Road Trip From Flagstaff to Grand Canyon

Flagstaff, Arizona is the ideal starting point for one of the country's most visually stunning road trips. Nicknamed the "Gateway City to the Grand Canyon," Flagstaff is a charming, historic town full of palpable energy and natural grandeur. Nestled within the shadows of the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff is surrounded by mountain views, desert scapes and the country's largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest. Although the distance from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon is only 81 miles, the drive is sure to serve an impressive feast for your eyes. 

Head out on the rugged road in search of adventures in a vehicle just right for your road trip to the Grand Canyon by renting at one of our many neighborhood locations around Sacramento Flagstaff. Flying in? No problem! Start your road trip as soon as you pick up your rental from the airport.

Drive Time from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon: approximately 1 hour and 26 minutes

Distance from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon: approximately 81.5 miles

Best Car for this Road Trip: SUV

Start Your Trip

  • 1. Downtown Flagstaff

    A great pitstop along your Flagstaff to Grand Canyon road trip, this quaint town is an excellent example of the old west. Featuring restaurants, coffee shops, vintage hotels and old rail lines, Downtown Flagstaff has it all. This historic town is a hub of activity and exudes a free-spirited atmosphere mixed with strong mountain culture. Take a detailed self-guided tour through this pedestrian-friendly town and you'll come across epic murals, craft breweries and even a train that runs through the center of town. Located on historic Route 66, this charming western town is a beautiful place to visit when driving Flagstaff to Grand Canyon.

    • Tip: Stop by the Visitor Center to pick up informative self-guided tour brochures
    • Cost: Free to visit
  • 2. San Francisco Peaks

    This volcanic mountain range is home to six of the highest Arizona peaks, including Humphreys Peak. With its summit reaching 12,633 feet, Humphreys Peak is the tallest in the state. Great for stunning visuals and outdoor enthusiasts, the San Francisco Peaks are surrounded by fragrant Ponderosa pine trees that release a sweet vanilla aroma during the spring and summer.

    • Tip: Ride the lift to the top of the mountains for an amazing view
    • Cost: Hiking and scenic drives are free; Camping prices vary
    • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • 3. The Painted Desert Project

    Immerse yourself in the visually stunning murals of the Painted Desert Project. This public art initiative features dramatic street art along US Route 89 on the Navajo Reservation. With a mission to connect communities through celebration, support and education, the project aims to boost tourism on the Navajo Reservation while providing local creatives an opportunity to show off their talent and sell their goods. Visitors can browse homemade stalls selling handmade jewelry and goods and pick up souvenirs along their Flagstaff to Grand Canyon drive.

    • Tip: Roadside stands are a means of supplemental income for the locals, so take your time to browse the stalls at leisure
    • Cost: Free
    • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • 4. Little Colorado River Gorge Overlook

    This breathtaking tributary of the Colorado River is located on the far eastern side of the Grand Canyon, just inside the boundaries of Navajo Nation, the largest Indian reservation in the country. Carved from the rushing waters of the Little Colorado River, this canyon features cliffs and a vast gorge that extends 45 miles across the colorful plains of the Painted Desert. While the Little Colorado River Gorge overlook is not part of the Grand Canyon itself, visitors will be in awe as they gaze at the flowing turquoise waters and epic geologic displays. Visitors can purchase authentic Navajo jewelry, pottery and other mementos directly from artists at one of the many vendor stalls in the parking area and overlook.

    • Tip: National Park passes do not apply here
    • Cost: Donations accepted
    • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • 5. Desert View Watchtower

    Constructed in 1932, this 70-foot-high stone structure was designed to look like an ancient Puebloan watchtower. Located on the Grand Canyon South Rim, Desert View Watchtower gives visitors a glimpse into the historical influence of the Colorado Plateau. They’ll also get a unique point-of-view with breathtaking sights of the eastern portion of the Grand Canyon. Great for all ages, the Desert View area boasts an experience that combines the rich culture, history, art and architecture of Native American civilization.

    • Tip: Take a close look at the stones as some may have hidden petroglyphs
    • Cost: Free
    • Dog Friendly: No

    Ready for your road trip to the Grand Canyon? Start your reservation today!

FAQs for Your Road Trip From Flagstaff to Grand Canyon


What part of the Grand Canyon is closest to Flagstaff?

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is only about a 78-mile drive from Flagstaff, while the distance between Flagstaff and Grand Canyon North Rim is 207 miles. The South Rim is open year-round and is home to memorable viewpoints, a Visitor Center, amenities, hotels and more.


Is Flagstaff or Sedona closer to the Grand Canyon?

Compared to Sedona, Flagstaff is slightly closer to the Grand Canyon and famous landmarks like Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.


Which month is best to visit Grand Canyon?

The best time to drive from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon is from April to June as the weather is sunny and warm. Arizona road trips are perfect all year round, but if you plan to visit during the off-season months (late summer and winter), you’ll find smaller crowds and more affordable lodging. Another way to save money and beat the crowds would be to visit Sunday through Thursday. By avoiding the weekend rush, you'll have a more intimate experience with Mother Nature at the many viewpoints and vistas along your drive from Flagstaff, Arizona to Grand Canyon National Park.