon.
  • Most of the stops that have been mentioned are on the way from Phoenix to Flagstaff via I-17 North and are extremely accessible.
  • During the winter, the roads surrounding and on the way to the Grand Canyon can be extremely icy, so drive slowly and cautiously during the winter season.
  • The Grand Canyon and surrounding areas are filled with a wide variety of wildlife . Be aware when driving and look out for animals crossing the road.
  • Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your time at the Grand Canyon. The elevation and heat affect a lot of people and are some of the main reasons visitors seek medical attention. 
  • Be aware of wildlife and do not feed or provoke them!

elk standing near the edge of the grand canyon

Tour the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is surrounded by world renowned beauty, and a road trip from Phoenix is a great way to experience it. From statuesque saguaros painting the desert landscape and the red rocks of Sedona, to the breathtaking views of the San Francisco mountains in Flagstaff, there are many places to visit along your drive to the Grand Canyon. Once you arrive, take a Grand Canyon day tour to experience this amazing landscape with expert guides, which is truly one of the best ways to see the Grand Canyon . If you’re tired from your journey, you’ll love getting to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights while we take care of the transportation and planning. Contact Grand Canyon Adventures today to learn more and book your tour!

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What to See on an Epic Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip

Posted by Jake Case January 30, 2022 Updated October 15, 2023

If you’re heading up to the Grand Canyon South Rim from Phoenix, there’s plenty to see along the way.

Whether you want to know a couple quick stops along the route or you’re ready to make the drive a full-day thing with side-excursions, this guide will help you maximize the wow-factor no matter the timeline you’re working under. Below you’ll find a leg-by-leg breakdown of the road trip, including some of the best stops for grub, sightseeing, and exploring.

While the route mostly follows Interstate highways, even the direct non-stop drive to the Grand Canyon is interesting, especially for out-of-state travelers not used to the rugged terrain and varied landscapes of Arizona. It’s pretty common for first timers to experience shock and awe after leaving the scorching hot desert in Phoenix only to reach the high elevation Ponderosa pine forest in Flagstaff — where the temperature is 20 to 30 degrees cooler — in just two hours.

Related Read:   13 Waterfalls in the Grand Canyon You Won’t Believe are Real

Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip by Section

The quickest route from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is by traveling north on I-17 to Flagstaff, west on I-40 to Williams, and then north on Highway 64 — a 3 hour, 30 minute drive covering 229 miles (368 kilometers).

Of course, you may also choose to detour through Sedona (add at least 35 minutes of drive time) on the way to Flagstaff — and the beauty is absolutely worth the extra time.

Another alternate route is to take Highway 180 north from Flagstaff (add at least 15 minutes of drive time) instead of continuing on the Interstate to Williams. Highway 180 is gorgeous as you climb as high into the forest 8,000 feet above sea level near the San Francisco Peaks. But keep in mind this route also experiences more snow, ice, and road closures in the winter.

Related Read:   Visiting the Grand Canyon in Winter: Things to Do & Where to Stay

Segment 1: Phoenix to Flagstaff

Let’s be real, most Arizona locals don’t care for driving the 17 (yes, we put “the” in front of our freeway numbers, just like Californians) because we’ve all done it soooo many times.

But for visitors, this is a really interesting and dramatic stretch of highway. Iconic saguaros tower over the sweeping curves above Black Canyon City, the red rocks of Sedona and sometimes snow-capped San Francisco Peaks line the horizon as you drop into the Verde Valley, not to mention the sudden climb up into the cool forest after tromping across the desert for 90 minutes.

Enjoy the ride, pray you don’t get stuck in traffic — Friday night or Saturday morning + just one car accident = a lot of extra travel time — and consider stopping a couple times along the way too.

Segment 1 Highlight: Rock Springs Cafe

rock springs cafe

If you’re looking for a place to grub out on some breakfast and take in some local history, check out Rock Springs Cafe just north of Phoenix. Originally built as a general store in 1918, the Rock Springs Cafe has been an important watering hole for travelers for over a century — although the traveling in those days wasn’t nearly as easy as setting the cruise control and cranking up the AC!

Even if you’re not in the mood for some down home cookin’, Rock Springs still runs a little general store (yep, like Cracker Barrel but with more local flavor) plus an indigenous crafts boutique. But it’s also cool to just walk around a bit to look at the old buildings and take in the scenery of Sonoran Desert surrounding the place.

Also, Rock Springs is famous for its pies so if you’ve got a cooler in tow, bring one along for the ride with a plan to eat a piece of pie while watching the sun go down over the Grand Canyon.

Segment 1 Highlight: Montezuma Castle National Monument

montezuma castle nm

Located right off of I-17 at Camp Verde, Montezuma Castle National Monument is a fab place to get a good look at an ancient cliff dwelling — something you likely won’t see at the Grand Canyon. Built over 900 years ago, the 5-story residence was used by the Sinagua people for over 300 years.

A visit to Montezuma Castle can be just a quick stop, as the walk from the parking to the dwelling viewing area is just 1/3 of a mile. The path also passes near Wet Beaver Creek, and although there is no creek access, you’ll get to see the surprisingly lush “riparian” environment of a desert creek juxtaposed against the creosote-dominated scrub at the cliff’s base.

Segment 1 Side Trip: Sedona

phoenix to grand canyon via sedona

If you want to make your Phoenix to Grand Canyon drive as stunning as possible, be sure to take the side trip through Sedona. And even if you don’t stop along the way, the scenery is straight eye-candy from the Village of Oak Creek all the way to the top of Oak Creek Canyon.

And if time is on your side, consider hitting the trail, especially since Sedona has plenty of short and easy hikes right off the highway. Consider a short hike on popular but easy to access ones like Bell Rock , Cathedral Rock , or West Fork of Oak Creek .

You’ll pass Sedona’s plethora of shops and restaurants along the route, and Uptown Sedona is a fine place for a stroll if you want to browse for souvenirs, Southwestern jewelry, or crystals. If you’re in the mood to stop for a nice lunch, the Elote Cafe serves up the high-class Mexican cuisine created by Chef Jeff Smedstad.

See the full Phoenix to Grand Canyon driving route modified with the detour through Sedona here .

Related Read:   9 of the Best Places to Camp Near Sedona, Arizona

Segment 2: Flagstaff to Grand Canyon

Once you reach Flagstaff, you have a choice to take the safe route through Williams via I-40, or the scenic route by the San Francisco Peaks via US-180.

Unless you’re traveling during or directly after a big snow storm, I recommend the scenic route. The winding climb up through the forest up to 8,000 feet just feels more refreshing than weaving in between semis on I-40. Plus, the I-40 route bypasses downtown Flagstaff, so if you’re interested in stopping in this cool college town, the scenic route also makes sense.

On the flip side, Williams is an interesting little town in its own right, and if you want to catch some hardcore Route 66 vibes — or want to check out a dope wildlife park — Williams is the way to go. Obviously if you’re just trying to get to the Grand Canyon ASAP, just go the fast way.

Related Read:   The 7 Best Caves in Arizona for Subterranean Exploration

Segment 2 Highlight: Bearizona

bearizona sign

On the eastern outskirts of Williams sits a unique attraction called Bearizona . This beloved-by-locals high-country wildlife park features both a safari-style drive-through area and a walk-through zoo where you can view all types of forest-dwelling North-American animals. Among the beasts you’ll encounter are mule deer, bighorn sheep, arctic wolves, and of course BEARS.

Just keep in mind a solid visit to Bearizona takes about two hours, so plan accordingly. If you want to incorporate a meal into this stop, Bearizona’s walk-through area has both a snackbar and a restaurant (located in the hotel attached to the gift shop).

Related Read:   9 Amazingly Cozy Cabin Rentals in Williams, Arizona

Segment 2 Highlight: Williams

williams route 66

If you stay on the fastest route to Grand Canyon, the highways bypasses the heart of Williams, so you’ll have to venture a couple miles off the route — but it’s a quick and easy detour. So if you’re into Route 66 nostalgia, it’s worth it to stop — or even just stay in the car and take a couple minutes to drive down the main drag.

Williams is a small burg of just 7,000 people, so the main point of interest is the historic business district that takes up just a few city blocks. There are loads of Route 66-themed stores and galleries, and the Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe is great if you want to grab a bite in a blast-from-the-past atmosphere.

Related Read:   12 Magical Glamping Sites Near the Grand Canyon South Rim

Segment 2 Highlight: Flagstaff

phoenix to grand canyon via flagstaff

I cannot tell a lie — Flagstaff is my hometown and I love it so I’m biased — but I highly recommend you stop by. The historic downtown is the place to walk around, with tons of old sandstone and brick buildings built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Two historic hotels — the Weatherford and the Monte Vista — anchor the district, each with its own distinctive architecture and lore (the Monte Vista in particular is fabled to be haunted).

Flag’s downtown is home to plethora of superb eateries, with Martanne’s , Diablo Burger , and Brandy’s Cafe are some of the most loved by locals — my personal favorites are NiMarco’s Pizza and Bigfoot BBQ .

Related Read:   The 10 Best Hotels in Flagstaff for Every Traveler

Segment 2 Side Trip: Snowbowl Road

snowbowl road fall

If you opt for the scenic route via Highway 180, this is an option to make your trip  extra scenic. This winding mountain road just north of Flagstaff will take you through beautiful aspen groves to a viewpoint on the western slope of the San Francisco Peaks.

It’s a 7-mile drive from the junction up to Snow Bowl (the local ski resort) at an elevation of 9,300 feet — where you’ll have beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. If you’re game for a short hike in the forest, there are three options: Veit Springs Trail , Aspen Corner , and Aspen Loop Trail .

I recommend this side trip in the summer (for the best weather) and fall (for the autumn colors) — just be ready for lots of cars and people when the fall colors peak in early to mid October.

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Jake Case avatar

Posted by Jake Case

Jake is a bearded, flannel-loving tree-hugger with a passion for the natural world. A geographer by education, he’s worked as a park ranger with the National Park Service, a tour guide at the Grand Canyon South Rim, and a docent at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.

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We have been lucky enough to experience the car ride from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon National Park and back a couple times. It is an easy route to drive if you want to straight through but is filled with really enriching, worthwhile stops along the way that allow you to see all that this area has to offer!

We’re going to talk about how to road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, and the places to enjoy along the way.

Table of contents

How far is the car ride from phoenix to the grand canyon, the ideal route to take, places to stop during your road trip from phoenix to the grand canyon, places to stay when driving from phoenix to the grand canyon, the ideal time of year to road trip from phoenix to the grand canyon.

The trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by car takes around four hours or less, depending on the route you take and traffic.

Option 1: The route that takes the shortest amount of time is about three hours and twenty minutes long, covering 224 miles of road. This is the most direct route between the two locations. It hugs the rim of the valley where Sedona is located and takes you through Flagstaff.

Option 2: The second main route between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon takes you on a slight detour through Sedona. This drive is 225 miles and takes approximately three hours and fifty minutes.

Option 3: The third route you can take goes just a bit farther west than the other two, skirting the northern edge of Prescott. The drive takes about three and a half hours to cover the 215 miles.

We highly, HIGHLY suggest the second route mentioned above because it guides you on a slight detour into the Verde Valley and to Sedona which sits in the heart of the Red Rocks. We think this is the best scenic drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, and an overall fantastic road tip. Sedona can be seen in a couple of hours if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, but it’s best enjoyed for a few days. This allows you to stroll through the town, immerse yourself in the surrounding nature and native history, and enjoy a truly remarkable sunset that sets the valley on fire.

The drive itself is beautiful and puts the changing landscape of Arizona on display. With a change in elevation of around 6,000 feet, this route starts in the arid desert climate of Phoenix where the dusty ground is flat and dotted with cacti.

The ideal route from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

As you begin the drive north on I-17, the level ground changes to rolling hills. This was the first time we saw a Saguaro cactus, the most identifiable and defining plants that grow in the Sonoran Desert. These towering cacti only grow in this small area of the world and hundreds of thousands dot the earth on either side of the highway.

Further north on I-17 as you start to angle northeast, the terrain becomes more mountainous and rugged. The brown undulating hills become craggy and rocky. The cacti give way to low growing bushes which become more numerous the farther you get.

Once you turn onto I-179 towards Sedona, the view changes quickly. Instead of a barren desert, you will be gifted with a view filled with red and orange rocks and mountains of every hue. Trees such as the Arizona cypress, sycamore, and ponderosa pines line the roadway. The terrain is lush and green. Impressive sandstone formations rise out of the ground to towering heights.

Continuing north towards Flagstaff and beyond, your drive will consist of winding through dense, old mixed-conifer forests, a far different landscape than the one you started in. These trees escort you all the way to the Grand Canyon where you get to take in the vast canyon and surrounding vista carved out by the Colorado River over millions of years.

This list is a culmination of our experiences and places we think are worth taking a little extra time to check out! You will find suggestions for places to eat, lodging, campgrounds, hikes, tourist attractions, and natural historical features. Starting in Phoenix, we will order this list from south to north, ending at the Grand Canyon.

1. Lola Coffee

Every successful road trip starts with coffee right? We think so. Lola Coffee has delicious drinks, yummy pastries, and small breakfast bites to get you going! There are two locations, one in downtown Phoenix and one in Arcadia, a neighborhood of Phoenix to the northeast and bordering Scottsdale to the west.

I got my usual cold brew coffee while Pierce opted for water (a smart but boring option!). We both ordered the breakfast burrito and split a croissant. Yum!

  • Address: 3950 E. Indian School Rd. #120, Phoenix, AZ 85018 or 1001 N. 3rd Ave, #3, Phoenix, Az 85003
  • Website: https://lolacoffeebarphx.com/

2. Taliesin West

Taliesin West in Phoenix, AZ

One of the most underrated things to see on a road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon National Park is Taliesin West. Open for public tours, Taliesin West is a remarkable home designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright that embodies desert living. Wright, along with his apprentices, built and maintained Taliesin West almost solely on his own and used it as his winter home from 1938-1959.

Built from the rocks and sand of the surrounding Sonoran Desert, Taliesin West is built into the land it occupies. The sprawling one story interlaced structures of the home are built around gardens and pools.

You can enjoy Taliesin West by taking a self-guided audio tour that takes one hour to complete or by joining a guided ninety minute tour. Public tours cost $39-$54 per adult and are available Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Be sure to book in advance and plan for a morning tour as the property is only open until noon on the previously mentioned days.

  • Address: 12621 North Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85259
  • Website: https://franklloydwright.org/

3. Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River Recreation Area

Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River Recreation Area

Fossil Creek is a bit off the main route (30-45 minutes) but it’s a great area for anyone interested in hiking, swimming, camping, and an overall scenic drive. The calcium content in the water has created fascinating limestone deposits that have formed natural swimming pools and waterfalls. The gem colored waters are naturally maintained around 70°F. If you have extra time, we think it’s worth staying at one of the surrounding campsites so you have more time to explore.

Reservations for parking are required April 1st to October 1st. Limited numbers of permits are available in order to keep the crowds down, which we think is fantastic! Camping is only permitted in select areas.

  • Coordinates: 34°23’40.5”N 111°39’02.8”W
  • Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=75356

4. Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well (discussed next) are both must-see Native American monuments when going from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by car. Built by the Sinagua people around 1050 CE, Montezuma Castle is actually a large collection of cliff dwellings containing twenty rooms. This impressive feat of architecture is built five stories high into the walls of the limestone cliff. There are ruins of other dwellings that are on ground level that allow you a closer look at how they were built.

Montezuma Castle which can be seen during a road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

The monument is accessible to all via a 1/3 mile paved loop that walks you past the monument itself and back along the spring fed Beaver Creek. While it was crowded when we visited, we didn’t feel cramped or rushed to see everything.

Since this is a national monument, you can enter without additional fees with an America The Beautiful pass. If you don’t have this, the entrance fee is $10 per adult. Well behaved dogs are allowed on the leash. We visited with our dog, Ethyl!

  • Coordinates: 34°36’41.8”N 111°50’06.0”W
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm

5. Montezuma Well

Located just 11 miles north of Montezuma Castle, the Well is quite a special and unique feature. The water itself contains a number of plants and animals not found in any other body of water in the world! The walk from the parking lot to the rim of the well is 1/3 mile long and paved.

Montezuma Well which you can see on your road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

Once at the edge of the rim, you get to see the Well itself along with cliff dwellings that reside just beneath the rim. There is a trail down steep steps that takes you to the water’s edge and to more dwellings.

Be sure to bring a hat and water because there is minimal shade. Some days, the Well can actually provide a significant amount of relief from the heat as it can be up to twenty degrees fahrenheit cooler than the air above.

There is no entrance fee!

  • Coordinates: 34°38’55.9″N 111°45’15.6″W
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/moca/planyourvisit/exploring-montezuma-well.htm

6. Bell Rock

Bell Rock in Sedona

One of the first distinguishable landmarks as you approach Sedona is the large, rounded butte just off to the side of the road called Bell Rock (for obvious reasons). There are a couple of hikes around and up onto Bell Rock that are popular with hikers and bikers.

Pro Tip: GET UP EARLY! It can get super crowded by mid morning so if you want a peaceful hike, get up with the sun.

There are two main trails we suggest checking out. The first takes you up onto Bell Rock (not all the way, while this is possible it can be quite technical so proceed with caution). It is a 0.8 mile out-and-back hike with 203 feet of elevation. The second trail is Bell Rock Loop which is 1.8 miles total with the same elevation gain. It takes you around the entire base of the formation.

You need a Red Rock Pass ($5 for one day) or an America The Beautiful Pass to park. The Red Rock Pass can be really useful as it allows parking at eighteen difference fee sites in the Sedona area.

  • Coordinates: 34°48’19.8”N 111°46’00.5”W (northern parking lot)

7. Cathedral Rock

Another popular and stunning “red rock” formation in Sedona is Cathedral Rock, and it’s definitely worth seeing if you’re on a road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon. In fact, it’s probably one of the most recognizable and pictured sandstone buttes in Arizona. Beautiful and towering red spires rise from the rocks below.

There are a lot of trails that link together to get you to Cathedral Rock, but the closest and most direct trail is the Cathedral Rock Trail. It is 1.2 miles out-and-back and takes you up 741 feet of elevation. There is minimal shade, so we suggest doing it super early or much later in the day to enjoy the natural shade from the rocks themselves (and to avoid crowds).

A Red Rock Pass or American The Beautiful Pass are needed to park here.

  • Coordinates: 34°49’30.7”N 111°47’18.3”W

8. Pump House Station

Ok, if you’ve gone on a couple of hikes after the two hour drive from Phoenix, you’re probably ready for some food. We really enjoyed the lunch from Pumphouse Station. They serve breakfast and lunch daily and dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.

  • Address: 313 State Road 179 Suite D10, Sedona, AZ 86336
  • Website: https://pumphousestation.com

9. Tlaquepaque Arts And Shopping Village

Inspired by its namesake, Tlaquepaque in Mexico, this stucco adorned outdoor shopping village is filled with one-of-a-kind art galleries, jewelry stores, and specialty stores. Most things are on the pricier side, but we loved going into all the shops and walking through the beautifully curated and landscaped paths.

It’s not very big so it can be seen in an hour or two depending on how fast you shop.

  • Address: 335 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ 86336
  • Website: https://www.tlaq.com

A stunning view of the red rocks in Sedona

If you’re driving from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by car and need a little break, check out downtown Sedona. There are a number of shops featuring Native American art and jewelry as well as stores selling every type of crystal you can imagine! There are a lot of great restaurants and ice cream shops. We ate dinner at Elote Cafe, which serves regional Mexican food!

There are also so many other hikes in this area that we would be listing them for days, but please check them out! Some of our favorites (other than the ones listed above) include Seven Sacred Pools and Soldier Pass Trail, Devil’s Bridge Trail, and Capitol Butte.

11. Sedona Airport Scenic Overlook

The airport overlook which should be part of any scenic drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

For a perfect unobstructed panoramic view of Sedona at sunset, drive up to the Sedona Airport Scenic Overlook and enjoy the rocks that are set ablaze by the setting sun. There is a $3 parking fee and the lot fills up fast, so plan to get there well in advance to secure a spot.

  • Address: 538 Airport Road, Sedona, AZ 86336

12. Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park is a 286 acre nature preserve that was founded in 1991. Just fifteen minutes from downtown, it can be accessed by driving west out of Sedona on AZ-89A. Oak Creek runs centrally through the state park and wends its way through the lush greenery shaded by manzanita and juniper trees.

There are five main trails, all less than three miles long but with really stunning views of many of the main rock formations in the area including Cathedral Rock. Eagles Nest Trail, coming in at 2.8 miles and only 341 feet of elevation gain gives you the perspectives of the entire area.

At the top there are also informative plaques that talk about the changing landscape as well as images that will help you identify landmarks. We think that the whole area is really easy to navigate thanks to the signs.

There is an admission fee per person to gain access to Red Rock State Park. Also, it’s worth noting that dogs are not allowed.

  • Address: 4050 Red Rock Loop Road, Sedona, AZ 86336
  • Website: https://azstateparks.com/red-rock

13. Palatki Heritage Site

Palatki Heritage Site

Nestled in the cliffs of Red Canyon, Palatki Heritage Site is a must-visit if you’re on a road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon National Park. At this site you get to witness cliff dwellings built by the Sinagua people dating back to 1100 CE.

There are also breathtaking pictographs and petroglyphs on display that were created by not only the Sinagua people, but likely people who lived one thousand or more years before. We love ancient history of all kinds so this was really exciting to see!

Accessible by tour via reservation only, the site is open daily from 9:30 am to 3 pm. There are three trails, one of which is wheelchair accessible.

  • Coordinates: 34°54’53.6”N 111°54’08.4”W
  • Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=55368

A view of Jerome, Arizona

Check out a (revival) ghost town! Stopping to check out Jerome in Arizona only adds an additional thirty minutes to your road trip. Jerome was founded in 1876 and was a booming copper mining town, boasting up to 15,000 residents in the 1920s. After the mine closed in the 1950s Jerome became a ghost town of about 50 people.

Today it has become a tourist attraction and center for funky art. As of 2021, Jerome had a population of about 460 people. It’s a really interesting town to visit built upon Cleopatra Hill. Despite being a tourist destination, it felt really authentic and was not gimmicky like you may think.

Walk up and down the main street to admire the historic buildings and houses. There are a surprising number of restaurants with a variety of fares. You can also take tours of the old mines with all of the equipment still standing.

15. Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park which can be found during your drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

If you’re traveling from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by car, this is the perfect place to stop for a picnic and cool off with a swim. Slide Rock State Park is just six miles north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon. It’s a gorgeous and refreshing natural pool and rock slide. You are still surrounded by the famous rusty red rocks and lush greenery seen around Sedona.

There is an entrance fee up to $30 per car and is open for the majority of the day throughout the entire year.

  • Coordinates: 34°56’41.1”N 111°45’10.9”W
  • Website: https://azstateparks.com/slide-rock

16. Sunset Crater Volcano National Park

A close up view of part of Sunset Crater

Sunset Crater Volcano erupted just under 1,000 years ago and left behind some really distinctive geological formations. It is now a national park where you can walk through black lava fields via numerous trails.

Entrance fees cost $15-$25. It is free for holders of the America The Beautiful pass and who have the annual national monuments pass for the Flagstaff area.

  • Address: 6082 Sunset Crater Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86004
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/sucr/index.htm

17. Hiking In The Grand Canyon

Congratulations! You’ve now completed your road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon. And now that you’re here, it’s time to explore!

Hiking at the Grand Canyon after driving from Phoenix

The view from the rim around the Grand Canyon is breathtaking enough, but we suggest venturing into the canyon if you’re up to it. Make sure you’re prepared with enough water and food.

Regardless of the time of year, we suggest wearing a hat with a wide rim. Weather can change unexpectedly, especially in the winter months, so pack extra layers. Most importantly, know your limitations!!!

Pro Tip: Our favorite hikes are Bright Angel Trail to Havasupai Gardens, South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point, and Shoshone Point.

We have some lodging suggestions if you want to make your trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by car a multi day journey! Because of the abundance of activities and it being located about halfway between the two, Sedona makes the most sense to hunker down for a night or two. However, there are a couple of places that are scattered throughout the drive that we think are great as well.

We’ve stayed in a couple places in the area and had good experiences at all three. Hotels and Airbnbs in the downtown and surrounding areas are expensive, especially in peak tourist season (spring and mid to late fall). If you want something affordable on your road trip, we suggest the Holiday Inn Express Sedona in Oak Creek. It is about a fifteen minute drive away from downtown.

One of the unique views you can get on your Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip

For something more upscale and all inclusive, consider booking at the Hyatt Vacation Club at Piñon Pointe. It is located just steps away from downtown and really convenient.

The third place we stayed was an Airbnb in a really quiet residential area. We loved how peaceful and cozy the casita and gardens were. The owner was so friendly and welcoming!

  • Holiday Inn Express: https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/sedona/sdoaz/hoteldetail
  • Hyatt: https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/arizona/hyatt-vacation-club-at-pinon-pointe/sedsh
  • Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/34318637

The Jerome Grand Hotel is a really unique place to stay as it transports you back in time to the 1920s while providing modern amenities, including WIFI, climate controlled rooms (yes for AC!), and free breakfast in the lobby. It sits upon Cleopatra Hill with an unobstructed view of the Verde Valley below.

  • Address: 200 Hill Street, Jerome, AZ 86331
  • Website: https://jeromegrandhotel.net/

The only campground we have stayed at in this general area is the Clear Creek Group Campgrounds near the Fossil Creek area. It’s a rustic campground that accommodates tents, trailers, RVs, and motorhomes (36 feet for less). Their 18 single unit sites are first come first serve.

We enjoyed our stay here and it put us close to some really cool trails and swimming areas! Because it is close to a river, there are a lot of trees which provide much needed shade from the Arizona sun!

Coordinates: 34°30’58.8”N 111°46’05.0”W

Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=55274&actid=29

If you don’t already know, we LOVE offseason travel. There are always less crowds allowing for a less hectic experience. The early spring and mid to late fall are the best times to road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon. Temperatures are much more mild and the crowds are significantly less in all areas!

We have done this road trip in early February and in mid May. Both were excellent and we highly recommend these times!

Wrapping Up

With a drive time of less than four hours, the trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon National Park by car can be done any number of ways. If you want to drive straight through, you’ll get to enjoy the passing landscape as it transitions from a pure desert feel to a semi-arid desert with greenery and pines.

To better appreciate and immerse yourself in the area, we absolutely suggest visiting at least a couple of the stops listed above. The area spanning the two destinations are absolutely stunning!

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10 Traveling Feet

Phoenix to Grand Canyon (Top Sites + 5 Day Itinerary)

Grand Canyon plus river View, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona to the Grand Canyon is a absolutely phenomenal vacation adventure to take with your family. This area is simply bursting with awe-inspiring scenery and mind-blowing activities that are sure to impress and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Our family was completely blown away by how incredible this area of Arizona was. There are so many diverse and stunning landscapes to see (aside from the impressive Grand Canyon.) There is so much history here to try and understand from enormous meteor craters to vast lava fields to numerous Native American dwellings. And the hiking here is absolutely fantastic! (And perfect for families!)

Below, I would love to share with you the top sites that our family found on our own vacation from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.  These are our favorite sites, the best kid-friendly trails that we hiked and I’ll give you our 7 day itinerary in hopes that this can help you more easily plan a spectacular adventure from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon with your own family. 

The Top Things to Do

Phoenix to the grand canyon, 1. montezuma castle national monument.

Montezuma's Castle, Arizona

Montezuma Castle is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America! Built approximately 800 years ago by the Sinagua Indians, this incredible 5 story, 20 room building lies practically hidden among the limestone cliffs in the Verde Valley of Central Arizona.

Today you can only gaze at it from afar, but our family really enjoyed visiting this site and trying to imagine what it was like living up in this cliff-side dwelling hundreds of years ago.

10 Traveling Feet Fun Fact: Along the 0.4 mile loop path to see Montezuma Castle there are white barked trees with gnarled branches. These are Arizona Sycamores and they can be over 200 years old!

Where is Montezuma Castle Located?

Montezuma Castle is right off of I-17N and about 1.5 hours north of Phoenix, Arizona.

2. SEDONA, AZ

A Gorgeous Sedona Red Rock sunset - Arizona

Sedona is a great town that is completely surrounded by a spectacular landscape full of majestic red rock formations and stunning scenery. This is a true hiker’s paradise and there are breathtaking trails for all levels and ages. 

Our family was seriously impressed with Sedona. Before visiting I had no idea just how beautiful it would be. Sedona’s dramatic landscape, incredible atmosphere and its ever-changing colors that dance upon these rocks simply took our breath away. We highly recommend visiting!

10 Traveling Feet Tip: If you are able to, try and catch one of Sedona’s phenomenal sunsets and/or sunrises. They are completely breathtaking!

Where is Sedona Located?

Sedona is located just 2 hours north of Phoenix, Arizona and 2 hours south of the Grand Canyon. 

OUR FAVORITE SEDONA HIKES (PREFECT FOR FAMILIES!)

Sedona, Arizona - Watching the sunset on Doe Mountain Trail

Our favorite hiking trails in Sedona are Doe Mountain Trail (see above), Courthouse Loop/ Bell Rock T rail and Fay Canyon .  For sunrise, our favorite spot was at Airport Mesa Overlook . And our favorite adventure was with Pink Jeep Tours on Broken Arrow Trail (which we highly recommend!) 

5 Easy Hikes in Sedona Your Family Shouldn’t Miss!

WHERE WE STAYED IN SEDONA

Gorgeous Hotel Balcony View in Sedona, Arizona

We stayed at the   Sky Rock Inn of Sedona which was not only a great hotel with amazing views and family friendly, but it is also less than 1 mile from Airport Mesa, which is a top vortex spot and has a fantastic sunrise view! (Sunset from our hotel balcony was incredible too!)

3 . WEST FORK OF OAK CREEK TRAIL

Magnificent Rock Colorations and Formations along West Fork Trail, Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona

The West Fork of Oak Creek Trail in the Coconino National Forest is an insanely fun trail that is full of gorgeous scenery, spectacular rock formations and it crosses a creek 13 times! Just grab some water shoes   and walk all or part of this 3.3 mile one way, shady, breathtaking trail. It’s Fantastic!

10 Traveling Feet Tip: Arrive early to hike this trail. (Due to it’s popularity the parking lot fills up quickly.) There is also a charge to park at this trailhead.

Where is West Fork of Oak Creek Trail Located?

The West Fork of Oak Creek is located just 10 miles north of Sedona. 

4. WALNUT CANYON NATIONAL MONUMENT

At Walnut Canyon National Monument you can walk through an ancient cliff dwelling consisting of 25 cliff-side rooms! These dwellings were once inhabited by the Sinagua people. It’s amazing to think how these Native Americans accessed these dwellings so high up in the cliff and lived here for so many years.

Where is Walnut Canyon National Monument Located?

Walnut Canyon is located on the east side of Flagstaff, AZ. (Flagstaff is 2 hours north of Phoenix.)

5. METEOR CRATER NATURAL LANDMARK

Meteor Crater view, Arizona

I’ll admit, I was unsure about visiting Meteor Crater Natural Landmark when I first saw that it was privately owned and kind of pricey, but I am so glad we decided to go. This incredible crater is ~1 mile across and ~700′ deep! It is also the best preserved impact site on Earth! 

Our family thoroughly enjoyed seeing this impressive site. Just to give you an idea of this crater’s size, there is a cut out of a 6 foot tall person down in the center. (You can see this cut out with a telescope that they provide). But in the picture above there are four real people standing along it’s rim on the side closest to me. There are simply no words to describe how small you feel standing next to this massive hole! 

The museum at this site is excellent too! Our children really loved all of the interactive videos of how meteors impact Earth and they were really excited to be able to touch a pillow sized meteor fragment from the site that weighed over 1,400lbs! 

Where is Meteor Crater Natural Landmark Located?

Meteor Crater lies 45 minutes east of Flagstaff, Arizona. This would be a fun side trip off the direct route from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.

6. PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK

Petrified Forest, Arizona - a landscape of petrified wood

Petrified Forest National Park is one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world! View miles upon miles of beautifully-colored petrified wood lying scatted across the ground. Several short trails here will take you out among the large groupings of petrified wood and let you get a closer look at its amazing colors!

Our family really enjoyed visiting the Petrified Forest and learning about how all of these petrified logs came to be. Don’t miss Giant Logs Loop and Crystal Forest Loop in this park for some fantastic examples of petrified wood. And as you continue through this park, make sure you check out Blue Mesa Trail (see picture below.) It was like walking through another world!

Beautiful blue, purple and pink rock colorings on Blue Mesa Trail, Petrified Forest, Arizona

Where is the Petrified Forest Located?

The Petrified Forest is 1 hour 45 minutes east of Flagstaff, Arizona. This would be a longer side trip off the direct route between Phoenix, Arizona and the Grand Canyon, but it’s definitely worth it if you have the extra time.

At the end of your visit, continue on this road and you’ll immediately end up in another incredible area called the Painted Desert (see our next top site below).

Read More: 

Petrified Forest/ Painted Desert, AZ 

(Important Information You Don’t Want to Miss!)

7. THE PAINTED DESERT

Beautiful yellow and red landscape at Tiponi Point Overlook, Painted Desert, Arizona

Journey through a land of beautifully colored scenery in the northern section of the Petrified Forest National Park. Numerous overlooks and fun trails will immerse you into this fascinating and unearthly landscape. Visit in the late afternoon or early evening to watch the colors explode and dance across these hills.

Where is the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert Located?

The Painted Desert is on the north side of the Petrified Forest National Park and lies 1 hour 45 minutes east of Flagstaff, Arizona. 

8. SUNSET CRATER VOLCANO NATIONAL MONUMENT

Sunset Crater Volcano Lava Trail, Arizona

Did you know that you can visit a volcano and walk in its lava flow in Arizona? Just 30 minutes north of Flagstaff, AZ (or about 2 hours south of the Grand Canyon) is Sunset Crater Volcano. Here, around 1085 A.D., a powerful eruption dramatically altered the landscape and changed the lives of the people that once lived here forever.

When I first discovered Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, I knew I had to visit with my family. My children had never seen a volcano, let alone be able to walk in a lava flow! This was a great opportunity that I didn’t want to miss! Here, our family had a blast hiking on both the Lava Flow Trail (1 mile) and the Aa Flow trail (0.2 miles). We highly recommend both trails! Just imagine walking on a lava flow that cooled over 900 years ago. This is truly an incredible experience! 

Where is Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Located?

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is located 25 minutes north of Flagstaff, AZ and just over an hour south of Grand Canyon’s Desert View Watch Tower.

9. WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT

Wupatki Ruins, Arizona

In just a 20 minute drive north from Sunset Crater Volcano you can find the ancient pueblos of Wupatki. Ruins of these prehistoric villages dot the landscape today across an environment where food and water would seem impossible to find. And yet 900 years ago populations here used to thrive.

The Wupatki Pueblo (shown above) is the largest of the pueblos found at this national monument. Here, there are about 100 rooms in ruins that you can walk around. 

Our family really enjoyed seeing this ancient pueblo and imagining what life must have been like to live here. But it’s actually not the ruins that impressed us the most about this site, even though the ruins themselves are pretty cool. What impressed us the most is found along the bottom of the trail, just past these ruins. This trail will take you to their ancient ball court. And here you will find  “the blowhole.”  

“The Blowhole” is a fascinating geological feature. Here, cold air naturally flies out of the Earth through a small opening. The ancient Native Americans used this natural phenomenon to their advantage. They built a small structure around it and basically created an outdoor air conditioner! We were ecstatic to feel this blast of continuously cold air! This air caused our hair to fly and cooled us off in the hot Arizona sun. It was an amazing experience and something you won’t want to miss!

Where is the Wupatki National Monument Located?

Wupatki National Monument is located just over 30 minutes north of Flagstaff, Arizona and right off US-89.  It is also just over 15 minutes north of Sunset Crater Volcano and about 50 minutes south of Grand Canyon’s Desert View Watch Tower.

10. GRAND CANYON NATIONAL  PARK

The impressive Grand Canyon National Park certainly needs no introduction. It alone is the reason why many people travel to Arizona and it’s not hard to see why. Witness millions of years of geologic history layered in bands across this magnificent canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep. Here your senses will become overwhelmed from its immense size and breathtaking scenery. This truly is a spectacular place to visit!

Our family began our Grand Canyon Adventure on the east side of the South Rim at the Desert View Watch Tower , which has a fantastic view (and restrooms.) We then drove west, along the rim, and really enjoyed our scenic overlook stops at Navajo Point, Lipan and Grand View Point before reaching the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

The main area near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center has a ton of fantastic viewpoints to check out like Mather Point and Yavapai Point. We also chose to hike the Kaibab Trail to Ohh Ahh Point so that we could venture below the rim. This is 1.8 miles round trip and 671 feet down into the canyon. But this also means that it is a steep 671 feet back up. It was a tough journey back up but our 7 year old did great on it and the views were beyond spectacular!

Kaibab Trail Grand Canyon, Arizona - Late Afternoon Hike

Looking for an Incredible Experience?

Try the Popular 45-minute Helicopter Flight Over the Grand Canyon

OUR 7-DAY ITINERARY

From phoenix to the grand canyon.

  • After we landed at 9:20am, we went to eat at Mat’s Big Breakfast , just 10 minutes from the airport. It was fantastic!
  • Drive 1 hour 40 minutes to Montezuma Castle National Monument . (~30-45 minutes)
  • Allowed 50 minutes to slowly drive the beautiful Red Rock Scenic Byway (SR 179) to our hotel in Sedona. Sky Rock Inn of Sedona
  • We ate an early dinner at the Hideway House . It’s just 5 minutes from the Sky Rock Inn of Sedona. They had really great salads and pizza.
  • Sunset Hike on Doe Mountain Trail   (We allowed 2 hours to enjoy this trail, just make sure you allow plenty of time to hike down off the mountain before the sun fully sets.)
  • We had a picnic breakfast while watching the sunrise. (There’s a Whole Foods next to the Sky Rock Inn where we picked up supplies the night before.)
  • Hike at Bell Rock/ Courthouse Butte Loop (this trail took us 2 hours and 40 minutes. If you are short on time then just stop at Bell Rock and hike near there or skip it and you can see Bell Rock from a pullout along the road itself.)
  • Pink Jeep 2 hour Tour – Broken Arrow Trail
  • We had an AMAZING early dinner at Picazzo’s Healthy Italien Kitchen. The pizza was absolutely incredible!
  • Early Evening/Sunset hike at Fay Canyon.  (We hiked for 1 hour and 45 minutes)
  • We grabbed fast food for lunch as we passed through Flagstaff.
  • And we picked up Subway Sandwiches to have a picnic dinner overlooking the Painted Desert later that night. (We use this wonderful IceMule cooler bag to keep food cold for all 5 of us when we travel. We love it!)
  • Please note that this park may close before sunset so check the closing time before you go.
  • We spent 3.5 hours at Petrified Forest/ Painted Desert.
  • We stayed at the Best Western Arizonian Inn, just 20 minutes down the road and enjoyed our stay there.
  • We spent 1.5 hours here, but we spent a lot of time with the hands on interactions in their museum with our kids.
  • (We didn’t have time on this specific trip but you could also stop at Walnut Canyon on the way. It’s 40 minutes west of Meteor Crater, on the east side of Flagstaff.)
  • We ate lunch in Cameron, AZ but the restaurant we ate at is closed now. There are very few choices out in this area but the Cameron Trading Post near here is ranked well.
  • Drive 50 minutes to Desert View Watchtower. You’ll enter at the Grand Canyon East Entrance shortly before you get to the Watchtower.
  • Drive along Desert View Drive to the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center .
  • 1.8 miles and about 2 hours to hike for our family.
  • From Mather Point and Yavapai Point we watched the sun set with beautiful colors bursting from the canyon walls.
  • We stayed the night in the Grand Canyon Village at the Maswik Lodge and really enjoyed it. They have a food court here too if you’re looking for something quick to eat.
  •  Watched the sunrise over the Grand Canyon at Yavapai Point.
  • We continued on toward Las Vegas to continue our trip. This drive is about 4 hours and 30 minutes.
  • You could easily return back to Phoenix to fly out. This is a 3 hours and 30 minute drive.
  • If you needed to, you could fly out this evening if you only had 5 days.
  • If you have more time, then you could alter this schedule and spend more time in Flagstaff, Phoenix or at the Grand Canyon itself.

POPULAR TOURS IN ARIZONA

Phoenix, az to grand canyon.

This 5 day itinerary of Phoenix, AZ to Grand Canyon National Park was our own family’s itinerary when traveling between these two destinations and for us, it was amazing!

I realize that this schedule may be too fast-paced for some people, but this is how we enjoy traveling. We try to make every moment count and see as much as we can with limited vacation time. So please just look at this as a suggestion of one way to see these incredible sites.

I hope you found this information helpful in your planning and that you even discovered several sites that you would like to visit on the way to Grand Canyon National Park from Phoenix, AZ.

Have a Great Trip with Your Traveling Feet!

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phoenix road trip to grand canyon

An Epic One Week Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip

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The Grand Canyon is the second most visited national park in the USA! As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, you need to take a visit to this impressive canyon in Arizona at least once in your life. 

In addition to the Grand Canyon, Arizona has some other awesome cities, forests, national park service sites, restaurants, and attractions. Phoenix, Arizona is the perfect gateway to explore all that central Arizona has to offer. Follow my one week Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip to discover where to go, what to do, where to eat, and where to stay on your way to and from the Grand Canyon. 

A lot of hiking is included in this one week Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip, but you definitely don’t need to be a hiker to follow the itinerary. It is based on my own trip, but includes additional recommendations that I researched, but didn’t have time to include. With the additional ideas you can easily swap out places in each destination or extend this trip if you have more time. 

One Week Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip 

Day 1: Phoenix to Prescott

Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip: Prescott Mural

After arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), rent a car from an airport rental car company or from Turo . Avoid renting from Krystyn on Turo. I love Turo, but had a very bad experience with this owner who runs a business with her husband. When using Turo choose a driver with only one car to ensure you are renting from a local host!

From the airport, drive about one hour and 40 minutes to Prescott. Prescott (pronounced press-kitt) is the former territorial capitol of Arizona. The old frontier town is full of history and there are many places to hike and kayak around the town. 

What to Do in Prescott

What to Do in Prescott: Courthouse Plaza

Sharlot Hall Museum

It was hard to choose which Prescott museum to visit, but I chose this historic open-air museum to learn more about the history of Prescott. Start your visit in the permanent galleries where you will explore the early history of the Prescott area and about Sharlot Hall, the founder of the museum. 

Then head outside to the historic buildings. The Sharlot Hall Building includes more exhibits on the history and early days of Prescott. Other buildings were built on site, moved from other locations, or are replicas of originals located in Arizona Territory. 

Museum of Indigenous People

Formerly the Smoki Museum, this museum focuses on the culture, history, and art of Native Americans from the area. 

Phippen Museum

Phippen Museum is home to a large collection of western art. 

Prescott Heritage Trail

Pick up a free map from the visitor center and follow the Prescott Heritage Trail. The self-guided walk takes about an hour and will bring you to different historical spots around the city with information plaques.

Courthouse Plaza & Whiskey Row

Whether you follow the Heritage Trail or not, you will want to take a walk around Courthouse Plaza and along Whiskey Row. It’s the heart of the town and home to many historic saloons from the wild west days. Early evening after the museums close and before dinner is the best time to walk around downtown. 

In between the saloons you’ll also find tourist gift shops, boutique shops, and art galleries. Stop into the Treat Center on Whiskey Row for some free popcorn samples! 

Behind Whiskey Row on Whiskey Row Alley you’ll find a couple of Prescott murals for good photo ops! 

Hiking and Kayaking

Prescott National Forest surrounds the town and provides ample opportunities for hiking. Thumb Butte and the Constellation Loop are popular choices. 

Watson Lake, Goldwater Lake, and Lynx Lake offer hiking as well as beautiful spots for water activities including kayaking. 

Prescott Frontier Days

If you time your visit right you’ll be lucky enough to attend the World’s Oldest Rodeo. I didn’t visit over the 4th of July weekend so I didn’t have the first hand experience, but I did learn about it at a temporary exhibit at Sharlot Hall. I can’t think of a better western experience to have! 

Where to Eat in Prescott

Where to Eat in Prescott: Palace Restaurant

That Apple Pan 

This charming red and white apple themed restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch. You need to order something apple when at an apple centric restaurant. The apple-filled crepes are quite sweet, but the apple pancakes are perfect. The portion is quite large too. 

The County Seat

The County Seat is another favorite local spot for breakfast and lunch. 

Bistro St Michael 

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, Bistro St. Michael serves American fare. 

Palace Restaurant 

I take Yelp reviews pretty seriously so I was a little skeptical about the 3.5 star rating. As the Palace Restaurant and Saloon is from the 1870s it is the most historic saloon still running in Arizona. My curiosity won out and I was quite happy it did. 

We had excellent service and I loved the historic atmosphere and servers in classic saloon outfits. The fiesta fish tacos were tasty as well.  

El Gato Azul

With outdoor seating and live music some nights, this cute tapas place is a top choice in Prescott. 

Limoncello Pizzeria

I considered this casual pizza and pasta spot, but knew that I would be having Italian later in my Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip. 

Where to Stay in Prescott

Where to Stay in Prescott: Hampton Inn

We stayed at the Hampton Inn . About a 10 minute drive to downtown Prescott it was handy, but cheaper than staying downtown. The hotel has been renovated and offers clean and quiet accommodations with a free breakfast and an indoor pool. It was my favorite hotel breakfast of the trip! My only complaint was that the clanky AC was rather loud. 

Other top rated places to stay in Prescott include: 

  • Hassayampa Inn : A historic Inn right downtown. 
  • Prescott Resort & Conference Center : Offers mountain view rooms. 
  • Sheldon Street Lodge : Budget friendly accommodations only a couple blocks from Courthouse Plaza. 

Day 2: Prescott to Grand Canyon South Rim 

Prescott to williams.

Williams, Arizona "The Mother Road" mural

The drive from Prescott to the south entrance of the Grand Canyon takes about 2 hours and 20 mins. Williams is conveniently located halfway in between. Williams is an original route 66 town and a perfect place for a pit stop. Drive right through the town on Route 66 and you’ll run into the murals and gift shops. 

If you want to cut back on driving, take the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams to the park. Not only will you be able to enjoy the scenery without focusing on the road, but you also don’t have to worry about parking at the Grand Canyon. At peak times there can be long lines to enter the park and a wait for a parking spot. Plus the retro train ride will keep you entertained with western cowboys and performers.

Visiting the Grand Canyon South Rim

Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip: South rim of Grand Canyon

Entrance Fee

Purchase an America the Beautiful annual pass for $80. This pass gives you unlimited access to all the national parks as well as all the other national lands including national monuments, national forests, and national historic sites. 

If you are following this Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip and planning to visit the national monuments mentioned later in the itinerary, it will definitely be worth it to buy the pass.

If not, 7 day passes for private vehicles are $35. They are valid for everyone in the vehicle. 

Shuttle Buses

Grand Canyon Shuttle Bus

The Grand Canyon has multiple free shuttles. Use the shuttles as transportation within the park and to visit all the scenic viewpoints with less walking. Check the current shuttle times on each route as they vary. Some very comical and informative drivers made taking the shuttles quite enjoyable! 

Blue Route : Year-round route that connects the visitor center at the entrance with Grand Canyon Village. 

Orange Route : Year-round route for access to Yaki Point, South Kaibab Trailhead , and Yavapai Point Geology Museum from the visitor center. 

Red Route : Seasonal route from March 1st to November 30th that runs from Grand Canyon Village to Hermit’s Rest. This road is only accessible by shuttle bus when the shuttle is in service. 

Purple Route : Seasonal route from Memorial Day to Labor Day with stops in the town of Tusayan to the visitor center at the entrance. 

Hikers Express Shuttle : Year-round shuttle that goes from Grand Canyon Village to the South Kaibab Trailhead . It only has early morning departures between 4am – 9am depending on the time of the year. 

Rim Trail (from East to West) 

Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip: Sitting at the Rim

Your first day at the Grand Canyon is the perfect time to get the lay of the land. The best way to do that is by walking the rim trail which runs from the South Kaibab Trail to Hermit’s Rest. The majority of the 13 mile trail is paved. 

Mather Point to the Yavapai Geology Museum is very crowded with a lot of people taking photos. Between Yavapai Geology Museum and Grand Canyon Village is the Trail of Time which has informational panels on the geological history of the Grand Canyon. There are quite a few people here, but not quite as many as before the museum. The crowds pick up again in Grand Canyon Village.

The last ~6 miles past Grand Canyon Village are on the red shuttle bus route. You can take the shuttle bus and get off at as many viewpoints as you would like. If you’re able to walk, I encourage you to walk as much as possible, because it seems like a hassle getting on and off the bus and then waiting for the next bus at every viewpoint. It’s also the least busiest part of the rim trail with dirt trails the last few miles. If I had to choose, I would pick Pima Point as my favorite viewpoint. 

We parked at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and walked from Mather Point to Monument Creek Vista. As our legs were tiring and sunset was approaching we took the shuttle bus for the final two stops and all the way back to Grand Canyon Village. 

Museums, Visitor Centers & Gift Shops (from east to west) 

Verkamp's Visitor Center

As you walk along the rim trail make stops at the various museums, visitor centers, and gift shops. 

The South Rim Visitor Center at the entrance is not open daily year-round. Indoors is mostly the ranger station for people to ask questions, the national parks passport book stamping station, and a theater for the 20 minute movie. 

Yavapai Geology Museum has geology exhibits and a small gift shop. It can be reached by walking on the rim trail or by taking the orange shuttle. 

Grand Canyon Village is home to many gift shops, museums, and park accommodations. Verkamp’s visitor center has a gift shop and exhibits on the Verkamp’s family and the early days of the park. These exhibits focused more on the people aspect of the park’s history which I really enjoyed! 

The Hopi House sells Native American products made by locals. The Lookout Studio is a gift shop with an outdoor lookout, surprise surprise, in the back! Kolb Studio also has a gift shop, but my favorite part was the small exhibit downstairs about the Kolb brothers’ adventurous photography business. 

Where to Eat Near the Grand Canyon

There are many places to eat or pick up food within the park. National Parks are known for their beauty and awesome hiking trails, but unfortunately not for their food. Typically national park food is quite pricey and underwhelming. 

We brought food for the day while hiking. My day pack hiking list includes my go to hiking foods. For dinner we ate in Tusayan. 

Foodie’s Club

After a late night in the park watching the sunset we decided to try Foodie’s Club as it was one of the only restaurants open. The counter service spot serves burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and salads. My fierce hunger could have affected this, but I thought my wrap was really good. 

We Cook Pizza & Pasta

Bet you can’t guess what this restaurant serves? It’s also a counter service spot with custom pizzas, build your own pizzas, pasta dishes, and sandwiches. 

Where to Stay in the Grand Canyon

2 queen beds at the Holiday Inn Express in Tusayan

Like food, accommodations are always more expensive in national parks. I found Maswik Lodge to be one of the cheaper park accommodations. It is handy to stay in the park and not worry about driving or parking. If you wish to stay in the park make sure to book at least several months in advance for the best availability. Park accommodations are marked on the map above and you can find a full list here . 

Staying in Tusayan is a good alternative. Accommodations are much cheaper and it is a very short drive to the entrance. During busy periods you may have to wait an hour or two to get into the park though. There’s a webcam where you can check the traffic at the entrance. At the end of May (before Memorial Day weekend) the wait was very short. 

Holiday Inn Express in Tusayan provides nice accommodations with free parking and free breakfast. There’s also a pool and a hot tub to soak your legs after a long day of hiking. 

Other top rated places to stay near the Grand Canyon include: 

  • Best Western Premier : Another good chain hotel in Tusayan with an indoor pool and hot tub. Rates are available with or without breakfast included. 
  • Grand Canyon Inn & Motel : This basic motel is located in Valle. It has some of the cheapest rates near the park. It’s closer than Williams, but is still a bit of a drive to and from the park. There is hardly anything in the town for meals. Make sure you consider this if leaving the park after dark or wanting to arrive before sunrise. 
  • There are many chain hotels in Williams , but it is usually over an hour one way to the park. 

Day 3: Grand Canyon South Rim 

Sitting on the South Kaibab Trail at the Grand Canyon South Rim

If you are up for a challenge, hike into the canyon today. There are 4 trails on the south rim that go into the canyon: Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, Hermit Trail, and Grandview Trail. The first two are the most popular. 

Bright Angel is the most well known and the “easiest” as the elevation change is more gradual. They are all really challenging hikes and are not recommended to hike all the way to the bottom of the canyon and back up in one day. You can turn around at any point, but remember the way up on any of the trails is much harder! Check water availability at the trailheads before heading out and bring enough for your hike. 

South Kaibab Trail

My full guide to the South Kaibab Trail will prepare you for this strenuous, but exhilarating day hike into the canyon. 

For more things to do, places to eat, and accommodation choices around the south rim of the Grand Canyon see day two above. 

Day 4: Grand Canyon to Flagstaff 

This Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip takes you to so many distinct parts of Arizona. Flagstaff is the perfect example of that. From the Grand Canyon it will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach Flagstaff. 

Home to Arizona’s tallest mountain, Flagstaff sits at a higher elevation and is surrounded by forests. 

What to Do Around Flagstaff

Did you know that Arizona and California both have 18 national monuments, more than any other state? With only one day in Flagstaff we chose to visit the national monuments around the city. They are all included on the America the Beautiful Annual pass . 

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument

This fascinating national monument includes a visitor center with exhibits and a film describing the history of Walnut Canyon. After watching the film and learning about these ancient cliff homes that Native Americans lived in hundreds of years ago you can see them for yourself by walking on the Island Trail. The one mile trail takes you into the canyon and up close to these amazing natural homes. Informational panels explain more about the people who lived here and their way of life. 

The rim trail is an easier .7 mile trail that overlooks the cliff dwellings below. Do both of the trails to get different perspectives. It’s a beautiful site to walk around in and explore. 

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

At Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument stop at the visitor center first to read the exhibits, watch the film, and receive recommendations from the rangers. 

Several trailheads will take you to the base of the volcano and through the lava fields. One starts at the visitor center, but most are a short drive from separate trailheads. 

It’s a really cool spot that connects well with Walnut Canyon National Monument as many people fled the area and established themselves in Walnut Canyon before the eruption hundreds of years ago. 

Wupatki National Monument 

Drive on the loop road for about 20 minutes farther to reach Wupatki National Monument. The full circle back to 89 where you turned off for Sunset Crater takes about 45 minutes to drive (not including the time spent at both national monuments). 

Wupatki National Monument was home to another community hundreds of years ago. Various trails take you to the different prehistoric pueblos.

What to Do in Flagstaff

With an extra day in Flagstaff or instead of visiting the national monuments nearby you can do some of the following activities in Flagstaff. 

Historic Downtown Flagstaff

Take a walk through historic downtown Flagstaff. Stop at the visitor center, browse the shops, and admire street art on the public art walking tour . 

Riordan Mansion State Historic Park

This duplex home was built in 1904 for two brothers and their wives who were successful in the logging business in Flagstaff. Take a self-guided walk around the grounds or a guided tour inside of the mansion to learn more about the family and their role in Flagstaff’s history. 

Other Museums

Flagstaff is full of museums. Head to the Pioneer Museum – Arizona Historical Society, to learn more of Flagstaff’s history. The Fort Tuthill Military Museum focuses on the history of Arizona through different infantry regiments. The Museum of Northern Arizona is a natural history museum with a large focus on indigenous people from Arizona. 

Lowell Observatory

Tour one of the oldest observatories in the country. Learn about the astronomer who discovered Pluto and the research that has been done since on a separate Pluto tour.

Arizona Snowbowl

If visiting in the winter go skiing at the Arizona Snowbowl. In the summer take a scenic gondola ride. I can only imagine this would be beautiful.

Arizona is the perfect state if you love to hike. Within the Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff has abundant hiking opportunities. Avid hikers enjoy the San Francisco Peaks and climbing Humprey’s Peak. 

Where to Eat in Flagstaff

Where to Eat in Flagstaff

Over Easy is an Arizona chain that is known for breakfast. The Phoenix location was featured on Diners, Dives, and Drive Ins. The fresh squeezed orange juice was delicious and the huge, hearty portion of chicken and waffles filled me up for a day of hiking. 

Tourist Home Flagstaff Cafe

This is another highly rated choice for breakfast. 

Swaddee Thai Cuisine 

I’m a big fan of Asian cuisine and was looking forward to having more Asian restaurants as an option in Flagstaff. The restaurant lived up to my expectations and I enjoyed both the veggie rolls and the Pad Won Seen. The restaurant was quite busy and food took awhile to come out. 

Asia Station

We were also considering eating at this Asian restaurant with great reviews. 

MartAnne’s Burrito Palace

This colorful restaurant is known for the best Mexican food in Flagstaff. 

Satchmo’s is the place to go for BBQ in town. 

Where to Stay in Flagstaff

We stayed at the Courtyard , about 10 minutes from downtown. The modern hotel had very nice rooms. There is a gym and an indoor pool. Breakfast vouchers are given if you have platinum status or above. If you don’t or don’t want to use them, Over Easy is a short drive away. 

  • Residence Inn : Located downtown, the hotel is very handy if you don’t have a car or if you want to walk around downtown. 
  • Highland Country Inn : A budget motel with basic accommodations near downtown. 
  • Comfort Inn : Located a 10 minute drive from downtown, this chain motel has breakfast included as well as an outdoor pool.

Day 5: Flagstaff to Sedona

Only about 45 minutes south of Flagstaff is Sedona, another city you need to include on your Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip. Despite the short distance, Sedona’s scenery is vastly different from Flagstaff’s. Red rock formations will slowly take the place of all the ponderosa pines. 

Sedona is known as a spiritual wellness destination with vortex sites believed to generate energy and spiritual connections. 

What to Do in Sedona

Cathedral Rock: What to do in Sedona

Cathedral Rock Hike 

Hiking is one of the top things to do in Sedona. Cathedral Rock is an excellent hike to see the red rock scenery of Sedona and also hike to one of the most powerful vortex sites. 

The 1.2 mile out and back hike is fairly short, but involves steep sections and some rock scrambling to reach the top. I thought it was a lot of fun and the views at the top were worth the effort! 

There are restrooms at the trailhead. Parking is closed when the Sedona Shuttle is in operation. The free shuttle (route #15) picks up at the SR 179 Park & Ride. The shuttle schedule varies throughout the year. 

Little Horse Hike

The same shuttle (#15) that goes to Cathedral Rock also goes to Little Horse. Our original plan was to hike Cathedral Rock and then take the shuttle to Little Horse. We thought it would save time to go to another hike on the same shuttle bus then return to the park and ride and find an alternative hike. 

Once we finished Cathedral Rock instead of going all the way back to the trailhead we walked on Templeton Trail. The trail connected with other trails that would lead us to the Little Horse trail eventually……or so we thought! It does look connected, but we must have missed the trail junction as we ended up taking Easy Breezy Trail back to the Cathedral Rock trailhead. 

The fairly flat Templeton and Easy Breezy trail sections we hiked had hardly any other hikers. There isn’t a lot of shade. During summer afternoons the hike is very hot! 

More Sedona Hikes 

There are way too many Sedona hikes to list. The following are some of the other hikes I researched and wanted to include if time allowed. 

Bell Rock Pathway & Courthouse Butte are popular hikes and vortex sites. Airport Mesa is also a vortex site. It isn’t known for a particular rock formation, but it provides an awesome vantage point to several other famous viewpoints. 

Shuttle #14 will take you to Soldier Pass. The hike will lead you to the Seven Sacred Pools and Soldier Pass cave. 

Devil’s Bridge can be reached by the Mescal trailhead. Shuttle #11 provides transportation to this trailhead. Devil’s Bridge itself is a cool photo spot if you don’t mind the steep drop-off! 

A yoga vortex hiking day is a really cool way to combine hiking and yoga, the best of what Sedona offers. It even includes a chocolate walking mediation!

Sedona Jeep Tour

Another way to experience the red rocks of Sedona is on an off-road jeep tour .

Arizona State Parks

Slide Rock State Park is on the way to Sedona from Flagstaff. Red Rock State Park is southwest of the city. Both parks have numerous trails and other outdoor activities. 

Sedona Heritage Museum

The museum covers the history of Sedona with three historic buildings. The museum offers a close look at the early settlers of Sedona and what their lives were like. 

Tlaquepaque Art & Crafts Village

The village with restaurants, art galleries, and shops is a good pace to get a taste of the best of Sedona. It’s a lovely area to wander around in. 

Where to Eat in Sedona

Saltrock kitchen.

You definitely want a meal with a view when in Sedona. SaltRock is perfect for views outside in the courtyard. The southwest restaurant isn’t quite fine dining, but it is upscale. 

Only valet parking is available directly in front of the restaurant, but you can easily park a few minutes away in the lot for free. The tiger shrimp tamale was recommended, but I enjoyed the flavors in the salmon. 

Everyone recommends Mariposa for fine dining. The Latin America restaurant often books well in advance. 

Hideaway House

With three outdoor patios Hideaway House also provides great views, but in a much more casual atmosphere. 

Wildflower 

Wildflower is a healthy, counter service Arizona chain. It reminds me of Panera Bread, but with a southwest flare. It has outdoor seating around a fountain and an outdoor patio with some views. 

The Sedona location is within a nice outdoor mall with shops. Plaques throughout the space tell little snippets of Sedona’s history. 

Where to Stay in Sedona

Best Western Casita in Cottonwood

We actually stayed in Cottonwood, about a 30 minute drive away. The cheaper accommodations made the extra drive worth it. Plus we stayed at the Best Western where we were upgraded to a cute, little king suite casita! 

Check for more accommodations in Cottonwood . 

Top rated places to stay in Sedona:

  • Sedona Pines Resort : Cottage accommodations with full kitchens on the western side of Sedona.  
  • Element Sedona : Upscale accommodations with breakfast and an outdoor pool in the Village of Oak Creek (south Sedona). 
  • Matterhorn Inn : With a prime location in Sedona’s uptown district, the inn is walking distance to many restaurants and shops. 

Day 6: Sedona to Phoenix

The drive back to Phoenix is about two hours. Once in Phoenix you can return your rental car. It will be easier to get around Phoenix with a car, but I had no problems using the public transportation to reach all of the places I included below. Make sure to plan your transit times ahead of time as service isn’t that frequent. 

On the Way Back to Phoenix: Montezuma Well & Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma National Monument

Break up the drive and make a stop at another national monument on your way back to Phoenix. 

Coming from Sedona you’ll want to stop at Montezuma Well first. Part of Montezuma Castle National Monument, the separate site has trails where you can see and learn about the prehistoric people who lived here. 

Further south at Montezuma Castle National Monument, outdoor paths lead you to the preserved apartment in a limestone cliff. The visitor center with exhibits explains more about the history of the site. 

Things to Do in Phoenix

You can easily spend a week in Phoenix, which I did on a separate visit. My guides on things to do in Phoenix and things to do in Scottsdale will keep you busy regardless of how much time you have in Arizona’s capital city and metro area! 

Where to Eat in Phoenix, Scottsdale, & Tempe

Plate of food on an outdoor table at Welcome Diner in Phoenix

There are so many places to eat in the Phoenix metro area. A quick summary of my favorites include:

Welcome Diner (Phoenix) 

There is a really nice outdoor seating where you can sit wherever you want and then come up to the window to order. They will bring you your food. This was the perfect set up for me as it was a good mix of service, but you could sit and really enjoy your food without a waiter checking up on you. 

I had the andouille scramble with cajun spiced country potatoes and a made from scratch fresh baked biscuit. It was very good and a hearty meal. 

Diego Pops (Scottsdale)

Diego Pops was good, but it seemed more about the environment than the food. The tacos are kind of pricey, but if you are looking for atmosphere it is a good choice.

Perfect Pear Bistro (Tempe)

This Tempe bistro serves sandwiches, tacos, salads, and pastas. I loved the outdoor courtyard! 

Cornish Pasty Co (multiple locations)

The restaurant is a southwest chain, with the majority of locations in Arizona. I walked by the restaurant after eating lunch another day. My first thoughts were my mom would like this and maybe I should add it to my list. As my mom wasn’t traveling with me and I’m usually not a huge fan of pasties, I forgot about it. A few nights later a Lyft driver recommended it to me. Then on my last full day in Phoenix when I was going to go to another place I found out from a tour guide that it usually has really long lines. I asked for another recommendation and she said the Cornish Pasty Co.

It took two solid recommendations from locals, but I was so happy I tried the restaurant. Maybe I haven’t had good pasties in the past, but my pork and apple was amazing!

Where to Stay in Phoenix

Poolside at Aloft Phoenix

If you are spending more than a day in Phoenix, stay downtown. The SpringHill Suites is handy to all the activities downtown and provides easy access to public transportation to take you elsewhere in the city. Although they keep the airport shuttle a secret, there is a free shuttle going to and from the airport. Breakfast is also included. 

Aloft Phoenix Airport is another good choice, especially if you have a shorter time in Phoenix as it is only a couple minutes from the airport. The shuttle arrives on demand at the airport and leaves the hotel at set times. A rail station across the street will take you to downtown Phoenix or to Tempe. 

With platinum status or above you can receive free breakfast vouchers. The outdoor pool is perfect for a hot day! 

More top rated places to stay in Phoenix:

  • Hampton Inn Phoenix Downtown : A conveniently located hotel with breakfast included.  
  • Crowne Plaza Phoenix Airport : An airport hotel with an outdoor pool. 
  • Hyatt Place Scottsdale : A hotel located in Old Town Scottsdale with breakfast and an outdoor pool.

Day 7: Phoenix

See day 6 for more things to do and places to eat in the Phoenix metro area. 

Other Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip Stops

If you are able to extend your Arizona road-trip longer you can spend more time in any of the destinations above or add on any of the following places. 

I mentioned Cottonwood earlier in the Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip while suggesting places to stay in Sedona. As well as being a cheaper base for exploring Sedona, Cottonwood has a few things to do itself. 

The Blazin M’ Ranch is a frontier themed dinner and show venue with a full country meal and music show. There are also activities around the property including ax throwing and mechanical bull riding. 

Dead Horse Ranch State Park has an interesting name and even more interesting hikes. 

I was really sad there wasn’t time for this former copper mining town in my Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip. The town can be visited after Prescott on the way to the Grand Canyon or after Sedona before heading back to Phoenix. 

The Jerome Historical Society will fill you in on the history of the town. Tour the Douglas Mansion at the Jerome State Historic Park to learn about an influential mining family. Explore the Pueblo Ruins at the Tuzigoot National Monument. Dine at the Clinkscale or the Haunted Hamburger. 

Petrified Forest National Park

Everyone comes to Arizona to go to the Grand Canyon, but the state actually has three national parks. Petrified Forest is about 1 hr & 45 minutes from Flagstaff. Historic Route 66 goes through some of the park. Winslow, another historic Route 66 town, is on the way. 

Cacti in Tucson: More Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip Ideas

Speaking of national parks, Arizona’s third park is Saguaro National Park in Tucson. The city isn’t on the suggested Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip route, it’s actually in the opposite direction. Considering it is only about 1 hr & 45 mins south of Phoenix it isn’t too much of a detour if you have extra time! 

Plus with an international airport of its own you can fly out of Tucson at the end of your trip. Make sure to rent a car through a rental car company that offers different pick-up and drop-off spots. 

The biggest problem with adding Tucson is the change of temperatures from the south of the state to the north. While Tucson is pleasant, the Grand Canyon will probably still have snow. While the Grand Canyon has ideal temperatures in late spring and early fall, Tucson will be pushing 100 degrees. 

One Week Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip FAQ’s

What time of year is best.

I did this trip at the end of May, before Memorial Day. It was the perfect time of year as it was before the summer rush. The further north you go in Arizona and the higher the altitude (Flagstaff), the cooler it gets. Late spring and early fall have perfect temperatures. Phoenix will be hotter, but all the other spots will most likely be mild, warm weather. 

How long does it take to drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon?

Without stopping it takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes to drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon (one way). If you follow the Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip included above the drive time is about 9 hours round-trip.

Can I do a Grand Canyon road trip without a car?

Many people in the US would consider a car essential to any road trip. I often travel without a car and call it a road trip! I did this trip by car and it will be much easier by car, but a similar trip can be done without a car. You’ll want to use a mix of public transportation (including Greyhound & Amtrak), shared shuttle services, and guided tours.

Groome Transportation has shuttles that run from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Prescott, Sedona, and Tucson. Guided tours to the Grand Canyon are available from Phoenix , Flagstaff , Williams , and Sedona .

What should I bring? 

If you plan on hiking, be prepared with my day pack hiking list and know what to pack by using my what to wear while hiking guide .

If this one week Phoenix to Grand Grand Canyon road trip helped you plan your time in Arizona please consider supporting me  by  Buying Me a Coffee !

More About Arizona

  • Things to Do in Downtown Phoenix
  • Things to Do in Old Town Scottsdale

Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point

The Ultimate Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip

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Riana Ang-Canning

This is getting me so excited for our Arizona trip in just a few days! We won’t make it to all of your stops but quite a few and now I have even more restaurant, hike and museum recommendations. Thanks!

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The Fearless Foreigner

Thanks for reading the post! It’s a really fun road trip, I hope you enjoy it 🙂

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Amanda smith

Arizona native here, we pronounce is press Scott, snowbirds and out of staters call it press kit .

That’s interesting as locals were the ones who told me it was “press kit”. Is it a difference between natives and more recent transplants? I wonder how it got changed to press kit?

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phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Bella Palazzo

The Ultimate Road Trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

Are you seeking a unique adventure on your next Phoenix trip? A little road trip to the Grand Canyon is a fantastic addition to any Phoenix vacation!

Only 230 miles from Phoenix and 280 miles from Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon is where you can experience mother nature in all its desert glory. The drive to the Canyon is a picturesque journey, peppered with breathtaking cacti and desert views that morph into sanctuaries of pine forests and red terrain.

It takes 3-4 hours of driving time to reach the Grand Canyon from Phoenix on a good day; traffic and the weather can make it longer. You can turn the four-hour drive into 2.5 or 3 if you bypass the Red Rock Scenic Byway. However, we don’t recommend this because you would miss out on some of the ride’s most stunning sights.

Instead of cramming the journey in one day, break it up over two to three days. Our road trip itinerary will guide you through the best spots on the route, with an overnight stopover in the mystical Sedona.

All settled in your Arizona rental ? Perfect.

Let’s plan your perfect Grand Canyon road trip!

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

SOURCE: Google Maps

Best Places to Stop Along the Way

Rather than driving straight to the Grand Canyon National Park on a day trip, make it a two-day escapade. Follow our guide and tick off bucket-list-worthy places along the way.

Sedona sits approximately midway between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. We suggest splitting your road trip into two days with a night of rest in one of our luxury rentals in Sedona .

1. Arcosanti

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

From Phoenix, follow the I-17 N to Arcosanti Rd. Stop for an hour and wander around Arcosanti, an experimental town in Yavapai County, Arizona.

This urban lab fuses ideologies of architecture with ecology (arcology). People of Arcosanti work towards environmental welfare, innovation, and community building.

Since its conception in 1970 by architect Paolo Soleri, 7,000 volunteers have worked tirelessly to build this utopia’s structures. Some people live and work here full-time, while visitors come to admire art and learn about life in Arcosanti.

Arcosanti generates most of its revenue from selling Arizona-famous bronze bells.

  • Notable features: Experimental town; architectural beauty; famous hand-cast bells
  • Time & Distance from Phoenix: 1 hr, 70 miles

2. Prescott, Arizona

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Photo Credit: Mike McBey via Flickr CC2.0

Less than an hour from Arcosanti is Prescott, a place frozen in time. Prescott, one of Arizona’s smallest towns, takes great pride in its cowboy culture. Its “Wild Wild West” vibe is evident from its swinging tavern doors, store signage, and old-school saloons. In fact, Prescott’s intriguing saloons date back to the Gold Rush period.

The town prohibits commercial development around its immediate proximity. The vast expanse of space around Prescott only adds to its retro feel.

Take a walk around the historic downtown before heading to Whisky Row street. Are you the designated driver? Maybe skip the tempting bars. Instead, stop by the Ian Russell Gallery of Fine Art. Before leaving, grab a bite at the legendary Palace Restaurant and Saloon.

End your time in Prescott with a walk inside the Museum of Indigenous People. It houses fascinating relics belonging to the indigenous tribes of the region.

  • Notable sites: Vintage Saloons, Museums, Bars, and iconic Palace Restaurant
  • Time & Distance from Phoenix: 1.5-2.5 hrs, 100 miles

3. Jerome, Arizona

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Jerome, the “Wickedest Town in the West,” is now predominantly vacant with less than 500 residents. Many of them are artists who moved here from bigger cities for solitude and inspiration. It’s considered a ghost town because of its small population and the many apparition incidents.

Stretch your legs and take a walk around the historic center of this former mining town. Art lovers will particularly enjoy gallery hopping. Zen Mountain Gallery, Raku Gallery, and the Artist Coop are worth visiting.

Where to Eat in Jerome

The town’s history and folklore inspire the eateries. Just want takeaway for the road? Pick up breakfast quesadillas, egg sandwiches, and coffee at Flatiron .

For a delightful sit-down lunch, go to the Haunted Hamburger . Besides juicy hamburgers, the restaurant is famous for its supernatural history. Snap a few pictures while you’re there; if you’re (un)lucky, you may glimpse the ghostly woman supposedly haunting the restaurant.

And if you’re a skeptic? The stunning sight of Verde Valley serves as a lovely background as you gobble on your burger. You’ll feel relaxed and ready to get back on the road.

  • Notable sites: Art Galleries, Wineries, Restaurants Flatiron & Haunted Hamburger
  • Time & Distance from Phoenix: 1.5-2.5 hrs, 111 miles

4. Montezuma Castle National Monument

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Established in 1906, the iconic Montezuma Castle is a monument of significance in Arizona’s Native American heritage. This castle, carved inside a limestone cliff, comprises multiple cave dwellings.

Today, it serves as a reminder of the trials and tribulations faced by the Sinagua people who lived in the arid Arizonian land.

During its discovery in the 19th century, the Europeans mistook the castle to be the home of the Aztecs. So they named it Montezuma after the famed Aztec king.

Park your car and follow the short paved path to get a closer look at the dwellings. It will take about 45 minutes to stroll to it unless you stop to admire the gorgeous sycamore trees.

  • Notable sites: Ancient monument; home of Sinagua people
  • Time & Distance from Phoenix: 1.5 hrs, 93 miles

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Photo Credit: JacobLoyacano

Sedona is Arizona’s second most visited destination — preceded only by the Grand Canyon in popularity. Recently, the town has gained global attention and become a mecca of all things New Age.

With its red rock landscapes, supposedly healing vortexes, and delectable eateries, Sedona is the perfect town to spend a night or two in.

The spectacular sights of dark green scenery and red rock formations juxtaposed with the backdrop of blue skies evoke magical intrigue. No wonder millions of tourists flock here annually.

Seek Spirituality in Sedona

Spiritually inclined visitors will immediately fall in love with Sedona. Indulge in morning yoga, therapeutic massages, and chakra balancing exercises. It’s one of the few places in the USA where you can take a picture of your aura.

The reason for this spiritual explosion is due to the presence of several electromagnetic energy “vortex sites.” The famous ones are Boynton Canyon, Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, and Bell Rock. Stop by at least one of them to experience uplifting healing energy.

If the metaphysical plane isn’t up your alley, spend your time shopping in Uptown Sedona. There are boutique stores, souvenir shops, and a plethora of restaurants.

In the mood for some heavenly Mexican food? Get a table at Tii Gavo or Elote Cafe. For a more romantic affair, Cress on Oak Creek is ideal.

Remember to look up at the starry sky as you make your way to your luxury rentals to turn in for the night.

  • Notable sites: Red Rocks of Sedona, Vortex Tours, Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, Crystal shops, Elote Cafe
  • Time & Distance from Phoenix: 2 – 2.5 hrs, 116 miles

6. Flagstaff, Arizona

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Photo Credit: canadastock

After basking in the healing energies of Sedona overnight, kickstart the second half of your trip to the Grand Canyon early in the morning. In less than an hour, you’ll reach Flagstaff.

Visitors escape to this mountain town to unwind while students come from all over the nation to study at Northern Arizona University. You will know you entered Flagstaff when the temperatures drop to a breezy cool. Bid goodbye to the cacti green of the desert and navigate your way to the town’s center through a pathway of tall ponderosa pines.

This hip college town with dense nature is full of opportunities for hiking, biking, exploring, and even skiing in the winter. Glimpse into this culturally rich town’s history by spending an hour at the Museum of Northern Arizona.

Where to Eat in Flagstaff

Recently, Flagstaff has seen an influx of world-class restaurants with varied cuisines ranging from American diner food to special ethnic meals. The tantalizing food at Criollo Latin Kitchen is a direct portal to Latin America. We recommend poblano cheddar grits, sweet ancho chili sausage gravy, or huevos motuleños for a hearty lunch.

The bustling historic Route 66 downtown gets a neon makeover during the evenings. So if you’re there during twilight hours, follow the pink neon glow of the food trucks. They serve a variety of yummy items like burgers, fries, and tacos.

  • Notable sites: Hip college town and foodie haven full of pine forests.
  • Time & Distance from Phoenix: 2-2.5 hrs, 144 miles

7. Sunset Crater & Wupatki National Monument

The last leg of your trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon has two stops at monuments on the outskirts of Flagstaff.

Sunset Crater

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

30 mins from Flagstaff lies the Sunset Crater National Monument. It’s an otherworldly cinder cone formed from volcanic eruptions 900 years ago.

How often can you say that you’ve been to the same place as astronauts from the Apollo mission? Sunset Crater’s alien terrain is where they trained before heading off to explore outer space.

Make your way to the visitor center and grab a trail map. We recommend an easy hikers’ walk to the Cinder Hills Overlook for panoramic viewpoints.

Wupatki National Monument

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Photo Credit: Al_HikesAZ via Flickr CC2.0

Sitting on US-89, 20 mins from the Sunset Crater, is Wupatki National Monument. This historically significant monument houses Native American ruins discovered in the desert. Any history buffs in your entourage? Those interested in ancient civilizations will particularly enjoy visiting this structure. Ancestors of present-day Zuni and Hopi people created the Wupatki Pueblos.

The monument consists of seven pueblos made up of limestone and sandstone. Explore them via four easy hiking trails, each about 0.5 miles roundtrip. Make sure you read the signs on the trails, revealing the stories of the Sinagua and Anasazi communities.

  • Time & Distance from Phoenix: 2-3 hrs

8. Grand Canyon

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Congrats! You made it to one of the Seven Natural Wonders on planet earth. Start your exploration from the Grand Canyon visitor center on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

And if you have a few dollars to splurge? Take a canyon helicopter tour for a bird’s eye view of the marvelous terrain.

What to Pack

  • Pack a mix of healthy and sweet snacks. Pretzels, string cheese, baby carrots, nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate bars are tasty road trip treats. Remember to pack water bottles and other refreshing drinks for you and your companions.
  • Create a stellar playlist. A road trip with stunning cinematic vistas is incomplete without background beats. So queue some Desert Tunes as you cruise along the stretches of the open road.
  • Remember your camera! This drive has superb photo opportunities. You might be lucky enough to see a herd of wild horses as you drive around Sedona.

Alternative Ways to Reach the Grand Canyon from Phoenix

If you desire complete flexibility, a car’s your best bet. Still, you have other options to reach your destination:

Shuttle Bus

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Photo Credit: Grand Canyon National Park

Take the Groome Shuttle Bus from the Phoenix Sky Harbour Airport. It departs Phoenix airport at 10:30 am and gets to Flagstaff by about 2 pm. The company can arrange a customized connecting transfer from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon.

Greyhound Bus

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

You could travel to the Grand Canyon on a Greyhound bus for as little as $30. Take the bus from Glendale at 11:40 am. It will drop you off at Flagstaff at approximately 1:30 pm. Then, take a shuttle bus and arrive at the Grand Canyon by 5:45 pm.

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Photo Credit: Bilanol

Take a flight from Phoenix heading to Flagstaff in the morning. Afterward, you could either take the shuttle bus to the Grand Canyon or rent a car and drive the rest of the way.

Get ready to fall in love with Arizona as you explore some of the best places in the region.

Need a place to stay? We’ll add even more “wow” to your experience with one of our luxury rentals . Hello, glamour with world-class amenities!

Relish Phoenix, Arizona, with a rental that feels like paradise.

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phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Phoenix to Grand Canyon Ultimate Road Trip Guide

  • by Danika Clark
  • March 7, 2022

A classic all-American road trip. Posting 2.9 MILLION visitors in 2020, there is a reason everyone is visiting the Grand Canyon. Its close proximity to many cities makes it an easy and worthwhile place to visit. If you find yourself lucky enough to be in Phoenix , this Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip is one filled with adventure.

Grand Canyon during daytime

I have had the luxury of taking this awe-inspiring road trip twice and when I say it is one of my favorites, I really mean it. Maybe it’s because of the stark desert contrast from the Florida greens and rain. 

Either way, I LOVE this road trip and I think it is a fantastic way to spend a couple of days when you are in the area. 

As one of the most popular and picturesque national parks, it definitely is a tourist trap but also a wonder of the world! Stretch this 3-hour journey one way into a weekend or week-long trip to truly enjoy the beauty of the Grand Canyon and the many stops along the way.

car in the middle of road

Phoenix to the Grand Canyon road trip is a quintessentially American classic road trip so today I will be taking you through where to fly into, the best pit stops along the way, my favorite Grand Canyon views (and secrets!), and how long you should plan to spend on this trip!

In addition, I also threw in an itinerary!

Phoenix/ Phoenix Airport

Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) is the largest airport in Phoenix and all of Arizona. Additionally, this airport is a hub for American Airlines and also serves as a base for Southwest airlines, but all major carriers fly into PHX.

city with high rise buildings under white sky during daytime

For this road trip, you will need a car. There really is no efficient way to get around out west without a car. Of course, there are greyhound busses and such, but using these you are doing yourself a disservice as you will miss so many hidden gems and beautiful stops along the way.

Besides having a huge airport, Phoenix offers plenty to do for visitors! A nice city, good food scene, and great nature.

Things to do:

Hike Camelback Mountain

Explore Boujee Scottsdale

Check out the Phoenix Zoo

Where To Stop from Phoenix to Grand Canyon?

brown mountains under cloudy sky during daytime

A hyped-up town just north of Phoenix, Sedona is a BEAUTIFUL red rock canyon with a lovely vintage charm. Lots of fun thrift stores, the famous blue-arched McDonalds, world-class hiking, and a small church perched high on the rocks.

There is so much to do in Sedona it is more than just a stop through town, it is a destination.

So,if you are planning on road-tripping from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon add in a full day (at least!) to see beautiful Sedona.

Sedona lives up to its high praise.

Slide Rock State Park

Phoenix to Grand Canyon

A super fun stop just north of Sedona is Slide Rock State Park!

Bring your own towel and sunscreen and enjoy nature’s paradise. This state park is packed with cliff jumping, hiking, swimming, and a natural waterslide formed out of red rocks!

Slide Rock State Park is a super fun stop for people of all ages, and a way to relax in nature on your way up to the Grand Canyon.

Phoenix to Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Building, Architecture, Arizona, Corner

Sitting at almost 7,000 ft, Flagstaff is one unique city in Arizona. Hosting a Ski Resort, beautiful mountain hikes, and Route 66 Flagstaff is loaded with things to do.

It is also the largest city close to the grand canyon to stock up on any last-minute items before you hit the Grand Canyon.

Coconino National Forest

Phoenix to Grand Canyon, brown sand and green grass during daytime

Looking to add to your National Park count? Hit the Coconino National Forest on your way up. Although there are lots of beautiful cities and scenery on this drive, this is only a spot I would visit if I had lots of extra time on my trip!

This diverse National Forest hosts the Red Rocks of Sedona to pine forests to alpine tundra. It also has a beautiful waterfall (fossil creek waterfall) and a scenic drive.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Phoenix to Grand Canyon, brown mud structure

Just off the highway, you will find Montezuma Castle National Monument.

This cliff-dwelling castle is commonly referred to as one of Arizona’s best-preserved. Sinagua natives built this between 1100 and 1425 AD. 

Montezuma’s Castle is an impressive look at history and definitely worth the stop.

Before I visited I had never heard of this before, but afterward, it became one of my favorite spots on the trip! 

This quick pit stop shouldn’t take you more than 2 hours at best. There is a visitors center with lots of information.

Do not miss Montezuma Castle National Monument.

Just a 40-minute drive west of Sedona you will enter Jerome, a charming mining town from the late 19th century. 

This is another stop to visit if you find yourself with extra time. Although it is charming and well worth the drive, it is far off the main highway and takes time away from the Grand Canyon and other stops.

While in Jerome, get spooky and creeped out with a ghost tour, visit the Gold King Mine Museum, or drive around and see all the quirky mining tools remaining.

This ghost town really feeds into its historic past, and because of that it is well preserved and an adventure to visit.

Grand Canyon Guide: Phoenix to Grand Canyon

The drive to the Grand Canyon is on a two-lane highway with few amenities along the way. Be sure you are stocked up on the essentials before you arrive.

Phoenix to Grand Canyon

What to Expect at the Visitors Center/ Grand Canyon Village

The South Rim Visitors Center, in my opinion, is the nicest visitor center of them all. Additionally, all the rims in this section are railed off making them much safer and adding peace of mind.

The visitors center is home to the park rangers. I always recommend stopping here first on any trip to a National Park! 

Here is where you will find the most up-to-date information on trails and things to do. The visitors center is a great spot to get your bearings and explore exhibits.

Grand Canyon Village is a 2-mile drive down the road from the visitor center. This area is home to many hotels, gift shops, and a convenience store. It also has additional viewpoints of the canyon.

Phoenix to Grand Canyon

This is the most popular rim of the Grand Canyon, so expect crowds. BUT the way to avoid the crowds is to walk about a mile in any direction. 

Many visitors do not leave the main visitors center area, so just walking an extra 10-20 minutes makes all the difference.

Mather Campground/Hotels

Mather Campground is AMAZING. I booked a 1-night tent site when I visited, but unfortunately, we got snowed out and the campground closed on us. We did get refunded, but man I wish I had that experience. 

Mather Campground sells out early, so book in advance. Located right on the edge of the Grand Canyon, this epic campsite is a great way to experience all the beauty 24/7.

Any hotel inside of the park will come with an expensive price tag, but the convenience can be worth it. These also can sell out, so be sure to plan in advance.

The most affordable hotel accommodations will be in Flagstaff, 1.5 hours south of the Visitors Center.

How Long to Spend and Itinerary for Phoenix to Grand Canyon

Ideally, one week is the minimum to see everything along the way! Give yourself more than a week to have time to see Jerome and Flagstaff a bit more.

If needed, this trip could be done on a weekend as well.

Week-Long Itinerary from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

Fly into Phoenix/ Phoenix – Day 1

Phoenix to Sedona (2 hr 15 min) – Day 2

Sedona/ Slide Rock State park – Day 3

Sedona/ Stop in Flagstaff for Lunch/ Grand Canyon – Day 4

Visit Grand Canyon Visitors Center- Day 5

Hike Grand Canyon – Day 6

Grand Canyon to Phoenix (Montezuma/ Jerome stops) – Day 7

Fly Home – Day 8

Weened Itinerary from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

Friday – Fly into Phoenix/ Drive to GC

Saturday – GC 

Sunday – GC – Sedona – Phoenix (red-eye flight home)

And there you have it! My ultimate Phoenix to the Grand Canyon road trip!

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

I’m Danika! A travel obsessed, Disney adult, with a knack for budgeting.

In 2020 I was furlough from my “dream” job at Disney and have pursued my first love of travel ever since. I have traveled to 33 states and 28 countries spanning 5 continents.

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Take a Road Trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

See the diversity of the grand canyon state on arizona highways.

Many visitors to the heart of the Southwest are surprised by the diversity found in the Grand Canyon state. From cactus strewn deserts and crimson canyons to swaying grass lands and towering pine forests, there is so much to see and do. So, buckle up and prepare to be amazed by Arizona’s wide-open spaces and jaw-dropping natural beauty. You can turn this itinerary into a weekend getaway or take your time and spend a week exploring Arizona on this road trip.

The itinerary goes from Phoenix to Sedona to Flagstaff to Williams to the Grand Canyon to Prescott to Jerome and back to Phoenix.

Road Trip: Phoenix to the Grand Canyon 1

Start in Phoenix

Begin your adventure in the capital city of our 48th state, known for year-round sunny skies and reliably warm temperatures. Phoenix is the epicenter of a sprawling metro area ( the country’s 5 th most populated ) known as the Valley of the Sun. You’ll find world-class resorts, dozens of top-notch golf courses, scores of hiking and biking trails, a slew of award-winning eateries and the well-regarded, family-friendly Phoenix Zoo.

The city is particularly proud of the Heard Museum, recognized internationally for their dedication to the advancement of American Indian art. Visitors can expect world-class exhibitions, hands-on educational programming and extraordinary festivals. Founded in 1929, the Heard presents the stories of Native people from a first-person perspective while showcasing the exceptional beauty of traditional and contemporary art.

Stop 1: Montezuma Castle

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt recognized four sites for their historic and cultural significance, thereby naming our nation’s first National Monuments. Among these was Montezuma Castle. The destination quickly topped the lists for America’s early road tripping tourists. Today, visitors can get a glimpse into the region’s past and the enduring legacy of the Sinagua culture through a visit to one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in North America. The 20-room, “high-rise apartment” embedded in limestone cliffs, tells the remarkable story of the resourceful people who lived along Beaver Creek for more than 400 years.

Road Trip: Phoenix to the Grand Canyon 3

Stop 2: Sedona (via Highway 179 from I-17)

Whether you choose to stay for an afternoon or several days, spectacular Sedona will steal your heart. The stunning, red rock vistas are unlike any you’ve seen elsewhere.

Explore via more than 400 miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through a wonderland of colorful stone, forest and creek beds. Consider a famous jeep or helicopter tour, part thrill ride and a unique way to discover historic native sites in the area. Sedona is well known for its energetic vibe, so be sure to ask about the area’s vortexes. Considered a center for enlightenment, the vortexes are thought to be swirling centers of energy, conducive to healing and personal exploration. Don’t miss scenic Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock State Park. The latter is a former 43-acre homestead and historic apple farm within the canyon, where visitors can view original cabins and take advantage of the park’s name sake creek slide. It’s also a great place to cool off on a warm, sunny day.

Stop 3: Flagstaff

Just 80 miles from the Grand Canyon and close to seven other parks and monuments, this college town offers a long list of options for road trippers during every season of the year.   At 7,000 feet, you’ll enjoy hiking and biking amidst Ponderosa Pines or cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter months.

Check out Sunset Crater, created by a dramatic series of eruptions 900 years ago. You can learn about the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau. on a one-mile, self-guided Lava Flow Trail. Tap into the history that combines the nostalgia of Route 66, the historic “Mother Road” that bisects the town, as well as the rich legacy of the old west and the Native American culture, while exploring the culturally-rich downtown area. Don’t miss a tour and exhibits at the Lowell Observatory, the astronomy research center where Pluto was discovered.

Road Trip: Phoenix to the Grand Canyon 9

Stop 4: Williams

If your family has seen the movie “Cars”, there will be a familiar vibe to this northern Arizona town, located on the last stretch of Route 66 to be by-passed by Interstate 40. Historic highway memorabilia are featured in kitschy shops and restaurants. Old timey western shoot outs are staged in the middle of Main Street on weekend evenings. And bear, bison and wolves roam in Bearzona, a nearby, drive-through animal park.

All this, at the Gateway to the Grand Canyon. The colorful town of 3,000 residents is also home to the Grand Canyon Railway, where visitors can hop aboard lovingly restored rail cars and be entertained by musicians and the antics of cowboy characters as the train traverses the scenic, high-desert plateau between the historic depot and the grandest canyon of them all.

Stop 5: The Grand Canyon

Whether you drive to the Grand Canyon or arrive via the Grand Canyon Railway, you’ll soon understand why it’s a treasured wonder of the world. Carved by the mighty Colorado, the multi-hued rock walls, revealing millions of years of geologic history,   descend a mile deep and stretch for 277 miles.

From sunrise to sunset, the canyon is the main attraction. However, with so much to see and do, a stop at the Grand Canyon   Visitor Center can help make the most of your time while exploring Arizona’s most impressive landmark.

You’ll find information about tours, tickets, park programs and special events. Don’t miss the on-site IMAX film, Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets. In 34 minutes, you’ll fast forward through the amazing history of the canyon and emerge eager to experience its grandeur first hand.

To understand more about the Park’s colorful story, the Grand Canyon Historic Village is an important stop. You’ll find many National Historic Landmarks, including the iconic El Tovar hotel, shops and art galleries within the canyon-side village.

Kids between the ages of 4 and 14 can become a Junior Ranger, earning a badge and certificate by completing a list of activities in the park.

Note: A free shuttle bus operates on the South Rim.

Road Trip: Phoenix to the Grand Canyon 22

Stop 6: Prescott

A Western history lover’s sweet spot, mile-high Prescott is home to   more than 700 homes and businesses listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as museums that tell their stories.   Stroll along Whiskey Row, where turn of the century-style saloons thrive alongside shops, galleries, eateries and antique venues.

Learn about the area, once the territorial capital, through the Prescott Heritage Trail & History Hunt Adventure, available at the Visitor’s Center. The   90-minute, self-guided walking tour of the downtown area and important cultural and historical attractions is fun for every age group. Outdoor and nature enthusiasts are equally well served in Prescott. Set amidst the Ponderosa Pines of Prescott National Forest, the western town offers more than 400 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Paddle on any of four pristine lakes in the area and enjoy a shoreside, picnic lunch before getting back on the road.

Stop 7: Jerome

On a return trip to Phoenix, stop in the tiny town of Jerome, perched a mile high on the side of Cleopatra Hill, overlooking the Verde Valley, between Sedona, to the north and Prescott to the south. Once a boom town, boasting bars and bordellos, thanks to the healthy production of local copper, gold and silver, Jerome earned the questionable moniker   Wickedest City in the West. Decades later, in 1953, when the mines shuttered, the Arizona camp soon became the largest ghost town in the west.

Today the cliffside destination, a National Historic Landmark, is proud of its historic restoration and a quirky collection of art studios, galleries, wine tasting rooms, and specialty shops. Visit the Jerome State Historic Park and the Historical Society Mine for a deeper dive into the town’s colorful history.  Take time for a stop at the Sliding Jail.   The structure was put to good use during the era when gunslingers and gambling were the norm. But when blasting in the mines sent the building slipping and sliding down the town’s steep hillside, it was deemed unfit for the prisoners. Today it is safely bolstered and home to recollections of more raucous times.

Road Trip: Phoenix to the Grand Canyon 17

Arizona Road Trips

Here some tips for setting out on a road trip on Arizona highways.

  • Travel with a face mask. Not all places will require them, but best to have a mask with you just in case.
  • Have sanitizing wipes in your car. Always good when eating fast food, but even better in today’s climate.
  • Know that Arizona is a large state with a diverse climate. It is possible to travel from sunshine and 70 degrees into a snowstorm within two hours.
  • Know the local laws for car safety when traveling with children. For those under one year of age or under 20 lbs., a rear-facing car seat is required. For those ages one to five, at least 20 lbs., and less than 4’9, a front-facing car seat is required. For children ages five to seven and up to 4’9, a booster car seat is required. Older children should always wear seat belts.
  • Outside of Phoenix, gas stations can be far apart, so plan accordingly. Always have snacks just in case.
  • Bring an extra set of car keys. You could have a long wait for a locksmith.
  • Have plenty of water in your car, particularly during the summer months.

American Southwest

The Absolute Best Stops along the Phoenix to Grand Canyon Drive

Phoenix to the grand canyon- day trip itinerary and best things to do when driving from phoenix to grand canyon 2020.

Phoenix to Grand Canyon: Looking for the best stops along the Phoenix to Grand Canyon drive? Wanting to take a day trip to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix?  Visiting the Grand Canyon from Phoenix is one of the best day trips from Phoenix .

Table of Contents

Grand Canyon January

In this post, you will find out helpful information including how long it takes to travel to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, where to stop along the way, and all the best viewpoints and things to do once you get to the Grand Canyon.

Plus I’ve even added in where to stay near the Grand Canyon if you decide to stay for the night.

So let’s get started with directions to the Grand Canyon and all the practical information you need.

If you are looking for more information on the Grand Canyon , I have over 50 articles to help you plan your trip – even a Grand Canyon Packing List !

Thank you for supporting this website written by an American. This post may contain affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission on these links at no extra cost to you.

How to get from Phoenix, Arizona to Grand Canyon

There are five ways to get from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: either by car, plane, train, bus, or helicopter.

One of the best ways to get to the Grand Canyon is to take a road trip!

The drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is easy and I recommend renting a car from Discover Cars . It’s who I use on my road trips. If you are taking a road trip remember to reserve a car in advance using  Discover Cars  .

But for most people who enjoy long drives and stopovers, they prefer taking it by car. But either way, you would still have a great time in the South Rim. 

best views of grand canyon

1.  How far is the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, Arizona?

The approximate driving time from Phoenix to Grand Canyon is 3.5 hours, and that would depend on how you want to kick-off your adventure. If you have a lot of stop-overs, it would take you about 4 hours. 

2.  Directions Phoenix to Grand Canyon

There are three routes from Phoenix to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, but each route takes the same amount of driving time. 

Via Williams (230 miles): 

– Head north on Interstate 17 towards Flagstaff

– Then merge onto I-40 West towards Williams 

– At State Route 64 (Exit 164), go north towards the tiny town of Tusayan.

Via Flagstaff (230 miles):

– Take I-17 north to Flagstaff 

– Continue straight through town to the turnoff for U.S. 180. 

– Turn left on U.S. 180 and drive northwest to Valle 

– Then turn right and drive north on SR 64 to the park entrance. 

Via Cameron (230 miles):

– Take I-17 north to Flagstaff

– Go east on I-40

– Get off at exit 201 and go north on U.S. 89 to Cameron.

– At the roundabout, head west on SR 64 to the park’s eastern entrance at Desert View. 

3.  Where to stop along the way when visiting the Grand Canyon from Phoenix

Montezuma castle – 94 miles from phoenix.

Montezuma is one of the well-preserved ancient dwellings in Arizona, and it is believed to be the most spectacular indian ruins in Arizona . It is a 5-story structure built into a recess in a white limestone cliff about 70 feet above the ground and it consists of 20 rooms.

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

It is easy to locate the Montezuma Castle because there is a well-maintained access road and upon entering the area, you will find a wheel-chair accessible walking path leading from the parking lot. There is an entrance fee of $5.00 per person and you can also find a gift shop and interpretive center inside.

Although visitors are not allowed anymore up inside the actual ruins, you can still do other things such as walk the loop trail and take a lot of good and worthy shots around the site. 

Sedona – 116 miles from Phoenix

The city of Sedona is considered one of Arizona’s premier tourism, recreation, art centers, and a lot more. It has the natural beauty of its red rock formation that will really mesmerize your eyes.

And aside from that, Sedona has become a well-known haven for spiritual wellness because of its numerous energy vortexes that many believe surround the region.

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Check out my post on How to Enjoy the Drive From Phoenix to Sedona (and What to Do Once You Get There)

If you are into outdoor adventures, Sedona is also perfect for you. It has some of the most amazing hiking trails that you can explore in the world.

The trail and hiking adventures are limitless in Sedona, plus not to mention the astonishing views that will give vitamins to your eyes. 

Hiking in Sedona is one of the most popular activities and there are even some easy hikes in Sedona if you want to take it easy. 

And for history junkies, Sedona is a paradise for people who are into arts and history. It showcases more than 500 artists and 80 unique shops and galleries that are waiting for you to explore.

They also have specialty and souvenir items and artwork such as Kachina dolls, hand-made pottery, sculptures, Native American jewelry, and a lot more. 

Check out my post on the Best Things to do in Sedona if you would like to stop off here.

Flagstaff – 144 miles from Phoenix

No matter what time of the year you visit, you will never run out of wonderful things to do in Flagstaff. It is brimming with cultural diversity, history, recreational, and scientific opportunities.

Its stunning nature makes it a paradise for any outdoor activities such as running, hiking, biking, climbing, camping, and even skiing. 

flagstaff hotels

Flagstaff is also a foodie paradise that boasts a sophisticated restaurant scene and represents ethnic cuisines from around the world. You can dine at any of the more than 200 restaurants that they have such as Criollo Latin Kitchen for Latin-inspired meals, or Diablo Burger whose beef comes from the nearby Diablo Trust Ranch. 

You can also stay in Flagstaff either in a pet friendly hotel in Flagstaff or one of the best hotels in Flagstaff . If you would like to stop off here check out my post on the Best Things to do in Flagstaff .

Williams – on Route 66 from Phoenix

Williams, a small town nestled in Arizona’s pine nation, has a wealth of things to see and do. History buffs can visit more than six blocks of historic buildings and memorabilia-filled shops.

Tourists to Arizona will find yet another reason to fall in love with the state. Williams is known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon is a charming rest stop for world travelers.

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Williams is a great little place to stop off and get something to eat. From pie, Thai, or steak you will find lots of choices for places to eat included fast food in Williams.

Best Things to do in the Grand Canyon on your Grand Canyon day trip from Phoenix:

Desert view point and the watchtower.

Desert View is a small settlement on the South Rim just 25 miles east of Grand Canyon Village. If you are visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time, this is a great place to be if you want the first views of the Grand Canyon. 

Desrt View Point Grand Canyon

One of the attractions inside the Desert View includes the finest view of the Colorado River and canyon geology, park ranger programs and cultural demonstration, and Tusayan Museum that features the story of American Indians of the region. 

And one of the facilities in Desert View that guests can take advantage of is the Desert View Watchtower. Since its completion in 1932, the watchtower was a combination of a tourist attraction, curio shop, and museum of Hopi culture and symbolism.

Each story of the watchtower has several windows that allow visitors to gain sight of the Canyon and the surrounding areas. 

The Main Visitor Center

The Grand Canyon Visitor Center is a great starting point to begin your journey to the Grand Canyon National Park. It is situated at the South Rim and it offers an interesting and educational overview of Arizona’s famous landmarks.

You will be guided by their knowledgeable local representatives, as well as their helpful staff who will provide you with information about hotels and restaurants near Grand Canyon. 

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Wiki Commons  Grand Canyon National Park

You can also stop by at Grand Canyon Conservancy’s Park Store, just across the plaza from the Visitor Center. It showcases a wide variety of books, maps, DVDs, and gifts to make your trip to the Grand Canyon more memorable. 

Walk the Trail of Time

The trail of time is an interpretative walking timeline trail that is focused on showcasing Grand Canyon vistas and rocks so that visitors can explore and understand the vastness of geologic time, as well as the stories captured by Grand Canyon rock layers and landscapes.

The objective of the Trail of Time is for visitors to have a grasp of the vast geologic history of the Grand Canyon by utilizing a section of the existing South Rim trail. 

The trail stretches from Yavapai Observation Station to Verkamps’s Visitor Center. And as you stroll down the trail, you will encounter 24×36 inch information panels that document important events such as the Cambrian explosion, the uplift of the Colorado Plateau, and other topics. 

Take a Shuttle Bus to Viewpoints

The shuttle buses at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon are one of the newest services offered in the area. Currently, there are five routes covered by the Grand Canyon shuttle bus service. The buses run every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the season. And as a tip, make sure to check the maps at each bus stop to avoid confusion and getting lost. 

things to see at grand canyon south rim

Check out my post on the Best Grand Canyon Viewpoints along the South Rim

One of the routes available is the Orange Route/Kaibab Rim Route that is about 50 minutes land and it provides transportation between Grand Canyon Visitor Center and the scenic viewpoints: 

Yaki Point is the easternmost stop on the Orange or Kaibab Trail Route that also provides Pipe Creek Vista and the Canyon View Information Plaza at Mather Point. The views at Yaki Point are incomparably different to the popular points.

The westward vista surrounds the end of the Bright Angel Trail and a fine view of the South Kaibab Trail as it descends along Cedar Ridge and O’Neille Butte. 

grand canyon south rim best views

Mather Point

A vast majority of visitors to the South Rim first gaze over the Grand Canyon at Mather Point because due to the fact that it is the closest to the entrance station and it is just a short walk from the visitor center. Also, the viewing area here is quite massive and it offers terrific sunset vistas. 

best views grand canyon south rim

Yavapai Point

Yavapai is just an easy walk west from Mather Point and it has quite excellent views of the Grand Canyon. And just like Mather Point, it also has a Yavapai Observation Station that sells books and displays information about the history of the Grand Canyon. However, the parking area is very limited and vehicles over 22 feet are not allowed. 

Yavapai Point Grand Canyon

Nevertheless, Yavapai Point gives the best panoramic views of the three points of the south rim and it is closest to the Colorado River. 

Rim Trail – Visitors Centre to Village

The Rim Trail offers hikers the chance to see the Main Amphitheater from above and its extends from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point. It has a one-way distance of 5.5 miles and has several steep elevation changes. 

Head to Tusayan

The Imax Theater at Tusayan features a giant six-story movies screen and over 12,000 watts of digital surround sound. It lets you experience the history of the Grand Canyon while sitting comfortably in the theater. 

The Yavapai Museum of Geology features a bookstore and museum shop where you can buy memorabilia to make your trip to the Grand Canyon truly unforgettable. 

Where to stay near the Grand Canyon

If you can’t make it back from the Grand Canyon to Phoenix and you are wondering where to stay in the Grand Canyon , read my post on the 5 closest cities to the Grand Canyon and where to stay. This is helpful if you are heading onto other locations.

best hotels in flagstaff

Tusayan is the nearest city to the Grand Canyon.  Tusayan is about 5 miles from the South Entrance of the Grand Canyon.

You will find shops and restaurants there, the Grand Canyon IMAX, and the Grand Canyon Airport is about one mile south of town.

Canyon Plaza Premier Studio and Apartments

Views of the valleys and forest areas are featured in select Arizona apartments. Grand Canyon South Rim Entrance is 5 minutes drive.

Studios feature a kitchenette and apartments offer a fully equipped kitchen at Canyon Plaza Premier Studio and Apartments. A balcony is provided in each unit.

JJK’s Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Studio and Apartments Canyon Plaza Premier.

Check out Rates on Booking

Arizona Luxury Expeditions – Grand Canyon

Arizona Luxury Expeditions has tents where you can glamp overnight.  This is part of their all inclusive and customized to include 12’x12′ Expedition Tents, all meals freshly prepared daily, and a professional Tour Guide for your stay with us.

The weather at the Grand Canyon during Dec. averages 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit daytime and 20’s degree at nighttime. They provide heaters for inside your sleeping and private dining tents with plenty of warm heavy wool blankets. 

Most guests enjoy this time of the year in the Grand Canyon because of fewer crowds of people and the winter landscape that is incredible to experience.

Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn

Located right next to the Holiday Inn Express, the Best Western has 250 rooms.  The Best Western has an indoor heated pool, a hot tub, sauna, and fitness center.

There are also two restaurants in the hotel – Coronado Room and the Canyon Room.  If you are looking for fast food you can find the McDonalds and Pizza Hut are close.

Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon

The Holiday Inn Express is located just two miles from the South Entrance of the Grand Canyon.  The Holiday Inn Express has 164 rooms and is located centrally in Tusayan which means you can walk to the restaurants and shops.

The Holiday Inn Express has an indoor pool, a whirlpool, and a continental breakfast is included.

The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

The hotel offers 5-star accommodation with a hot tub.  All units are equipped with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a microwave, a coffee machine, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. Guest rooms include a wardrobe.

Featuring a restaurant, bar, shared lounge and free WiFi, The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon is located in Tusayan, 10 km from Mather Campground and 12 km from Bright Angel Trail. This 5-star hotel offers a concierge service and a tour desk.

The hotel features an indoor pool, fitness centre, evening entertainment and a 24-hour front desk.

Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel

Canyon Plaza Premier Studio and Apartments is a 3 star hotel located 6 miles from the Grand Canyon.

There are only 10 rooms here and each room has a microwave, a refrigerator, and a coffee maker.

There is one restaurant here called JJK’s restaurant.  Close to the hotel is the Plaza Bonita where you can also eat.

Conclusion: Phoenix to Grand Canyon Day Trip

There are so many amazing things to see and do on the way from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon that it’s difficult to see and do anything. However, as you travel from the capital city to the state’s most famous natural location, take the time to discover some hidden gems in northern Arizona.

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

Before you leave for your trip make sure you have a valid  Travel Insurance Policy  because accidents happen on the road. I have used  World Nomads  when I travel since 2015 when I went to Africa and I love them.

Getting coverage is important as you never know what will happen and need assistance when you are more than a hundred miles from home in case of an accident, sickness, theft, etc.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip  here.

Nicole LaBarge

Nicole is a travel expert who has been traveling to the American Southwest since 1992. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California. I spend part of the year in Phoenix and travel around the area visiting all the best places and going on the best hikes. Check out my detailed destination guides, the best hiking in each state guides, and the travel gear you need for your next trip.

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From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: 5 Best Ways to Get There

Written by Michael Law and Lana Law Updated May 11, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

The drive time from downtown Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is about 3.5 to four hours . The 229-mile route is a combination of Interstate and regular two-lane highways. It's an easy drive that climbs up from Phoenix at an elevation of 1,090 feet, topping out at 7,000 feet at the South Rim.

Transport options from Phoenix include self drive, tours, a shuttle bus, and a Greyhound bus/shuttle combo. You can also fly to Flagstaff from Phoenix and then arrange ground transport to the Grand Canyon.

If you are looking for day trip options, the only way you'll be able to accomplish this task is if you drive yourself or take a tour. If you are primarily concerned with just getting to the Grand Canyon, and time is not an issue, the bus/shuttle combo or shuttle-only options will work along with the fly and drive setup.

On This Page:

  • From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by Car
  • From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by Tour
  • From Phoenix Airport to the Grand Canyon by Shuttle
  • From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by Greyhound Bus and Shuttle
  • From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by Air & Drive

1. From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by Car

View from the top of the Desert View Watchtower

Driving to the Grand Canyon either in your own vehicle or a rental car provides the highest level of flexibility. The route is along well-maintained and well-signposted roads, and although the recommended time for the trip is 3.5 hours, budget for longer. Several impressive lookouts along the way may have you pulling over to snap a few photos.

The ride is relatively scenic, as you pass through several vegetation zones ranging from cactus through to towering ponderosa pine forests and eventually a high desert area of scrub brush and Pinyon pines near the rim.

The route most people take is up Interstate 17 to Flagstaff and across scenic Highway 180 to Highway 64 . Although Google Maps will want to route you along Interstate 40 to Highway 64, the route along Highway 180 is significantly more scenic and only five minutes longer. If you do choose to take the I40, be sure to stop in and check out the town of Williams , home to the Grand Canyon Railway.

Alternatively , you can drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff via Sedona. This is a more difficult drive, particularly between Sedona and Flagstaff, but it's also incredibly scenic. A wonderful way to break up your trip to the Grand Canyon is to plan a stop in Sedona . Check out the red rocks, soak up a bit of "Zen-ness," and then travel up along Highway 89A through scenic Oak Creek Canyon, one of America's top scenic byways, to Flagstaff and on to the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff, which you'll pass through on all routes, is also well worth a stop for its historic downtown area and Route 66 notoriety.

Once at the canyon, you can park your car and walk to all the major viewpoints. To further explore areas, jump on any one of the three free shuttle buses that operate from March 1st through until November 30th.

If you have the time and inclination to explore further afield, an excellent loop route that takes in the East Rim, the Desert View Watchtower, the Little Colorado River Gorge, the historic Cameron Trading Post, the Wupatki Pueblos, and the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is suggested. From Grand Canyon Village, take Highway 64 East (Desert View Drive) to Highway 89, which will lead you back to Flagstaff.

This route is only roughly 30 miles longer but is incredibly scenic. It also saves significant backtracking if you want to explore the East Rim area.

2. From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by Tour

Visitors on Mather Point at the Grand Canyon

A great way to enjoy a spare day in Phoenix is to take a day trip tour to the Grand Canyon. This world wonder is not to be missed. A tour takes all the planning out of the equation; all you need to do is show up at the appointed time and let the tour company take care of all the details.

With the 13-hour Small-Group or Private Deluxe Grand Canyon Day Trip from Phoenix , you'll see all the famous sights of the Grand Canyon including the South Rim, Mather Point, Bright Angel Trail, and the Yavapai Geology Museum, along with many others. En route to the Grand Canyon, a stop at Williams allows for a bit of shopping and an opportunity to see the original Route 66.

Always wanted to see the Grand Canyon from a helicopter? Consider taking the Small Group Grand Canyon Helicopter and Ground Trip from Phoenix . This trip follows the itinerary above but includes a 45-minute helicopter flight prior to arriving at the park.

Both tour options include hotel pickup and drop-off in the Phoenix metro area. Grand Canyon National Park admission is included, but lunch is at your own expense.

3. From Phoenix Airport to the Grand Canyon by Shuttle

A patch of snow at the Grand Canyon

Another good budget option is to take the shuttle bus that leaves from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. This route, serviced entirely on Groome Transportation , leaves the airport every 1.5 hours starting at 7:30am through to 12 noon and heads directly to Flagstaff, arriving three hours and 20 minutes later. The shuttles from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon leave about 15 minutes after you arrive at the Groome Transport office in Flagstaff.

This route is ideal if your flight arrives early enough to allow you to catch the shuttles leaving before 12 noon. Any shuttles after this time miss the last connection to the Grand Canyon.

The national park admission is not included in the fare.

4. From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by Greyhound Bus and Shuttle

Start of the Bright Angel Trail

If you are staying in Phoenix and on a tight budget, it's possible to take the bus to the Grand Canyon. You just need to do a bit of coordination of schedules. Greyhound buses leave from Glendale, the Phoenix bus station, and the Tempe University area. The buses arrive in Flagstaff 2.5 to 3 hours later, depending on the departure location.

The trick is that you need to get yourself from the bus station to either the Amtrak station (one mile) or the Groom Transport office (1.5 miles). If you don't mind the walk and have luggage with wheels, you'll be fine. Also, it's critical to note that the last Groome Shuttle leaves at 3:25pm. Miss that, and you'll be staying overnight in Flagstaff.

This routing is cost-effective (almost half price versus the shuttle), and has the added bonus of not going all the way out to the airport. However, it's not terribly convenient because you'll spend most of your day getting to the Grand Canyon, and some waiting around in Flagstaff is required. However, if you have more time than money, it's just fine.

Note that national park admission is not included in the fare.

5. From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by Air & Drive

View over the Grand Canyon from the South Rim

An option that might be viable if your incoming flight connection works is to fly from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to Flagstaff, where you'll pick up a rental car and continue to the Grand Canyon. This hour-long flight is particularly scenic, as it climbs up over the Mogollon Rim and the pine forests en route to Flagstaff. Keep an eye out for the red rocks of Sedona along the way.

Pick up a rental car and from Flagstaff, it's another 1.5 hours of scenic driving to the Grand Canyon along Highway 180. Note that when you book the flight, it shows up as Grand Canyon Village, Airport (code FLG); however, the airport is actually in Flagstaff and not at the Grand Canyon.

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This Scenic Road Trip Route To The Grand Canyon Is Honestly Just As Gorgeous As The Destination

road in red rock desert

If you're taking  a trip to the Grand Canyon , planning to drive from Phoenix in your own or a rented vehicle, you're in for a real treat. The road trip we're recommending is not just a means to a destination — it's an epic journey through spectacular landscapes, passing some natural and human-made wonders along the way. The 242-mile trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon begins on I-17, which takes you north through a tawny stretch of desert studded with iconic saguaro cacti , their arms outstretched to the sky. As you head north, you'll start climbing up into barren rocky plains that have a haunting beauty all their own. 

Now might be a great time to stop in Rock Springs just off the highway to dust off and grab some refreshments. For nearly a century, weary travelers have congregated at the  Rock Springs Cafe  to eat, drink, and satisfy their pie cravings. The cafe, nicknamed "The Pie Capitol of Arizona," sells more pie than any other establishment in the state. An interesting stop on the stretch of I-17 between Rock Springs and Sedona is Arcosanti , "an ongoing experiment in architecture, ecology, art, and community that you won't find anywhere else in the world," according to its website. The museum-like location offers daily tours of its fascinating grounds and also has a gift shop where you can purchase a world-famous bronze and ceramic Arcosanti windbell .

Montezuma Castle to Sedona

After I-17 passes through Camp Verde, another must-visit is Montezuma Castle, a National Monument established in 1906 to preserve a multi-story residence that the Native Sinagua People built into the side of a limestone cliff about 900 years ago. The site is not only a visual marvel, but also a remarkable testament to the ingenuity of the Sinagua people, who learned how to flourish in the harsh desert. Shortly after leaving Montezuma Castle, exit I-17 and take AZ-179 north toward Oak Creek. 

You'd reach the Grand Canyon more quickly if you stayed on 1-17, but you won't want to miss AZ-179, which is known as the Red Rock Scenic Byway. This part of Arizona is simply stunning. Cliffs and rock formations take on fiery colors, which intensify as you head toward Oak Creek Village. Once at the village, stretch your legs and take the 1.5 mile hike on the Bell Rock loop, which leads you around one of the most recognizable red rock formations in Arizona. And yes, it rather resembles a bell. Get back on AZ-179 and head into Sedona, where you'll be met with jaw-droppingly gorgeous red rock scenery and plenty more hiking opportunities , along with shopping, art galleries, restaurants, and some world-class spas and resorts. Sedona is a magical place to stay for a night or two, if your itinerary allows it. 

Sedona to the Grand Canyon

From Sedona, take AZ-89A N through Oak Creek Canyon toward Flagstaff. This road is breathtaking any time of year, but especially when the autumn foliage lights up the inner canyon. A great place to stop for a hike is the West Fork Trail, which is 9.5 miles north of Sedona on 89A. This little gem of a trail enchants hikers as it twists and turns up the canyon, with each vista more spectacular than the last and reflections of the red- and gold-streaked cliffs in the creek's slow-moving waters. 

Continue up Oak Creek Canyon on 89A , merge back onto I-17 N, and head toward Flagstaff, a university town with a laid-back mountain vibe that's another great place to spend a night. From Flagstaff, take US-180 W past Arizona Snow Bowl, northern Arizona's premier downhill ski destination. Now you're in mountain country, with thick pine forests and rolling meadows at eye level and the majestic San Francisco Peaks towering above you. The tallest mountain in the group, Humphreys Peak, rises to an impressive 12,633 feet and is the highest point in Arizona. From here, you're only 79 miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon. At the intersection of US-180 and Snow Bowl Road, take US-180 W to AZ-64 N, which will lead you the rest of the way to the Grand Canyon, if your eyes can even handle any more beauty. 

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Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip

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Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip, by Travel Blogger What The Fab

What’s hands-down the best way to travel from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon? Road trip!

Technically, you can get from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon National Park in about a 4 hour drive—if you want to high-tail it over there with zero stops and without catching any traffic on the highway.

But if you decide to take your time you can get there in about 4 and a half to 5 hours.

There are lots of amazing things to see and do in the wide-open space of the Wild West between these 2 hot spots, so I highly recommend taking your time to explore by making a multi-day road trip out of it. 

So that’s why I’ve put together this 4-day itinerary for you so that planning your road trip route is a lot easier and you can hit all the coolest spots along the way.

Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip, by Travel Blogger What The Fab

Day One: Phoenix to Sedona

Phoenix is a vibrant place. As the 5th-largest city in the United States, you won’t have any problems finding great restaurants, shopping, and hiking.

However long you decide to stay is up to you, but this is your starting point. When you’re ready to take off, start by grabbing a yummy Southwestern breakfast burrito and a large coffee, and hit the road!

Hop onto State Route 179 and head north towards the magical red rocks of Sedona. It takes just over an hour’s drive to get there. Then get your hiking gear ready and hit the trails!

Sedona is best known for being a center of enlightenment—there are over 400 hiking trails that take you through the majestic red rock formations and Sedona’s famous vortexes.

The vortexes radiate their own magnetic energy that is said to support healing and self-discovery. They’re truly something special that you need to experience for yourself!

I highly recommend hiking to Cathedral Rock , the most accessible of Sedona’s vortexes. Getting to the top requires a bit of effort but it’s so worth it!

While you’re at it, don’t miss my post all about the Best Hikes in Sedona .

Also, be sure to catch the sunset at Red Rock Crossing, which I guarantee will be one of the most spectacular you’ll ever see.

Be sure to check out this post for all the Top Things to See in Sedona .

For more of my Sedona guides, check out:

Best Sedona Airbnbs In-Depth Sedona Itinerary Sedona Restaurants with a View Pink Jeep Tour, Sedona

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Day Two: Sedona to Flagstaff

Take in a final breath of Sedona energy and start making your way to the charming ski town of Flagstaff .

If you thought that Arizona was all blistering heat and cactus, you’re wrong! Situated at an elevation of 7,000 feet, Flagstaff is dotted with pine trees, wildflowers, log cabins, and, in the winter, snow!

Just 80 miles from Sedona, downtown Flagstaff is so charming and adorable!

It’s full of historic buildings and is intersected by the famous Route 66 . Check out the various local breweries and just have fun exploring. You can also find a lot of great museums on Route 66 if that’s more your thing.

If you’re in the mood for more hiking, the Inner Basin Trail is one of the most popular hiking areas in the state. The aspens are a beautiful sight to behold and are especially stunning in the fall.

Other Flagstaff highlights include the Lowell Observatory (perfect for you space lovers!) and Sunset Crater which was created 900 years ago by a series of volcano eruptions.

For a real trip back in time, you need to take the self-guided 1-mile Lava Flow Trail . 

As you can see, Flagstaff is full of surprises, so you definitely don’t want to miss it!

Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip, by Travel Blogger What The Fab

Day Three: Flagstaff to Williams to the Grand Canyon

In less than an hour, you can get from Flagstaff to Williams , Arizona. Coined as the “gateway to the Grand Canyon,” you may want to take an hour or two to check out some lovely pieces of Americana.

The town is full of highway memorabilia and shops dating back to the 1900s.

Here’s where you can hop aboard the Grand Canyon Railway to enjoy some good ole western live entertainment or head straight to the Grand Canyon National Park entrance.

Once you arrive at the Grand Canyon, it won’t take long to understand why it makes the list as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Stretching 227 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 1 mile deep, it’s simply spectacular!

To really get the most out of your visit, it’s worthwhile stopping by the Grand Canyon Visitor Center located on the South Rim. There’s a lot to see and do at the National Park, so this will help you get your day organized; whether you want to explore by booking one of the Grand Canyon tours or on your own.

Once you’re at the Visitor Center, hop on the (free) Red Route bus loop that takes you around to some of the Grand Canyon’s most scenic viewpoints. Hopi and Pima are just a couple of my absolute favorites.

You’ll also want to make a stop at the Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim to get a true feel of the park’s history.

Among the village’s historic relics is the El Tovar Hotel that dates back to 1905. It’s the oldest hotel of the Canyon’s Rim hotels that’s still in operation, so it’s a pretty cool place to stay if you’re looking for Grand Canyon hotels!

Day Four: Back to Phoenix With a Stop in Prescott

After crossing the Grand Canyon off your bucket list, it’s time to start making your way back to Phoenix.

But first, make time for a fun little stop in the historical western town of Prescott . To give you an idea of what to expect, True West Magazine named Prescott Top True Western Town.

Whiskey Row is a real treat—it’s lined with old-fashioned saloons, galleries, shops, and restaurants.

When you get back to Phoenix, enjoy more of that Southwest city charm if you have the time. Simply relax and unwind while you reminisce on your Grand Canyon State adventure.

That completes my Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip guide. I have no doubt you’re going to get some really awesome posts for all of your social media accounts over the course of those four days. It’ll be the road trip of all road trips!

If you’re a new Tessie owner like me, be sure you map out your stops ahead of time and know how to charge a Tesla (it’s easy!).

Hitting up other parts of Arizona? Be sure to peep my Arizona content below or check out more ideas for things to do in Lake Havasu .

If you end up at these spots, be sure to tag me in your Stories (@ wtfab )!

Planning a trip to Arizona? Be sure to explore my other Arizona content here.

The 16 Best Day Trips from Phoenix What to do in Tempe, AZ: Travel Guide Jerome Ghost Town: 9 Things to do in Jerome Sedona Itinerary: An In-Depth Sedona Travel Guide Best Hikes in Sedona Top Things to See in Sedona Top 10 Fun Things to do in Scottsdale The Best Hiking in Phoenix

The best month to visit Phoenix is from November to April when the weather will be at its best.

Yes, Phoenix is definitely worth visiting. There are so many beautiful places to see and explore. You won’t regret it.

It is recommended to spend at least 3 to 5 days in Phoenix to really explore what the city has to offer.

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of  What The Fab , a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.

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5-Day Arizona Itinerary: Phoenix to Sedona to Grand Canyon

Last Updated on November 6, 2023

by Maggie Turansky

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we may make a small commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see our privacy policy.

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Boasting mild weather (outside of the summer months), ample activities, and some of the most diverse landscapes in the country it’s no surprise that you’re looking for the perfect Arizona itinerary.

And though I grew up in the capital of Phoenix, it wasn’t until I returned with Michael that I fully appreciated the beauty and diversity of my home state.

While many might only think of the Grand Canyon or the shopping and golf courses of Scottsdale when they think of Arizona, there is so much more that this state has to offer.

Though this is only a 5-day itinerary, there are ample opportunities to spend more time in each place and to add a few more depending on your timeframe.

Table of Contents

Planning an Arizona Road Trip

While its geographical position means that the weather tends to be sunny and warm most of the year, it is worth noting that the climate can change drastically depending on the region you are visiting.

For instance, if you are visiting Phoenix in December and enjoying basking in some 20°C (68°F) weather but also want to visit the Grand Canyon on the same trip, be well prepared for lots of snow and temperatures well below freezing. If you happen to be visiting Sedona in winter, expect drastic variations in the high and low temperatures but generally mild conditions.

While the area surrounding Phoenix and the south have incredibly mild winters, the rest of Arizona often enjoys heavy snow and very cold temperatures. One of Arizona’s largest cities, Flagstaff, even has its own ski resort!

The temperatures work the other way, as well, and it is worth noting that if you plan to travel to Arizona in the summer months, be prepared for extremely high temperatures.

The Saguaro cactus at sunset

Phoenix has the highest average temperatures of any capital in the US and it is not uncommon for the mercury to rise to well over 40°C (104°F). Most residents of the Phoenix metropolitan area will try to get out of town if they can and it is considered to be the off-season in the tourism industry.

However, if you venture north to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff or Sedona , you will notice that temperatures in the height of summer can be immeasurably milder than farther south.

So if you want to visit Arizona as part of a longer southwest road trip in the summer months, it might make more sense to skip anything south of Sedona unless you love extremely high temperatures!

Arguably the best time to embark on any road trip in Arizona is in the spring or autumn months. The weather is mild and sunny throughout the state, though the nights can still get chilly.

You will need to pack for a couple of different climates regardless of which season you choose to visit in, however, the spring and fall temperatures tend to be a little bit more even throughout Arizona.

The last thing you need to consider before taking off is that you’re going to need a mode of transportation if you don’t have your own car.

If you’re planning on hiring a car while travelling from Scottsdale to Sedona to the Grand Canyon, we suggest browsing Rentalcars.com . This platform aggregates prices across major companies so you can compare prices easily.

Alternatively, you can find a campervan or RV through Outdoorsy which offers a huge selection of motorhomes in the Southwest.

5-Day Arizona Itinerary

If you want to get the highlights of this beautiful state but don’t have a lot of time to devote to it, then I would recommend spending five days in the lovely southwestern state.

This Arizona road trip itinerary begins in Phoenix and ends in the Grand Canyon and while it does have you moving from place to place a bit more than we would typically recommend, it does allow you to see a lot without exhausting yourself.

Day 1: Phoenix

As the capital of Arizona and one of the largest cities by population in the United States, the Phoenix metro area has a lot to offer tourists. Though visitors can easily spend more than one day in Phoenix , if you want to see more of the state in just 5 days, then one day will be just enough.

If the weather is fine, take the morning to go for a hike up the iconic Camelback Mountain before exploring nearby historic downtown Scottsdale. The Old Town area is filled with interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants that are sure to keep you entertained.

If you want to get into more serious shopping, Scottsdale Fashion Square is one of the largest shopping malls in the country and has a number of large department stores and luxury brands.

If shopping isn’t necessarily your thing, you could easily spend the entire afternoon exploring the Desert Botanical Garden where you can learn all about the native flora in Arizona in a beautiful setting. If you’re travelling with kids, the Phoenix Zoo is located right next to the botanical and is always a favourite among families.

End your day at one of the Pheonix area’s great restaurants and maybe check out some of the famous nightlife in the Downtown area, Old Town Scottsdale, or near Mill Avenue in Tempe.

Phoenix is the ideal place to get a feel for the state before venturing further north.

Old Town Scottsdale

Where to Stay in Phoenix

The Phoenix and Scottsdale area is a sought-after vacation destination in the US, especially during the winter months when the cities remain basked in sunshine and blessed with mild temperatures. While there are a number of high-end resorts in the Phoenix metro area, there are also a few more affordable options as well.

SureStay Hotel Phoenix Airport – If you’re looking for an affordable and comfortable accommodation option in a convenient downtown location, then this hotel is a great choice for you. It comes well-reviewed with clean, air-conditioned rooms and friendly staff. Breakfast is also included in the room rate.

Sonder The Monarch – If you would like to experience a little bit of Old Town Scottsdale luxury in your short time in Phoenix, then you can’t go wrong with this hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, this hotel is incredibly clean, comfortable, and sure to impress.

Private Vacation Rental – If you want to save some money or just stay in some unique accommodations, then there are a number of private vacation rental options that will suit any personality or budget such as this private cottage in a desert oasis .

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Phoenix!

Day 2: Phoenix to Sedona

On the second day of your 5-day Arizona road trip, it is time to head north and begin to experience the dramatic and diverse natural scenery of the state. On this day, we recommend spending the night in picturesque Sedona.

Though the Phoenix to Sedona drive only really takes about 2-2.5 hours along the I-17, we would suggest taking your time on this journey as there are a number of stops you can make.

If you’re looking for a scenic drive from Phoenix to Sedona, a far prettier alternative to the I-17 is to take State Highway 87 toward Payson. While this isn’t a direct route to Sedona, the smaller road and stunning natural scenery are absolutely unbeatable, no matter the season.

A good stopping point on the Phoenix to Sedona drive along highway 87 is at the Tonto Natural Bridge, just outside of the small city of Payson. Located about 1.5 hours out from Phoenix, this natural site is equally as stunning as some of the attractions to come on this AZ itinerary, however, it sees just a fraction of the crowds.

The Tonto Natural Bridge is tucked into the lush pine forests of Northern Arizona and is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge (or natural stone arch) in the world. Entry to the State Park is $7 per adult and there are four different viewpoints where you can see the bridge from all angles.

Road through state route 87 in Arizona

There are also numerous hiking trails around the bridge of varying difficulties. Depending on the weather, you could easily spend a number of hours at the Tonto Natural Bridge while on your Phoenix to Sedona drive.

After visiting the Tonto Natural Bridge, continue along the highway until you reach Sedona.

If the Tonto Natural Bridge doesn’t interest you and you would rather take the I-17 for your drive from Phoenix to Sedona, then you could easily make a detour to the lovely town of Prescott, AZ.

Located about a 20-minute detour from the I-17 and about equidistant between Phoenix and Sedona, Prescott is a charming Northern Arizona town with a quaint main square, a lot of interesting shops, and a laid-back vibe. It can be very worth stopping here for a couple of hours to explore.

In the evening, if you want to see a unique side of Sedona, this nighttime stargazing & UFO tour is worth considering.

The Tonto Natural Bridge

Day 3: Sedona

After enjoying your leisurely drive up to Sedona the day before, it is time to spend day three of this exploring the city of red rocks!

Sedona might well be the most beautiful city in Arizona — set amongst the backdrop of stunning red rock formations and high-desert landscape, this city has inspired New Age thought and creativity for decades.

There are a number of fantastic things to do in Sedona, from world-class shopping to some of the best hiking in the state. Sedona is a popular weekend destination for Arizona locals, meaning that there are a number of fantastic restaurants and cultural events in the city as well.

While you can easily spend a day in Sedona only going for a hike or horseback ride, we would recommend trying to fit at least two activities into your day in order to really get the most out of your short time in Sedona.

If you like to hike, begin your day with the iconic Devil’s Bridge hike. While this is a more popular trail in Sedona, it is short enough to do in a couple of hours and easy enough for most skill levels while still being challenging enough for more experienced hikers. Also, the landscape and views are simply amazing and well worth meeting a few people on the trail.

However, in order to avoid some larger crowds on the Devil’s Bridge trail, which is only located a bit outside of central Sedona, it is best to get on the trail in the morning. If you prefer not to hike, this jeep tour such as this scenic rim tour is a great option.

Spend your afternoon exploring the eclectic shops in the Tlaquepaque centre, which is filled with a number of small, locally-owned businesses well worth checking out.

The beautiful red rocks of Sedona

Where to Stay in Sedona

Sedona is a popular destination for Arizona natives and visitors alike, so, therefore, there are myriad accommodation options to choose from including this lovely peaceful cottage . Other traditional accommodation options include:

Sedona Village Lodge – This hotel, located in a quiet corner of Sedona close to the city centre and many hiking trails, is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a basic room while visiting the city. They have great reviews, clean and air-conditioned rooms, and helpful staff. 

Sky Ranch Lodge – If you are travelling on a slightly higher budget, then this romantic hotel is a fantastic option in Sedona. Centrally located, they have a range of comfortable rooms available and a bar and restaurant on site. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Sedona

The Devil's Bridge in Sedona

Day 4: Sedona to Grand Canyon

On the fourth day of your trip, it is time to leave Sedona and drive to the most iconic of Arizona attractions: the Grand Canyon .

The Sedona to Grand Canyon drive only takes about 2 hours, so you can easily visit the Grand Canyon as a day trip from Sedona. However, this may not be the best idea, especially if you have five days or more to devote to your Arizona itinerary.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural sites in the world. It is also incredibly massive and travellers could easily spend days exploring this amazing wonder.

If you’re interested in making any stops on the drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim, we would recommend getting out in Flagstaff, the largest city in Northern Arizona and a lively university town. This is the only place that is really worth exploring on the way.

If you’re interested, you can spend a few hours exploring the town, which is about an hour north of Sedona. The town has a number of cool coffee shops and restaurants and a young population due to it being the home of Northern Arizona University.

From Flagstaff, it takes about another hour to reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you are travelling in the winter months, only the South Rim of the Grand Canyon will be open to visitors, as the North Rim gets far too icy and snowy for it to handle many visitors per day.

Once you reach the Grand Canyon, take the time to enjoy the beautiful views and vistas of the canyon by walking along the easy, paved rim trail. Make sure to walk past the main viewpoints, as many people only take the time to snap a few photos and then get in their cars and leave.

If you walk only a couple hundred metres from the busiest viewpoints along the rim trail, you could easily feel as if you have the whole Canyon to yourself. You can also take a sunset hummer tour that takes you to some of the best lookout points as the sun sets.

The breathtaking Grand Canyon

Where to Stay at the Grand Canyon

Though the Grand Canyon is easily Arizona’s main tourist attraction, accommodation right next to the canyon is limited and quite expensive. A far better option is to base yourself in nearby Flagstaff or Williams and drive up to the canyon from there. Here’s where we recommend:

Private Vacation Rental – This peaceful cottage in the forest is a great option for those looking for some secluded privacy.

Super 8 by Wyndham Williams East/Grand Canyon Area   – This budget hotel in Williams is a perfect base for exploring the Grand Canyon. Though it is certainly no-frills, it has clean and comfortable rooms with breakfast included in the nightly rate. 

Hotel Aspen Flagstaff/ Grand Canyon InnSuites –   This hotel is also a great option for a base for visiting the Grand Canyon. There are numerous rooms on offer, 24-hour check-in, and a great breakfast included in the room rate. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to find other hotels near the Grand Canyon!

Day 5: Grand Canyon

The last day of this trip sees you exploring a bit more of Grand Canyon National Park by day before making the long drive back to Phoenix by the evening.

After spending your first day walking along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s time to check out one of the many trails around the Grand Canyon and see this natural wonder from a different perspective.

Depending on how much time you want to spend, your fitness level, and the season you’re visiting the Grand Canyon, there are numerous trails to choose from – just make sure you have your hiking shoes on! Pick up a map from the tourist info centre to make sure you have all of the best information.

If your budget allows you can also consider taking a helicopter tour from the South Rim for spectacular views of the site.

If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon between the months of May – October, it is possible to take a trip to the lesser-visited North Rim and experience a different side of the Canyon. However, this rim is closed to visitors in the winter months due to extreme weather conditions.

After exploring more of the Grand Canyon, it’s time to make the long drive back to Phoenix in the afternoon. It is about a 4-hour drive from the South Rim to the Arizona capital and it is easiest to make the drive along the I-17.

Arizona itinerary

Have More Time?

If you have more time to devote to your Arizona road trip, there are a number of additions you could include while using this route as a template.

If you have one week or longer, we would recommend spending both an extra day in the Phoenix area as well as a day or two extra in Sedona. This will allow you to see more of the attractions in both cities.

Phoenix has a lot more to offer travellers visiting for more than just one day, as does Sedona. You can also consider driving south from Phoenix to Tucson and visiting Saguaro National Park or exploring Tucson.

You can also head north from the Grand Canyon and explore iconic Horseshoe Bend before visiting Utah and seeing some more national parks such as Bryce Canyon or Zion . You can also take a few detours on the way back to Phoenix including stopping at Petrified Forest National Park.

If you have only time for a 3-day Arizona road trip itinerary, then that is perfectly doable as well. Spend your first night in Phoenix, enjoy the Phoenix to Sedona drive and explore the town of Sedona on the second day, and then head to the Grand Canyon bright and early on the third day in order to spend as much time as possible on this beautiful site.

All in all, there are many ways you can plan out the quintessential trip through Arizona, no matter how much time you have to spend exploring this southwestern state.

Are you planning an AZ itinerary? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

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About Maggie Turansky

Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Hi, We are coming in late September. I was reading the 5 day itenary wonder if we should change our plan based on what I have ready here.

We are Flying into Pheonix and staying in Scottsdale the first night, then three nights in Flagstaff, and back to Pheonix for our final night (5) before we leave on the 6th day. Should we change up and spend one of the Flagstaff nights in Sedona?

I personally think that a night in Sedona is a great idea over 3 nights in Flagstaff 🙂

Hi Maggie, Wow such great advice and comments. My husband and I will be in Phoenix and Scottsdale for a wedding (Sat-Tues AM check out) in January 2023. We planned a week for this vacation. So we have Tuesday till Sat (flight out of PHX at 3:30) to explore. Neither of us has been to the Grand Canyon. We are fit, but over 65. We live in NJ, so cold isn’t really a problem, but don’t want to pack a ton of clothes. Renting a car. I’ve read your Phoenix to Grand Canyon piece. I was wondering where to stay on the return to Phoenix, if we don’t want to drive 4/5 hours on the return trip. Thanks for any help

Hi Maggie, Very glad that you have provided so many details. It will be our first trip to the area, we are a family of 9 members, from Florida & Boston, planning to spend this Christmas at Phoenix-Grand Canyon; What are your recommendations?

Are the sand dunes in Yuma worth including in a trip from Phoenix?

Hi Tina, Yuma is pretty out of the way compared to the other stops on this itinerary so I would only really suggest it if you’re looking to stop en route to San Diego or if it’s a place that really interests you 🙂

Hello, What a great itinerary you have. I’m planning to use it for my first time in Arizona. But I will change a little and would like some expert advice. Please contact me if you can. Thank you

Hi, Maggie! My friend and I are going to Arizona, but we have a tight budget and have no car. What kind of transportation do you recommend if we want to go to: Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Horses shoe bend and the painted desert?

Thank you so so much for your help!

Hi Gaby, I do think you’re going to struggle to see what you want in AZ without a car, unfortunately. You may want to look into some organised tours to get to where you want to go 🙂

Hi Maggie, We are flying to Albuquerque from PA in mid March. We want to make a trip from Albuquerque to Arizona for 4 days and 3 nights. We want to visit Sedona, GC and Page. Could you please help us to make an itinerary and suggestion to stay. Thank you

Hi Kalpesh! We actually have a guide to the drive from AZ to NM that you may find helpful in planning your trip: https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/phoenix-to-albuquerque-drive/

Iwill be in LA in April leaving on 10th, planned to visit Arizona and Phonix. can spare 9 to 10 days b4 returning to NJ. is it feasible to visit both the states. more in Arizona than New mexico. Any suggestions? if it is not worth can skip New Mexico all together or still cansee somer part of it in 3 day closer to the Arizona border?

Hi Parvin, you should be able to see quite a bit of Arizona in that time frame. If you want some inspiration, you can find all of our AZ articles here: https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/arizona-travel-guide/

Hi Maggie- four of us are flying into Phoenix and have several bucket list items we want to see…Zion, Grand Canyon (sunrise and a sunset), Pueblo ruins, Monument valley are several…and flying out of Albuquerque a week later. Can you help with an itinerary?

Hi Sandy, we have a number of articles that can help you with planning your trip and will include a number of the places you need to see. Check out our Phoenix to Grand Canyon article: https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/phoenix-to-grand-canyon-drive/ Our Grand Canyon to Zion article: https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/zion-to-grand-canyon-road-trip/ And our Phoenix to Albuquerque article: https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/phoenix-to-albuquerque-drive/ Hope you’re able to plan a fantastic trip!

Hi Maggie, my friend and I are trying to make an itinerary but do not where to start, can you please help us? We will meet in Flagstaff, and we only have around 5 to 6 days, since I will take my flight back home on the seventh day in the morning.

Thank you so much!

Hi Anita, if you’re starting in Flagstaff, you can just do this itinerary in reverse if you’d like! Hope you have a great trip 🙂

Hello Maggie

Many thanks for the info. Its helpful as we are considering a trip in mid March. We are considering Phoenix, Sedona and would love to include the Antelope Canyons in our 5 day strip. You think its good to plan Phoenix to Sedona to Antelope? Would a visit to Antelope still work in March? Thank you very much

Hi Abbi, if you don’t plan to visit the Grand Canyon then I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t include Antelope Canyon on this itinerary instead! It should be beautiful that time of year, just know that you can only visit the canyon on a tour run by a member of the Navajo Nation so it’s best to book in advance once you know your travel dates 🙂 Hope you have a great trip!

Thank you, Maggie. Would you recommend Antelope Canyon over Grand Canyon given the weather in March? Also read its best if we can afford to stay at a lodge inside Grand Canyon to see great sunrise. Is that true? Why? Thanks for all your time and help.

The weather isn’t going to be too different in the Grand Canyon vs Antelope in March so I would recommend just figuring out which appeals to you more. Also, if you can afford to stay within the Park at the Grand Canyon, it certainly could be worth it but I honestly think the sunsets are equally spectacular and it can be much more cost-effective to stay outside of the Park, as well.

Thanks for this as this is my first time planning a trip to somewhere alone and this helped me a bit. A question I had was, is it possible to just stay in Phoenix and drive everywhere? Or is it better/smart to stay at each place? I want to stay for ~5-6 days there and meeting a friend who lives in Arizona (he’s not going to be coming with me, just going alone to all these places).

Thank you! Marvin

Hi Marvin, thanks for your comment! You definitely could just base yourself in Phoenix and drive everywhere on this itinerary, but you will be spending A LOT of time in the car. Not that the south rim of the Grand Canyon is roughly a 4-hour drive from Phoenix and Sedona is roughly 2.5-3 hours from Phoenix. So if you’re willing to spend 6-8 hours of your days in the car while on your trip, you can, but I think it’s better to plan to spend some nights up north, as well.

Hi, We are planning a trip to Arizona from December 25th to January 1st from Nyc. Would love to stay in warmer climates, that’s why not looking to do Grand Canyon. I have two boys 14 & 17. Would love to incorporate a few hikes along with other adventures. I am having trouble planning an itinerary to incorporate Phoenix, Tucson and Sedona.(we are open to incorporating any other area if suggested). Can you please help me determining attractions around these areas that would keep the whole family engaged. We would be renting a car. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Samawia.

We would like to drive from Phoenix up to Page (for Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley) via Flagstaff just before Christmas. Should we worry about tire chains and snow on Highway17 and Route 89? I read that Flagstaff is at a high elevation. Also planning to visit Petrified Forest, snow at that time? Thank you for your insight!

Hi Jeanette, in my experience, the roads are pretty well-maintained and you shouldn’t need chains or snow tires. There will very likely be snow, but the roads are repeatedly cleared and salted so it’s not too risky driving them if your car isn’t equipped.

Hi Maggie we are traveling to Phoenix but just for 4days mx 5 days. We do have in mind to visit Sedona grand Canyon and tombstone. Need help in planning our trip, best shops to sho , places to eat and shopping for souvenirs Any ideas tips will be very appreciated. Thank you so much.

Hi Catalina! I’m sorry to say that, despite growing up in Arizona, I actually have never been to Tombstone and therefore can’t offer any advice there. I do have to say that it is located quite a ways from both Sedona and the Grand Canyon (about a 4.5 and 6-hour drive respectively) so it may not be the most logical stop to include on such a short trip to Arizona. I think it would be best to concentrate on areas north of Phoenix like in this itinerary.

Thank you Maggie what are some places to stay hotel wise and restaurants to go eat ??

Hi Maggie, love all your advice and recommendations. My husband and I have June 29 to July 4 to see Sedona & the GC. Considering a 5-night stay in Sedona or Oak Creek. Since we are coming from Napa, CA, we would like to take a side trip to the nearby wine area – any suggestions? Thank you!!!

Thanks for your comment, Leslee — glad to hear you’ve found our advice helpful! For a winery nearby Sedona, I suggest checking out Oak Creek Winery — they’re a highly acclaimed, family-run boutique vineyard 🙂 Hope you have a great trip!

Hi Maggie, We are planning a trip to Grand Canyon early June for 7 days with our 18 and 21 year old daughters. I have read to also visit Zion and Antelope (so south rim of Grand Canyon). Is this recommended or should we do something else such as Sedona? Thanks!

Hi Julie, both Zion and Antelope Canyon are north of the Grand Canyon (Zion is actually in Utah) so you could follow this itinerary and then after visiting the Grand Canyon, head to Antelope Canyon and then to St George, Utah for the night to visit Zion.

We are in the process of planning a trip down to AZ! We are going to be there for 7 days and want to get a full experience of a little bit everything AZ. We would like to make stops in Sedona, Flagstaff, Page (Antelope, Horseshoe, Lake Powell) and end with a couple nights in Phoenix. Would love to hear your recommendations on planning this trip. The goal is to start and end in Phoenix.

Hi Jordan, sounds like a great trip! I would recommend following this itinerary and then adding a couple of days after the Grand Canyon to go up to Page before heading back down to Phoenix on your last day.

Hi Maggie, My husband and I would like to take a trip to AZ in November 2020. How are things in regards to the current situation? Are parks, restaurant, shops open?? Thanks, Becky

Hi Becky – things are changing all the time and restrictions can vary place by place, so I would recommend checking with the individual places you’ll want to visit to see what is open or not. Always best to remain as flexible as possible in the current climate. Hope you’re able to have a great trip!

Hi Maggie, Do you have any tips on places to stop for views/ food during along the drive from the Grand Canyon to Phoenix? We would probably be leaving the canyon around 11 and slowly making our way there. thank you!

Hi Elise, the majority fastest drive is along the I-17 from Flagstaff down to Phoenix, but the drive itself can be quite scenic. There are a few places to pull over and take in some viewpoints along the way. If you’re interested in taking a detour, stopping over in the town of Prescott (about equidistant between Flagstaff and Phoenix) is a good option, however, Sedona is far more scenic. Hope you have a great trip!

Hi, Flying into Phoenix on early Monday morning in March and out on Thursday night. We want to go to the Grand Canyon Wednesday. Would you suggest Sedona on Monday or Tuesday before we go? We would like to see Scottsdale too. Too little time and so much to see. Thanks! Katie

Hi Katie, it could be worth it to stop in Sedona for a night when coming to or from the Grand Canyon — just pick whichever one makes the most sense for you! Hope you have a great time — March is a great time to visit Phoenix, but be aware that it will still be quite cold up at the Grand Canyon.

Hi Maggie! We are currently planning to visit my mom in NM this summer. Although, we will be meeting in AZ to hangout in Phoenix, Sedona then Grand Canyon. This will be at the end of June/early July still undecided on dates. We lived in Phoenix so we already know it will be HOT but I haven’t been to Sedona or Grand Canyon as an adult. Do you think we could still enjoy our trip there during that time? Late June/ Early July? I have 3 young children so I’m concerned about them not enjoying it due to heat.

Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment! There’s no denying that it’s going to be hot in the summer, however, Sedona and the Grand Canyon are significantly cooler than Phoenix so I think it can be bearable. Just make sure to have plenty of water if you’re spending lots of time outside! In Sedona, if you want to beat the heat and go somewhere that is really fun for the whole family, I would recommend heading to Slide Rock State Park for swimming in the natural water slides. Hope you have a great trip!

Hi Maggie, We are considering a trip from Phoenix to Las Vegas in late December. We’re Canadian, so cold is ok, and we drive in snow all the time, but we’d like to know if, between the winter and the wide open spaces, the roads are generally safe at that time of year. Thanks!

Hi Rhea, the roads are generally very well-maintained and so there’s really no worry about the safety during the snowy season. Hope you have a great trip!

We just returned from a weeklong trip to Arizona. I planned our trip loosely (or not so loosely) based on the tips you provided. Our vacation couldn’t have been better! We spent the 1st and last nights at the Econo Lodge Phoenix. The accommodations were simple but fine. (They have changed names and are now the Surestay) We spent a night at the Saguaro and loved it. The Scottsdale vibe was great-and the November weather was wonderful. (At home in NH it was 20 degrees. ) We stopped at theTonto Bridge and had a nice hike on our way to Sedona. We spent 2 nights in Sedona and took several hikes. Cathedral Rock was challenging for my 60 year old body but worth every step! Before we left Sedona we hiked Devils Bridge. It was beautiful, but the hike was long! We stayed at the Sedona Village Lodge. The staff was great! We opted to stay at the Grand Canyon for 2 nights. We stayed at the El Tovar because I had read about it some 20 years ago and it was definitely on my bucket list! For us, November turned out to be a great time to visit the Grand Canyon. The weather was beautiful and there were no crowds! Thank you for all your great advice! I am not sure I would have had the courage to plan this wonderful trip without it!

Thanks so much for your comment, Ann, and I’m so glad that my tips helped you plan a great trip to Arizona! It sounds like you had a wonderful time and I’m so happy that I was able to help.

Hello Maggie, I am from Germany and we have 2 and a half weeks holiday over Christmas which means about 24th Dec. to 11th Jan. Does it make sense to go on a trip like you described in your 5-day trip in this period as you wrote that temperature could be quite low? We are not frightening cold temperatures but anyway should it make sense because we do not want to go there for skiing rather drop into nature and breathe in the wonderful sceneries.

Hi Nicole, there is no denying that northern Arizona will be cold and snowy that time of year but it shouldn’t prevent you from going at all! If you have proper clothing, you can very much still enjoy the great outdoors and you won’t have massive crowds to contend with, either. It is also usually pretty dry and sunny so while it may be cold, at least you won’t be wet! Hope you have a great trip 🙂

Thanks for the information. We are planning a trip to Sedona, flying into Phoenix on June 12 and coming home June 17. Staying in Phoenix the first night. We have been to the Grand Canyon before so we will probably spend most days in the Sedona area unless we try the train tour to Canyon. What are the must sees in Sedona. Motion sickness could be an issue.

Hey Howard, hope you guys have a great trip! If you need some inspiration planning your time in Sedona, we’ve written a detailed guide to the city that can help you out. You can find it here: https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/one-day-in-sedona-itinerary/ Hope this helps!

Hi Maggie, I would love to include Zion and Bryce National Parks to the above itinerary. We would have around 10 days or more if needed to do the area. I haven’t got a picture yet of how far apart these areas are. Is it doable?

Hi Pam, if you have 10 days to spend the region then adding Zion and Bryce Canyon to this itinerary is definitely doable. From the Grand Canyon, it would take roughly 2-3 hours to drive to either park, depending on where you are. The increase of drive time would come if you’re planning on starting and ending in Phoenix, as the drive back from southern Utah will take around 7-8 hours.

Maggie, thank you for the information. My family and I, (2 adults two boys 9 and 6) will be visiting in August…I know it will be hot but we’re from NYC and have traveled to Vegas in August before, will it be unbearable or do you think if we are mindful to stay hydrated and dress appropriately we will be ok to explore? I would love to take my sons hiking and do as many nature based activities as possible. We will be in Arizona for 8 days so any suggestions are welcome for activities and ‘nicer’ accommodations.

Thank you, Melissa

Hi Melissa, thanks for your comment! Yes, August will be VERY hot, especially in Phoenix or anywhere south of there — it does tend to be the hottest month and you should expect high temperatures to be well over 100 degrees farenheit every day. That being said, it is obviously a different heat than NYC and I personally find it to be a lot more bearable. The early mornings (usually before 9AM) can actually be quite pleasant, so if you want to do any outdoor activities, plan to catch the sunrise. Heat stroke is a serious problem affecting a lot of tourists, so please be sure to stay hydrated. And, obviously, sunscreen is a must.

If you end up heading to northern AZ around Sedona, Flagstaff, or the Grand Canyon, the temperatures are significantly cooler than they will be in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. The other thing to keep in mind is that everywhere will have the air conditioning blasting so you can get respite from the heat. Basically, August can be unpleasant at times but it isn’t unbearable so long as you know what you’re getting yourself into 🙂

In terms of accommodation, make sure to check out some of our recommendations in the article above. Hope you have a great trip!

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6 Best Road Trips

Driving to the Grand Canyon is the ultimate road trip. Here are scenic, adventure-packed road-trip itineraries complete with maps and the best towns, attractions and smaller parks to stop at along the way.

Launch your Grand Canyon road trip from Phoenix , Las Vegas , Salt Lake City , Denver , New Mexico or drive a section of the famous Route 66 . But don’t be in a hurry. You’ll find that the surrounding Americana, Native American culture and Arizona’s wine country can be as enchanting as the national park itself.

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Grand Canyon To Phoenix Road Trip

Grand Canyon To Phoenix Road Trip: The Ultimate Guide

Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip is one of the best journeys you can experience in the USA . The 224 miles of Grand Canyon to Phoenix drive takes around 3 hours and 28 mins without stops.

This article includes 12 tips that turn your Grand Canyon to Phoenix drive into an unforgettable journey. So if you’re looking for the best hotels, restaurants, and places to visit on the road trip from Grand Canyon to Phoenix, take your coffee and keep reading!

Table of Contents

4 Best Hotels On The Road Trip From Grand Canyon To Phoenix

On the Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip, you may want to stay at some points. Here are the top four hotels on the Grand Canyon – Phoenix route!

  • Comfort Inn Near Grand Canyon: Comfort Inn Near Grand Canyon is one of the best hotels; you can stay on the Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip. Driving from Grand Canyon to Comfort Inn Near Grand Canyon might take around 59 mins . Williams, Arizona, located 56 miles from Grand Canyon National Park, provides a convenient and comfortable accommodation option for travelers exploring the region. From its various outdoor recreational areas, golf courses, and nearby landmarks, visitors to Williams can enjoy a range of enjoyable and memorable activities. Check the Comfort Inn Near Grand Canyon, one of the best hotels in Williams, Arizona, on TripAdvisor and Booking.com for recent reviews, prices, and availability.
  • Little America Hotel, Arizona: Another top hotel where you can choose the stay on the road trip to Phoenix from Grand Canyon is Little America Hotel, Arizona. Located in Flagstaff, Arizona, the hotel is 84.6 miles away from Grand Canyon, and it would take 1 hour and 22 mins to drive. Visitors interested in exploring Flagstaff can find an ideal place to stay at Little America Flagstaff. This accommodation is a short distance from Historic Downtown and provides convenient access to many of the region’s celebrated attractions. If you want to learn more about the Little America Hotel, Arizona, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Booking.com .
  • Fort Verde Suites: Didn’t our first two hotel suggestions interest you? So we would like to introduce you to the Fort Verde Suites. Fort Verde Suites is located in Camp Verde, Arizona, and it’s 137 miles away from Grand Canyon. You can arrive there in 2 hours and 10 mins of non-stop driving. Situated in the city’s center, this stylish hotel provides comfortable and immaculate accommodations with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. In addition, guests can enjoy gastronomic delights during their stay. Check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of Fort Verde Suites for more information.
  • Drury Inn & Suites Phoenix Happy Valley: If you are taking the road trip from Grand Canyon to Phoenix, Phoenix Arizona, it is must have a place you should visit. Drury Inn & Suites Phoenix Happy Valley is one of the best hotels in town. The hotel is 204 miles from Grand Canyon, and it would take 3 hours and 6 mins to drive. Guests at the hotel were provided a pleasing breakfast experience and warm reception from the staff upon check-in. The room was spacious and impeccably immaculate. Moreover, the hotel offers a generous happy hour with complimentary concoctions and appetizers. If you need more info about the price and availability of Drury Inn & Suites Phoenix Happy Valley, check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages.

In this part, we explained four hotels you can stay at on the road from Grand Canyon to Phoenix. You can pick one of them that suits your taste. Don’t forget to share your experience by commenting on this post. It will help people who will take Grand Canyon to Phoenix route.

Now, it’s time to discover the best restaurants from Grand Canyon to Phoenix. We have four restaurant recommendations worth your attention.

4 Best Restaurants On The Grand Canyon To Phoenix Road Trip

If dining is a pleasure, some restaurants will please you on your Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip. This section lists four restaurants to dine at on the road trip from Grand Canyon to Phoenix. Stay hungry and enjoy!

  • Grand Canyon Brewing Company: We would like to start our restaurant recommendation list on Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip with Grand Canyon Brewing Company. Grand Canyon Brewing Company is located in Williams, Arizona , 82.6 miles from Grand Canyon. It would take 1 hour and 21 mins of driving. Grand Canyon Brewing Company offers an inviting atmosphere for guests to enjoy its freshly brewed beers. For more information about Grand Canyon Brewing Company, you can visit TripAdvisor or Google Maps pages of Grand Canyon Brewing Company.
  • Delhi Palace Cuisine of India, Flagstaff: Another top restaurant you can choose to eat at on the road trip to Phoenix from the Grand Canyon is Delhi Palace Cuisine of India, Flagstaff. Located in Flagstaff, Arizona, Delhi Palace Cuisine of India, Flagstaff is 82.7 miles from Grand Canyon and would take 1 hour and 22 mins of driving. This renowned restaurant offers an impressive variety of dishes, providing a delightful dining experience for all patrons. Vegetarians can enjoy a selection of options on the dinner menu. If you want to learn more about Delhi Palace Cuisine of India, Flagstaff, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps .
  • Verde Brewing Company: Another restaurant that can be preferred by those who are fond of food is Verde Brewing Company. It will take 2 hours and 7 mins of car drive to take 134 miles from Grand Canyon to Verde Brewing Company, Camp Verde, Arizona. Verde Brewing Company is an ideal spot for refreshment after a long day. The gastropub offers a wide range of beers, snacks, and main courses to please any palate. For an incredibly savory experience, patrons are encouraged to try the restaurant’s acclaimed nachos. For more information, you can check Verde Brewing Company on TripAdvisor or Google Maps .
  • Rusconi’s American Kitchen: Rusconi’s American Kitchen deserves to be on our list. It is one of the most recommended restaurants in Phoenix, Arizona. Our visit to the restaurant was an exceptional experience, with exemplary service and delicious dishes. We were particularly impressed with the braised short ribs and bread pudding, which were perfectly cooked. Rusconi’s American Kitchen is 220 miles from Grand Canyon, and it would take 3 hours and 23 mins of non-stop car driving. If you want to learn more about Rusconi’s American Kitchen, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps .

This section lists our four restaurant recommendations for your road trip from Grand Canyon to Phoenix. We hope these suggestions will help you turn your 224 miles journey into a feast of taste. Of course, you can choose a suitable restaurant according to your preference. Remember, like you, people planning a Phoenix road trip need your opinion. Therefore, we kindly ask you to share your experience with us in the comment field at the end of the blog post.

In the next section, we list the destinations worth seeing along the route from Grand Canyon to Phoenix. Keep reading.

4 Places To Visit On The Grand Canyon To Phoenix Drive

A unique experience awaits you in Phoenix. However, there are also some unique destinations, like Williams, Arizona, on your road trip. We want to explain the top four destinations we recommend on the Phoenix route.

  • Williams Depot: Williams Depot will be the first destination we recommend you stop by on your Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip. Located in Williams, Arizona, Williams Depot is 54.6 miles away from Grand Canyon, and it would take 59 mins to drive. Visitors interested in a historic journey to the Grand Canyon by train can purchase a tour package or receive more information from the station. If you want to learn more about Williams Depot, you can check it on TripAdvisor or the official website .
  • Historic Downtown and Railroad District, Flagstaff: Historic Downtown and Railroad District, Flagstaff, Flagstaff, Arizona, is one of the destinations we recommend you stop by on the Grand Canyon to Phoenix route. It’s 74.2 miles from Grand Canyon, and it’ll take about 1 hour and 21 mins of driving. Nestled along the iconic Route 66, this small western town is known for its distinct architecture and quaint environment. Colorful murals adorn the buildings, providing an enjoyable canvas for a relaxing stroll. Tourists can explore the local businesses, offering a range of shopping and dining options. This picturesque town has something to offer everyone who visits it. If you want to learn more about Historic Downtown and Railroad District, Flagstaff, you can check it on TripAdvisor or their website .
  • Out of Africa Wildlife Park: One of the stops you should not neglect to stop by when you take the road trip from the Grand Canyon to Phoenix is Camp Verde, Arizona. And if you visit Camp Verde, Arizona, we suggest you visit Out of Africa Wildlife Park. You can arrive at Out of Africa Wildlife Park after 2 hours and 11 mins of driving. Set in the charming town of Camp Verde, this resort offers unique opportunities for visitors to get close to local wildlife. Nature enthusiasts will surely be delighted by the park’s picturesque beauty and diverse species. You can visit TripAdvisor and the official site of Out of Africa Wildlife Park for more information.
  • Desert Botanical Garden: Do you also like to travel and experience new things? Then, it would be best to visit Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona, on the Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip. Desert Botanical Garden is 230 miles from Grand Canyon, and you can arrive there after the 3 hours and 32 mins of drive. The botanical garden offers an array of vibrant flora and captivating landscapes, making it an ideal spot to draw creative energy. To make the most of your experience, consider bringing a battery-powered device such as a powerband or mobile phone to capture the picturesque beauty. In addition, you should check TripAdvisor and the official website of Desert Botanical Garden before going there.

FAQ of the Road Trip From Grand Canyon to Phoenix

Here we are answering the frequently asked questions about the Grand Canyon to Phoenix drive.

How Long Is The Road Trip From Grand Canyon To Phoenix?

  • With ideal traffic and weather conditions, the Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip takes approximately 3 hours and 28 mins to drive. Therefore, the driving distance between Grand Canyon to Phoenix is 224 miles.
  • If you want to make the Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip by bike , the time you spend on the road will be 17 hours and 30 mins .
  • If you are crazy enough and plan to walk the Grand Canyon-Phoenix route, you will have to walk for two days and 21 hours .

Where Do You Stop On Driving From Grand Canyon To Phoenix?

There are many beautiful pit stops along the way to Phoenix. On the road, you can visit Williams, Arizona; Flagstaff, Arizona; Camp Verde, Arizona; and Phoenix, Arizona. Here we list four places to visit for you. For more information about the best places on the Grand Canyon to Phoenix journey, you can check the 4 Best Places To Visit On The Grand Canyon To Phoenix Road Trip.

  • Williams Depot: 54.6 miles / 59 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 175 miles / 2 hours and 40 mins to Phoenix.
  • Historic Downtown and Railroad District, Flagstaff: 74.2 miles / 1 hour and 21 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 145 miles / 2 hours and 18 mins of driving to Phoenix.
  • Out of Africa Wildlife Park: 137 miles / 2 hours and 11 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 93.8 miles / 1 hour and 30 mins of driving to Phoenix.
  • Desert Botanical Garden: 230 miles / 3 hours and 32 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 8.9 miles / 16 mins of driving to Phoenix.

Where Should You Stay On The Road Trip From Grand Canyon To Phoenix?

There are many excellent hotels during your road trip from Grand Canyon to Phoenix. We have selected four hotels for you. These hotels are listed below. Remember, you can find detailed information about these hotels in the 4 Best Hotels On The Road Trip To Phoenix From the Grand Canyon section.

  • Comfort Inn Near Grand Canyon: 57.2 miles / 59 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 161 miles / 2 hours and 40 mins of driving to Phoenix.
  • Little America Hotel, Arizona: 84.6 miles / 1 hour and 22 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 146 miles / 2 hours and 15 mins of driving to Phoenix.
  • Fort Verde Suites: 137 miles / 2 hours and 10 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 92.1 miles / 1 hour and 27 mins of driving to Phoenix.
  • Drury Inn & Suites Phoenix Happy Valley: 204 miles / 3 hours and 6 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 21.1 miles / 27 mins of driving to Phoenix.

Where To Eat Between Grand Canyon to Phoenix?

If you are thinking of taking a break and having a nice meal on your Grand Canyon to Phoenix drive, you can consider the four restaurants we have chosen. In addition, you can read detailed information about the restaurants in the section titled 4 Best Restaurants On The Grand Canyon To Phoenix Road Trip .

  • Grand Canyon Brewing Company: 82.6 miles / 1 hour and 21 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 143 miles / 2 hours and 13 mins of driving to Phoenix.
  • Delhi Palace Cuisine of India, Flagstaff: 82.7 miles / 1 hour and 22 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 143 miles / 2 hours and 13 mins of driving to Phoenix.
  • Verde Brewing Company: 134 miles / 2 hours and 7 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 91.0 miles / 1 hour and 26 mins of driving to Phoenix.
  • Rusconi’s American Kitchen: 220 miles / 3 hours and 23 mins to drive from Grand Canyon | 14.3 miles / 21 mins of driving to Phoenix.

So, there you have it- a complete guide to planning a road trip from Grand Canyon to Phoenix. We have listed four hotels, four restaurants, and four places to visit on the Grand Canyon to Phoenix drive. We have also given you detailed information about each place so that you can make an informed choice about where to stay, eat, and what to see. We hope this guide has helped make your road trip from Grand Canyon to Phoenix as enjoyable as possible.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you ever taken the Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip? So, it would be perfect if you shared your experience with other travelers who want the same experience. You can share your thoughts about the road trip from Grand Canyon to Phoenix and your recommendations about this route by using the comment field below.

Video: Phoenix Road Trip – Travel Guide

If you want to turn the Phoenix road trip into a unique experience, this comprehensive guide

Other Road Trips Worth Your Attention

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4 Absolutely Epic Grand Canyon Road Trip Itineraries

Hands up if a Grand Canyon road trip is on your bucket list? Thought so. And, if it isn’t, it really should be. I’ve created four of the most memorable journeys you can go on as a Grand Canyon road trip – thank me later.

No matter how many times I visit, the Grand Canyon never fails to amaze me – I’m talking open-mouthed, eyes wide wonder. As far as USA bucket lists are concerned, it should be at the very top of yours.

But why stop there? Let’s throw in a few more brilliant destinations and make a road trip out of it. Vegas, Phoenix, Denver , and Boulder, to name a few.

Buckle up for the ride of your life…

Handy Tips for Planning Your Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary 

Key tips for planning your road trip to the grand canyon.

Grand Canyon - South Rim Trail Monument Creek Vista

Outline your trip as well as you can beforehand. Read up on your route, find out what lies along its roads, and pinpoint your favourite sights and must-visit attractions. 

It’s all very well trying to cram in ten cities in 5 days, but I reckon you would be better off removing a few and enjoying a couple of the biggies for a bit longer. 

Decide on your accommodation early. Check out my guide on where to stay in the Grand Canyon to help make it a breeze.

What to Pack for Your Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary

Grand Canyon - South Rim Trail Hike

Pack the travel gear essentials you will need for your escapades at the canyon, such as a comfortable pair of shoes – my favourites right now are the Tropicfeel Canyon Shoes . 

Don’t underestimate the need for suitable clothing, hiking poles , and a hydration pack – if you’re hiking, you need to stay comfortable, safe, and hydrated

Pack essential travel items, such as a roadside emergency kit, snacks, and your camera with a spare battery (trust me on this one).

Sunscreen and sunglasses, as well as a cap to protect you from the sun.

A universal adapter – once you start snapping photos (and boy, you will) your phone’s battery will run down very quickly.

If you’re lugging items around with you, make sure you’re wearing a suitable backpack – you can read about my favourites here .

Useful Resources 

  • Skyscanner – the perfect tool in your arsenal for booking local flights in the US and international flights from abroad at the best price.
  • Booking.com – the top website for booking hotels and accommodation, for the very best prices.

Getting Around 

Trust me on this one – the best way to travel on your epic Grand Canyon road trip is via a car. If you’re not planning to use your own car for this road trip, consider the following rental agencies:

  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  • National Car Rental

Renting a car is generally pretty cheap in this region of the US and will allow you to take your perfect trip at your own pace.

4 Grand Canyon Road Trip Itineraries

3-day las vegas to grand canyon road trip .

Grand Canyon - South Rim Trail Monument Creek Vista

Ready for a kick-ass adventure? There’s one place synonymous with a Grand Canyon road trip… and that is Las Vegas, of course. It would’ve been rightfully sinful for this guide to start with anything else than a road trip from Sin City to the Canyon.

This Vegas to Grand Canyon road trip highlights several top attractions and side trips for the perfect 3-day road trip from Nevada to Arizona.

Route Summary 

Las Vegas >> Boulder City >> Kingman >> Williams >> Grand Canyon

Detailed Route Itinerary 

Las vegas to boulder city.

Boulder, Colorado

Las Vegas is where this wild adventure starts – and honestly, what a place to kick things off. 

From the famous Las Vegas Strip to the High Roller , it’s truly like no other city in the world. With some of the world’s best restaurants, sideshow attractions, and epic daytime parties — starting day one here is a surefire hit.

From Las Vegas, you’ll head through Henderson onwards to your first overnight destination, Boulder City. From here, opting for a tour, including a stop at the Hoover Dam , is something I’d highly recommend. 

You’ll have worked up quite the appetite by now, I’m sure. So, end the night with dinner from either the Southwest Diner or The Dillinger.

Suggested Stay: Best Western Hoover Dam Hotel

Boulder City to Williams

Starting the second day of this trip, you’ll depart from Boulder City and cross the border into Arizona along route 93. The state is an absolute gold mine (pun intended – sorry not sorry) of mining history. 

And one of the best pit stops to witness this is the oldest mining town in Arizona, Chloride. It’s the perfect spot to get some snapshots of the town’s quirky murals and roadside ‘junk’ art – quite a rude name IMHO.

From here, your route will take you to Kingman, another spot steeped in history. I recommend visiting Mohave Museum of History and Arts or the Route 66 Museum – or indulge in a pit stop at the Desert Diamond Distillery (if you hadn’t guessed, this is where I ended up).

The historic Route 66 leads out of Kingman to Williams. This is one of the closest towns to the canyon and where you’ll spend the second night of your trip.

Suggested Stay: Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

Williams to Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Ready for the grand finale? Day 3 is a shortie – it’s a simple drive from Williams towards the gateway to the Grand Canyon. And, if you couldn’t tell by the name, this is the perfect spot to start your canyon adventure. 

Early morning is the ideal time to head to the famous Bearizona Wildlife Park – it’s a drive-thru, so you don’t even need to leave the comfort of the AC.

After a morning in Williams, follow Route 64 through to Grand Canyon Junction. It’s a super little spot to get an early taste of the canyon. 

And after that? Well, continue up Route 64 directly to Grand Canyon Village. Tadah! You’ve arrived in style.

Suggested Stay: The Grand Canyon Hotel at The Grand Canyon

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Road Trip Map 

2-Day Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip 

Grand Canyon - Bright Angel Trail Hike

I’m going to play devil’s advocate and throw another option into the mix. After all, a road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon is an option too good to pass up. 

The entire city of Phoenix is, in essence, a resort-style paradise that can quickly fill up a few days by itself. But the trip from here to the Grand Canyon does offer up picturesque locations from the get-go.

From Camp Verde, through Coconino National Forest, to Kachina Village, it’s the scenic trip to end all trips. Now do you see why I said bring a spare camera battery? Exactly.

Phoenix >> Camp Verde >> Kachina Village >> Williams >> Grand Canyon 

Phoenix to Camp Verde

To kick off this epic road trip, your departure point is Phoenix. Route 17 will lead you out of the city on the way to Camp Verde. 

You’ll pass through Black Canyon City, which is a potential early pitstop. As you drive, a few notable snapshot spots are Sunset Point (this gets a huge YES from me) and the quaint little town of Cordes Lake.

From Cordes Lake, the Arizona Veterans Highway will lead you past Flower Pot and right to Camp Verde. 

Camp Verde is just beautiful. Here you can enjoy attractions such as the Out of Africa Wildlife Park or indulge in a Jeep tour and wine tasting – don’t drink two much though, day 2 brings more adventure.

Suggested Stay: Cliff Castle Casino Hotel

Camp Verde to Grand Canyon

Day 2 is a bit of a slog, but well worth it. I promise. 

The longest part of this road trip is the road from Camp Verde to the gateway to Williams, the Grand Canyon. Firstly, Route 17 takes you through the beautiful Coconino National Forest. Notable stops are Scenic View and Schnebly Hill Vista Overlook. 

Those few extra hours don’t seem too bad when the views are this damn good.

Then, you’ll reach Kachina Village. A part of greater Flagstaff, this scenic little village is the perfect rest stop to catch a bite to eat and breathe in the crisp forest air. From here, it’s a short drive to Williams.

Enjoy your final road trip moments outside the park and head to Grand Canyon Village to begin your next adventure.

Suggested Stay: Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn

Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip Map 

2-Day Zion to Grand Canyon Road Trip 

Zion National Park

What’s better than one national park? Answer: Two. Don’t say I don’t treat you.

I don’t like to play favourites, but this road trip might be my favourite option – you’re whisked straight from the stunning red cliffs of Zion National Park to the otherworldly views of Grand Canyon National Park . 

Zion National Park >> Colorado City >> Grand Canyon National Park  

Zion National Park to Colorado City

Zion National Park

Start by spending a few days in Zion National Park – you’ll seriously regret not giving yourself longer. Once you‘ve ticked off a fair few things from your Zion bucket (skip on the bat bite though – if you know, you know), this is the starting point for option 3.

Route 9 takes you out of the park and crosses through the towns of Rockville – by the way, if you want a helicopter tour of Zion (who doesn’t?), you’ll drive past its take-off point – across the Virgin River to Hurricane. This is where you can opt to sky-dive above Zion or hike the historic Babylon trailhead.

Route 59 takes you out of Hurricane to Colorado City, right on the Utah and Arizona border. 

Before booking into your overnight accommodation, grab a sun-downer or two at the Edge of the World Brewery (I will never get over how incredible the beer is in this part of The States!).

Suggested Stay: Zion Glamping Adventures

Colorado City to Grand Canyon National Park

Hopefully you haven’t had too many drinks last night, as the second day of this unforgettable road trip from Zion to Grand Canyon will see you drive down Route 389. This route passes through the historic Kaibab Indian Reservation. 

A photo-op at the Pipe Spring National Monument is a must. Continuing on this route will lead to Fredonia, where you’ll turn down Route 89A.

Hold on to your camera for this part, as this route will take you straight down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. In fact, it will take you down the Grand Canyon Highway along the North Kaibab Trail. 

Suggested Stay: Kaibab Lodge

Zion to Grand Canyon Road Trip Map 

3-Day Denver to Grand Canyon Road Trip 

Larimer Square Denver

I will never stop professing my love for the city of Denver , Colorado. It’s a prime destination on its own, but it is also an excellent kick-off point for an epic 3-day road trip to the Grand Canyon. 

If anything, this route will teach you that Mother nature truly is a show off, but I love her for it. 

The entire route features forested national parks set to the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Once you cross the border into Utah, the glorious roaming landscapes take centre stage… *opens Skyscanner and books my next flight*.

Denver >> Grand Junction >> Moab >> Tuba City >> Grand Canyon 

Denver to Grand Junction

Day 1 

Denver Art

When you depart from Denver on Route 70, the first thing that you’ll notice is the fantastic scenery. 

This is an iconic road in American travelling history, venturing past Pettingell Peak in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, before winding past Mt Lincoln, and then next to the White River National Forest.

Route 70 also takes you through some fantastic rest-stop towns such as Glenwood Springs, Parachute, and De Beque. Oh, and did I mention the Colorado River runs along the entire route? It’s heart eyes all the way.

You’ll arrive at Grand Junction, which is where you’ll spend your first night. There’s loads to do here, including a visit to the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and a vineyard or two (Whitewater Hill and Mesa Park being highlights).

Suggested Stay: DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Junction

Grand Junction to Tuba City

From Grand Junction, you’ll cross the Utah state border following Route 70 until you reach the Route 191 turnoff just outside Thompson Springs. 

The road here leads past Arches National Park , and soon you’ll arrive in Moab . This is the perfect place to stretch your legs (you’ll definitely need it by this point – especially if you’re the designated driver) and visit a few local hotspots. 

Once you’re ready to go, you’ll head through Spanish Valley along the 191. Have your camera ready so you can catch stunning shots of West Mountain and the famous Twin Peaks. 

Heading down Route 191, take the turnoff right onto Route 160, which leads to the small town, oddly named Tuba City. 

Suggested Stay: Navajo Land Hotel

Tuba City to Grand Canyon National Park

After getting in some quality rest and relaxation, the drive from Tuba City along Highway 89 is fairly chilled out and will lead you to the Route 64 turnoff. 

This is a very special route and is more popularly known as Desert View Drive. It offers some of the best canyon views, especially if you’re looking for a sunrise or sunset spot at the Grand Canyon.

Then snap some buzzworthy photos at the Little Colorado River Gorge Overlook, situated on a route leading directly to a true crown jewel — The Desert View Watchtower. Follow this road to take you right into the Grand Canyon Village.

Suggested Stay: Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel

Denver to Grand Canyon Road Trip Map 

Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary – Map 

Grand Canyon Road Trips: Read Next

  • The Best Things to do in the Grand Canyon  
  • Where to Stay in the Grand Canyon
  • The Ultimate Grand Canyon Itinerary
  • Beautiful Hikes in the Grand Canyon
  • Cool Things to do in Arizona
  • Where to Catch Stunning Views of the Grand Canyon

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4 Absolutely Epic Grand Canyon Road Trip Itineraries

I’m Julianna Barnaby - a professional travel writer and geek extraordinaire. I started The Discoveries Of to help you to discover the best of new destinations from around the world.

Discovering new places is a thrill - whether it’s close to home, a new country or continent, I write to help you explore more and explore differently.

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8 Epic Grand Canyon Road Trip Itineraries

  • Post author: Rachel Means
  • Post last modified: 2023-10-25

Visiting the Grand Canyon is one of those bucket list adventures that is almost mandatory if you live in the US. It’s the fourth most-visited national park in the country, hosting over 4.5 million visitors in 2021.

And the best way to see it? Take a road trip.

The closest big airport is Phoenix, AZ and it’s 3.5 hours away. Las Vegas is 4 hours away, and in another time zone to boot. So, one way or another, you’re going to road trip to the Grand Canyon.

But the wonderful thing about the American Southwest is there are a ton of amazing national parks, monuments, forests, and historic sites to see.

So, while you’re here to see the Grand Canyon, you might as well stay a bit longer and check out some of the region’s other amazing sights.

Whether you have 3 days or 2 weeks, there’s a Grand Canyon road trip itinerary for you. Buckle up and let’s take a look!

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and associate of other programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Table of Contents

Quick Intro to Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon stretches away, glowing orange and purple under wispy white clouds as the sun starts to set

The Grand Canyon is appropriately named: it’s a big and awe-inspiring canyon that goes on for miles.

It’s such a fascinating piece of natural landscape that people come from all over the world to see it. Sunrises, sunsets, thunderstorms, and blankets of snow all look amazing here.

But you have to see it for yourself and bask in its hugeness to really appreciate it. Photos just can’t do justice to the truly grand scale of this canyon.

While this guide is focused on Grand Canyon road trip itineraries, we’d be remiss to not give you some background information about the Grand Canyon before we start throwing out things to do and places to see in the park and nearby, like you have any idea what we’re talking about.

We’ll answer a few basic questions and get you up to speed enough to understand the itineraries.

Where is the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon extends across the entirety of the northwest corner of Arizona. Much of the canyon’s 277 mile length is desolate desert.

There’s not much out here because it’s no small feat to build a bridge over a 10 mile-wide canyon with modern equipment.

Pioneers in horse-drawn wagons took one look at it and went around. We don’t blame them!

Grand Canyon National Park has two separate sections.

What many people don’t know is Grand Canyon National Park is actually split into two parts: the South Rim and the North Rim.

The South Rim is easier to get to and has more infrastructure built up, so it’s naturally the most popular.

The North Rim has a lodge and views of the same stunning canyon, looking the other direction of course, but sees just 10% of Grand Canyon visitors. Something to consider if you’re anti-crowds.

When we discuss visiting Grand Canyon in the road trip itineraries below, we are referring to the South Rim.

We will always call out the North Rim specifically as the North Rim.

Grand Canyon has a year-round free shuttle bus system.

The shuttle bus system on the South Rim is a major help for moving visitors around the park as well as reducing pollution.

Park your car once and take the shuttle bus everywhere. The only place they don’t go is along Desert View Road (the east section of the South Rim)

There are four routes: red, orange, blue, and purple. Shuttles all start very early (think 4AM in the summer) and run late (either 30 minutes after sunset or as late as 11PM).

Purple connects the town of Tusayan outside the park’s southern entrance to the central bus hub at the Visitor Center complex.

Leave your car at your hotel and take the shuttle in. Roundtrip loop is about 40 minutes, so it takes 20 minutes or so to get from town to the Visitor Center.

Blue is the park’s Village Route , connecting the Visitor Center with the park lodges, campgrounds, and restaurants in the Village and Market Plaza areas.

It’s also the connector to the Red Route from the Visitor Center. Roundtrip is 50 minutes.

The Red Route is Hermit’s Rest Road . This road is closed to private vehicles from March to November every year, so you have to take the shuttle or walk/hike/bike the sometimes paved, sometimes not Rim Trail.

This route takes 80 minutes roundtrip if you don’t get off the bus, but it also has some of the most popular overlooks and hikes in the park. Well worth the effort!

Also important to note: the eastbound Red Route bus does not stop at every overlook on the way back to the Village. Double check the schedules if you want a specific overlook.

Lastly, the Orange Route is the Kaibab Rim Route . The road up to Yaki Point is closed to private vehicles, all year round.

On Yaki Road, the South Kaibab Trailhead is the most popular trailhead in the park . Most visitors hike down to the Ooh Aah Point and turn around. Roundtrip rides on this shuttle are 50 minutes.

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of the park, let’s get to the road trip itineraries already!

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

A Grand Canyon Road Trip: 8 Suggested Itineraries

The wonderful thing about road trips: there’s no one, single right way to do them.

You could follow the same route and have two very different trips, based solely on which roadside attractions you stop for, where you eat, and where you stay.

There are infinite possibilities for road trip routes to the Grand Canyon because you can start from almost anywhere, the canyon is huge, and it’s surrounded by fascinating landscapes and historical sites.

Today, we’re discussing the most popular Grand Canyon road trip routes, which generally start and end in either Las Vegas, NV or Phoenix, AZ.

We recommend a minimum of a 3 day weekend to get your money’s worth out of a Grand Canyon road trip.

But there is so much else within driving distance that you might want to extend your trip for a week or two to enjoy the area! We’ll discuss a few options for that as well.

In all cases, if you can snag a flight the night before your first day off, we highly recommend that. We call this the Day 0 trick.

It requires no extra time off and eliminates a bunch of wasted travel hours from your vacation days.

So, for the 3 day weekend example: fly out Friday night after work (Day 0), get in late Friday to Las Vegas or Phoenix, and spend the night nearby. Start your road trip as early as you want on Saturday (Day 1).

The 3 Day Weekend Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary

Starting off with the fastest Grand Canyon road trip itinerary for all those travelers with limited time off.

This short and sweet road trip really only qualifies as a road trip because the park is so far from major cities and airports.

It’s a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas or a 3.5 hour drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.

There are tons of roadside stops and major attractions along those routes, but this 3 day weekend itinerary is all about FOCUS.

You want to see the Grand Canyon, so you’ll see the Grand Canyon.

Pro Tip : The Day 0 trick is almost mandatory for this itinerary, especially if you’re flying in from the east coast.

A lone tree clings to the side of the trail with the Grand Canyon in shade, right after the sun has set

(Day 0: Fly in to origin in the evening)

  • Drive to Grand Canyon National Park, eat lunch in Tusayan or the park, stop into the Visitor Center, see Mather Point, and explore the Orange Route with a hike to Ooh Aah Point. Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Explore the Red Route, drive the Grand Canyon Desert View scenic drive. Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Drive back to the airport, fly home

Depending on your good fortune and flight times, you may be able to add another attraction on the third day.

If driving back to Las Vegas , consider stopping in Kingman, AZ for the Route 66 Museum, at the Hoover Dam for a photo and/or tour, or spending some time in Vegas itself.

If driving back to Phoenix , you will pass no less than 6 national monuments along the way.

We loved Walnut Canyon National Monument , a quick hour or so stop in Flagstaff to see ancient Native American cliff dwellings in the canyon walls.

5 Day Road Trip Itinerary: Grand Canyon + City Break

If you take two vacation days and add them to a 3 day weekend, you get a 5 day vacation.

This is a great way to save some PTO but go on a longer, more satisfying vacation.

The many rock layers of the Grand Canyon glow pink in the late afternoon light

Here’s how we’d suggest you break it down.

  • Fly in and Explore Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Flagstaff.
  • Drive to Grand Canyon National Park, arrive no later than lunchtime, stop in the Visitor Center and see Mather Point, explore the Orange Route, and take a short hike to the Ooh Aah Point. Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Spend a full day in the park: explore the Red Route (views and hiking opportunities), drive the Desert View Scenic Drive. Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Leisurely drive back to your origin city, stopping at attractions along the way.

Day 4 can be as adventurous or as laid back as you like.

Drive back to your origin city and enjoy some down time by the pool at your hotel before your busy travel day.

Las Vegas and Phoenix both have so much to do within their respective metro areas that you could easily spend another day sightseeing in each.

The route back to your origin city is guaranteed to have some interesting waypoints as well.

We strongly recommend the in-depth tour of the Hoover Dam if you’re going back to Las Vegas, and stopping in Sedona is always a good idea if you’re on the way back to Phoenix.

7 Day Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary: See Both Rims!

So, you lucked out and have an entire week for vacation. Booyah!

Now, if you have 5 vacation days, we would always encourage you to pair that with two weekends to give yourself a 9 day vacation.

However, we realize some people prefer a day at home before and after a trip, so they have time to decompress and mentally prepare themselves to go back to their ordinary lives.

Post-vacation depression is a real thing.

So for those that need the extra couple of days, this itinerary is for you.

For this timeframe you can see both the North and South Rims of Grand Canyon National Park and also spend a few days exploring nearby must-see sights.

The Grand Canyon lies in dark shade as the rim starts to glow orange as the sun rises over the north rim

  • Fly in to Las Vegas, chill in the city
  • Drive to Grand Canyon National Park, stopping along the way at Hoover Dam , the Grand Canyon Skywalk , or Kingman for the Route 66 Museum . Spend the afternoon in the park at the visitor center, Mather Point, and either the Orange Route or strolling along the Rim Trail. Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Full day in Grand Canyon National Park: explore the Red Route, the Orange Route if you missed it yesterday, and the Desert View Scenic Drive. Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Drive to Page, see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend . Overnight in Page.
  • Day trip to the Grand Canyon North Rim . Overnight in Page.
  • Drive back to Las Vegas, considering a stop in Valley of Fire State Park along the way.

This itinerary works just as well if you fly into Phoenix rather than Vegas. On Day 6 you’d swap a stop in Valley of Fire for a stop in Flagstaff or Sedona.

9 Day Road Trip: So Many National Parks!

This Grand Canyon road trip itinerary is for all our fellow national park bucket list seekers!

When you’ve got a week in a new region and you really want to do some damage to your national park checklist , this is a great option.

Pro Tip : You only need 5 vacation days to go on a 9 day vacation. Use both the weekend before and the weekend after your 5 PTO days for a total of 9 days.

We’ll go ahead and warn you: this is highly ambitious and you cannot fully explore most of these parks with just one day. ( Well, maybe this one. )

But you can hit the highlights and see some pretty amazing stuff, and then plan a more in-depth trip later for your favorites.

Zion Canyon glows orange at twilight with a bit of snow accenting the greenery

  • Fly in to Las Vegas, NV
  • Day trip to Death Valley National Park. Overnight back in Vegas.
  • Drive to Zion National Park (lose an hour for crossing time zones). Spend the rest of the day in the park. Drive to overnight in Bryce, UT.
  • Visit Bryce Canyon National Park in the morning (early start). Spend the afternoon in Capitol Reef National Park. Drive to overnight in Moab, UT.
  • Begin the day in Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky area. End the day in Arches National Park. Overnight in Moab again.
  • Drive to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park and spend a few hours here. Drive to and through Monument Valley as leisurely as you’d like. End in Page, AZ to overnight, possibly catching Horseshoe Bend at sunset.
  • See Antelope Canyon (and Horseshoe Bend if you missed it yesterday) in the morning. Drive to Grand Canyon National Park and take the Desert View Scenic Drive from the east entrance. Overnight in the park or in Tusayan.
  • Spend most of the day in Grand Canyon National Park. Drive back to Las Vegas to overnight (gain an hour for crossing time zones).

All said and done, this whirlwind road trip itinerary sprints through seven national parks and three nearby attractions that aren’t national parks but still impressive must-see sights nonetheless.

Day 4 will feel rushed. We suggest doing the scenic drive and a hike or two of your choice in each park, but don’t forget the 2.5hr drive in between parks when you split your day up.

On Day 5, don’t forget that Arches National Park requires advanced timed entry tickets from early April through early October.

9 Day Grand Canyon Road Trip: A More Relaxed Loop from Las Vegas

This 9 day itinerary offers more breathing room than some of the more ambitious routes discussed, and still only requires 5 vacation days.

You’ll still see a lot, but you won’t have to get up super early and stay up late to drive to the next destination to fit it all in.

The rock formation at Valley of Fire State Park known as the Fire Wave for its many alternating stripes of orange that seem to swirl along the rocks

  • Fly in to Las Vegas .
  • Spend the morning at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and the afternoon back in Vegas. Overnight in Las Vegas.
  • Day trip out to Death Valley National Park. Overnight in Vegas again.
  • Start the day by touring Hoover Dam . Drive to Grand Canyon National Park (lose an hour to time zone change), and catch a few hours in the park exploring the visitor center and Mather Point in late afternoon. Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Explore Grand Canyon National Park: the Red Route, the Orange Route, hike to Ooh Aah Point, take in the Desert View Scenic Drive. Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Drive to Page, tour Antelope Canyon , and see Horseshoe Bend . Check out Lake Powell or Glen Canyon National Conservation Area if you have extra time. Overnight in Page.
  • Drive to Zion National Park and spend the day in the park. Overnight in Springdale.
  • Drive to Valley of Fire State Park (gain an hour from time zone change) and spend the day in the park. Continue on to overnight in Las Vegas.

Red Rock Canyon has a timed entry system during its peak season from October through the end of May. The entry fee is covered by the America the Beautiful Annual Pass .

Zion National Park operates a free but mandatory shuttle bus system for the inner canyon from March through November and some busy weeks/weekends. Check their website for the current shuttle schedule.

When you enter Zion on Day 7 during this timeframe, you’ll have to drive to the Visitor Center first, park, and hop a shuttle to get to trailheads for popular hikes like the Narrows and Angel’s Landing.

The Grand Circle Road Trip – 10 Day Minimum

There are so many amazing sights to see in the Arizona/Colorado/Utah region!

Getting to them all is one giant circular route through northern Arizona, the southwest corner of Colorado, and southern Utah, and it’s become known as the Grand Circle.

This is easily one of the most epic Grand Canyon road trip itineraries out there , but it does not leave a lot of extra time for exploration.

You can still do this itinerary with only 5 vacation days, but you have to pair it with a 3 day holiday weekend to get the 10 th day without using PTO.

Of course, you can extend this itinerary if you can wring a few more PTO days out of work.

Bright orange hoodoos at Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon National Park

  • Drive to Grand Canyon National Park (lose an hour to time zones). Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Drive through Monument Valley and overnight in Cortez, CO.
  • Visit Mesa Verde National Park in the morning, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument in the afternoon, and drive to Moab, UT.
  • Spend the day in Arches National Park. Overnight in Moab.
  • Explore the Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands National Park, with a side trip to Dead Horse Point State Park. Overnight in Moab.
  • Drive to and spend the day in Capitol Reef National Park. Afterward, drive to and overnight in Bryce.
  • Spend a full day in Bryce Canyon National Park. Drive to and overnight in Springdale.
  • Explore Zion National Park. Drive to and overnight in St George.
  • Drive to Las Vegas (gain an hour for time zone change). Fly home.

The itinerary above is the basic Grand Circle, but if you’ve got the time, it’s easy to add on several more parks.

Death Valley National Park is within driving distance of Las Vegas. Petrified Forest National Park could be added between the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley.

Both Great Sand Dunes National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park could be added in Colorado before heading to Moab.

Don’t forget the national monuments and other historic sites! There are a ton of these, as well as state parks, that you’ll likely pass on your way to the other parks.

We loved our morning adventure in Walnut Canyon National Monument in Flagstaff and an afternoon exploring Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas.

10 Day Southwest Road Trip from Las Vegas

Heavy on national parks, this southwest road trip itinerary uses the Day 0 trick to allow for two full days in one of the national parks. (We chose Zion in the example.)

Feel free to shift the itinerary to spend two days in whichever park you choose.

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park features striking rock formations with deep crevices in yellow, tan, and dark brown rocks

(Day 0: Fly into Las Vegas)

  • Day trip to Death Valley National Park. Overnight in Las Vegas.
  • Day trip to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just 30 minutes from downtown Vegas. Overnight in Las Vegas.
  • Drive to Valley of Fire State Park and spend the day here (bring a lunch!). Drive up to Springdale late afternoon/evening (lose an hour to time zone change). Overnight in Springdale.
  • First full day in Zion National Park: Hike Angel’s Landing. Overnight in Springdale.
  • Second full day in Zion National Park: Hike the Narrows. Drive up and stay in Bryce tonight.
  • Spend a full day exploring Bryce Canyon National Park. Drive to Page to overnight.
  • Tour Antelope Canyon and see Horseshoe Bend in the morning. Grab an early lunch in Page before driving to the Grand Canyon North Rim for the afternoon. Drive back to overnight in Page.
  • Drive to and spend a full day exploring Grand Canyon National Park. Overnight in Tusayan or Williams.
  • Drive to the Hoover Dam and take a tour. Optional stop at the Grand Canyon Skywalk along the way. (Gain an hour from time zone change.) Overnight in Las Vegas.

Remember that Red Rock Canyon has timed entry in the winter, and Zion has mandatory shuttles from March to November.

As of 2022, the Angel’s Landing hike requires a permit to hike the portion from Scout Lookout up to Angel’s Landing. It’s incredibly popular and done by lottery, so may the odds be ever in your favor.

10 Day Arizona Highlights Road Trip

Arizona just has so much to see! This road trip itinerary focuses solely on Arizona sights.

Phoenix and its neighboring cities create a ginormous urban area that has quite a lot to explore. You won’t get to all of it in one day, but there is decent and affordable public transit to get around.

Saguaro, paddlewheel, and other cacti and green sage bushes cover the sandy ground under a cloudy blue sky

  • Fly in to Phoenix
  • Explore Phoenix and its huge urban area, including Tempe and Scottsdale.
  • Day trip to Tucson to see Saguaro National Park. Drive back to Phoenix to overnight.
  • Drive to Sedona and spend the day hiking and exploring. Overnight in Flagstaff.
  • Day trip to Petrified Forest National Park. Overnight back in Flagstaff.
  • Start the day at Walnut Canyon National Monument. Drive to Page. Tour Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in the afternoon. Overnight in Page.
  • Day trip out to Monument Valley . Overnight back in Page.
  • Drive to Grand Canyon National Park. Enter via the Desert View scenic drive, stop at the visitor center and Mather Point, and explore the Orange Route. Overnight in Tusayan.
  • Spend most of the day in Grand Canyon National Park, exploring the Red Route. Drive back to and overnight in Phoenix.

What’s life without options? In this instance, you could swap the second day in Grand Canyon for a second day in Sedona.

Hiking in Grand Canyon is not for everyone, so your time may be better spent hiking in Sedona.

Orange canyon walls rise above the deep blue waters of the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Which Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary is Right for You?

At this point, you might be a bit overwhelmed. You want to do all the things, but you’re a responsible adult that has bills to pay and mouths to feed (even if it’s just you and your dog).

Here are the top 3 excuses we often hear for staying in analysis paralysis and not choosing an itinerary.

Excuse #1: “I don’t have enough PTO for this.”

Remember: you can do a Grand Canyon road trip with just a 3 day weekend, no PTO required!

Even if you live on the east coast of the US and have to fly out to Arizona first.

East coasters have the time zone advantage when flying east to west, even without nonstop direct flights.

Flights leave at like 6PM and arrive in Las Vegas at midnight, or if you’re an early bird, leave at 6AM and get in by noon.

That means you could leave Friday after work, arrive in Vegas Friday night to sleep, and then have a full Saturday and Sunday to road trip before heading back Sunday night or Monday morning to Vegas and catching a midday flight home on Monday.

The time zone difference on the way back to the east coast is annoying, but you should be able to catch a noon flight in Vegas and arrive at your home airport by mid-evening.

Excuse #2: “This sounds expensive.”

This excuse irks me. It sounds expensive?

Have you even tried to price it out first, or are you just going back to the safety of your I-can’t-afford-anything-so-I-won’t-try-to-afford-anything-but-I’ll-still-complain-about-it life?

Of course, we understand that having the funds to travel is a privilege, and not everyone is fortunate enough to have the funds or access to travel. That’s not what we’re arguing here.

This excuse is almost always thrown out by people that actually do have some extra income; they just have no idea how to budget or no discipline to save.

Travel is about priorities. You have to prioritize it and then budget for it. It’s not just gonna happen if you don’t plan it.

Yes, it’s going to take some longer than others to save up for it, but there are plenty of travel options to make trips more affordable, if you plan them right.

Excuse #3: “This sounds too complicated.”

Maybe it’s not the PTO or the expense. Maybe you’re just intimidated by the number of stops on the itinerary, having to coordinate it all yourself.

You can do hard things! ( Read that again .)

Choose your favorite itinerary above, and the bulk of the planning is already done.

Now all you have to do is plug-and-play by choosing flights and a hotel or campground in each overnight spot.

Organizing isn’t your forte? No problem. I’m a pro at it, and I have this amazing trip organizer that will keep it all straight for you. ⬇️⬇️

I Found My Perfect Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary! Now What?

Congrats! The hard part is over. Now it’s simple plug and play.

Pick your dates, book your flights and rental car, and choose your hotels in the cities noted on your itinerary.

It really is that easy!

Now that you’ve got the base itinerary, here are some in-depth guides for destinations mentioned.

  • Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon: Which is the Best?
  • See Everything in Bryce Canyon National Park in One Day
  • Where to Stay near Zion National Park
  • Everything You Need to Know to See Horseshoe Bend

Happy travels!

Headshot of Rachel Means at Clingmans Dome in Smoky Mountains

About the Author : Rachel Means

With six-figure student loan debt and only 10 PTO days per year, Rachel started traveling the world. A decade later, she’s paid off her loans, changed careers, and been to 36 US states and 14 countries. She’s an expert at planning and budgeting for travel and loves to help others do it, too! Read her full story here.

Four small photos of Antelope Canyon, Zion, Horseshoe Bend, and Grand Canyon are labelled in the corners with text overlay in the center

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phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Road Trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

A road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is the perfect way to see some of the most stunning landscapes in the United States.

There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road and exploring America’s incredible landscapes. And what could be better than combining that with a visit to one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders?

A road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is the perfect way to see some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

The drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff is a beautiful one, as you travel through red rock canyons and past pine-covered mountains. Once you reach Flagstaff, you can continue on to the Grand Canyon Village, where you’ll find visitor centers, restaurants, and hotels.

If you’re up for an adventure, consider hiking down into the canyon itself. Or if you’d prefer something a bit more relaxed, take a scenic helicopter tour or simply enjoy a leisurely walk along the rim.

The drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is about 4 hours long, and there are many beautiful places to stop and take pictures along the way. I just did this trip with my family and it was really quite amazing!

We flew into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport which is right in downtown Phoenix. Then we hopped into our rental car for our road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon! But, we made sure we did some sight-seeing in the Phoenix area before heading north.

The first place we stopped at was Hole in the Rock located in Papago Park. It is exactly what it sounds like – a hole in a rock. But, the cool thing is you’re able to climb up into the rock and you get a beautiful view of the park below.

The hike up to the hole is a short, easy .3 mile hike. But, this is a popular walking spot, so expect to see lots of people while you’re here. Many people like to sit and hangout in the hole for a while to enjoy the view.

Another great spot to check out in Phoenix is Tempe Beach Park. It’s a beautiful spot with lots of things to do!

You can rent electric scooters to drive around the perimeter of the lake. You can also rent paddle boats, kayaks, and paddle boards to enjoy out on the water! It’s a great place to watch the sunset.

Montezuma Castle National Monument and Well

Montezuma Castle and Well Arizona is a nice stop as you drive north from Phoenix. Both spots are a short drive off I-17.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

The castle is a national monument that was built between approximately AD 1100 and 1425. The well is about 15-20 minutes drive from the castle and is worth visiting.

Montezuma Well

The Red Rock Scenic Byway is a picturesque drive that takes you from I-17 to Route 89A in Sedona. So be sure to take the exit for Route 179 toward Sedona on your way from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.

The route winds its way through the red rocks of Sedona, providing stunning views of the surrounding landscape. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the scenery, including hikes, viewpoints, and photo ops.

The drive is definitely worth it if you’re looking for a beautiful Arizona road trip.

Sedona, Arizona

The Bell Rock trailhead parking lot is a worthwhile stopping point as you drive north along route 179. It’s one of the first red rock landmarks you’ll see as you enter Sedona.

Chapel of The Holy Cross

The Chapel of the Holy Cross sits elevated on the red rocks that can be seen in Sedona. This building is rated as one of the best attractions in Sedona.

But, if you’re going to visit, make sure you get there as early as possible. Parking very limited, but it’s worth the visit even if you just drive by.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Slide Rock State Park Arizona

As you drive through Sedona, Arizona’s famous red rock country, you’ll see signs for Slide Rock State Park. The park is located in scenic Oak Creek Canyon, just north of Sedona.

Slide Rock State Park

The park features a natural water slide created by Oak Creek flowing over a smooth granite surface. The water is cold and refreshing, and the slide is a lot of fun! There’s also a swimming hole and some hiking trails.

The swimming area in Oak Creek at Slide Rock State Park

There is a fee to enter and the park does close before sunset. You’ll find the park hours and entrance fee information on the Slide Rock Park website .

Red Rock State Park

Another great park to visit as you drive through Sedona is Red Rock State Park. This beautiful state rock is a 286 acre nature preserve and environmental education center with stunning scenery.

There are various trails you can walk on your own to get views of the red rocks of the canyon and beautiful views of Oak Creek. They also offer guided nature walks daily at 10am. If you’re into birds, there are guided bird walks on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8am.

Oak Creek going through Red Rock State Park. Swimming and wading in the creek is prohibited to help protect the habitat.

Flagstaff, Arizona is a great place to stop and see some of the natural wonders of the area. Just south of Flagstaff is Sunset Crater National Monument which is a volcano that erupted about 1000 years ago.

The lava flow from the eruption created the cone-shaped mountain that is now Sunset Crater. The monument is open year round and offers hiking trails, viewpoints, and a visitor center.

Sunset Crater

Williams Arizona

Williams, Arizona is located on Historic Route 66 and makes a perfect stop when traveling from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon. The town is known for its Route 66 memorabilia and as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon.” There are several things to see and do in Williams, including the following:

The Bearizona Wildlife Park is a family-friendly attraction that features drive-through wildlife habitats where visitors can see bears, wolves, bison and other animals up close.

Entrance to Bearizona

The Grand Canyon Railway offers train rides from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The ride takes about 2.5 hours each way and includes views of the Colorado River and the canyon walls.

The Grand Canyon Railway is a great option if you’re staying overnight in one of the resorts within the Grand Canyon Village.

Grand Canyon Train

The Williams Depot Museum tells the story of Route 66 and features exhibits on local history and culture. The Frontier Museum showcases exhibits on Western history, Native American culture and pioneer life in Arizona.

Buckskinner Park is a great little park that has a reservoir with beautiful views of mountains surrounding the park. If you have some downtime, this cute little park is definitely worth visiting.

Some things you can do at this park are hiking and fishing. The day we visited, there was a man hiking who said he saw an eagle and an osprey. This is a good spot to bird watch and see other wildlife as well!

Buckskinner Park in Williams Arizona. This park is just a short drive from Historic Route 66.

Santa Fe Reservoir is another great fishing spot in Williams, Arizona. Much like Buckskinner Park, it has beautiful views of the mountains surrounding the water. There is also a dam here that you can walk across.

Santa Fe Resevoir in Williams, Arizona

The day we went, I saw more Ospreys than I have ever seen at one time. There were at least 6 ospreys flying over the reservoir and fishing for lunch. It was really quite the experience! And, I got some great pictures too.

Osprey overlooking Santa Fe Reservoir

While I was at the reservoir, I also saw a Great Blue Heron. While I see both Ospreys and Blue Herons quite often in my home state of Connecticut, it was still really exciting to be able to see these birds in a completely different environment!

Great Blue Heron at Santa Fe Reservoir

Dogtown Lake

Dogtown Lake Campground is another great place to go visit if you have some downtime on your way to the Grand Canyon. This beautiful lake is located in the Kaibab National Forest.

Dogtown Lake in Williams, Arizona

This lake is a good spot for camping, fishing, and hiking. There is a hiking trail that takes you to a scenic overlook of the area from the top of nearby Davenport Hill. Whether you’re looking to go camping or just enjoy some tranquil time in nature, this is a great spot to visit.

Enjoying the views of the lake from a wood swing at the Dogtown Lake Campground.

Kaibab Lake

Kaibab Lake Campground is another great spot located in Williams, Arizona. This lake is a great spot for fishing, hiking, picnicking, and camping. Much like the lakes mentioned above, it is a beautiful spot where you have a nice view the mountains in the surrounding area.

Kailey posing at Kaibab Lake

Mountain drive

Bill Williams Mountain is a peak that you can actually drive up to in Williams, Arizona! The Bill Williams Mountain Road Scenic Drive is definitely worth doing if you have time!

Bill Willams Mountain

The drive to the top is best to take in late spring, summer, and in the fall when the leaves are changing. The road is closed in the winter for safety reasons. The road takes you right to the top of the mountain where you get great views of the San Francisco Peaks, the Prescott/Chino Valley, and the Grand Canyon.

If you happen to be in the area when the road is closed, you can always hike up the mountain. It is a short day hike that’s moderately difficult. Along the hike, you’ll get great views of the valley below as well as views of surrounding peaks!

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world and for good reason. It is an amazing sight to see and there are plenty of activities available such as hiking, camping, river rafting, and more.

The South Rim

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular spot for visitors, and is home to the Grand Canyon Village. The village offers lodging, food, and shopping options for visitors. There are also several trails that start from the village, including the popular Bright Angel Trail.

Bright Angel Lodge is one of the places to stay within Grand Canyon National Park.

The North Rim

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is much less crowded than the South Rim, and it offers visitors a more peaceful and secluded experience. It is also home to the only lodge inside the park, making it a perfect spot for those who want to avoid camping.

The views from the North Rim are just as stunning as those from the South Rim, but with far fewer people around, visitors can really take in all that this natural wonder has to offer.

A road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon is a great way to see some of the best scenery in the country. Starting in Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff. But instead of continuing on the interstate, get off the exit for highway 179 towards Sedona. Then head north on Route 89A towards Flagstaff.

There are many scenic routes to take between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon National Park, including the historic Route 66 in Williams. From Williams, just take Route 64 north to enter the National Park at the South Rim.

The North Rim is only open for a few months from spring through fall. It takes about 4.5 hours to drive from the South Rim to the North Rim. If you’d like to make the trip, you’ll take Highway 64 east to Cameron then drive north on Highway 89A west to Jacob Lake. From Jacob Lake, take Highway 67 south to the North Rim entrance.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic sights in the United States, and it’s easy to see why. The canyon stretches for more than 277 miles, and visitors can explore it on foot or by car. The drive from Phoenix to the canyon is a beautiful one, with spectacular views of the desert landscape.

  • Road trip hacks to make the time fly by
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Road Trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

One Of The Best Road Trips To See Arizona's Top Sights

Arizona road trips are the best way to explore the state. This one-week Arizona road trip visits the Grand Canyon, Page, Monument Valley, and Sedona.

  • Start your one-week Arizona road trip at Grand Canyon Nat'l Park for scenic hikes, drives, and river rafting adventures.
  • Continue to Page for Lake Powell and the iconic Horseshoe Bend for more hiking trails and scenic overlooks like no other.
  • End your journey with a visit to Monument Valley for guided tours, a 17-mile scenic loop drive through towering monuments. Enjoy Sedona's outdoor spaces on the drive back.

Arizona is one of the most popular states for road trips in the US. Whether road tripping two small towns between Arizona and New Mexico or simply looping through the state's biggest hits, there are nearly endless ways to explore this charming southwestern state.

For those planning a one-week road trip through Arizona, sticking to the most popular attractions in the state may be the way to go. By sticking to natural landscapes that are fairly close to one another, travelers can minimize their time between destinations and make the most of their Arizona road trip.

One of the best road trips through Arizona takes travelers from the Grand Canyon to Page, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, and Sedona. At less than 450 miles from end to end, this one-week Arizona road trip leaves plenty of time for travelers to get out of the car and explore the wide variety of outdoor excursions at each stop.

10 Arizona Road Trips That Will Take You Past Its Most Scenic Landmarks

Days 1-3: grand canyon national park to page / horseshoe bend, distance traveled: 111 miles, grand canyon national park.

While there are a number of Arizona road trips that end at the Grand Canyon , Arizona's most famous landmark also serves as an excellent starting point for many road trips. In this case, Grand Canyon National Park is the perfect place to spend the first day and a half of this week-long Arizona road trip.

It doesn't take long to understand what makes the Grand Canyon so exceptional, but taking the time to leave the car and explore some of the various hiking trails around the park will undoubtedly enhance the experience.

Experienced travelers may try their hand on the Bright Angel Trail, one of the most dangerous hikes in the US . Those less prepared for an all-day desert hike can still take advantage of one of the many top-rated beginner hikes in the Grand Canyon .

For those more fond of window views, Grand Canyon National Park also has several scenic drives along its rims that lead to some exceptional canyon overlooks. River rafting adventures can also be booked for those interested in getting down into the canyon itself.

Phoenix To The Grand Canyon: A Road Trip Itinerary

Page and horseshoe bend.

Having hiked and driven through the country's largest canyon, the Arizona road trip can truly get underway. Just over two hours from Grand Canyon National Park, Page is full of scenic hiking trails and makes it easy to access the ever-popular Lake Powell.

Page also sits just 10 minutes from another popular Arizona natural landmark — Horseshoe Bend. One of the most popular spots for photographers highlighting Arizona's natural beauty, Horseshoe Bend highlights the beauty of the mighty Colorado River. For those on a one-week road trip through Arizona, this iconic landmark is a must-visit.

It is a short hike to the most popular overlook point, and plenty of other hikes can be found in both Page and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, where Horseshoe Bend is located.

Day 4: Horseshoe Bend to Monument Valley

Distance traveled: 126 miles.

Heading northeast towards the Arizona-Utah border, this Arizona road trip makes a move towards Arizona's backcountry. Passing through various small Arizona towns, travelers will explore the iconic red rock terrain of the southwest on their way to the striking Monument Valley.

Monument Valley is part of the Oljato-Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which offers various tours and tourist attractions to make the detour worthwhile.

The highlight of Monument Valley, however, is perfect for those already on an Arizona road trip. The 17-mile Monument Valley loop winds road trippers through the towering monuments and leads to the highly recognizable moment of three red rock towers filling the valley.

Despite spanning just 17 miles, the drive through Monument Valley takes between two and four hours, making this stretch of the Arizona road trip a full-day outing.

The Story Behind Monument Valley's West & East Mitten Buttes: The Most Iconic Buttes In The World

Days 5-7: monument valley to sedona, distance traveled: 204 miles.

Having spent the middle portion of this Arizona road trip primarily in the car, the final days are perfect for getting back outside. Sedona has plenty of amazing hikes , enough to fill an entire vacation in and of itself.

With so many free outdoor spaces to explore in Sedona, the city is easily one of the best cheap places to vacation in Arizona , which may come in handy at the end of a week-long Arizona road trip.

While the drive from Monument Valley to Sedona is the longest stretch of the road trip, taking around 3.5 hours without traffic, there are plenty of stops along the way that could turn this afternoon drive into a day trip of its own.

As one of the best road trips to see Arizona's top attractions, this one-week road trip explores many of the most well-known stops in the Grand Canyon State. Popular cities like Page and Sedona, and natural landscapes like the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, make this an unforgettable Arizona road trip.

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Road Trip to the Grand Canyon with Kids

A few weeks ago my daughter and i were reading a book together about landmarks around the world. her eyes landed on the grand canyon, and she started to ask more questions about what it was and where. when she read the word, “arizona,” her eyes bugged out and she almost yelled, “arizona that’s where we live can we go see it” since my kids are arizona natives, i thought she was right, and it was about time my kids got to see one of the most famous landmarks on earth, in their very own state. so we took a day out of our williams weekend away to make the one hour drive north to the grand canyon..

  • Day Trips , Flagstaff , General , Williams
  • November 1, 2019

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

A few weeks ago my daughter and I were reading a book together about landmarks around the world. Her eyes landed on the Grand Canyon, and she started to ask more questions about what it was and where. When she read the word, “Arizona,” her eyes bugged out and she almost yelled, “Arizona? That’s where we live! Can we go see it?”

Since my kids are Arizona natives, I thought she was right, and it was about time my kids got to see one of the most famous landmarks on earth, in their very own state. So we took a day out of our Williams weekend away to make the one hour drive north to the Grand Canyon.

While we were enjoying the lovely, quiet drive with absolutely no fighting or screaming children in the back (just kidding), we saw a big sign up ahead that said, Planes of Fame Air Museum . We were not planning on stopping here, but it looked like an interesting diversion, and with the deliberation of only a few seconds, we made a sharp left turn into the parking lot.

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

This turned out to be a really fun and interesting detour. Admission was affordable at only $5 per child ages 5 to 11, and $10 for adults. We got in for $9 since my awesome mom is a member of AAA and the museum offers a discount.

Inside the main hangar was an impressive array of aircraft. Some were historic, having been restored after engaging in military operations. Others were models, or hobby planes, or recreations of international planes. A few have even starred in their own movies! The girls got to experience the inside of a camouflaged military bunker and tinker with an old radio. There are two planes inside the museum that kids can climb into and enjoy pushing buttons and pulling levers. They absolutely loved this, and began talking about learning to fly planes when they grow up.

Outside the large bay doors is an area known as the boneyard. These huge, old planes are completely derelict, but really cool to look at. Oh, and as a bonus, there is a bowl of free lollipops on the front desk.

We enjoyed the museum for about an hour, then after getting some gas in the van, hit the road again.

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

As we approached the entrance to the Grand Canyon, we turned into the local shortwave radio information station, 1610 am, to hear updates about the park. The girls were very excited, especially our oldest, whose curiosity inspired this fun adventure. It only took about 15 minutes to get through the main entrance, and once again because of my awesome mom who has a lifetime senior national park pass, our whole car load was admitted free of charge. Thanks mom!

This year is very special, because the Grand Canyon is celebrating its 100th year as a national park. There are special events and cultural demonstrations planned to commemorate this milestone in the history of the canyon.

Mather Point is the closest overlook to the visitor center, so after taking in the 22 minute informational video, we walked to the rim. When the moment finally arrived and we could see over the rail, my kids faces lit up just like I hoped they would! With lots of jumping around and yelling, “I can’t believe it! We’re here!” we began to meander slowly through the crowds.

And I do mean crowds! Mather Point is one of the easiest overlooks to get to, so we were wending our way through throngs of people. Even though selfie sticks are banned at the Grand Canyon, I don’t think the message got out to well. Selfie sticks were everywhere! We also did see people climbing over barriers to get a better shot. I had to keep reminding my kids that we were actually on the edge of a cliff and not at an amusement park. And I’ll admit it: our little one was definitely on a toddler leash. No shame. Edge of a cliff people!

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

After a while of sightseeing, we drove to an area called Grand Canyon Village, and had lunch at the Bright Angel Lodge. Just across the road and down a small hill from the lodge were the railroad tracks, and a building where the mules that take you down into the canyon are housed. We did not do the mule trek, but my kids did enjoy seeing them. We saw a few more lookouts and wandered around the Hopi House and gift shop. Time passed very quickly, so to end our day, we all got ice cream cones and enjoyed sitting at the overlook, fending off the squirrels that were trying to steal our treats.

Each of our kids said they were very excited to go back to school and tell their teachers about their adventure to the Grand Canyon. I’m so glad my oldest expressed interest in visiting! This is a fantastic natural wonder to expose your kids too, especially if they were born and raised in Arizona.

If you have a full day or more to spend at the Grand Canyon, consider these activities:

  • have the kids complete the activities in the Junior Ranger booklet to become a junior ranger
  • rent bikes and explore the paved paths around the rim (bike trailers are available)
  • hike down a mile or two on the famous Bright Angel Trail for a different perspective of the canyon
  • learn about geology at the Yavapai Geology Museum
  • watch the sunset (Mather Point and Hopi Point are popular)
  • jump on one of the numerous free bus services to see more of the park, like Hermit’s Rest
  • splurge on a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon
  • if land route is more your style, book a mule ride down (and back up!) for a unique experience
  • the visitor’s center just outside the park in Tusayan has a fabulous IMAX video about the canyon
  • take a drive inside the park to the Watchtower at Desert View

Whether you have a lot of time to spend and stay, or just half a day, the Grand Canyon will always be worth the effort.

phoenix road trip to grand canyon

Kid Assessment:

Eight year old: “I was so excited to see the mountains. The Grand Canyon was beautiful and I like taking pictures.”

Six year old: “The Grand Canyon was full of beautiful scenery and I loved getting ice cream.”

Three year old: “Good! The thing was awesome.”

Staying the night in Williams? Check out this weekend itinerary , including this fun pumpkin themed train ride !

Liz Haveman

Liz is a NJ transplant who lives in Chandler with her husband, and three daughters.

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2 Responses

We brought our bikes (and bike trailer) to GC for the first time this year, and really enjoyed the new perspective. There were plenty of places to stop to enjoy the view and explore without any crowds, and there are places to lock your bike at all official stops. The path we picked was primarily flat, however you can bring your bikes on the shuttle if you want to go further and avoid any uphill climbs. We enjoyed our experience so much that we later brought our bikes to Zion park in Utah which was wonderful as well.

Love this feedback, thank you for commenting!

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  • airplane museum , Day Trip , grand canyon , Outdoor , Road Trip

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23 Incredible Road Trips in the U.S.

Whether you’re looking for sweeping views of the pacific ocean or a multiday adventure through national parks, these road trips provide plenty of opportunities to explore the united states..

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A highway leading toward mountains

Glacier National Park is one of many scenic places you can visit on an American road trip.

Photo by Zack Frank / Shutterstock

In a country as large as the United States, there’s no shortage of destinations and detours to explore by car . Whether your idea of the perfect American road trip entails an epic, cross-country journey or a shorter jaunt through a few of its most iconic national parks , your options are as large and varied as the country itself.

Even if you don’t have the time to drive cross-country, there are plenty of road trip routes (ranging from three days to a week or longer): classic California itineraries , New England routes that shine especially well in the fall, scenic East Coast adventures, and a variety of Midwest journeys for folks farther from the coasts.

No matter your mode of transportation—be it van, RV, motorcycle, or four-door sedan—these are 21 of the best road trips in the nation to consider.

Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

Plan your next Route 66 trip around thirst-quenching stops.

Photo by Peek Creative Collective/Shutterstock

There are many ways to do a cross-country road trip in the USA, but these two itineraries will take you through some truly iconic American places.

1. Chicago to Los Angeles: A Whiskey Road Trip on Route 66

It doesn’t get more American than a 2,000-mile drive along the entirety of Route 66. There are endless ways to take this legendary trip (including an EV version —but to take your cross-country road trip to the next level, we recommend exploring another American pastime: whiskey.

Starting in Chicago and ending in L.A., you’ll stop by some of the leading craft distilleries in the United States, like Few Spirits in Chicago, Still 630 in St. Louis, and Red Fork Distillery in Tulsa. In between tastings, make time for detours to natural attractions, like the Grand Canyon, and quirky roadside curiosities, like Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Just remember to drink responsibly—this is a road trip after all.

Plan your trip

The full itinerary: Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

People biking on a busy street

No cars are allowed on Mackinac Island, so you need to park before taking the ferry to this spot.

Photo from Shutterstock

2. Bangor, Maine, to Seattle, Washington: The Great Northern on U.S. Route 2

Covering both the U.S. and Canada, a cross-country trip along U.S. 2 is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the vast diversity and expansiveness of North America. This drive runs the entire top border of the U.S. and showcases otherworldly natural wonders like Acadia National Park in Maine, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, and Mackinac Island in Michigan. The route also passes through Canada, taking road-trippers through Ontario into Quebec—this route may focus on nature, but you won’t want to miss a stop in Montreal or Ottawa.

You’ll also get to explore Montana and Glacier National Park ( reservations may be required ) before passing the Columbia Plateau and ending in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city, Seattle. Don’t miss spending time in the Olympic Peninsula (home to Olympic National Park) for a peek at one of the most scenic places on the West Coast.

3. Dana Point to San Francisco: Driving California’s Pacific Coast Highway

The seemingly endless views of the Pacific Ocean along Highway 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) are what road trip dreams are made of, and exactly what makes this California road trip so popular. However, with so many stops along the 655-mile stretch, we pulled together a list of the ones well worth pulling over to view. Don’t miss the perfect surfing waves in Santa Cruz, seasonal cuisine in Malibu, an afternoon a the boardwalk in Santa Monica, or a night in Big Sur as you drive between Dana Point (just south of Los Angeles) and San Francisco.

  • The full itinerary: The Best Stops for a Road Trip on the Pacific Coast Highway
  • The AFAR Guide to San Francisco

Wooden pier with shops on top juts out into the ocean

The seaside town of Monterey was the setting for John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row .

Photo by Denise Lett/Shutterstock

4. Big Sur to Mono County: A Literary Road Trip Through Northern California

Yes, this itinerary requires you actually put down your book to drive, but seeing some of the pivotal places that shaped American authors will be so worth it. Follow in the footsteps of writers like Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou, and Amy Tan on this road trip that takes you through literary landmarks in Northern California, such as Caffe Trieste, a meeting place for Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, and other bohemian writers and thinkers. This 12-stop itinerary is perfect if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area because you’ll be able to stay make these trips in one or two days.

The full itinerary: The California Road Trip All Book Lovers Should Take

Wide shot of a red canyon with a river running through it

Arizona may take its nickname from the Grand Canyon, but the state has far more natural wonders than just that one.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

5. Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: An Iconic Arizona Road Trip

This 240-mile Arizona road trip takes travelers along some of the state’s most iconic highlights, including its most famous one, the Grand Canyon. A great itinerary for first-time visitors and returning travelers alike, it offers plenty of opportunities for scenic drives, hiking, and biking—as well as tasty food along the way. Hike the 2,704-foot-tall Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale or take in the beautiful red rocks of Sedona on a hike to Cathedral Rock while exploring the Grand Canyon State.

  • The full itinerary: The Classic 5-Day Arizona Road Trip
  • Grand Canyon guide: The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon
  • Where to eat in Phoenix: A Chef’s Guide to the Best Restaurants
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Arizona ; The Best Airbnbs in Sedona

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah's Arches National Park

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah’s Arches National Park

Photo by tusharkoley / Shutterstock

6. Zion to Grand Canyon: A National Parks Road Trip in the Southwest

If you’re looking to visit as many national parks as possible in one road trip, this southwestern itinerary is for you. This journey through Utah and Arizona lets you hike Angel’s Landing in Zion, feel tiny under Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, explore Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon, and, of course, raft down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Most visitors to the Grand Canyon remain on the rim, but take at least four days to venture within the canyon and take advantage of the trails and river rafting.

  • The full itinerary: The Ideal Road Trip Through U.S. National Parks
  • Utah’s 8 Best National Parks and Monuments
  • 10 Best National Parks and Monuments in Arizona
  • The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon

Couple sitting in front of a curving road

Stop and admire the winding roads of the San Juan Skyway.

Photo by Anh Luu/Shutterstock

7. San Juan Scenic Skyway Road Trip: An Adventure Through Southwestern Colorado

This Colorado trip takes you along the 232-mile loop of the San Juan Scenic Skyway, where you will see plenty of alpine forests, mining towns, and craggy peaks. And for anyone looking to enjoy refreshments after a long day of driving, this route features many opportunities to stop at some of the best breweries in Colorado , such as Ska Brewing Co. in Durango.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Southwestern Colorado Road Trip
  • Five Classic Colorado Road Trips To Take This Year

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

Courtesy of the Surf Hotel

8. Denver to Montrose: A 420-Mile Road Trip Through Colorado

Want to explore even more of the Centennial State? Head out on this weeklong road trip where you can fish for salmon in Colorado’s largest reservoir, visit numerous small towns, like Paonia and Crawford, with thriving art scenes along the Colorado Creative Corridor , and explore Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the nation.

  • The full itinerary: Art Stars, High-Altitude Wines, and a Remote National Park: The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Colorado
  • The AFAR Guide to Denver

Woman walking by a mural of a river and bridge

Portland may be Oregon’s largest city, but with a population of some 652,000 (or 2.5 million in the larger metropolitan area), it isn’t intimidatingly large.

Photo courtesy of Travel Portland

9. Portland to Astoria: An Oregon Coast Road Trip for Outdoor Lovers

If you love the outdoors, then this six-day road trip along the coast of Oregon is for you. After driving to Coos Bay from Portland, travelers will meander along Oregon’s dramatic, rocky coastline, discovering some quintessentially Pacific Northwest vistas along the way: evergreen forests, seaside dunes, and marine ecosystems. Between stops, there are ample opportunities to stretch your legs hiking, kayaking, or strolling around the region’s small towns—like the historic old town in Florence.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon road trip without a stop (or three) at a craft brewery, such as Fort George Brewery in Astoria, or cozy coffee shop, like Bread & Roses in Yachats.

  • The full itinerary: An Outdoor Lover’s Road Trip on the Oregon Coast
  • The AFAR Guide to Portland

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

Photo by photo.ua / Shutterstock

10. Seneca Falls, New York, to Nashville, Tennessee: Follow the Path of the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Starting in New York’s Finger Lakes region and ending at the State Capitol Building in Nashville, this road trip traces the route of the national women’s suffrage movement. Highlights include stops at the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House ; Union Square in New York City, which was the site of the first suffrage march; and the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C.

  • The full itinerary: Celebrate Women’s Suffrage on an Epic, Self-Guided Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Washington, D.C.

A long shot of a mountain-backed city, framed by flowers and trees

Asheville is one must-stop on a North Carolina road trip.

Courtesy of ExploreAsheville.com

11. Charlottesville to Asheville: A Scenic Road Trip Through Virginia and North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Beginning in the soft hilly meadows of the Appalachian Mountains from Shenandoah National Park down into the Blue Ridge Mountains, then into the Great Smoky Mountains, this five-day road trip is best done at a slower pace, which is perfect for admiring the dramatic outlooks and green plateaus. This eclectic itinerary features stops at an art museum, a dairy farm, and plenty of hiking trails.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip
  • Where to stay: 12 Dreamy Blue Ridge Mountain Cabins You Can Rent on Airbnb and Vrbo
  • 8 U.S. National Park Road Trips to Take in Your Lifetime

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Courtesy of Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

12. Albuquerque to Las Cruces: Discover New Mexico on This Three-Day Road Trip

This route steers you away from New Mexican tourist hot spots like Taos and Santa Fe and instead takes you on a three-day adventure with places that teach you about Pueblo history. You’ll stop at Indian Pueblo Kitchen (formerly known as Pueblo Harvest), a restaurant inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center that features Indigenous cuisine ; pick up peppers at Three Brothers in Hatch; and slide down the dunes in White Sands National Park.

  • The full itinerary: This New Mexico Road Trip Is the Perfect Introduction to the Land of Enchantment

Green tree near brown house during daytime

Historic Fort Martin Scott is one of the places travelers can visit to learn about Fredericksburg’s history.

Photo by Mark König/Unsplash

13. A Five-Day Scenic Road Trip Through Texas Hill Country

This Texas road trip starts and ends in San Antonio with stops in small towns like Bandera, Boerne, and consider a stop in Fredericksburg, which is one of AFAR’s best places to go in 2024 ). Over five days, you’ll find opportunities to stroll in a Japanese tea garden in San Antonio, relax along the Sabinal and Frio Rivers by inner tube, and eat as many tacos as you want. Seriously: You could eat tacos for every meal on this road trip and not get tired of them.

  • The full itinerary: Tree Houses, Tubing, and Tacos: The Ultimate Texas Hill Country Road Trip

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Photo by warnsweet / Shutterstock

14. A Weeklong Road Trip Through Alaska’s Most Majestic Sights

This weeklong drive in Alaska starts and ends in Anchorage. You travel along four scenic byways; explore Wrangell–St. Elias wilderness, the largest U.S. national park; catch sight of Denali, the tallest peak in North America; and enjoy the surprisingly stellar food scene of McCarthy, a one-road town with only a couple dozen residents.

  • The full itinerary: Glaciers, Mountain Peaks, and Organic Farms: The Ultimate Alaska Road Trip
  • Which Alaska National Parks Should You Visit?

More than geothermal pools, Kirkham Hot Springs features a piping-hot waterfall.

More than geothermal pools, Kirkham Hot Springs features a piping-hot waterfall.

Courtesy of Idaho Tourism

15. Boise to Sun Valley: Explore Idaho’s Scenic Byways

Even a short road trip can be packed with adventure, good food, and scenery, which is exactly what this trip from Boise to Sun Valley along Idaho’s Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway offers. Although the drive only takes six hours, we recommend taking a few days to explore all the stops and detours along the way. One can’t-miss spot is the Kirkham Hot Springs , where you can stand under a waterfall that will splash you with 135-degree mineral water year-round.

  • The full itinerary: The Little-Known Idaho Road Trip You Need to Drive
  • Things to do: The Best Outdoorsy Things to Do in Idaho

Grand Portage State Park is the only state park jointly managed by a state and a Native American band.

Grand Portage State Park is the only state park jointly managed by a state and a Native American band.

Photo by Shutterstock/QZ

16. Duluth to Grand Portage State Park: A Scenic Minnesota Sampler

Although there are many appealing road trips throughout the Midwest, this 143-mile, three-hour circuit, which starts and ends in Duluth, Minnesota, is worth keeping in mind. Meandering north on MN-61 with this itinerary, you will enjoy prime views of Lake Superior and towns like Grand Marais, as well as Grand Portage State Park, home to waterfalls, hiking trails, and opportunities to learn about the Ojibwe community who occupy the land today. Once back in Duluth, enjoy a beer at Canal Park Brewing Company before checking into the waterfront Canal Park Lodge nearby.

  • The AFAR Guide to Minnesota

Overhead view of curvy Kancamagus Highway through fall forest

Wind your way through colorful foliage in New Hampshire.

Photo by Shutterstock

17. Kancamagus Highway: A Quintessential New England Drive

Yes, you can take a road trip in New England at any time of the year , but this region shows off its best colors in the fall, when locals and tourists alike head out into the country to view the changing colors of the trees. Join other admirers of fall foliage on this popular, 34.5-mile road trip along New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway, colloquially known as the “Kanc,” for picturesque ponds, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks.

  • Plan Your Fall Getaway With This Peak Foliage Prediction Map

Red boat beside a wooden dock in a cove

Ogunquit is home to the small, postcard-perfect harbor of Perkins Cove.

Photo courtesy of QualityHD / Shutterstock

18. Maine’s “Lobster Trail”: Travel Route 1 Along the Coast

Traveling Route 1, affectionately known as “the lobster trail,” along Maine’s jagged coastline is an exercise in indulgence. Sample lobster dishes in all forms—buttered, steamed, on a roll, or even in a decadent mac-and-cheese.

The trip starts in the quaint small town of Ogunquit , with its rare (for the area) 3.5 miles of white-sand beach. Make your first lobster of the journey count, steamed with a side of drawn butter at Barnacle Billy’s in picturesque Perkins Cove harbor. Stop at Big Daddy’s for a cone on your way to the shipbuilding center—and summer home of George H. W. Bush—Kennebunkport. Stay at the recently redesigned 150-year-old classic White Barn Inn , and consider a sailing trip for an afternoon. With lobsters cooked in ocean water, the legendary lobster roll at the Clam Shack is a must.

  • 8 Scenic East Coast Road Trips to Take This Year

Interior of Leah & Louise restaurant in Charlotte

Throughout North Carolina’s Piedmont region, innovative restaurants, shops, and restaurants like Leah & Louise in Charlotte, above, are creating a buzz.

Photo by Peter Taylor Photography

19. Raleigh to Charlotte: A 4-Day Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

North Carolina’s Piedmont region extends from the coastal plain to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and includes farmland and rolling wooded hills, especially on the 1-40 stretch near Hillsborough. Starting in Raleigh, drive the short distances to Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte to see how these cities are innovating through art, food, and a celebration of the past. Take your time—four days should do—to experience downtown arts districts, James Beard Award–winning restaurants, and civil rights museums that speak truths. Plan your trip

  • A Road Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

Scenic South Walton is part of the Emerald Coast of Florida.

20. Scenic Highway 30A: A Sunday Drive Through South Walton, Florida

Florida is full of places to cruise with the top down, but it’s hard to beat a Sunday (or any day) drive along Scenic Highway 30A through northwest Florida, home to a postcard-perfect stretch of seaside towns known as South Walton.

The roughly 28-mile route through South Walton County kisses the coast for nearly all its length, taking you through gorgeous residential Gulf-front communities like Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, and Blue Mountain Beach . Roll down the windows and let the emerald-hued views in.

Pull over to explore, too—maybe to admire the New Urbanism architecture in Alys Beach or to swim in the clear waters at Grayton Beach State Park . (The beach here has been lauded among the best in the world.)

  • The full itinerary: The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

Two stand-up paddleboarders on the water at sunset

Stand-up paddleboarding is just one way to enjoy a Florida Keys sunset.

Shutterstock

21. The Florida Keys: An Island-Hopping Getaway

For a sunny road trip itinerary in Florida, skip Miami and head farther south. Beginning in Key Largo and ending in Key West, the Florida Keys Scenic Highway is often overlooked for more well-known routes up north, but it is well worth going out of your way to experience.

As the name suggests, this route is very scenic, so plan to spend at least a few days exploring it and numerous stops along the way. Some highlights include driving across the impressive Overseas Highway, stopping to admire art in the town of Islamorada, and enjoying the historic sites, food, and (of course) beaches in the city of Key West.

  • The full itinerary: How to Road Trip in the Lesser-Known Florida Keys

A brick building with an oversized guitar hanging off the side and a sign that says "Sun Studio"

Sun Studio in Memphis was the site of the famous Million Dollar recording session that brought together Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.

Photo by f11photo on Shutterstock

22. Memphis to Bristol, Tennessee: A Music-Driven Adventure

If you have about a week to spare and a deep appreciation for music, take a road trip from one side of Tennessee to the other, starting in Memphis and ending in Bristol. The eastbound trip spans genres, including rock ( Graceland ), blues ( Beale Street) and, of course, country (did you really go to Tennessee if you didn’t go to Dollywood ?). Nashville serves as the halfway point on your journey—so consider penciling in an extra 48 hours to fully explore the state capital’s greatest hits.

  • The full itinerary: 5 Great American Road Trips For Music Fans

The stunning coastline near Cueva del Indio has been the backdrop of star-studded films.

The stunning coastline near Cueva del Indio has been the backdrop of star-studded films.

Photo by Alexsf.gr/Shutterstock

23. Arecibo to Condado, Puerto Rico: A Lesser-Known Side of a Well-Loved Island

In the minds of many, trips to Puerto Rico bring images of stunning beaches , delicious foods , and maybe a bioluminescent bay or two . But there’s plenty of history to be found here, too, as Puerto Rico was home to an Indigenous population known as the Taino, a heritage many Puerto Ricans embrace. That history can be explored via a road trip. Starting in the northern town of Arecibo, travel south to Ponce, then back north to Condado—along the way you’ll encounter petroglyphs, Indigenous sites, and breathtaking natural spots.

  • The full itinerary: A Puerto Rico Road Trip That Puts Indigenous Culture First

Additional road trip planning resources Picking the route for your road trip is only one part of your planning. From what snacks to pack to which podcasts to listen to, these additional resources will help you prepare for your next adventure:

  • Best road trip snacks
  • Road trip planning apps
  • Podcasts and audiobooks to download
  • What to pack for a road trip

This article originally appeared online in August 2020. It was most recently updated on April 4, 2024, to include current information. Additional reporting by Jessie Beck, Erika Owen, Ray Rogers, Terry Ward, and Sheryl Nance-Nash.

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COMMENTS

  1. Road Trip From Phoenix To The Grand Canyon

    The road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon takes 4 hours and 30 minutes. Make time to cool off at Lake Pleasant and Slide Rock State Park, marvel at Montezuma Castle and the red rocks of Sedona on the way, and explore the scenic Flagstaff area. This itinerary is truly unlike any other in the States, so continue reading to get an idea of just ...

  2. The Ultimate Road Trip Guide: Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

    Road Trip Tips & Safety. Driving Tips : There is a highway that takes you directly from Phoenix to Flagstaff, which is I-17 North. Once you make it into Flagstaff, you can take AZ-664 North to the South Entrance of the Grand Canyon. Most of the stops that have been mentioned are on the way from Phoenix to Flagstaff via I-17 North and are ...

  3. 8 Best Stops on the Phoenix to Grand Canyon Drive

    The distance on the drive from Phoenix to Grand Canyon South Rim and Grand Canyon Village is 229 miles (369 kilometres) and the drive time is approximately 4 hours by car if going non-stop without traffic. However, you will be missing a LOT of what the state has to offer along the way. So while the drive time is only about four hours, if you ...

  4. What to See on an Epic Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip

    Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip by Section. The quickest route from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is by traveling north on I-17 to Flagstaff, west on I-40 to Williams, and then north on Highway 64 — a 3 hour, 30 minute drive covering 229 miles (368 kilometers). Of course, you may also choose to detour through Sedona (add at least 35 minutes ...

  5. Phoenix To The Grand Canyon Road Trip: 17 Best Stops

    How Far Is The Car Ride From Phoenix To The Grand Canyon. The trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by car takes around four hours or less, depending on the route you take and traffic. Option 1: The route that takes the shortest amount of time is about three hours and twenty minutes long, covering 224 miles of road. This is the most direct ...

  6. Phoenix To The Grand Canyon: A Road Trip Itinerary

    Distance from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: 224-237 miles. Straight-through Time to Drive: 3.5-4.5 hours. Ideal Road Trip Time: 3-5 days. For avid road trip travelers, however, it is clear that what can be seen on paper doesn't always reflect reality. To truly appreciate this stretch of the Arizona desert, travelers should plan to give ...

  7. Phoenix to Grand Canyon (Top Sites + 5 Day Itinerary)

    3. WEST FORK OF OAK CREEK TRAIL. The West Fork of Oak Creek Trail in the Coconino National Forest is an insanely fun trail that is full of gorgeous scenery, spectacular rock formations and it crosses a creek 13 times! Just grab some water shoes and walk all or part of this 3.3 mile one way, shady, breathtaking trail.

  8. An Epic One Week Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip

    This Phoenix to Grand Canyon road trip takes you to so many distinct parts of Arizona. Flagstaff is the perfect example of that. From the Grand Canyon it will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach Flagstaff. Home to Arizona's tallest mountain, Flagstaff sits at a higher elevation and is surrounded by forests.

  9. The Ultimate Road Trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

    Time & Distance from Phoenix: 2 - 2.5 hrs, 116 miles. 6. Flagstaff, Arizona. Photo Credit: canadastock. After basking in the healing energies of Sedona overnight, kickstart the second half of your trip to the Grand Canyon early in the morning. In less than an hour, you'll reach Flagstaff.

  10. Phoenix to Grand Canyon Ultimate Road Trip Guide

    A classic all-American road trip. Posting 2.9 MILLION visitors in 2020, there is a reason everyone is visiting the Grand Canyon. Its close proximity to many cities makes it an easy and worthwhile place to visit.

  11. Take a Road Trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

    Stop 3: Flagstaff. Just 80 miles from the Grand Canyon and close to seven other parks and monuments, this college town offers a long list of options for road trippers during every season of the year. At 7,000 feet, you'll enjoy hiking and biking amidst Ponderosa Pines or cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter months.

  12. Phoenix to the Grand Canyon Road Trip

    Fly Above the Grand Canyon with Maverick Helicopters. Take a helicopter tour of some of Grand Canyon South Rim's most popular sights. View Marble Canyon and Point Imperial as you fly through the canyon and climb above the North Rim. Learn more at www.maverickhelicopter.com. A Grander Stay at Yavapai Lodge.

  13. The Absolute Best Stops along the Phoenix to Grand Canyon Drive

    Via Flagstaff (230 miles): - Take I-17 north to Flagstaff. - Continue straight through town to the turnoff for U.S. 180. - Turn left on U.S. 180 and drive northwest to Valle. - Then turn right and drive north on SR 64 to the park entrance. Via Cameron (230 miles): - Take I-17 north to Flagstaff. - Go east on I-40.

  14. From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: 5 Best Ways to Get There

    From Grand Canyon Village, take Highway 64 East (Desert View Drive) to Highway 89, which will lead you back to Flagstaff. This route is only roughly 30 miles longer but is incredibly scenic. It also saves significant backtracking if you want to explore the East Rim area. 2. From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon by Tour.

  15. This Scenic Road Trip Route To The Grand Canyon Is Honestly Just As

    Sedona to the Grand Canyon. From Sedona, take AZ-89A N through Oak Creek Canyon toward Flagstaff. This road is breathtaking any time of year, but especially when the autumn foliage lights up the inner canyon. A great place to stop for a hike is the West Fork Trail, which is 9.5 miles north of Sedona on 89A. This little gem of a trail enchants ...

  16. Phoenix to Grand Canyon Road Trip Travel Guide

    Road trip! Technically, you can get from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon National Park in about a 4 hour drive—if you want to high-tail it over there with zero stops and without catching any traffic on the highway. But if you decide to take your time you can get there in about 4 and a half to 5 hours. There are lots of amazing things to see and ...

  17. 5-Day Arizona Itinerary: Phoenix to Sedona to Grand Canyon

    Day 4: Sedona to Grand Canyon. On the fourth day of your trip, it is time to leave Sedona and drive to the most iconic of Arizona attractions: the Grand Canyon. The Sedona to Grand Canyon drive only takes about 2 hours, so you can easily visit the Grand Canyon as a day trip from Sedona.

  18. 6 Best Grand Canyon Road Trips and Stops on the Way

    Here are six scenic Grand Canyon road trips, adventure-packed itineraries complete with maps and best places to stop on the way to the Grand Canyon. ... Phoenix to the Grand Canyon Road Trip Route 66 Road Trip from New Mexico to Grand Canyon Country Trip Planner. Get a free Grand Canyon trip planner for inspiring itineraries and essential ...

  19. Grand Canyon To Phoenix Road Trip & Drive (2024 Edition)

    With ideal traffic and weather conditions, the Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip takes approximately 3 hours and 28 mins to drive. Therefore, the driving distance between Grand Canyon to Phoenix is 224 miles. If you want to make the Grand Canyon to Phoenix road trip by bike, the time you spend on the road will be 17 hours and 30 mins.

  20. 4 Epic Grand Canyon Road Trip Itineraries

    After all, a road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon is an option too good to pass up. The entire city of Phoenix is, in essence, a resort-style paradise that can quickly fill up a few days by itself. But the trip from here to the Grand Canyon does offer up picturesque locations from the get-go.

  21. 8 Epic Grand Canyon Road Trip Itineraries

    8 Epic Grand Canyon Road Trip Itineraries. Rachel Means. 2023-10-25. Visiting the Grand Canyon is one of those bucket list adventures that is almost mandatory if you live in the US. It's the fourth most-visited national park in the country, hosting over 4.5 million visitors in 2021.

  22. Road Trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

    A road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon is a great way to see some of the best scenery in the country. Starting in Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff. But instead of continuing on the ...

  23. Grand Canyon To Phoenix: Why This Road Trip Is Worth Taking

    The Grand Canyon is one of America's top tourist destinations to visit on a budget.Travelers flock to this magnificent site to explore its excellence and the surrounding striking features. Additionally, a road trip from the Canyon toward Arizona's capital, Phoenix, features more fascinating features along the way.

  24. One Of The Best Road Trips To See Arizona's Top Sights

    It is a short hike to the most popular overlook point, and plenty of other hikes can be found in both Page and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, where Horseshoe Bend is located. Arizona Road Trip Stop. Entrance Fee. Popular Things to See and Do. Horseshoe Bend (Glen Canyon National Recreation Area) $30/vehicle. Scenic Overlooks, Hiking Trails.

  25. Road Trip to the Grand Canyon with Kids

    Taking a road trip to the Grand Canyon with kids should be on every family's list! There's lots to see and do, including an awesome airplane museum enroute. ... Phoenix With Kids lists activities, destinations, and things to do in Phoenix with kids. The Tingom Family. Latest. Baby Bear Play Space in Mesa. April 5, 2024;

  26. 23 Best Road Trips in the U.S. to Take in 2024

    Hike the 2,704-foot-tall Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale or take in the beautiful red rocks of Sedona on a hike to Cathedral Rock while exploring the Grand Canyon State. Plan your trip. The full itinerary: The Classic 5-Day Arizona Road Trip; Grand Canyon guide: The First-Timer's Guide to the Grand Canyon

  27. Why Yes, You Can Drive to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon

    To drive Diamond Creek Road, you must purchase a permit from the Hualapai Game and Fish office.Located next to the Walapai Market (885 E Highway 66, 855 AZ-66, Peach Springs, AZ 86434), the Game ...