Family Road Trip Guide Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon
If you’re visiting Las Vegas, then a side trip to the Grand Canyon is a must!
Why, you ask?
Because it is one of the world’s seven natural wonders! And also because the road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is one of the most adventurous trips with several amazing places along the way to make it worthwhile.
So, if you’re up for the road trip of your lifetime, we are more than ready to guide you about everything for your drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon.
How far is Grand Canyon from Las Vegas? Where to stop along the way? And where to stay for the night? We will tell you everything!
The distance from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon is approximately 252 miles; however, the time it takes to reach there depends on your mode of traveling and which rim you’re visiting.
If you’re planning a Grand Canyon road trip from Las Vegas in a private car, reaching the South Rim will take a little more than 4 hours.
However, the West Rim is the closest to Las Vegas, at only 130 miles. So, for the West Rim, you’ll have to drive for only 2.5 hours before reaching the Grand Canyon West Skywalk – the popular viewing point within the Hualapai Reservation rather than the national park.
We highly recommend going by car because that’s the only way to fully enjoy the trip. You can stop at different places and take as much time as you want to explore them for as long as you like.
You can also take a shuttle/bus to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, but it will take a few extra hours.
The bus will take you from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, from where you can get a shuttle to reach the park. The bus ride to Flagstaff takes almost 5 hours with two stops; from there, the shuttle ride to Grand Canyon is approximately 1.5 hours long.
You also have the option of taking a train to the Grand Canyon! To experience the historical train ride, you’ll have to take a bus from Las Vegas to Flagstaff and then from Flagstaff to Williams.
You can take a 2.5-hour railroad trip from Williams to the Grand Canyon National Park.
We recommend the train ride because it is one of the most scenic rides ever!
We’ve all traveled in cars and buses more times than we can count; however, traveling in a helicopter is something we have no or less experience with. So, why not take a helicopter from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon?
It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience!
But at the same time, it’s a bit expensive!
So, if you have the budget, we suggest taking a helicopter from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon. If you visit the West rim, you can get there in 40 minutes; however, for the South and North rim, it takes almost 90 minutes.
The plus point is that you can visit the Grand Canyon and return to Las Vegas on the same day.
Also, if you just want to visit the Grand Canyon and back, we suggest traveling by air. Here are 8 of the closest airports to the Grand Canyon if you’re contemplating this option.
So, what’s it going to be? Car, bus, train, or helicopter?
People’s most common question regarding their trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is whether they should take a day trip or stay the night.
This entirely depends on you!
A day trip won’t be enough if you want to explore the whole Grand Canyon National Park. Plus, unless you’re traveling by air, the time it takes to reach Grand Canyon from Las Vegas takes up most of the day, so you won’t have much time to check out the whole park.
However, a day trip is possible if you want to look at the park’s main highlights, like several viewpoints, hike on the rim trail, or catch the sunset. You’ll want to set out super early in the day though, if you want to beat the queues at the popular South Entrance to the national park.
If you are considering traveling to the Grand Canyon South Rim by car, we suggest you go ahead because the drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon is nothing short of amazing!
There are countless stops on the way that can make your trip memorable. Assuming you’re entering from the South Entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park, these are some suggested stops you can make along the way for a complete family road trip Las Vegas to Grand Canyon!
This first stop on your Grand Canyon road trip from Las Vegas is the Sloan Canyon, just 30 minutes from Las Vegas.
It’s a national conservation area full of cultural and natural resources, spread across an expanse of almost 50000 acres! It has more than 300 sites to visit, which include extinct volcanoes, lava flows, and 1700 designs on 300 rock panels made by the natives who inhabited this place decades ago.
If you have a keen interest in history, the Sloan Canyon will definitely be an enjoyable stop for you.
Just 5 miles from Sloan Canyon is the Lion Habitat Ranch. You’ll have to take a bit of a detour to visit this place, but it’s worth it!
This conservation area has been functioning since 1989 and has almost 40 lions you can feed and take selfies with. Apart from lions, there are also parrots, emus, ostriches, and Ozzie, the giraffe.
You can take a tour around the ranch and see how the animals are taken care of by the staff. So, if you have kids with you or are an animal lover, a stopover at the Lion Habitat Ranch should be on your list of places to visit during your Las Vegas road trip to Grand Canyon.
The next stop is Hoover Dam. You cannot miss this beautiful place as you have to cross it to get to the Grand Canyon. But we suggest leaving time in your itinerary to stop here for a while.
Take in the mesmerizing view, look at the water levels on each side of the dam, head into the Hoover Dam Visitor Center and take a tour to learn about its history and why it was constructed.
Don’t forget to take amazing pictures before moving on!
Just 15 minutes from Hoover Dam, you will arrive at Lake Mead. The lake lies on the Colorado river and is surrounded by beautiful mountains. If you want to spend some time in this scenic place to unwind a bit, head over to the Lake Mead National Recreational Area, where you can go hiking, boating, or camping.
And, if you’re really up for it, you can take a dip in the lake’s cool water to get refreshed!
If you’re interested in ghost towns and abandoned places, you’ll find plenty on your road trip from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, one of them being Santa Claus.
After almost an hour’s drive from Lake Mead (just north of Kingman), you will pass by Santa Claus, a once-festive town now an abandoned wreck! Apart from the remains of the building that once bustled with merry people and children, there’s not much to see here.
You can just stop by and look at the creepy abandoned place, which still has some vibrant colors peeking from behind the dirt-covered walls, revealing details about its wonderful past.
NB – since our last visit, we’ve been told the whole place is now bulldozed
If you’re tired of driving and want to stretch your legs a bit, you will find the Monolith Garden Trail just 13 minutes from Santa Claus. You can visit this trail on your way to Kingman, which is hardly 5 minutes away, or you could first reach Kingman, stay the night, and come back fresh in the morning.
This place has 7 miles of loop trails where you can hike, bike, and horse-ride your way amidst volcanic rock formations and Mojave desert vegetation.
Just a 5-minute drive from the Monolith Garden Trail is the city of Kingman. This is where you can stay for the night and spend a day or two exploring the city’s attractions before continuing your journey toward the Grand Canyon.
If you want to know about wine, visit the many wineries at Kingman, including Cella Winery, Stetson Winery, and Desert Diamond Distillery. Here you can taste various kinds of wines and take a tour of the winery.
After spending a couple of days in Kingman, you can continue on Route 66 towards the Grand Canyon. However, just 21 minutes away is the Alpacas of the Southwest.
It is basically a ranch where 37 friendly alpacas live. You can pet them, feed them, and take cute pictures. You can also tour the farm to get an insight into how these animals are taken care of.
As a souvenir, you can get a pair of Alpaca socks to keep you warm for your trip ahead!
By this time, you will still have a good 2.5 hours left before you reach the Grand Canyon; therefore, why not visit the Keepers of the Wild Nature Park?
Located 20 minutes to the East of Kingman is a 175-acre canyon that houses over 130 wild animals, including lions, tigers, wolves, bears, leopards, wallabies, and primates. The nature park offers a 1-hour and 15 minutes safari, where the guide takes you through the park so that you can look at the animals in their natural habitat and learn many interesting facts about them.
There’s also a feeding tour where you see the carnivores up close, sinking their teeth into their dinner!
The next stop is Williams. It is a small town but is quite significant because from here you can take a train all the way to the Grand Canyon!
The Grand Canyon Railway Station has a 2.5-hour train ride that takes you to Grand Canyon through the majestic desert landscape. But that’s just one side of the ride! During the ride, the passengers can have a meal in the dining car, visit the gift shop, and enjoy live music.
You can take the train and experience an adventurous ride into the national park, leaving your car behind, or you could stop at William for a bite and get refreshed before you head to the Grand Canyon on your own ride.
It takes a little more than an hour to reach the South rim of the Grand Canyon from Williams. And once you’re there, the first thing you need to do is to find a place to crash!
A Grand Canyon Alternative From Las Vegas
If 4-hours there and back to the Grand Canyon National Park with the kids sounds a little daunting, why not consider a Las Vegas day trip to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon?
Not actually part of the Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon West sits on Hualapai tribal land and is home to the iconic Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass-bottomed bridge that hangs 4,000 feet above the Colorado River.
Day trips from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon Skywalk involve only a 2-hour drive, or many tours will combine this with a trip to Hoover Dam and through the Mojave Desert for a complete day outing.
To help you decide which option may be best for you, we provide a complete comparison between Grand Canyon West Rim vs South Rim.
Where to Stay Overnight Near the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park is a busy tourist spot; therefore, there are plenty of places where you can stay for the night, but do be aware that the lodges within the park can be booked up many months in advance.
If you want to stay in a hotel inside the Grand Canyon at the South Rim, six lodges are located there. On a budget, Yavapai Lodge, located at a distance of 10 minutes from the visitor’s center, is a good family choice. It has a rustic exterior and a contemporary interior for a restful night’s stay.
Then, if budget and booking availability allow, there’s the El Tovar Hotel, which offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.
If you’re staying outside of the Grand Canyon National Park, you can book a good-value room at the Grand Canyon Inn, Grand Canyon Junction.
For a more luxurious stay, choose the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn Tusayan, which offers many amenities to the guests, including a jacuzzi, gym, that you won’t find at the national park lodges. It is only 10 minutes away from the main entrance, so early risers can still get in before the crowds and capture the sunrise.
The drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park may only be around 4 hours long, but it has numerous stops along the way, which can extend your Grand Canyon road trip by a couple of days.
Looking for more ideas behind the wheel?
- Before you set out on your onward journey, these are the best things to do in Las Vegas with kids
- We also have a detailed guide to road tripping Las Vegas to Zion National Park
- Coming from the north, try this Zion National Park to Grand Canyon road trip
- Find more Las Vegas day trip ideas here
- Start your Grand Canyon road trip from Sedona, Arizona
- Extend your road trip through the mountain states with this epic Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park road trip
More Tips for Driving Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon
- Remember, you may be crossing time zones! Nevada is on Pacific Standard time (PST and PDT in the summer). Arizona remains on Mountain Standard Time (MST) year-round.
- Driving in the peak of summer? You’ll want to make yourself familiar with our safety tips for desert driving.
- Extend your trip through the southwest of the United States with this epic 7 Day Southwest Road Trip itinerary.
- Never forget an important road tripping item again! Download our road trip essentials checklist to prepare for your next family road trip.
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