Phoenix to Las Vegas Road Trip: List of Suggested Stops

The desert drive between Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada can be done in a single day, but it’s best to take three days to experience the iconic national parks, cool urban areas, and geologic wonders.

Highlights of a Phoenix to Las Vegas road trip include Grand Canyon National Park, Lake Mead and the venerable Hoover Dam, and cities like Flagstaff and Sedona.

phoenix to las vegas road trip

This journey is especially great for hikers and photographers, who will have an endless supply of outdoor attractions to explore.

Here’s our guide to planning this popular Southwest USA road trip!

Road Trip Basics: Time, Distance, and Map

Phoenix to Las Vegas (via the Grand Canyon)
Distance: 546 miles
Drive Time: 9 hours, 45 minutes
Ideal Length: 3 days
Highlights: Sedona, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead

phoenix to las vegas road trip map

The shortest possible route between Vegas and Phoenix is 300 miles and 5 hours, straight up Route 93. But a desert highway drive with no stops wouldn’t be any fun, would it?

Our suggested route veers up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and stops at several other points of interest, leading to a total drive time of about 10 hours.

The best way to follow this itinerary would be as a 3-day road trip. On Day 1, drive through Sedona and Flagstaff, staying overnight near the Grand Canyon.

On Day 2, take the full day to explore the Canyon. On Day 3, head west to the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, and arrive in Las Vegas in the evening.

This Las Vegas drive can be done any time of year, although the summer months can get quite hot. For the most comfortable temperatures, try a spring or autumn road trip.

Where to Stop on a Phoenix to Las Vegas Road Trip

As you make your way to Sin City from Arizona, you’ll find multiple worthwhile stops. Here are the top places we recommend for your itinerary, presented in order, starting in Phoenix.

Phoenix, AZ

phoenix arizona

Known as the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix is actually the fifth-largest metro area in the country.

Before leaving Phoenix, take advantage of some of the city’s great outdoor activities, including hiking, ATV riding, and water activities like river tubing.

For something quirkier, try the Musical Instrument Museum, which presents instruments from around the world, including many you’ve surely never heard of. I was blown away by this place and could have easily spent a couple hours here.

musical instrument museum

Besides Phoenix proper, the growing suburbs of Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, and Chandler all have plenty of activities, if you’ve got time to explore the metro area before leaving town.

I suggest visiting Old Town in Scottsdale. The historic neighborhood is now one of the city’s most vibrant areas, with art galleries, museums, restaurants, and bars. 

Agua Fria National Monument, AZ

Make a quick stop at Agua Fria National Monument to explore the Pueblo La Plata archaeological site.

Here, you can see an abandoned village from the years 1200 to 1450. Check out the remnants of their homes, and look for the plentiful shards of pottery on the ground.

Montezuma Castle National Monument, AZ

According to former US President Theodore Roosevelt, Montezuma Castle National Monument is a place “of the greatest ethnological value and scientific interest.”

This was one of the first four national monuments in the United States, declared in 1906.

The Sinagua people lived in the national monument over 900 years ago. Their cliff dwellings held multiple floor levels and were entered via wooden ladders.

Today, you can see some of these old houses in the side of the mountain, although it’s no longer possible to go inside them, because they are too fragile. 

Sedona, AZ

sedona arizona

Sedona Verde Valley is home to Arizona’s only natural-running river. The water borders the gorgeous scenery of rock formations, green mountains, and lush golf courses.

Sedona has a large number of hikes among its mountains and red rocks, including Devil’s Bridge Trail, Cathedral Rock, and the Broken Arrow Trail. 

Other non-outdoorsy attractions include Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village and Exposures International Gallery of Fine Art.

Slide Rock State Park, AZ

For an afternoon dip in a cool swimming hole, stop at Slide Rock State Park’s Oak Creek. The Sedona swimming spot also has a natural 80-foot slide made of sandstone and lined with slippery algae.

The apple orchard is another fun attraction in the state park. Explore the more than 300 apple trees covering the park’s land.

The entrance fee ranges from $10-30 per vehicle, depending on the time of year and day of the week. Summer weekends will be the most expensive.

Flagstaff, AZ

About two hours into the road trip, you’ll find yourself in Flagstaff, Arizona. The city has a bunch of attractions, museums, restaurants, shops, galleries, and breweries.

One of the first things to do is see the ancient Walnut Canyon. Visit some of the canyon’s 25 historic cliffs. In addition, you can trek toward the 1,000-year-old Sunset Crater Volcano. Walk along the ponderosa pine trees while viewing the formation.

Flagstaff visitors often don’t leave without visiting the Lowell Observatory, which offers a chance to peer through old and modern telescopes.

Grand Canyon, AZ

grand canyon

Going to the Grand Canyon requires adding a few extra hours to the road trip. But if you’ve never visited this iconic destination, take the opportunity to come for a day or two.

You’ll want to visit the South Rim, as it’s much closer to the road trip route than the more remote North Rim. The South Rim is the more popular tourist area, so expect large crowds.

Braving the crowds is a small price to pay for taking in some of the most incredible views that America has to offer!

If you’re lucky, you may encounter some of the Canyon wildlife, including bighorn sheep, deer, coyotes, and bald eagles. I was fortunate enough to spot a rare California condor at the Grand Canyon!

See our collection of fun facts about the Grand Canyon to learn more about this legendary park.

California condor - Grand Canyon

Route 66: Williams to Kingman, AZ

After the Grand Canyon, head down to the small town of Williams, Arizona. From here, you can drive historic Route 66 over to Williams. 

Route 66 in Arizona runs parallel to I-40, so you’ll be avoiding the highway and checking out interesting small towns instead.

This particular stretch of Rt. 66 doesn’t have a ton of noteworthy attractions, but it’s still cool to retrace the steps of the classic American road trippers.

A couple silly spots to check out: The Route 66 mural in Williams; Delgadillo’s Snow Cap, an old-time diner, gift shop and visitor center in Seligman; and the “Gigantus Headicus” statue outside a gift shop in Kingman.

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, NV

hoover dam
Hoover Dam is a must-visit on the Phoenix to Vegas drive.

From Kingman, head north on Route 93 past some tiny towns, including one named Santa Claus. Eventually, you will reach the engineering marvel known as the Hoover Dam. 

Take one of the guided tours to learn more about the historic site. Power Plant tours usually operate between 9 AM and 5 PM. The Guided Dam Tour offers an introductory film that goes into the creation of the dam. 

The dam protects the Colorado River and Lake Mead. The 247-square mile, man-made lake provides visitors with several activities. 

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is massive, so fully experiencing it can take hours. But for road trippers, we suggest a quick stop at Lakeview Overlook, which offers some of the most incredible views in the area.

Seven Magic Mountains, NV

seven magic mountains

We’ve almost made it to Vegas now! But there are a couple more places worth visiting before reaching the city. 

Start with the painted rock formations just outside Vegas known as Seven Magic Mountains. This must-see attraction was created by artists who wanted to bring an eye-catching art piece to an otherwise lonely stretch of desert.

Visiting here is totally free, and you’ll leave with some of the coolest Instagram photos you’ve ever taken.

Red Rock Canyon, NV

red rock canyon conservation area

Red Rock Canyon lives up to its name, with bright red boulders and cliffs. The Calico Hills section of the park is where you’ll want to spend most of your time.

There, Visitors can climb on and around the giant rocks, getting lost in a maze of boulders.

Also make sure to hike the Petroglyph Wall Trail to see 800-year-old wall carvings by Native Americans.

Las Vegas, NV

Once you’ve finally made it to Vegas, of course you’ll probably want to do some gambling. See our guide on finding cheap slot machines at hotels on the Vegas Strip. Check out a concert or show as well, if you can snag tickets.

welcome to vegas sign

The city has a surprising number of quirky museums, such as the National Atomic Testing Museum, which chronicles the history of the U.S. government testing atomic weapons in the desert.

Other places you may want to check out include the Pinball Hall of Fame and the Neon Museum, which has hundreds of abandoned neon signs from old Vegas businesses.

Possible Detours Between Phoenix and Las Vegas

Tuscon and Saguaro National Park, AZ: If you care to head south from Phoenix before turning towards Vegas, stop in the city of Tucson and Saguaro National Park.

This park has thousands of saguaro cactus, and some fun desert hiking trails, especially in the underrated Eastern Unit.

Winslow and Petrified Forest National Park, AZ: You could skip Sedona and detour further east to see the Route 66 city of Winslow, home of Standin’ On the Corner Park, which references the Eagles’ famous hit song “Take it Easy.” 

Nearby Petrified Forest National Park has impressive rock formations and petrified logs that are millions of years old. 

petrified forest national park

Tonto Bridge State Park, AZ: Just near Payson, Arizona, you can check out Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, where you’ll be walking on a natural limestone and sandstone bridge.

This park has multiple hiking trails and special events, such as a Guided Birding Walk. And it’s only $7 admission.

Antelope Canyon, AZ: Antelope Canyon is another natural wonder with smooth red structures surrounding you from almost every angle.

It’s worth securing the required permit and tour guide to walk through this sandy landscape, especially for photographers looking for nature photos.

Valley of Fire State Park, NV: The Valley of Fire is incredible. I spent a full day at this place, enjoying the desert hikes and unusual rock formations, such as Elephant Rock and the Fire Wave.

The only reason this park doesn’t appear on the main road trip itinerary is because it’s a bit out of the way. But if you’ve got an extra day to spend, make the drive up here!

Zion National Park, UT: Finally, folks heading north to see the Valley of Fire might as well continue another couple hours to reach Zion National Park.

zion national park

This park has some of the best viewpoints in the nation, with renowned peaks like Angels Landing and canyon hikes through shallow rivers like the Narrows.

We have a separate road trip guide for driving between Las Vegas and Zion National Park.

Do you have any additional suggestions for places to add to a road trip between Phoenix and Las Vegas?

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