Most scenic route from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon

The overall driving distance between Flagstaff, AZ and Grand Canyon is 346 miles or 557 kilometers, needing a full day of driving. Your journey begins in Flagstaff and ends in Grand Canyon, Arizona. The overall driving time from Flagstaff, AZ, to Grand Canyon is determined by how long you want to stop at numerous attractive locations. These picturesque attractions include the Grand Canyon Loop, Oak Creek Canyon, and Schnebly Hill Road until you get to your destination when planning a road trip. The mode of transportation varies from driving a car to taking a bus or flying directly.

Grand Canyon South Rim From Flagsta...
Grand Canyon South Rim From Flagstaff (Ultimate Day Trip)

Highlights

  • Grand Canyon Loop
  • Oak Creek Canyon
  • Schnebly Hill Road

Flagstaff, AZ

There are various lovely drives available in the National Forests surrounding Flagstaff. Some drives are stunning in the fall when the leaves change color. Driving along the Peaks Scenic Drive is one of your possibilities. Traveling 14 miles north of Flagstaff on Hwy 89S, you may complete the 43-mile loop in 1-2 hours. This route winds around Arizona’s highest mountain, passing through pine forests, aspen groves, open meadows, and rustic homesteads. 

Although the roads are closed for much of the winter, this drive is enjoyable anytime. Wildflowers follow the retreating snow up the mountain in the spring. They adorn the meadows and the forests, reaching a peak just as summer ends. Autumn then turns the mountain gold, bringing visitors to the forest roads and trails to admire the magnificent spectacle. 

There are several sites along this path where you can stop for a hike, a picnic, or even set up a basic camp. That way, you can complete this trip in more than one day or combine it with one or more other scenic drives near the San Francisco Peaks if you choose to.

Grand Canyon Loop

As this picturesque trip traverses 2 billion years of earth’s history, snow-capped San Francisco Peaks, Kaibab National Forest, and the dramatic colors of light and shadow sweeping across the rocks, buttes, and spires of the Grand Canyon await. This scenic road begins in Flagstaff, which you can reach via I-40 or US-89. The 201-mile drive takes 4 hours and 11 minutes, and you can arrive at the Grand Canyon’s south rim, a few kilometers from Tusayan. The breathtaking view in front of you is unbelievable. The brilliant splendor of multi-hued cliffs, stacks of buttes, sculpted gorges, and valleys, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, will take your breath away. It is home to a variety of plants and mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and birds, including the nearly extinct California condor, Chuckwalla lizard, and a few deadly critters, like the female black widow spider, scorpions, and The Grand Canyon Rattler and the Diamond Back Rattler. 

The Colorado River built the Canyon 1 mile deep and 18 miles across millions of years. Combining plate tectonics, wind, temperature, and volcanic history gives you utter unfathomable beauty. Mather Point, located just outside Grand Canyon Village, has one of the best vistas. Enjoy this breathtaking panoramic picture of rough rock displaying geologic history, layers of color, plants clinging to the complex environment, and the sun dancing over. 

Many of the Grand Canyon’s most popular attractions, such as Bright Angel Canyon, Isis Temple, and Wotan’s Throne, may be seen from Mather Point. While soaking in the vastness of what you’re witnessing, keep in mind that you can only view 1/4 of the Grand Canyon from here.

Grand Canyon Village, AZ

Turning left from AZ-64 onto South Entrance Road goes to Grand Canyon Village, which is constantly busy. You Can find lodging, dining, shopping, and advice on how to make the most of your vacation to the Grand Canyon here. Remember park rules when hiking, and don’t try to go from the rim to the river in one day without lots of water, snacks, and food. Bright Angel Trail is famous among overnight hikers. 

The trailhead is west of Bright Angel Lodge and leads down to the Colorado River after a 9-mile climb. You can access the Rim Trail from any Grand Canyon Village viewpoint. The trail is paved in parts and has slight elevation variation, and you can personalize this hike by returning via shuttle buses. Yavapai Point offers more than simply stunning vistas. The Yavapai Geology Museum provides insight into the Grand Canyon’s creation during the last 2 billion years. 

If you visit on a rainy day, the museum is a fantastic opportunity to escape the elements while seeing the Grand Canyon. Before leaving Grand Canyon Village, take the 9-mile West Rim Drive to Hermits Rest. The route has numerous pullouts, each with a distinct and breathtaking vista. Except for the winter (December through February), the road is blocked to private cars for most of the year, although it is open for cycling, strolling, or making use of the free shuttle that stops at all of the views. 

The Rim Trail parallels Hermit Road for 7.8 kilometers. After leaving Grand Canyon Village, take AZ-64 east. Yaki Point Road and the Kaibab Trail Parking Lot are closed to private vehicles all year, so take the shuttle bus.

Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon is a 12-mile-long, 2,000-foot-deep canyon that follows a fault line. You can thoroughly explore this elevation change on this beautiful trip via Flagstaff’s lush woods. It explores the gorgeous red-rock deserts, unusual rock formations, and rainbow-coloured sandstone cliffs on the way to Sedona. You’ll reach the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook in two kilometers. 

You’ll get rewarded with breathtaking views of the Mogollon Rim, the magnificent reds and whites that paint the canyon, and the gigantic firs that populate the surrounding forests. A short loop hike leads to where the ravine descends 2,000 feet for a better vista. You can easily watch the geology and climatic shift from here as you move south and begin to see the arid, cactus-filled desserts. When you get to Sedona, the gorgeous journey ends about two miles after the bridge. Sedona is a bustling tourist town with many unique stores and restaurants in a magnificent location.

Schnebly Hill Road

Schnebly Hill Road is one of Arizona’s most spectacular roads, a steep, twisting, unpaved road that drops above 2,000 feet from a wooded mesa into the beauty of Sedona. The route’s state varies drastically depending on the weather and how recently the grader has passed through. Although it is not required, a high-clearance car may make you feel more at ease. Also, remember that rain or other inclement weather may cause the road to close. 

The Schnebly Hill Trail begins about a mile past the Schnebly Hill Vista, which is worth noting. The lower levels don’t have much shade, but as you go closer to the top of the mesa, you’ll notice thickets of oak, juniper, and pine. Once on top of the hill, several spectacular viewpoints are right off the trail. Second, there’s the Casner Canyon Trail. This walk includes a babbling creek, a challenging hike up a picturesque canyon, and panoramic views of Sedona. 

The trip begins at a small, unmarked stop on State Route 89A’s east side, about half a mile north of the Grasshopper Point Picnic Area. It’s a challenging 1.8 miles to the top of the mesa, then another 1.2 miles of rocky terrain to Schnebly Hill Vista. Make a note of the last quarter-mile of the trip, as there are no signs to Casner Canyon Trail from the overlook.

Alternative Travel Options – By Plane

In contrast to driving this route, flying from Flagstaff, AZ, to Grand Canyon requires a total flight time of 38 minutes. And this assumes a commercial airliner’s average flight speed of 500 mph, comparable to 805 km/h or 434 knots. It also adds 30 minutes to takeoff and landing. Your exact time will depend on wind speeds. Remember to permit extra time for the plane to taxi between the gate and the airport runway when planning a journey. This figure only applies to real flight time. You should also include airport wait periods and potential equipment or weather delays.

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