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Guide To Traveling From Flagstaff To The Grand Canyon

Carved out by the Colorado River over the past six million years, the Grand Canyon offers views that can not be seen anywhere else in the world. At 277 miles long, up to 18 miles across and over 1-mile deep, the Grand Canyon is by far the largest canyon on the planet. The canyon is fully contained within Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Kaibab National Forest, the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the Havasupai Indian Reservation, and the Navajo Nation. Located about 90 minutes from Flagstaff, AZ (via the shortest route) visiting one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World is the perfect day trip.

Best Time of Year To Visit

While beautiful all year long, the best times of year to visit the Grand Canyon are in the spring from March – May and in the fall from September – November. This time of year not only offers smaller crowds but ideal weather, with temperatures ranging from about 30°F-70°F. If you plan your visit in the summer, expect temperatures in excess of 100°F. Winter temperatures can be quite cold with average high temperatures of about 58°F and lows around 29°F.

Best Time Of Day To Visit

Sunrise and Sunset are the most popular times to visit the Grand Canyon, but spectacular views are available 24/7. Plan your day in advance and keep in mind that trails and activities are best enjoyed during daylight hours. For star gazers, an evening visit is a must. Peak visitation hours are between 10 AM and 3 PM and parking can be difficult to find during these times.

Best Routes

When visiting from Flagstaff, the optimal location is the South Rim. The South Rim is the widest section and offers the most impressive views. The most iconic photographs of the Grand Canyon are taken from the South Rim. Located about 79 miles from Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon can be reached in as little as 90 minutes, but don’t be surprised if irresistible stops along the way make this trip much longer.

The Shortest Route

Just off historic Route 66, take US-180 West to AZ-64 North.

The Scenic Route

US-89 North to AZ-64 West (Desert View Dr.)

The Scenic Route takes you along the East Rim and is considered one of the most scenic drives in the entire USA. If a little adventure sounds appealing, take this extended route and make it a day trip, planning to make many stops along the way just to take in the scenery.

Things To Do On The Way

When heading to the Grand Canyon, the idea that it’s ‘about the trip not the destination’ doesn’t make a lot of sense, but there are stops along the path you may want to stop and check out.

Cameron Trading Post

Photo Credit: Ben Hoyt via Flickr CC2.0

Originally built in the early 1900s, the Cameron Trading Post was a large trade post for the Hopi and Navajo tribes. Today the trading post contains a large gift shop offering authentic Native American crafts and souvenirs. Make sure to stop by the old fashioned ice cream fountain also located on the property. There are public restrooms and picnic areas available as well.

Located on US-89 right at the turn off for AZ-64

Chapel of the Holy Dove

Definitely an oddity, this small building is covered with notes, prayers and well-wishes that people have been pinning on the wall for years. The building is open and available 24/7, all year long.

Located on the north side US-89 at about mile marker 236

Best Views

Hermit road is one of the most visited routes along the South Rim and follows the rim for approximately 7 miles to Hermits Rest. While only accessible via private vehicle during the winter months of December, January and February, there are many other options for visiting this scenic route. The free park shuttle bus, foot and bicycle are among the most popular ways to explore. The free Hermits Rest Route shuttle stops at nine designated viewpoints along the route.

Hermit Road Transfer Station

If you are taking the free shuttle, this is where your journey begins. The shuttle stops at all nine viewpoints, but those looking to explore by foot can choose to take the Rim Trail which starts in this location as well.

Trailview Overlook

The first stop on your journey is Trailview Overlook. Offering spectacular views of Bright Angel Trail, the Historic District village, as well as the historic El Tovar Hotel. Multiple sets of stairs lead to the two main viewing areas.

Along the Rim Trail:

Located 0.7 miles from the Transfer Station

Maricopa Point

Photo Credit: katie wheeler via Flickr CC2.0

Your next stop is Maricopa Point. Amazing views of the canyon are offered here along with some history. This spot overlooks the former Orphan Lode Mine. While originally a copper mine starting operations in 1891, focus shifted to uranium in the 1950s. The mine remained operational until 1967 with Grand Canyon National Park acquiring the property in 1987. Environmental restoration began in 2008.

Along the Rim Trail:

Located 0.7 miles from Trailview Overlook via paved trail.

Powell Point

Photo Credit: Grand Canyon National Park via Flickr CC2.0

The next destination is Powell Point. In addition to the spectacular views of the canyon, the Powell Memorial is located at this viewpoint and commemorates the 1869 and 1871-1872 exploratory trips down the Colorado River led by Major John Wesley Powell.

Along the Rim Trail:

Located 0.5 miles from Maricopa Point via dirt and then paved trail.

Hopi Point

Photo Credit: Stefan Mendelsohn via Flickr CC2.0

The fourth and possibly most popular stop is Hopi Point. The most amazing sunset and sunrise views are available at this stop. Offering a huge panoramic view of the canyon with the Colorado River viewable to the west, there is a reason why this viewpoint is a favorite stop along the trail. Restrooms are available at this stop as well.

Along the Rim Trail:

Located 0.3 Miles from Powell Point via dirt trail.

Mohave Point

Photo Credit: John Getchel via Flickr CC2.0

The next stop along your journey brings you to Mohave Point. Also a popular sunrise and sunset viewpoint, this stop offers wonderful photo opportunities and spectacular views of the Colorado River.

Along the Rim Trail:

Located 0.8 Miles from Hopi Point via dirt trail.

The Abyss

The next stop on your journey is The Abyss. From this viewpoint you will have a vertical view directly into the canyon overlooking the Monument Creek Drainage, with breathtaking views of the Colorado River at Granite Rapids.

Along the Rim Trail:

Located 1.1 Miles from Mohave Point via dirt trail.

Monument Creek Vista

The third from last stop is Monument Creek Vista. In addition to spectacular views, this is where the popular Greenway Trail begins. This trail accommodates hikers and bicyclists as well as those using wheelchairs. With 6 overlooks, be prepared to awe your friends with stunning photos. There are ample rest areas along the trail as well.

Along the Rim Trail:

Located 0.9 Miles from The Abyss via dirt trail.

Pima Point

Photo Credit: davidkiene via Flickr CC2.0

The next stop on this epic journey is Pima Point. One of the best places to see and hear the Colorado River. The site overlooks Granite Rapids, and the sound of the water splashing against the rocks can be heard all the way up to the rim of the canyon.

Along the Rim Trail:

Located 1.7 Miles from Monument Creek Vista via paved trail.

Hermits Rest

Photo Credit: Grand Canyon National Park via Flickr CC2.0

The last stop is Hermits Rest. Designed and built in 1914 by one of the Grand Canyon’s most famous architects, Mary Colter, the building resembles an old miner’s cabin. The structure now houses a gift shop and snack bar. Restrooms are available at this stop.

The Hermit Trail is located about half a mile from Hermits rest and is one of the more challenging hikes available. This is a steep and winding path that leads directly down into the canyon.

Along the Rim Trail:

Located 1.1 Miles from Pima Point via paved trail.

Things To Do At The Grand Canyon

There is something to see and do for everyone at the Grand Canyon. Easily accessible viewpoints are available for those who just want to see the canyon in all its glory. For the more adventurous types, easy to difficult hiking trails and climbs are plentiful, each offering its own unique view of the canyon. Some things to consider for your trip:

  • Plan a day hike
  • The Free Ranger Program
  • The South Rim Mule Trip
  • Visit the Tusayan Ruins
  • The Grand Canyon Railway