The Grand Canyon is one of the most marvelous things I have ever seen. You can’t begin to fathom how big it is until you are standing right next to it – the views are insane!
While the Grand Canyon is an incredible, bucket list destination, it is definitely not convenient to get to. The closest cities to the Grand Canyon are Phoenix (3.5 hours) and Las Vegas (4.5 hours). Both of these are definitely not quick drives.
However, the drive from Las Vegas is especially fun and beautiful due to the striking natural landscapes, the potential sunrise, and driving on the Main Street of America, Route 66. Not to mention Las Vegas is an incredible place to visit!
Why Drive to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas instead of Phoenix?
Don’t get me wrong. Both drives are fantastic and will have good views, and the drive from Phoenix is definitely shorter. However, there are two main reasons why to drive to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas instead of Phoenix.
Firstly, the sunrise. If you’re going to drive to the Grand Canyon from either of these cities, you’ll want to leave very early. The drive is long from both places and you’ll want as much time as possible at the canyon if you’re only going for a day trip.
When you drive from Las Vegas you drive eastward and get a straight-on view of the magnificent sunrise over the mountains of Arizona. When you drive from Phoenix, you drive north, putting the sunrise on the passenger side of the car and taking views away from the other half.
Secondly, when driving to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas you get to drive along Route 66, one of the most iconic roads in the United States. If you drive from Phoenix you would need to go out of your way to get to Route 66, while driving from Las Vegas naturally goes through Route 66 and passes through several small, quaint towns.
Driving along part of Route 66 was one of our favorite parts of the road trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.
How Long Does the Road Trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon Take?
The Grand Canyon has many different visiting areas that are very far apart. When most people think of the Grand Canyon, they think of the South Rim. This is the part that I reference throughout this blog post.
We left at 4:00am from Las Vegas so that we would be heading eastward over the mountains in time for the sunrise, and we encountered no traffic at all on the whole drive. Had we not stopped several times to take in the views and explore the small towns, the drive would’ve been just over 4 hours.
We took our time with the drive, made several stops, sat down for breakfast, and refilled on gas, and our total drive time was about 6.5 hours. The stops were great and we easily could have spent more time had we left later, but most places along Route 66 were still closed as we passed them.
Where to Stop on the Road Trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon
As I’ve mentioned already in this post, the drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is filled with cool things that you can choose to do. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will contain some of the things we did and loved or that we wanted to do but didn’t have time for.
1. Eat Breakfast at the Roadkill Cafe
First things first, it doesn’t need to be breakfast – this place serves all three meals and also has a saloon bar, and everything is incredible. We went for breakfast right as they opened at 8:00 and were so happy that we did.
The names of the food, as you might expect from the name of the place, are all roadkill themed. It’s kind of morbid but it has a really unique charm to it.
We got the whole gamut, from burritos, to French toast, to biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, and more. One of our friends who is a huge fan of hash browns will proudly tell you that the hash browns at the Roadkill Cafe are the best hash browns in the world! The Roadkill Cafe is located in Seligman, Arizona right along Route 66 and is an absolute must-do on the road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.
2. Take a Picture at the Big Route 66 Sign
In an Instagram-influenced attempt to attract tourism, giant Route 66 signs have been put up at various points all along Route 66 in Arizona. While this isn’t something that takes a lot of time, it is definitely a cute memory to have of your road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.
You’ll see them scattered all along Route 66, but conveniently there is one located right across from the Roadkill Cafe. Talk about killing two birds with one…car?
3. Shop at the Hackberry General Store
While it is definitely novel, the Hackberry General Store definitely has a certain charm to it. This little shop is completely Route 66-themed and you can find just about any kind of souvenir that you want inside. I’d recommend grabbing a Route 66 brand soft drink to sip along the rest of the way!
4. Admire the Engineering Marvel That Is Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam is absolutely huge, and fittingly it created the largest man-made lake in the United States, Lake Mead. When it was built in the 1930s, it was the tallest dam in the world.
While that isn’t the case anymore, it is still extremely impressive and provides a ton of hydroelectricity to the region. This stop is very close to Las Vegas – less than an hour – and makes a great stop on the way back from the Grand Canyon.
If you’re trying to catch the sunrise, Hoover Dam will still be closed. For information on visiting, check out the official website.
5. Learn Some Local History in the Museums in Kingman
Kingman, Arizona is the first town – and by far the biggest – that you’ll hit on Route 66. It is actually the point that you switch highways to get onto Route 66. This town has a lot to do and a lot of unique history to it, but what I would recommend most is checking out the different museums that it has to offer.
I highly recommend checking out the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, the Route 66 Museum, and the Kingman Railroad Museum. The Mohave Museum of History and Arts is especially interesting, as it contains a really cool exhibit on the Hualapai Tribe.
Final Tips for Planning a Road Trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon
The road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is fairly long, but it’s really easy and straightforward. However, I have two tips for you to have a safe and enjoyable experience.
That’s all we have for you about planning a road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon! Hopefully, this blog post helps you to plan the perfect road trip to one of America’s greatest natural wonders. If you’re looking to plan another road trip out west any time soon, I highly recommend driving down Route 1 along the California Coast from San Francisco to San Diego.
If you’re planning a road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, comment below! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have.