Getting to the Grand Canyon is an experience in itself. You can get to the remote landscape in a fun, family road trip or a thrilling helicopter ride. There are even train routes that take you from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Whether you are traveling from Phoenix or Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, this natural wonder isn’t too far away.
There are various ways to get to this U.S. treasure, many of which include scenic views along the way. The first step is determining which city you will be coming from and then figuring out the most practical, efficient and cost-effective way to get there.
Where is the Grand Canyon located?
Getting to the Grand Canyon depends on where you are coming from and which part of the canyon you plan on visiting. A majority of the Grand Canyon is located within the Grand Canyon National Park, which is in the northwest corner of Arizona, bordering the states of Utah and Nevada. There is no address for the massive, 227-mile long and 18-mile wide landscape. However, there are various locations within the site that you can enter into your GPS to bring you face to face with the natural attraction.
Traveling from Las Vegas or Phoenix to the Grand Canyon
If you are traveling from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, the closest part of the natural wonder is the West Rim. It is located two and a half hours from Las Vegas, just a short drive away. This portion of the canyon is not controlled by the National Park Service, but instead is maintained by the Hualapai Tribe.
There is no shuttle to the West Rim from Las Vegas or any other major city hubs. Therefore, the best way to get to Grand Canyon West is through a guided tour. Fortunately, there are numerous bus tours for you to experience a Grand Canyon road trip. There are also helicopter and airplane tours that take you directly to some of the West Rim’s top-rated attractions. You can take a trip to the Skywalk Glass Bridge or fly to the canyon floor for a relaxing boat ride across the Colorado River.
If you are traveling from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, then it is more practical to visit the South Rim. This part of the National Park is the most popular and well-maintained, with approximately five million people visiting each year. Here is where you will find the main visitor centers, museums, park lodges and hiking trail heads. You can expect a four hour drive north from Phoenix to get to the South Rim. You can also drive up to towns like Tusayan or Williams for a Grand Canyon railway or helicopter tour to the South Rim.
Getting to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim
It’s not difficult to get from Williams or Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon South Rim. If you are traveling from Flagstaff, AZ, then take Highway 180 to the south main entrance for 80 miles. Take Highway 64 to the South Rim for 60 miles if you are traveling from Williams, AZ. Greyhound provides bus services from Flagstaff if you want to leave the driving to someone else.
The South Rim is just 90 minutes away from Interstate 90 and has a rail service and airport nearby. Additionally, there are major commercial airports that service nearby towns like Flagstaff, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
The Arizona Shuttle also provides daily shuttle services from Phoenix to Flagstaff, and then to Grand Canyon Village. During peak tourist season, you can take the Grand Canyon Shuttle Service to Flagstaff, Sedona and Williams. You can also use this service to transfer from rim to rim.
Refer to the following for driving directions to the South Rim from various locations:
- If you are traveling from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon South Rim by car, then take I-15 east to Barstow, CA and then I-40 to Williams, AZ. From Williams, take Highway 64 to the South Rim.
- To get from Denver to the Grand Canyon, take I-12 south to Albuquerque, NM. Then take I-40 west to Williams, AZ, and then Highway 64 north from there.
- If you are traveling from Sedona, then take Highway 89 Alt to Flagstaff. Then take I-40 west to Williams. From Williams, travel north on Highway 64 to the South Rim.
- Getting from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is fairly simple. Travel 1-40 west to Williams, AZ. From there, take Highway 64 north to the South Rim. You can also take Highway 180 west to Valle, AZ and from there take Highway 64 north to the South Rim.
Getting to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim
A Grand Canyon road trip to the North Rim is much easier if you are traveling from southern Utah cities or Northern Arizona. The North Rim of the canyon is much more remote and only sees about 10 percent of the park’s visitors. This is primarily due to its shorter summer season from May 15 through October 15 when lodging and food services are available.
Unfortunately, there are no airport or railroad services on this side of the park. Because of this, you can only travel to it by road. It takes about four and a half hours to drive from the South Rim to the North Rim. There are many shuttle companies offering services from Flagstaff or the South Rim to the North Rim, including the TransCanyon shuttle.
The Grand Canyon Shuttle Service can also bring you to the North Rim from Flagstaff, Sedona and Williams. If you are getting to the Grand Canyon from Utah, then you can find the North Rim’s entrance 30 miles south of Highway 67 and Jacob Lake. Other routes to Grand Canyon’s North Rim include the following:
- From Denver to the Grand Canyon North Rim, take I-70 west to Sevier, UT and then Highway 89 south to Kanab, UT. From there, travel south on Highway 89 Alt to Jacob Lake, AZ. From Jacob Lake, drive on Highway 67 south to the North Rim.
- If you are leaving from Albuquerque, NM, then take I-40 west to Flagstaff, AZ. From Flagstaff, take Highway 89 north to Bitter Springs. Then take Highway 89 Alt from Bitter Springs west to Jacob Lake. Head to the North Rim by taking Highway 67 south from Jacob Lake.
- Traveling from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon North Rim? Travel north on I-17 to Flagstaff, AZ and then take I-40 east to Highway 89. Travel on Highway 89 north to Bitter Springs, AZ and then get on Highway 89 Alt. From there, travel west to Jacob Lake and take Highway 67 south to the North Rim.
Note: These are not the only routes to get to the North Rim. Depending on where you are coming from, you may find other roads that are more practical and suit your travel needs.