how to get to grand canyon

How to the Reach Grand Canyon: All the Recommended Itineraries

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If you are planning a West Coast itinerary, it is very likely that you are thinking about how to include a stop at the Grand Canyon. By reading this article, you will be able to know how to get to Grand Canyon, and learn about the options you can choose from to find the best one for you.

How to Get to the Grand Canyon South Rim

How to Get to the Grand Canyon South Rim

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon, unlike the others, does not have just one entrance, but two. There is the East Entrance, a stone’s throw from Desert View Watchtower, and the South Entrance Station, located just north of Tusayan, which will take you to Grand Canyon Village. You will choose one of the two entrances based on where you are coming from. If you are coming to the Grand Canyon from the south or west, then enter via the South Entrance Station. If you are coming from the east or north, then the East Entrance is preferable. But let’s take a look at the best routes to get to the Grand Canyon South Rim.

Drive from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon South Rim

If your starting point is Los Angeles, you basically have two alternatives to choose from depending on the time you have available. The first recommended route is the one that goes through Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park, while the second goes along the glorious Route 66. You can discover the details of these two routes by reading our article from San Diego to the Grand Canyon.

Drive from Monument Valley to Grand Canyon South Rim

Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon are definitely two essential stops on any road trip in the United States. For those who have limited time, the distance between the two attractions can be considered only a hindrance, while, if you have the opportunity to make some small detours, you can discover a few gems hidden among the landscapes of the Far West. You can read more about this itinerary in our article from Grand Canyon to Monument Valley.

Drive from Page to Grand Canyon South Rim

Page may be a small town but it is an important crossroads for anyone planning a West Coast itinerary. To get to the Grand Canyon from Page you’ll need to factor in about two hours to travel just over 180 miles, not including any stops along the way. You will arrive at the East Entrance, and from there you can then drive along Desert View Drive until you reach Grand Canyon Village. Leaving the city of Page behind you, here are the main attractions you will encounter. Depending on how much time you have available, you can decide if and how long you want to stay.

  • Horseshoe Bend: One of the most famous views in the area. The entrance to the parking lot costs $10 per car. Once you park, you will have to walk a short path that will lead you to the well-known observation deck.
  • Waterholes Canyon: A stunning slot canyon that can be considered a less touristy alternative to Antelope Canyon. It can only be visited with a guide.
  • Antelope Pass Vista: (also known as Grand Canyon Vista Point): An area on the side of US-89 where you can view the initial section of the Grand Canyon itself.
  • Little Colorado River Gorge: Along the course of AZ-64 you can get a taste of the views that await you once you arrive at the Grand Canyon. About 22 miles before reaching the East Entrance of the national park, you can see the erosion over the years caused by the Little Colorado River (a tributary of the Colorado River that carved out the Grand Canyon). There are two observation points. The first one you will find is managed by the Navajo National Park and there is an admission fee $8 per car). From the parking lot, you can reach an area with a protective railing to admire the surrounding landscape. The second one, located a couple of miles ahead, is free (at the time we are writing this article). Here you can walk to the edge of the canyon, so be very careful.

Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim

To reach the Grand Canyon South Rim from Las Vegas, you’ll have to travel at least 4 hours and 15 minutes by car, taking the fastest route. However, if you want to enjoy driving on a section Route 66 and interesting attractions along the way and you have two days available for this itinerary, you can follow the tips in our article detailing the journey from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon South Rim.

Getting there from the south

If your starting point is south of the Grand Canyon, you won’t have many options available to you, the only thing that will be relevant is your starting point.

  • San Diego: From this city in Southern California you have the possibility to take three routes. You can read more about them in our article from San Diego to the Grand Canyon.
  • Phoenix: From the capital of Arizona to the Grand Canyon, it will take you 3 ½ to 4 hours to cover 227 miles. The time needed can obviously increase depending on the number of stops you make, especially if you decide to visit the cities you will encounter along the way.
  • Sedona: It is certainly one of the most fascinating cities on the West Coast. If this is your starting point, you will need about 2 hours to complete the 112 miles that separate you from the Grand Canyon.
  • Flagstaff: From here you will have to allow about an hour and a half by car to cover 77 miles.
  • Williams: If you depart from Williams, one of the iconic towns on Arizona’s Route 66, you can reach the Grand Canyon either by car or by an alternative means of transportation such as the train. If you choose to continue using your rental car to complete the journey to the Grand Canyon, you will be only an hour away from the national park (traffic permitting).

How to Get to the Grand Canyon North Rim

How to Get to the Grand Canyon North Rim

To get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the starting points we have considered are not the same as those on the south side. This is because visiting this part of the national park is a bit more complicated and cumbersome especially if your itinerary runs entirely south of the Grand Canyon. But let’s go over in detail what the recommended routes might be. But first, keep in mind that you cannot reach the North Rim in winter because the access road is closed due to snow.

Drive from Kanab to Grand Canyon North Rim

Kanab, like Page, is another strategic town that can be used as an ideal stopping point to conveniently explore the area’s attractions. If you want to reach the North Rim from here, you’ll have to drive about an hour and a half to cover the 75-mile trip. The drive to the North Rim is not as scenic as the one to the South Rim. After an initial phase in which you’ll drive through a desert landscape, you’ll spend most of your journey driving through the tall trees of the Kaibab National Forest.

Drive from Page (and Monument Valley) to Grand Canyon North Rim

To reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon directly from Monument Valley, you will first need to reach Page. This first leg of the journey will take you about two hours, and the only natural attraction on this road, besides the famous Antelope Canyon, that you may consider taking a detour to is the Navajo National Monument. Once you arrive in Page you will have to choose between two options depending on the time you have available.

  • The shortest way is to drive along US-89 until Bitter Spring (remember to stop for a picture at the aforementioned Antelope Pass Vista) and then US-89A until the junction with AZ-67. This road will allow you to reach the North Rim in about two hours and twenty minutes. On the first part of your drive, take the beautiful scenic route that runs alongside Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. If you have the chance, once you have crossed the Colorado River, you can make a detour to visit Lees Ferry and Marble Canyon
  • The longest way is to drive north on US-89 to Kanab and from there to the North Rim. It will take you almost 3 hours by car, but you will be able to see many interesting sights, including Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam, the curious Toadstool Hoodoos, and scenic Old Paria. Obviously, it is impossible to fit all of this into one day, so you may consider this solution if you have the possibility to spread this part of the itinerary over at least two days.

Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim

If you want to get to the Grand Canyon North Rim from Las Vegas, you’ll need to prepare at least a 6-hour drive that can be spread out over several days. You can read the details of the route and the attractions you will encounter by reading our article on how to visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.

How to Get to Grand Canyon West

How to Get to Grand Canyon West

Grand Canyon West is mainly known for the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped observation deck suspended over the deep canyon. Another reason why this side of the Grand Canyon is so popular is its proximity to the city of Las Vegas, which makes it the ideal option if you have little time available but do not want to still visit the Grand Canyon.

Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim

As I already mentioned, arriving at the Grand Canyon West from Las Vegas is a very convenient solution. The travel time by car is around two hours to cover about 124 miles. You can find more details in our article dedicated to the Skywalk.

Getting there from Williams (Route 66) and from the East

If you are coming from the east on your itinerary, you may want to consider passing through Williams. From here you have two options, both with the same travel time of about two hours:

  • All out Route 66! If you want to experience the charm of the Mother Road, you can drive the original stretch of Route 66 in Arizona to Antares and then head north.
  • From Kingman. This option involves driving along Route 66 to the historic town of Seligman and from there continuing on I-40 to Kingman before heading north to the Grand Canyon West.

Nearest Airports to the Grand Canyon

Nearest Airports to the Grand Canyon

The closest international airports to the Grand Canyon South Rim are Las Vegas and Phoenix, and for domestic flights, Flagstaff. The Grand Canyon Airport, which is located in Tusayan about 10 miles south of the park, has very limited air traffic reserved largely for tours and flights from Las Vegas. As for the North Rim, there is no local airport like there is on the South Rim and the closest international ones are those of Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix. For domestic flights, you can find some connections with the airport in St. George, Utah, which is likely to have several connecting flights from Los Angeles.

How to Get to the Grand Canyon with Guided Tours

grand canyon tour

If you don’t want to use your rental car to get to the park, you can consider one of the Grand Canyon guided tours. Depending on which means of transportation you prefer to use, you can read our in-depth articles:

Our Tip:
Looking for accommodations for your trip from California to other parts of the Southwest? Read our guide that contains reviews of hotels and strategic tips for finding accommodations near major attractions: Where to Stay: Our Tips for the SouthWest Area

Warning: Operating hours can change and closures for extraordinary events can occur, so we strongly suggest to check the venues official websites.

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Filippo Nardelli

I have a degree in History of North America and have always been fascinated by the United States.

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