Road Trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

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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.

road trpi phoenix to grand canyon.

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.

Phoenix

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.

hole in rock in phoenix arizona.

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.

view from the top of the hole in the rock in phoenix arizona.

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.

sunset at tempe beach park.

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.
Montezuma Well

Sedona

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.

red rocks in sedona, arizona.
Sedona, Arizona

Bell Rock

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.

bell rock in sedona arizona.
Bell Rock

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 sign with red rock mountains in the background.
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.

oak creek river going through slide rock state park.
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.

red rock features in red rock state park.
Red Rock State Park

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

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 in flagstaff arizona.
Sunset Crater

Williams Arizona

route 66 sign in williams arizona that reads "willams 1881 gateway to the grand canyon" on it.

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:

Bearizona

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.

bearizona entrance.
Entrance to Bearizona

Train

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.

front of grand canyon train.
Grand Canyon Train

Museum

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.

Park

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 lake with mountains in the background.
Buckskinner Park in Williams Arizona. This park is just a short drive from Historic Route 66.

Dam

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 sitting in a pine tree.
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!

blue heron on a rock.
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.
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.

girl standing in front of kaibab lake.
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 williams mountain.
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 grand canyon.

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 in the grand canyon.
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.

sunrise in the north rim of the grand canyon.

Conclusion

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.

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