11 Best Stops on a Los Angeles to Grand Canyon Road Trip

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by Maggie Turansky


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Visiting the western United States and want to go from the City of Angels to the incredible Grand Canyon? Well, these two places aren’t all that close together, however, there are several different routes to take and sites to see if you go on a Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip.

The American West is one of the most unique and beautiful regions in the entire world, filled with diverse landscapes, stunning national and state parks, and flora that can only be found in this particular area of the world.

And while so many may try and take the quickest route from LA to the Grand Canyon, travellers can really benefit from going slow and making a proper road trip out of it!

Planning an LA to Grand Canyon Road Trip

The quickest route from LA to the Grand Canyon is along the I-40 E which, without traffic, can take as little as 7 hours to reach the Grand Canyon.

However, this is the least interesting route and there isn’t much to see if you choose to take it. I would recommend taking this route if you’re short on time and if you don’t care to stop off anywhere, however, the other two routes have a lot more to offer.

Another route to take is along the I-15 E, which is considerably longer than the route along the 40 and will be about 11 hours of total driving. This is an ideal route if you want to stop in Las Vegas on the way and are also interested in visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (which is only open from May through October).

And the other route you can take is along the I-10 E. This is the longest route, however, it also has a lot of interesting stops along the way. These include a lot of the highlights of Central and Northern Arizona. The total driving time along that route is about 11 hours all in if you make all of the stops.

Hypothetically, if you are looking for a circular route that begins and ends in LA, I would recommend taking the I-10 route outlined below to the Grand Canyon and then head back to LA along the I-15 route.

If you need to rent a car for this trip, you can browse deals on Rentalcars.com which aggregates prices across all the major providers. Alternatively, if you prefer an RV or campervan, you should check out Outdoorsy which offers plenty of options.

The spectacular Grand Canyon
The spectacular Grand Canyon

LA to Grand Canyon Stops via the I-15 E

The route along the I-15 can take you through the city of Las Vegas, Nevada along with some highlights of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona before you end up at the Grand Canyon.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The first major stop on this Los Angeles to Grand Canyon National Park road trip route is in Sin City. As one of the most iconic places to visit in the southwest United States, Las Vegas is located about four hours driving along the 15 from LA past the Mojave National Preserve.

This is a stop that really needs no introduction as Vegas is famous the world over for its hedonistic culture, top-notch entertainment and world-class restaurants.

Whether you simply want to stop by for a few hours, play a few slots or a round of blackjack and then continue on your way to any of the other stops on this drive or if you are keen to spend a few days really living out a vegas experience, there is no denying that this is an excellent stop to make.

Las Vegas is a unique and iconic stop on any trip through the American Southwest and it is a can’t-miss destination if you’re visiting the western United States whether you’re driving to the Grand Canyon or you’re on a longer trip — perhaps from Las Vegas to Denver!

Las Vegas Sign
Welcome to Las Vegas!

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Just a bit outside of Las Vegas and a popular day trip destination from Sin City comes another excellent stop on this route of the LA to Grand Canyon drive — Valley of Fire State Park.

If you’re looking for incredible desert vistas and scenery, that doesn’t begin and end solely at the Grand Canyon, you would really be missing out on the incredible vistas the Southwest has to offer by skipping this stop.

Valley of Fire State Park is known for its iconic red rock formations. Covering over 46,000 acres (18,615 hectares), you would be forgiven for thinking that you had been transported to Mars when scrambling along one of the park’s many hiking trails.

The red rocks were formed by shifting sand dunes over 150 million years ago and it is a true testament to how geologically diverse and resilient this area of the United States is.

You can either simply stop by the park for a quick visit to snap some photos or go on a longer hike on one of the many well-marked and maintained trails. Just be sure to bring plenty of water and to wear sunscreen — a tip that applies to any destination in this area of the world!

The Valley of Fire Arch
The Valley of Fire Arch

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Another amazing stop to make if you’re going via the I-15 E is at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. As the country’s oldest and largest National Recreation Area, this is an excellent place to visit no matter what you’re after.

Lake Mead was created by the Hoover Dam and it is actually the largest reservoir in the United States, providing much of Nevada and Arizona with its water supply. Unfortunately, due to declining water levels, Lake Mead isn’t nearly as full as it once was.

Whether you’re interested in watersports, hiking, mountain biking or the history of one of the country’s most influential hydroelectric dams, Lake Mead is an excellent place to stop on any drive!

Lake Mead
Lake Mead

Zion National Park, Utah

If there is a national park in the American Southwest that is as well-known and sought-after as the Grand Canyon, it is Zion National Park in southern Utah, just outside of the city of St George. Known for its incredible landscapes and breathtaking hiking opportunities, there is no doubt why this park has become so incredibly popular in the past few years.

Located about 2.5 hours from Las Vegas along the I-15 (in fact, many visit Zion as a day trip from Vegas) and about 2 hours north of the Grand Canyon, this makes for an excellent overnight stopping point if you’re trying to make the most out of your LA to Grand Canyon road trip.

There are countless hikes in order to get the best views and experiences out of Zion, but the most famous is probably the Narrows, where you will be walking in the shallow depths of the North Fork Virgin River. This is no for the faint of heart, however, as the water can get to be waist-deep at some points of the trek!

There are also several great stops between Zion and the Grand Canyon if you want to extend your trip.

The Narrows
The Narrows

LA to Grand Canyon Stops via the I-10 E

The LA to Grand Canyon route along the I-10 E is the longest driving route that you can take to get to this iconic National Park, however, it also takes you through some of the highlights of the California desert and Arizona.

If you want a great Southwest experience, then look no further than this route. You can also make many of the stops if driving from San Diego to the Grand Canyon.

Palm Springs, California

Located a couple of hours outside of LA along the 10 lies Palm Springs, a popular desert retreat for Angelenos and a great first stop to make on the drive to the Grand Canyon. Known for its hot springs, luxe hotels and golf courses, there are also plenty of great things to suit the outdoor lover here, as well.

In Palm Springs, you can just as easily spend your days shopping in the boutiques of the downtown area, sipping on cocktails while relaxing poolside, playing golf in the warm desert sun or hiking or horseback riding through the Coachella Valley.

This is truly a desert oasis and there is no denying why it has been a popular retreat for Southern Californians for decades.

Palm Springs Highway
Driving through Palm Springs

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Unique landscapes are a mainstay on any Los Angeles to Grand Canyon scenic route and there may be no better place to exemplify that than in Joshua Tree National Park.

Another southwestern national park that has been increasing in popularity in recent years, this area is known for the iconic Joshua trees that pepper the landscape.

This is the perfect national park for those who love unique desert landscapes and is a true heaven for rock climbers or even amateur scramblers.

There are countless hikes and treks that you can do and it is really the perfect place to stop if you want to make the most out of your drive from LA to the Grand Canyon.

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park

Quartzsite, Arizona

An interesting place to stop over for a bit if you want to break up the drive from Los Angeles to Arizona is in the town of Quartzsite, just over the border from California. This place is great for those who are interested in geology and, more importantly, rocks and crystals of any kind.

If you want to experience a cool small town surrounded by beautiful Saguaro cacti (found only in the Sonoran desert in Arizona and Northern Mexico), then Quartzsite is the place for you.

It has also become somewhat of a haven for RV enthusiasts and Van Lifers looking for community. It’s also known for its rock and mineral trade, so it’s the perfect place to stop and visit if that is something you’re into.

Scottsdale, Arizona

This suburb of Phoenix (and my hometown) is one of the most popular places to visit in all of Arizona, and it isn’t hard to see why. Scottsdale has a lot to offer visitors and it makes for an excellent stop when on an LA to Grand Canyon road trip.

Known for its nightlife, shopping, restaurants, golf courses and hiking opportunities, great times abound when you visit Scottsdale.

The Old Town is charming and full of cute shops and great restaurants and it is also home to several bars and nightclubs that can keep you partying all night long. Of course, you also cannot miss the iconic hike up Camelback Mountain, but remember that this is quite a difficult trek and not for those who aren’t fit enough to handle it!

In nearby Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Gardens are a great place to learn about the local flora that is native to the area. All in all, spending a day or two in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area is a great choice for just about anyone.

Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale

Prescott, Arizona

Located about 1.5 hours north of Phoenix along the I-17 N lies the charming mountain town of Prescott. If you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb when visiting this town, make sure to pronounce it properly — the is press-KITT rather than press-SCOTT.

Prescott has a lot of old west history and is well known for its famous Whiskey Row in the historic downtown. it also has a lovely main square that frequently puts on various events throughout the year.

There are lots of house museums to visit in order to learn more about the history of this town and Arizona history in general and there are also plenty of great restaurants, shops and cafes that you can browse at your leisure.

Watson Lake near Prescott, Arizona.
Watson Lake near Prescott, Arizona.

Sedona, Arizona

No trip to the north of Arizona would be complete without mentioning arguably the state’s most beautiful city: Sedona.

Known for its iconic red rocks, beautiful scenery, psychic vortexes and new-age vibe, Sedona is a wonderful place for anyone to stop at and visit when travelling through Arizona.

Whether you’re interested in hiking (consider going on the iconic Devil’s Bridge hike, the hike to Cathedral Rock or, for the more adventurous, the longer West Fork Trail) or simply want to find some interesting souvenirs (make sure to browse the shops in Tlaquepaque), there is something to suit everyone in Sedona and you’re sure to fall in love with this beautiful Arizona city.

The beautiful red rocks of Sedona
The beautiful red rocks of Sedona

Flagstaff, Arizona

And for the final stop on the road trip from LA to the Grand Canyon comes Flagstaff, Northern Arizona’s largest city and thriving university town. Flagstaff can come as a surprise to many people who have some preconceived notions about what Arizona may look like — especially if you’re visiting in the winter.

Set high in the mountains amongst lush pine forest, Flagstaff has a distinctly Alpine feel and it is not at all uncommon to have to contend with several feet of snow when visiting here in the cooler months. It is home to Arizona’s only ski resort, after all!

Flagstaff is absolutely worth exploring in its own right (it’s an iconic stop on the historic Route 66) and there are some truly spectacular natural sites nearby that are worth visiting, such as Sunset Crater National Monument.

If you’re looking to save some money, Flagstaff also makes for an excellent base when visiting the Grand Canyon as accommodation prices can be significantly lower here than closer to the park.

It will take just over an hour to drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff depending on the route you take and the traffic. Alternatively you can drive to Williams and then take the Grand Canyon Railway.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Where to Stay on the LA to Grand Canyon Drive

Along the I-15 route, Las Vegas and the areas surrounding Zion National Park make the most logical sense for this. Along the I-10 route, then consider making stops in the Phoenix area and again in Sedona.

Grand Canyon National Park

Hotel Elev8 — This mid-range hotel is located just outside of Flagstaff and is the perfect base for exploring the Grand Canyon. They have rooms to suit both couples and families with great amenities such as an indoor hot tub and sauna!

Little America Hotel Flagstaff — If you want to stay in luxury, lodge-like settings, then this hotel is a great option for you. They have plush rooms available, a swimming pool and a restaurant on-site.

Private Rental – If you’re after a private place close to the Grand Canyon, then there are many options to choose from — such as this beautiful house near Williams or this cosy cabin in Flagstaff.

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

Las Vegas

Horseshoe Las Vegas — If you’re on a mid-range budget and want to stay directly on the Las Vegas strip, then is hotel/casino is a great choice! They have great rooms available and breakfast is included in the room rate.

Bellagio — If you want to live it up in Sin City, then look no further than this iconic hotel. It’s home to several luxe rooms, a casino, a beautiful swimming pool and even some of Vegas’ famous shows!

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Las Vegas!

Zion

St George Inn & Suites — Situated in the town of St Georgia, this hotel is a great mid-range option for those looking to explore Zion National Park. They have clean and comfortable rooms to choose from and even a swimming pool on-site to enjoy after a long day of exploring!

Inn On The Cliff — If you’re after a luxury option near Zion, then this is a great choice for you! They have a myriad of cool rooms to choose from, breakfast included in the rate and a swimming pool to take the edge off a hot day.

Private Vacation Rental — If you’d rather find a private rental, then there are a number of great options for you when visiting Zion such as this ultra-cool cabin within easy reach of the park entrance.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options near Zion National Park!

Scenic drive in Zion national park
Scenic drive in Zion National Park

Phoenix

SureStay Hotel Phoenix Airport – if you’re after a mid-range place to stay that’s within easy reach of the Phoenix Valley’s top attractions, then this is a great choice for you. They have clean and comfortable rooms available and include breakfast in the nightly rate. 

Sonder The Monarch – Located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, this is a hip, cool hotel to stay at if your budget allows for a bit more luxury. they have great amenities, a fantastic swimming pool, and chic rooms to ensure that you’ll get a great night’s rest.  

Private Vacation Rental – If you want to stay in your own place in Phoenix, then there are several excellent options for you such as this 2-bedroom apartment in Scottsdale or this private casita.

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

Sedona

Sedona Village Lodge — If you’re travelling to Sedona on a tighter budget, then this hotel is a good option for you. Centrally located within easy access of all Sedona has to offer, they have a handful of clean and comfortable rooms on offer.

A Sunset Chateau — If you have luxury in mind when visiting Sedona, then this swanky bed and breakfast is an excellent choice for you. Perfectly located close to everything you would want to see in Sedona, they have beautiful rooms available and a great breakfast included every morning.

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

The Devil's Bridge in Sedona
The Devil’s Bridge in Sedona

Planning the perfect Grand Canyon road trip from Los Angeles doesn’t have to be a difficult task. There are so many things to see and do in this area of the country that you will likely only wish you had the time to see absolutely everything!

Are you planning a scenic route from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon? Have any questions about this drive? Let us know in the comments!

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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

Comments

  1. Thanks so much Maggie. This is really helpful and I’ll use some of your suggestions in planning my trip.

    Reply
  2. This is really great Maggie, we are planning on driving LA , JT, Vegas, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Sedona, Tucson, Palm Springs, LA then home to Sydney.
    Is the South Rim better than the North for a two night stay? Do you think two nights in Monument Valley is worth it or just the one to photograph sunset and sunrise etc?
    Any Tucson tips?

    Thankyou,

    Reply
    • Sounds like you’re planning a great trip! The South Rim is definitely more popular to visit and has a lot more options (not only for accommodation but also food and such). The North Rim is a lot less visited and therefore there aren’t as many facilities, so it really depends on what you’re after. Keep in mind the North Rim is only open from 15 May – 15 October, as well.
      As for Monument Valley, I haven’t spent much time there so I’m afraid I can’t offer any advice on that end.
      In Tuscon, you should have a look at our Tuscon itinerary to plan your time there: https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/tucson-itinerary/

      Reply

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