Are you looking for a way to get away from the city and head out into nature? A Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip is just what you need. While many people tend to fly to this destination, you’re missing out on so much if you skip the drive. Plus, this way you can stop wherever you want, when you want, instead of being stuck on a plane.
I often fly into Los Angeles as the starting point of my trips, so I’m familiar with getting here, renting a car, and setting out on my next adventure. A road trip from LA to the Grand Canyon is an iconic one you won’t want to miss, plus you’ll hit some of my favorite California national parks depending on which route you take.
I’m here to help you go over the best Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip stops as well as explain the different ways you can take. There are actually three sample routes provided because I wanted you to be able to pick the one that most interests you. With that, let’s get to planning this road trip!
Tips for a Grand Canyon Road Trip From Los Angeles
Here are a few factors to keep in mind when planning your Los Angeles to Grand Canyon drive.
How long is the drive to the Grand Canyon from Los Angeles?
The LA to Grand Canyon distance is approximately 500 miles, or 8 hours by car if you take the most direct route. There’s nothing wrong with this if you just need to get to the Grand Canyon, but I provide alternate routes in this article that take longer but allow you to see a lot more unique destinations.
Can you do the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon drive in a day?
Sure, it’s possible to do the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon drive in a day, although it would require a very early start and a long day of driving. However, I don’t recommend it because you’ll be exhausted and will miss out on most of the amazing sights listed in this article. There are also additional ones you can see on a California to Arizona road trip (or you can add in a San Diego to San Francisco road trip or even a road trip from LA to San Francisco later).
Where to fly into and out of for your LA to Grand Canyon road trip
The best airport to fly into for a Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip is the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). While it’s one of the busiest airports in the world, it’s also likely where your flight will come in. From there, you can rent a car to start your trip, as I did for my LA to Yosemite road trip.
Alternatively, if you do a Grand Canyon to Los Angeles drive, the closest major airport to the Grand Canyon is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG), located roughly 80 miles away from the park. Next to that, the Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Vegas would be your best bet.
Where to stay on a Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip
While you can choose how to break up your drive, these are the most common places you likely want to stay depending on your route:
- Inn at Palm Springs is an affordable place to rest and enjoy the pool before heading on your trip.
- Desert Solara is near downtown Palm Springs and has comfortable rooms.
- I always stay at the MGM Grand when in Vegas because I like that it’s at the end of the strip and a bit quieter, but they still have plenty of activities to do, like the lazy river.
- I’ve also stayed at ARIA, which is a bit of an upgrade but worth being central on the strip and has many amazing restaurants nearby.
- Sedona Village Lodge is a great place to stay that’s close to hikes and is pet-friendly.
- GreenTree Inn Sedona is air-conditioned and has an on-site bar.
- Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn is very close to the south entrance of the park, so convenient for your trip.
- If you want to save a bit of money, Grand Canyon Inn is a great option.
Looking for another Los Angeles road trip? You’ll love a Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe road trip.
12 Stops on a Los Angeles to Grand Canyon Road Trip
Here are some of the best places to stop on your Grand Canyon road trip from Los Angeles.
1. Death Valley National Park, CA
If you decide to do the northern route on your Grand Canyon trip from Los Angeles, your first major stop will be Death Valley, which is one of my favorite national parks in California. I recommend going on hikes here if you’re starting early, and some of my favorites are Mosiac Canyon (4 miles) and Darwin Falls (2 miles).
Mosaic Canyon is a four-mile hike with 1,200 feet of elevation gain, and the Breccia is beautifully locked in with the stones found in the canyon. Darwin Falls is one of the few places you’ll find a waterfall in the desert, so it’s one of the most unique places in the park.
One of the most photographed places in Death Valley is the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, which will make you feel like you’re in a faraway land (I felt like I was transported back to my Morocco trip in the Sahara Desert when I visited). It’s pretty bright here during the day, so I recommend coming in the evening for cooler temperatures and better lighting for photos.
Make sure to buy your America the Beautiful pass ahead of time so you can easily enter all the national parks for a low price.
2. Barstow, CA
Barstow is a fun stop to make on your Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip, as it’s right off Route 66. To learn more about the colorful past of the legendary Route 66, stop by the Route 66 Mother Road Museum. This museum honors the rich history of the legendary route by showing old cars, gas stations, and other items from the road.
The Mojave River Valley Museum is another place to visit that provides a special perspective on the Mojave Desert’s evolution, as well as its natural history and Native American culture. Native American history and culture, along with the desert’s diverse plant and animal life, are on display. You can learn about the pioneers who settled the area, the mining boom that drew people to the desert, and the railroad’s contribution to the expansion of the area.
If you’re hungry, stop at Slash X Ranch for a variety of quick appetizers, burgers, and sandwiches. They also claim to have the coldest beer in the desert, which is a great claim to fame if you ask me!
Need another road trip idea? You’ll love the drive from Los Angeles to Big Sur.
3. Joshua Tree National Park, CA
I love this park and have done a Los Angeles to Joshua Tree road trip many times before, so I highly recommend making this a stop on your itinerary. The park is large enough to spend several days exploring, but one of my favorite stops is Keys View, a 5,185-foot ridge that looks out over the Coachella Valley. At sunset, the light over the valley is particularly stunning, so you’ll want to add this to your road trip to the Grand Canyon from Los Angeles.
While I love rock climbing, I don’t have enough experience to climb the Giant Rocks in Joshua Tree. However, this is the perfect spot to watch those who are, and there are always a ton of people here each time I go.
Barker Dam, depending on recent rainfall, contains a small pond of water, providing a rare glimpse of water in the desert. At Lost Horse Mine, you can go for a hike through the ruins of a long-abandoned gold mine.
The Cholla Cactus Garden is my favorite part of the park because of the incredible selection of cacti. This is the best place in the park to watch the sunrise, and it also happens to be filled with chollas (jumping cacti). You should get here early because you definitely won’t be the only photographer there.
Make sure to reserve your rental car ahead of time! I love using Discover Cars for my trips.
4. Mojave National Preserve, CA
Climbing Teutonia Peak is a great opportunity to get a bird’s-eye view of the Mojave National Preserve if you’re in the mood for an exciting adventure. On the peak of this modest trek, you’ll have a beautiful 360-degree panorama of the desert landscape and the surrounding mountains and valleys.
When you drive the Kelso-Cima Road, you can see beautiful sights like steep mountains and bright wildflowers. There is a cave in the park called the Lava Tube Cave that is perfect for explorers who like to spend time underground. You’ll be able to cool off in these caves and learn more about their unusual features.
Another great way to take in the beauty of the park is by hiking through the flower-filled Mitchell Caverns. This is a fantastic site to take in the park’s natural splendor up close, with its panoramic vistas of the Mojave Desert and abundance of wildflowers. The park is one of the best places to see the stars when it’s dark out.
I’ve been using Roadtrippers for years to help me plan out my trips and find fun stops along the way. Use my code “BTR5QTP” for $5 off when you sign up!
5. Oatman, AZ
There’s something for everyone in Oatman, from visiting historical sites to going on stunning hikes on your Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip. One popular spot you should definitely check out is the Gold Road Mine. This historical landmark was once one of Arizona’s largest gold mines and is now available for tours. Explore a historic mining town and then go out and try your luck panning for real gold in one of the nearby creeks.
Visit the Living Ghost Town in Oatman for a unique experience of exploring preserved buildings and streets as well as interacting with wild burros that roam around freely. Stop at the Oatman Hotel for a famous burro show as well as some delicious pie and ice cream!
Get some fresh air and exercise by hiking one of Oatman’s beautiful trails like Boundary Cone or Cool Springs. You’ll enjoy stunning vistas of the desert landscape and get up close to native wildlife and flora on your drive from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon.
After your adventure, fuel up at The Black Horse Saloon & Grill, which serves dishes such as burgers topped with chorizo or green chili mac ‘n’ cheese. For dessert, head over to Gold Rush Candy Shoppe, where you can find handmade candies like fudge and brittle made right onsite.
6. Kingman, AZ
If you’re driving from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon, you should definitely stop in Kingman. The Mohave Museum of History and Arts is one of the most impressive museums in the area, showcasing Western American and Native American art. You can also visit one of the largest dry caverns in the United States, Grand Canyon Caverns, for a one-of-a-kind adventure!
Kingman is often referred to as the “Heart of Historic Route 66,” and the Arizona Route 66 Museum is a wonderful site to learn about the city’s significance in the development of the legendary highway. Classic automobiles, old road signs, and other artifacts from Route 66’s past are on display at the museum.
If you’re craving some hearty pub food, Shugrue’s Restaurant & Brewery is another excellent choice. You can choose from a wide variety of pub classics like burgers and wings, as well as more creative options like Cajun Cream Shrimp and Sonoran Fish Tacos. And if you’re in the mood for beer, you’ll love their selection of craft beers that they brew in-house.
Another fun California trip is the Los Angeles to Sequoia National Park drive.
7. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, NV
Red Rock Canyon State Park is a stunning outdoor destination in the Mojave Desert that I always love to visit when I’m in Las Vegas. The park features sandstone, granite, and limestone rock formations, as well as miles of hiking trails and a variety of wildlife. It’s the perfect spot for any outdoor enthusiast looking for an outdoor excursion on a Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip.
There are tons of gorgeous hikes to do here as well that I highly recommend. Calico Tanks Trail is the first option, and it is a gorgeous 2.5-mile round-trip climb through beautiful red rock formations with views of the Las Vegas cityscape. The second trail is Ice Box Canyon Trail, a 2.6-mile round-trip excursion through a stunning canyon with waterfalls and a freshwater spring.
I’ve been using Roadtrippers for years to help me plan out my trips and find fun stops along the way. Use my code “BTR5QTP” for $5 off when you sign up!
8. Las Vegas, NV
If you miss a big city at this point, don’t worry – Vegas is the perfect stop on your Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip! Stop by the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, located in the Bellagio Hotel & Casino’s main lobby. The conservatory showcases floral and plant displays that change with the seasons, plus it’s a nice break from the heat of Vegas during the day.
There are literally hundreds of restaurants in Vegas, but Hell’s Kitchen is a fun one. This Caesars Palace attraction is modeled after the hit television series. The restaurant’s open kitchen and menu contain meals based on the show’s hallmark challenges.
Mon Ami Gabi is another of my all-time favorite restaurants, especially for brunch. This is a traditional French bistro at the Paris Las Vegas hotel, and its patio offers amazing views of the Bellagio fountains. French staples like steak frites and escargot may be found on the menu, along with some excellent wine options.
The Aria Resort & Casino is a great option for a luxurious hotel in Sin City. With big windows everywhere, you can take in the beautiful scenery, relax with a spa treatment, or enjoy world-class entertainment at any of the hotel’s many places.
The resort also has several Michelin-starred restaurants, including Masayoshi Takayama’s Bar Masa and the legendary Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Jean-Georges Steakhouse.
You’ll feel well-rested after spending a night here and then continuing on your Los Angeles to Grand Canyon National Park road trip. This is also a great place to stock up on your road trip packing list for families with how many big stores are here, such as kids’ road trip snacks.
If you want to get here via SF, you’ll want to check out this road trip to Las Vegas from San Francisco.
9. Lake Mead, NV
If you’re driving from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon, you’ll want to stop at Lake Mead. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States and stretches across the state lines of Nevada and Arizona in the Mojave Desert. It was made when the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s, and now it is a popular place for fishing, swimming, wakeboarding, hiking, and just looking around.
Lake Mead is roughly 247 square miles in extent, and its deepest point is 532 feet. There are a variety of recreational opportunities, such as marinas, campgrounds, beaches, boat ramps, and picnic areas. You can also hire a boat for the day at several of these locations.
The lake’s two main sections are Lake Mohave and Boulder Basin, and around them are stunning granite “bathtub rings” that formed after the lake reached its record-low level in 2016 as a result of a persistent drought.
10. Hoover Dam, AZ
To control the nearby Colorado River, the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s and is one of the world’s tallest masonry dams at 726 feet in height. It took close to 20,000 people, from designers to builders to manual laborers, to complete this massive engineering feat. In a year, the dam’s many turbines can generate enough hydroelectricity to power 1.3 million homes.
You can tour the impressive dam on your Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip, and there is even a “Hard Hat Tour” that takes you down inside the dam’s innards. The generator room, turbine hall, and penstock gallery are all normally off-limits to visitors, but you’ll have exclusive access to these places, so you can see Hoover Dam in action.
The best way to appreciate this man-made marvel is to take a stroll along its walkways or climb to the peak for sweeping views in every direction. You’ll then have new knowledge to share with your passengers for your road trip trivia games!
11. Sedona, Arizona
Sedona is a fantastic destination for outdoor enthusiasts because of its proximity to beautiful natural attractions like the stunning red rock formations and Oak Creek Canyon. Taking a hike on one of Sedona’s beautiful trails is a great way to get to know the area. Discover the unique red rock formations that have made Sedona famous and maybe even some prehistoric Native American ruins.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a beautiful Catholic church that was carved into the side of a cliff and is definitely worth a visit. One of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, it sits atop the red rocks and affords visitors lovely panoramas.
When you’re hungry, head to Elote Cafe, where you can get Mexican food with a contemporary spin in Sedona. The menu at this local favorite features fan favorites, including roasted corn soup, carne asada, and elote (grilled corn). The restaurant boasts an extensive beverage and tequila list, as well as a tantalizing dessert menu with items like churros and chocolate cake.
Sedona Bike & Bean is a combo bike shop and coffee shop that serves as a wonderful choice for coffee lovers. This one-of-a-kind café serves up a wide selection of coffee beverages, all of which are created from beans roasted right in the neighborhood, in addition to tasty baked goods. If you want to spend the day pedaling through Sedona’s beautiful trails, stop by the bike shop first to get something to eat.
12. Grand Canyon National Park
You’ve made it to your final destination! I definitely recommend spending at least a few days here if your schedule allows it. Both the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon offer a variety of hiking trails, scenic lookout points, and other attractions like whitewater rafting and kayaking for you to enjoy.
Tourists flock to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park year-round to take in the stunning scenery. You can take it easy on the Rim Trail and take in the views, or you can push yourself and go deeper into the canyon. There are a ton of guided tours of this natural marvel that you can join on the South Rim, which range from ranger-led hikes to helicopter rides.
The North Rim is more peaceful and remote than the South Rim below, so it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area. Only accessible from around the middle of May through about the middle of October, the North Rim is perfect for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The North Rim is home to lush forests and meadows, as well as spectacular vantage points over the Canyon at Point Imperial and Cape Royal.
You can also stay at the historic El Tovar Hotel, built in 1905 and offering a more affordable, homey option for lodging on the South Rim.
Want another national park adventure? Head out on a road trip to Yosemite from San Francisco.
3 Routes for a LA to Grand Canyon Drive
One thing I love about going on a Grand Canyon road trip from Los Angeles is that there are so many different ways you can get there. Here are three sample itineraries for a drive from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon.
LA to Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary: I-10 Route (Joshua Tree)
After you leave Los Angeles, the first stop on your trip will be Palm Springs, where you’ll love experiencing the vacation area of the stars. I highly recommend that you visit Indian Canyons and Mount San Jacinto State Park to walk around and explore some of the trails.
If you’re traveling from California to Arizona, a stop in Joshua Tree National Park is a must. One of the most ecologically varied national parks in the United States, this desert oasis is home to a wide variety of animal and plant species, including the Joshua Tree and cholla cactus. I love coming here to hike, look at unique rock formations, and watch rock climbers.
You can see even more desert landscapes as you travel east from Joshua Tree National Park to Mojave National Preserve. Explore cinder cones from volcanic eruptions a thousand years ago, look at beautiful springs, and wander endless stretches of sand dunes while taking in astonishing views of the mountains in the distance.
If you’re headed to Williams from Kingman, Arizona (one of the oldest cities in the United States), you’ll need to take a detour up US-93 north from there. More opportunities to experience the great outdoors and get up close to wild animals like wolves and bison in their natural habitat can be found at Bearizona and elsewhere in the area.
You’ve been on the road for hours, but now you’re almost there: Grand Canyon National Park! Visit its North Rim to see the Colorado River stretch out for 277 miles, or take a helicopter ride over the South Rim for even more amazing aerial views. Whether you’re into whitewater rafting or hiking, there are so many things to do here that you’re bound to have a fun adventure.
LA to Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary: I-15 Route (Vegas)
This Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip itinerary will take you through Sin City, so you’ll have a fun mix of historical sites to stop at and the city lights. Start in Barstow, a historic railroad town that is home to museums and landmarks such as the Calico Ghost Town and the Mojave River Valley Museum.
If you keep driving west on I-15, you’ll reach the Mojave National Preserve, which has an even more impressive collection of desert landscapes. Views of the surrounding mountains are stunning as you explore the area’s thousand-year-old volcanic cinder cones, crystal-clear springs, and miles upon miles of sand dunes.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is close by, and it’s an absolutely beautiful natural space known for its brilliant red rocks and towering sandstone cliffs, which offer stunning vistas in every direction.
From there, you’ll travel to Las Vegas, where you can enjoy a wide variety of things o do. Vegas is a great vacation destination because there is something for everyone to do, whether it’s taking in a show on the Strip or walking around exploring the casinos.
Also, don’t miss Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, where you can go for a boat ride on the azure waters or visit the many historical sites that dot its shores.
You’ll make a pit stop in Kingman before taking a detour up US-93 to Williams. There are plenty of activities to do there, including visiting Bearizona, where you can observe wild animals like wolves and bison in their natural habitats.
From there, it’s on to your finale – the Grand Canyon!
LA to Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary: I-40 Route (Most Direct)
This last option for a LA to Grand Canyon drive is the quickest route if you don’t have much time, so you’ll mainly be sticking to I-40 with a few detours. Your first stop will be Barstow, or you can also explore the nearby Mojave National Preserve.
The next stop is Williams, Arizona, where you can take a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway (which passes through town) or enjoy other outdoor hobbies like fishing and hiking in the nearby Kaibab National Forest.
If you’re making good time, you’ll want to take a slight detour to Hoover Dam. It’s a must-see engineering marvel that can be found on the border between Nevada and Arizona.
A stop in Sedona is the perfect way to cap off your road trip before entering Grand Canyon National Park. It’s easy to fill a day in this beautiful city with activities like window shopping at the local boutiques or hiking to the Cathedral Rock Trailhead or the Sedona Airport Loop Trailhead to take in the city’s famous red rocks.
No matter which route you take or where you stop, you’ll love going on a Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip.