Vegas to Phoenix Road Trip

One of the most underrated road trips in the U.S. is the Vegas to Phoenix road trip. This fantastic route features many amazing national and state parks, parts of the historic Route 66, and some exciting and fun cities. It’s only a relatively short distance between Vegas and Phoenix, which can be completed within just 5 hours if you travel nonstop. However, if you add in some of the scenic detours, plus stop in some of the fantastic towns and national parks along the way, you can easily extend this road trip for a week or two. In this guide, we’ll look at some different routes, the best places to stop, and the best time to undertake the trip. 

Potential Vegas to Phoenix Road Trip Routes

There are several different routes you can take from Las Vegas to Phoenix, depending on what you want to see and how long you’ve got. 

Direct Route – The Direct Route takes you from Vegas, past the Hoover Dam, and down to Kingman. From here, you take the I-40 before turning off on SR-93 and traveling to Phoenix via Wickenburg. The route is just over 300 miles in length and should only take around 5 hours if you travel nonstop.

Historic Route 66 Route – The Historic Route 66 Route takes in the same initial attractions as the Direct Route but continues along the I-40, passing through Williams and Flagstaff. From here, the route heads south along SR 89A, taking in both the attractions at Sedona and Montezuma Castle National Park. The final leg of the route is along the I-17 into Phoenix. The route is just under 400 miles in length and takes around 7 hours if you were to travel nonstop. 

Scenic Route – The final option is the scenic route, which builds on the Historic Route 66 Route but includes all side trips. This includes both the sizeable detours to the Grand Canyon and Prescott. Even allowing for these deviations from the main route, you shouldn’t exceed more than 600 miles in distance or 10 hours of driving time. 

Route 66 leading off into the mountains
Some epic roads and scenery lay ahead of you on this road trip.

Where are the best things to see on a Vegas to Phoenix road trip?

Most of the best things to see on a Vegas to Phoenix road trip are located along the main route or in the Flagstaff area. Significant detours to both Prescott and the Grand Canyon can add several hours to the overall journey time, but they sure are worth the extra mileage. 

Best Things to see on a Vegas to Phoenix Road Trip

Enjoy the thrills and spills of Vegas

The starting point of this road trip is Las Vegas (or the ending point if completed in reverse). This unique desert city needs little introduction as its grandiose reputation precedes it. Originally known as ‘Sin City,’ it’s possible to indulge in any number of different vices here, from gambling to drinking and much more. However, Vegas nowadays isn’t just a destination for those looking to party. Over the years, the city has evolved into an all-round destination with excellent regular live performances, an increasing amount of live sports, and plenty of attractions for the family. So whether you’re wandering the canals of the Venetian Hotel, entering the pyramid of the Luxor Hotel, or checking out the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Casino & Hotel, you’re in for a great time.  

The entrance sign to Las Vegas
The world famous Las Vegas sign that greets you as you enter the city

Marvel at the Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is the first noteworthy attraction on any road trip out of Vegas. It’s just a short 37-mile drive via the I-515 S and I-11 S, and it typically takes around 45 minutes. Located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, the dam was built back in 1936. At its completion, it was the tallest dam in the world and became a symbol of U.S. engineering prowess. The creation of the dam also meant the creation of the vast Lake Mead, which is officially the largest reservoir in the entire U.S. 

Once at the Hoover Dam, aside from the great photo opportunity, there are plenty of options to learn about the dam and its history. You can take a guided tour of the power plant or a separate tour of the dam itself. Alternatively, there’s also the option of an audio tour if you prefer to do things at your own pace. If you’re passing through, there’s a  good visitor center that features both a café and gift shop. 

The hoover dam and reservoir it created
The substantial Hoover Dam is an iconic site on the route from Vegas to Phoenix.

Discover Route 66's history in Kingman

Crossing from Nevada into Arizona and traveling 75 miles south along US-93 S, the next stop on the road trip is the city of Kingman. Located on the historic Route 66, the city pre-dates the iconic road. Its creation back in 1882 was because of the new railroad being built. However, it’s the road that has given the city its real identity.  You can learn much more about this at the Historic Route 66 Museum, while there’s also an annual Kingman Route 66 Fest in October. Many diners, shops, and bars packed with nostalgic items can be found throughout the city.

Kingman has lots more to offer beyond its Route 66 heritage. You’ll find the interesting Kingman Railroad Museum and Mohave Museum of History & Arts in town, plus a wealth of antique shops. In the wider area, there’s a brewery, distillery, and winery if you need a drink to quench your thirst. Whether you stop by for lunch or much longer, it’s a great stop on this road trip route.   

Road sign for Kingman and Route 66
Kingman pays homage to Route 66 with a number of good museums and nostalgia filled diners.

Heading east out of Kingman along the I-40, you reach the junction with Route 93 to Phoenix. If you’re in a rush, turn off here to get to Phoenix quickly. Otherwise, continue east along the I-40 to see many of Arizona’s highlights.

Ride the train to the Grand Canyon from Williams

Another of the historic Route 66 cities along the I-40 is Williams. Founded a year before Kingman in 1881, its population is just a tenth of the size of its younger neighbor. However, Williams’ population swells during the summer as visitors come from far and wide to visit and stay in the town. The railroad is the primary driver of visitors, and the city is the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway. From here, you can take a steam train to the heart of the Grand Canyon village. Aside from the railway, there’s also a Route 66 Gas Station Museum, while the Grand Canyon Deer Park and Bearizona Wildlife Park outside of town always receive great reviews.

Explore the surrounding areas from Flagstaff

It’s a 40-minute drive and 33 miles eastbound along the I-40 to Flagstaff from Williams. It’s a much bigger city and a great base to explore the many surrounding attractions. The city dates back further than many of the other towns and cities in the region, but like it’s neighbours, it owes much of it’s size and wealth to the railroad and Route 66. Flagstone’s historic downtown area is the main attraction in town, alongside the visitor centre housed in the historic train station. In the surrounding areas you’ll find Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Montezuma National Park and Sunset Crater, all of which we’ve covered separately. You’ll also find a wealth of other attractions including Walnut Canyon, Coconino National Forest, Lowell Observatory and Wupatki National Monument. 

The central square in the town of Flagstaff
The Grand Canyon is a highlight of any Vegas to Phoenix road trip.

Flagstaff represents the easternmost extent of the road trip. Once you’ve seen the attractions you want to in the surrounding areas of Flagstaff, you’ll need to head south. The quickest route to Phoenix is on the I-17, but you might want to take SR 89A, which runs past Sedona and onto Montezuma Castle National Monument.

See one of natures wonders at the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s great attractions and Arizona’s number one tourist attraction, with 6 million annual visitors. This massive canyon is recognized as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and it’s easy to see why. Measuring 277 miles in length and 10 miles in width, the canyon spans a massive distance.

Most visitors head for the Grand Canyon Village, located on the southern rim. At just 80 miles from Flagstaff and 60 miles from Williams by road, it’s a comfortable 90-minute drive from either location. There’s also the option of taking the Grand Canyon Railway steam train out of Williams. However you choose to travel, the views from the rim are spectacular, and there are plenty of amenities in the village. If you want to explore further afield, there are plenty of hiking options and different routes for scenic drives. 

The wide expanse of the grand canyon in nevada, usa
The Grand Canyon is a highlight of any Vegas to Phoenix road trip.

Explore the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Just a few miles to the northeast of Flagstaff is Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. If you’ve got a day or afternoon free, it’s a great place to visit, explore and hike around. The park is centered around Sunset Crater, a large volcanic cinder cone that erupted 1,000 years ago. While now extinct, the eruption and lava flows have left behind some fascinating geology, which makes for a stunning landscape. There are plenty of trails to explore of varying difficulty, a good visitor center, and a driving loop. While it’s not possible to go to the very summit of the cinder cone any longer following excessive erosion, you can still get close enough to make this an authentic and enjoyable experience.

The cinder cone of sunset crater
The cinder cone of Sunset Crater is just one of 600 in the San Francisco volcanic field.

Visit beautiful and new age Sedona

The beautiful town of Sedona is 30 miles or a 45-minute drive south along SR 89A from Flagstaff. The town occupies a sensational location, surrounded by towering red-rock buttes. Over 3 million people visit the town annually to revel in its scenery, excellent resorts, and new-age spirituality. It’s somewhat of an odd mix, but it makes for an interesting and lively town. For visitors, there are plenty of art galleries in town, as well as shops selling everything from crystals to local handcrafts. For more active visitors, there are excellent hiking trails throughout the area, although be warned that it is roasting during the summer.  

The red rock buttes of Sedona
The town of Sedona is surrounded by huge red-rock buttes.

Stop by Montezuma Castle National Monument

One of the lesser-known attractions in the area is the Montezuma Castle National Monument. Located 25 miles south of Sedona, it’s an easy and scenic 30-minute drive along the I-17. The park is home to many dwellings carved into the rock face by the Sinagua people. The site is believed to date from the 11th century, with continued development and construction for 300 years. It’s one of the best-preserved sites in the U.S., as it is sheltered by the surrounding rock and inaccessible to people without extensive ladders. While it’s no longer possible to enter the site following erosion to the cliffs and the building, a virtual tour can bring the site to life. If you’ve been to Sedona and you’re continuing south, it’s well worth an hour or two of your time.

Cliff buildings of Montezuma Castle National Monument
The pre-historic cliff buildings are some of the oldest and best preserved in the U.S.

Visit the historic Whiskey Row in Prescott

West of the I-17, the main route south to Phoenix, is the historic town of Prescott. Despite its location, it’s a good option for a detour from the interstate. Prescott is one of the original frontier towns and supported gold and silver prospectors during the 19th century. It’s also a former capital of Arizona, reflecting the town’s standing during its heyday in the era of the Wild West.

It’s this legacy of the Wild West that draws visitors in, with Prescott’s famed Whiskey Row the main attraction in town. A popular haunt amongst cowboys and prospectors back in the day, there are countless bars along the strip that now house cafés, shops, and restaurants. Many outlets still occupy the original buildings, giving the area real character. Outside of town, there are many great hiking opportunities at Goldwater Lake, Watson Lake, Lynx Lake, and the Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail. 

Aerial view of Prescott in Arizona
Prescott is a historic town and is home to the infamous Whiskey Row.

End your road trip in Phoenix

The final destination on this fabulous road trip is the city of Phoenix. It is the present-day state capital and one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. The city occupies a beautiful setting and boasts a hot year-round climate. The climate makes the city a natural choice for the many spa resorts and golf courses that have sprung up here. However, Phoenix isn’t just a city for relaxation. At night, the city comes to life and boasts a vibrant nightlife and music scene. In the daytime, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding areas and mountains on foot, bike, or horseback. Phoenix is exceptionally well served by airlines, which offer plenty of domestic and international flights. This makes it a perfect endpoint for your road trip.

Aerial view of the Phoenix skyline
The desert city of Phoenix is known for it's hotel resorts, golf courses and nightlife.

Best time to take a road trip from Vegas to Phoenix

There’s no wrong time of the year to take a Vegas to Phoenix road trip. As both locations and the surrounding areas are blessed by year-round sunshine and mild winters, the weather isn’t a limiting factor in when you can or can’t undertake the trip. What’s more important is what you plan to do during your trip and how much you can tolerate the summer heat.

Both Vegas and Phoenix see daily temperatures exceeding 100°F regularly during the summer months of June, July, and August. As well as making sightseeing sometimes uncomfortable, it also makes hiking impossible during the middle of the day. Therefore, the best months to undertake the road trip are in spring (April/May) or fall (September/October). You’ll get great weather during this time, benefit from lower hotel costs, and share the attractions with fewer visitors than during the school or holiday seasons. 

Related Content

North America Guide
USA Country Guide
Houston to Big Bend National Park
Best National Parks in Utah
Seattle to North Cascades
Sacramento to Lake Tahoe

Latest Blog Posts

Can you Drive to Morocco?

You can drive to Morocco from the neighboring countries of Spain and Mauritania, but not Algeria, despite a nearly 2000 km long border between the two countries. Travel between Morocco and any of its neighbors comes with its fair share of challenges. At first glance, you could be mistaken for

10 Best National Parks in Western Australia

If you love solitude, amazing landscapes, and vast open spaces, you’re going to love Western Australia. This amazing land, and the northwest in particular, is often referred to as the ‘Last Frontier’. It’s a land of endless remote possibilities and nowhere showcases this better than the amazing array of national

17 Best Things to do in Vlore

The Albanian port city of Vlore is one of Albania’s spectacular coastal highlights. Situated at the northern end of the Albanian Riviera and overlooking the beautiful Bay of Vlore, the city is blessed with a wealth of attractions. The home of Albanian independence and the gateway to the Riviera, the

Can you Drive to Tuktoyaktuk?

You can drive to remote Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean using the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway, also known as the “Mackenzie Highway” or “Tuk Highway.” The road provides access to Tuktoyaktuk from Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. Inuvik is accessible from mainland Canada by using the Dempster Highway, which runs all the

Can you Drive to Gasparilla Island?

It’s possible to drive to beautiful Gasparilla Island from the nearby Florida mainland using a bridge known as the Boca Grande Causeway. The causeway connects the unincorporated community of Placida on the mainland to the northern tip of Gasparilla Island, allowing vehicles to access the island. There’s a $6 round

Can you Drive to Guyana?

You can drive to Guyana but only from one of the three South American countries with a common land border. The border crossing with neighboring Brazil in the southwest of Guyana is currently the only open crossing. However, it is located in a very remote region. There are currently no