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. 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 to Grand Canyon Ultimate Road Trip Guide

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?

Sedona

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.

Flagstaff

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.

Jerome

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.

Hotels

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!

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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