The ultimate Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip

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The ultimate Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip takes you from the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean to one of the most iconic national parks in America. Even though the Grand Canyon is the main show, it’s a journey that delivers top attractions from start to end. On the road trip from LA to Grand Canyon you find an abundance of fascinating nature and fun cities to explore.

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  • Total distance: 1,372 mi / 2,208 km
  • Total driving time: 23.5 h

1. Los Angeles, CA

It’s finally time for the ultimate Los Angeles to Grand Canyon National Park road trip. But before you head east, don’t miss out on some of the best things to do in Los Angeles.

Stroll the Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier magnificently juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. At the foot of Colorado Avenue, where the iconic Route 66 ends, it’s the perfect starting point for the LA to Grand Canyon road trip.

For more than 100 years the Santa Monica Pier has attracted locals and tourists alike. With time the pier has become a true Los Angeles landmark.

Gloriously so the Santa Monica Pier offers fantastic views of the Pacific coastline. But the Santa Monica Pier is as much about its unique atmosphere.

Home to an amusement park, dining options and street performers something fun is always going on at the Santa Monica Pier. It’s hard to imagine a better spot for people watching.

Make your dreams come true at Disneyland

If you want to begin the road trip from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon with happy faces, there’s no better place to go than Disneyland. The renowned amusement park is known as the Happiest Place on Earth.

Disneyland encompasses nine different themed areas to check out.

The original five lands of Disney are Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Later the fun-filled group has been extended with New Orleans Square, Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

With so much to enjoy, including colorful characters and thrilling rides, Disneyland is an endless family favorite. However, it’s also a magical place where adults can have a well needed respite from reality.

Sign reading "TOONTOWN" in rounded font at Disneyland, California
Toontown at Disneyland.

2. Las Vegas, NV

  • Driving distance: 270 mi / 435 km
  • Driving time: 4 h

Las Vegas, positioned in the Mojave Desert, is closely associated with its sprawling casino resorts and bright neon lights. Now you have the chance to go big on the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon national park road trip.

Indulge in the Strip

The legendary Las Vegas Strip is the busiest part of Las Vegas Boulevard South. Here you find an in particular high concentration of luxury casinos and attractions.

It’s the epicenter of the entertainment hub that Las Vegas is.

Caesars Palace is a Greco-Roman themed institution along the Strip. Just wandering through all its grandeur, including extravagant statues and columns, is an experience on its own.

For pure Italian vibes the Venetian demands your attention. The hotel, which replicates the city of Venice, gives you a unique opportunity to add a memorable gondola ride to the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon itinerary.

Bellagio is another Las Vegas crowd pleaser. Its frequently running musical fountain shows, with water soaring up as high as 460 feet (140 m) into the air, is the perfect end to a day in Las Vegas.

Walk across the Hoover Dam

Just 33 miles (53 km) from the bright lights of Las Vegas the Hoover Dam is located. On the border between Nevada and Arizona it’s a National Historic Landmark that represents engineering at its finest.

Even though the Hoover Dam was completed already in the 1930s, it’s as fascinating today as it was then.

The amount of concrete used in building the Hoover Dam would be enough to pave a road from San Francisco to New York City. That’s how huge the structure is.

When you visit, it’s a must to walk across the dam. The 1,244 feet (370 m) from one side to the other fully lets you capture its grandness.

The huge Hoover Dam on the border between Arizona and Nevada
The Hoover Dam.

Additional stop: Valley of Fire State Park is located right along the route from Las Vegas to Zion National Park. The state park, Nevada’s oldest and largest, lures visitors in with its never ending landscape of red rocks.

3. Zion, UT

  • Driving distance: 160 mi / 257 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

Colorful red sandstone cliffs, blue skies and evergreen canyons. Welcome to Zion National Park in Utah.

Although it isn’t the itinerary’s main focus, Zion is a side attraction like no other. When it comes to visitors per year, Zion is up there with Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and the other big boys.

Take on the famous Angels Landing

Zion National Park offers truly jaw-dropping hiking opportunities. So of course the best things to do in Zion National Park include exploring the various world-class trails.

For the experienced hiker, Angel’s Landing might be the hike on top of the list on the the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip. It’s a trail that is known for its thrilling climbs.

At 5 miles (8 km) the trail’s length maybe doesn’t sound like a challenge. However, the trail has an elevation change of 1,488 feet (453 m) and some stretches are just a few scary feets wide.

If you’re up for the task, just pay attention to that you because of its popularity need a special Angels Landing hiking permit.

Relax with a quiet Riverside Walk

Even though you find dramatic hikes like Angels Landing in Zion, it’s also a place that caters to every traveler on the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon drive. So if you look for something less challenging, don’t despair.

The Riverside Walk is 2.2 miles (3.5 km) long both ways. It’s a perfect trail for a more casual stroll on your way from LA to Grand Canyon.

Along Virgin River, in the heart of Zion National Park, the Riverside Walk is flat and easy. The hike ends where the canyon gets so narrow that only the river fits. There a more dramatic Zion hike, the Narrows, begins.

Where to stay

There’s no need to sacrifice your comfortable lifestyle when you stay at Zion National Park. There’s convenient lodging both inside the park and just outside the park border in gateway town Springdale.

The narrow and steep Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park, Utah
The demanding Angels Landing

4. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

  • Driving distance: 73 mi / 117 km
  • Driving time: 1.5 h

Bryce Canyon National Park is the second out of four national parks on the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon itinerary. Just 1.5 hours from Zion, it’s a place filled with peculiar rock formations, including its signature rock spires called hoodoos.

Enjoy awe-inspiring hoodoo overlooks

Over millions of years a natural amphitheater, called the Bryce Amphitheater, has been carved out by Mother Nature. The Bryce Amphitheater is the park’s main area, where you find its greatest concentrations of hoodoos.

From the road through Bryce Canyon, it’s just steps to some of the park’s most iconic overlooks. Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point and Sunrise Point are such points that all are easy to reach from the park road.

However, during the busy summer season it’s a good to consider the park’s shuttle. If you explore the park by shuttle, your car gets some well deserved rest before the drive from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon continues.

Where to stay

Don’t look past the Bryce Canyon lodging inside the park and in the adjacent Bryce Canyon City. Easy hoodoo access makes the most out of a Bryce Canyon visit on the LA to Grand Canyon drive.

Bryce Canyon valley floor with red rocks and green trees
Bryce Canyon hike.

5. Antelope Canyon, AZ

  • Driving distance: 157 mi / 253 km
  • Driving time: 3 h

You really go from one natural wonder to another on the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon National Park road trip. Near the Utah-Arizona border, within Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, the fabulous Antelope Canyon is located.

Antelope Canyon is defined by its wavy sandstone walls. Around the year its shapes make people’s jaws drop, but its mystique peaks during the months when beams of sunshine cut into the canyon.

Discover Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is one slot canyon. However, there are two different sections that you can visit.

Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular section. This also is where the famous light beams occur at midday from the second half of March until mid October.

Lower Antelope Canyon has its own entrance point and is not as visited. Although you don’t find any light beams here, its shapes are as great as the ones on offer in Upper Antelope Canyon.

No matter which section you go for, you need a reservation with an authorized guide. Especially during the summer season, tours tend to book up early in advance.

Where to stay

You find nicely positioned places to stay near Antelope Canyon in the town of Page. From the heart of Page it’s just 4 miles (6 km) to the fabled Antelope Canyon.

Wavy Canyon walls in Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon, AZ

6. Horseshoe Bend, AZ

  • Driving distance: 7 mi / 11 km
  • Driving time: 0.5 h

Less than 30 minutes from Antelope Canyon you find Horseshoe Bend. The iconic bend of the Colorado River, enhanced by towering cliffs, is what the experts call an incised meander.

It’s a few miles from where Grand National Park actually begins, but the scenic spot is the perfect way to kick off your Grand Canyon adventure.

Take a photo with the Colorado River

With the Colorado River flowing roughly 1,000 feet (300 m) below you, the Horseshoe Bend overlook is remarkable. Nowhere within Grand Canyon National Park you find such an intimate Colorado River vista.

At Horseshoe Bend, sometimes referred to as the east rim of the Grand Canyon, the steep cliffs and reflecting Colorado River are beautiful contrasts. It’s a unique LA to Grand Canyon photo opportunity.

Horseshoe Bend is also easily accessible. From its parking lot it’s a walk of 0.75 miles (1.2 km) to the viewpoint. Just pay attention to that the heat during the warmer half of the year often gets intense.

Hot or not, Horseshoe Bend is a great morning or sunset activity on the LA to Grand Canyon itinerary. Early morning the sun is behind you at the overlook, while in the evening it sets in front of you.

Where to stay

You don’t need any additional Horseshoe Bend lodging. From hotels in Page, you easily reach both Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

A quiet Colorado River meandering around the Horseshoe Bend cliff at sunrise
Horseshoe Bend at sunrise.

7. Grand Canyon, AZ

  • Driving distance: 133 mi / 214 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

You made it all the way from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon! After 2.5 more hours on the road you arrive in Grand Canyon Village at Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

The South Rim is the most popular rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s open year round and offers a good selection of lodging within Grand Canyon National Park.

Admire the world wonder

As you get to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, an exceptional landscape awaits. Only steps from where you park your car you find the natural wonder that you came for.

Grand Canyon is a huge American attraction. The world-famous Arizona wonder is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and more than a mile (1,847 m) deep.

The easily accessible Rim Trail follows the rim from the Grand Canyon Village area to a point called Hermit’s Rest. Along the walk you find one majestic viewpoint after another.

Mile after mile. Rock layer after rock layer. When you visit the overlooks, it’s like the Grand Canyon never ends.

The convenient vistas offer sights that you never forget. With so much to take in many visitors don’t go past the sweeping viewpoints on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Head into the Grand Canyon

If you like what you see from the edge of the rim but want more, it’s time to put on your hiking boots and head into the Grand Canyon. The deeper you go, the more there’s to explore.

On many bucket lists, and an iconic hike for the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip, is the Bright Angel Trail.

It’s an out-and-back trail that really takes you to the depths of Grand Canyon.

The Bright Angel Trailhead is located at a formidable elevation of 6,850 feet (2,088 m). At Indian Garden 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the trailhead, where many day hikers choose to turn back, you’re already down at 3,800 feet (1,158 m).

That’s a huge elevation loss.

So when you decide to return back to the rim, you have hardly done half of the job. The national park service recommends that you allow twice as much time for the way back up as it took for you to hike down.

Hiking into the Grand Canyon is truly a spectacular activity on the LA to Grand Canyon itinerary. However, it’s also a demanding activity that takes you far away from the comforts of Grand Canyon Village.

Where to stay

Grand Canyon Village, located inside Grand Canyon National Park, is the prime option for where to stay at Grand Canyon. However, just outside the park you find more hotels and amenities in the town Tusayan.

Vista at Grand Canyon South Rim, Arizona, showcasing layered bands of rock
Grand Canyon South Rim viewpoint.

8. Sedona, AZ – A red-rock wonderland

  • Driving distance: 114 mi / 183 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

Sedona is often mentioned as one of the best places in Arizona. With towering monuments of red rock wherever your eyes go, it’s hard to disagree when you visit on the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip.

Drive Red Rock Scenic Byway

Red Rock Scenic Byway is a 7.5 miles (12 km) long stretch of Arizona State Route 179. It’s the perfect Sedona introduction, which showcases the red-rock landscape that Sedona is so famous for.

With such roadside beauty it’s like a museum without walls.

Among the many pretty sights along Red Rock Scenic Byway in particular two are visitor magnets. The towering Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock take your breath away and require you to use the designated pullouts.

But Red Rock Scenic Byway also offers access to Bell Rock Trail and Cathedral Rock Trail. So for a more intimate experience allow time for hiking the huge attractions along the route.

Reddish Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona
Bell Rock in Sedona, AZ.

Additional stop: Want some more city fun? If so, it’s a no-brainer to include Phoenix on the itinerary. On the way from Sedona to Joshua Tree National Park, the Arizona city is an easy detour.

9. Joshua Tree National Park, CA

  • Driving distance: 327 mi / 526 km
  • Driving time: 5 h

On the way back from Grand Canyon to Los Angeles you pass by Joshua Tree National Park. The park is named after the Mojave native Joshua tree, but its glittering rock formations are as celebrated features.

Stretch your legs past imaginative rocks

You can easily see where the rocks in Joshua Tree have gotten their names from. The shapes of the park’s most famous rocks are incredibly distinctive.

Arch Rock Trail is 1.4 miles (2.1 km) long and leads to the park’s most famous arch. On top of a stack of boulders the Arch Rock is a memorable and easy addition to the itinerary.

On the way to Arch Rock, a detour takes you to Heart Rock. Its heart shape might make it the most romantic rock there is. Especially if you plan a romantic Grand Canyon road trip, don’t miss out on this one.

Another unique shape is the park’s legendary Skull Rock. The rock, named for its apparent skull look, is the shining star of the 1.7 miles (2.7 km) Skull Rock Trail. But along the trail you find several other remarkable rocks to see and climb on the way back from Grand Canyon to LA.

Where to stay

There’s no lodging within Joshua Tree National Park. However, you find places to stay near Joshua Tree National Park in the nearby towns Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms.

Heart-shaped 10-foot-tall Heart Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, California
Heart Rock in Joshua Tree National Park.

10. Los Angeles, CA

  • Driving distance: 131 mi / 211 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

After a majestic Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip, it’s time to round off the adventure. The last 131 miles (211 km) on the road finishes the loop and takes you back to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip FAQ

How long does it take to drive the ultimate Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip?

This ultimate Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip loop is 1,372 miles (2208 km) long. Driving it takes about 23.5 hours, not including any stops along the way.

In contrast, the shortest possible out-and-back route from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon is 982 miles (1580 km). With a driving time of 15.5 hours it saves you 8 hours, compared to the ultimate LA to Grand Canyon loop.

Where should I stop between Los Angeles and the Grand Canyon?

The main stops on the ultimate Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip are Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona and Joshua Tree National Park. Additional destinations along the route include Valley of Fire State Park and Phoenix.

When is the best time to take the road trip from LA to Grand Canyon?

A road trip from LA to Grand Canyon is a great experience every month of the year. All the attractions on the LA to Grand Canyon itinerary, including Grand Canyon South Rim, are open year round.

Summer, when the temperatures are as hottest, is the peak period of the year. Then the visitor counts skyrocket at all the natural attractions along the route from LA to Grand Canyon.

Spring and autumn are shoulder seasons for the parks on the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon itinerary. This period, with comfortable average temperatures, is ideal if you plan demanding hikes.

Winter, when the rim gets covered in snow, is a special time of the year to visit the Grand Canyon. But pay attention to that the low temperatures make the trails within Grand Canyon National Park more challenging.

How many days do I need to take the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip?

For the most rewarding experience it’s recommended to have two weeks or more for the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip. With so many top sights, including Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park, you certainly don’t want to rush through the itinerary.

But if you have less time, you can take a pacier road trip with less time at each stop. Or you could simply break the LA to Grand Canyon itinerary up to focus more on your favorite destinations.

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