If you want to spend a few weeks exploring the best places in Arizona, make sure you make the journey from Las Vegas to Phoenix. All preconceived ideas you have about desert travel are completely erased when reading this epic itinerary.
A road trip from Las Vegas to Phoenix can be completed in 4 hours and 30 minutes. If you are looking for a nicer alternative, stop at Hoover Dam, drive along the historic Route 66, admire the red rocks of Sedona and visit the beautiful Coconino and Tonto National Forests.
There are many things to look forward to when planning a journey, so be sure to read to the end to get an idea of the epic dimension of this journey.
What is the distance between Phoenix and Las Vegas and what is the travel time?
If you are limited in time, you can make the journey from Las Vegas to Phoenix in just 4 hours with a fairly easy 300 mile drive. With this faster route, it almost doesn’t matter when you leave Vegas, because you can easily get to Phoenix the same day.
If you have a little more time, you can extend your trip by about 30 miles and dive along the Mojave National Wildlife Refuge in California. It’s not yet what you might call a scenic route in itself, but it does offer some interesting options in the Mojave Desert for a change.
The best way to reach Phoenix is undoubtedly via Flagstaff and Sedona – the non-stop journey takes more than 6 hours. However, if you make use of the proximity of the Grand Canyon during your trip, you are guaranteed to be able to explore it for two weeks.
Although the journey is longer, the road from Las Vegas to Phoenix via Sedona is full of amazing sights such as Cathedral Rock.
The downside of this route is that it can artificially extend your travel time because of the traffic – it can be embarrassing to leave Vegas during rush hour, and the natural roads and crowds of tourists in Sedona are a welcome addition to the atmosphere, but they can make it a bit difficult to get out of town.
Another thing to keep in mind (regardless of the itinerary) is that if you travel in summer, the temperature difference will be much greater than it actually is, because the air in Phoenix is more humid. The more difficult the road to the south becomes, the more you will want to make a few unexpected stops to orientate yourself, making your journey even longer.
Best road trip from Las Vegas to Phoenix
If your planning allows it, the Sedona Road is by far the best route from Las Vegas to Phoenix – it’s so much nicer than the other two roads combined that you could drive it back and forth if you have the time.
|Pay attention: There are no stops included in this travel time.|
|400 miles.||6 hours and 15 minutes.|
|305 miles||4 hours and 45 minutes|
|Colorado River Route
(via US-95 and I-10)
|335 miles||5 hours and 30 minutes|
Panoramic road (via Sedona and Flagstaff)
Via highways 515 and 11 you leave Nevada along the Hoover Dam and follow the American Interstate 93 to Kingman. From there follow Highway 40 east along Seligman, and from Williams and Bearyzone head north to visit the Grand Canyon or continue on the highway to Flagstaff.
When you’re done exploring, take National Highway 89A and drive through Slide Rock National Park before arriving in Sedona. Don’t forget to visit Red Rock National Park and the Holy Cross Chapel and go to Prescott National Forest.
Follow Highway 179 through the village of Oak Creek and take Route 17 past the castle of Montezuma and Camp Verde. Stay on the highway and drive past Pleasant Lake and the Phoenix Sonoran Reserve, and you’ll reach Phoenix quickly.
Direct (fast) track
For the scenic route you drive through Boulder City via the Interstate, then take U.S. Highway 93 and visit Kingman. Stay on this road to Wickenburg, then follow American Route 60 to Phoenix.
The route takes you through the Mojave and Sonoran Desert with entertainment along the way, like my favorite called Nothing. The last time I was there, the official population counter had a crossed out number 4 and next to it a crossed out number 3.
The direct route to Phoenix may not be as scenic as the route through Sedona, but you’ll come across the aptly named Nothing, Arizona.
Right 8 Photo/Shutterstock.com
Colorado River Trail
From Boulder City take U.S. Highway 95 to the south and drive between Sloan Canyon and Mojave National Reserve on one side and the southern tip of Lake Mead on the other. After passing the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, briefly take Highway 62 from Vidal Junction to Arizona. From there take the National Highways 95 and 72 and then the I-10 to Phoenix.
Best places for a stopover between Las Vegas and Phoenix
While two of the three routes are a bit bare for luxury resorts, there are plenty of places to stop between Las Vegas and Phoenix along the most scenic route. The hotels you choose on your trip can make or break the experience, so consider booking them for a guaranteed period:
Enjoy the beautiful landscape of Sedona
On a trip to Arizona it will be difficult to find a better stop than in the beautiful city of Sedona. The area is full of great hotels, and one of the best places to stay in Sedona is the Auberge De Sedona.
The view from your room equipped with a fireplace is very impressive, even to Sedona standards, due to the beautiful combination of red rocks and desert green. Add to this the river, an ideal place to relax and enjoy an al fresco dinner in the evening.
If the view is not relaxing enough for you, you can go to the spa and pool and then enjoy a drink at the bar. When you’ve finished relaxing, take a free shuttle bus to the centre of Sedona and discover what the city has to offer.
For such an incredible hotel the price is very high, but on the whole Auberge De Sedona could probably be more expensive given its extraordinary character.
The breathtaking footpaths through the Red Rocks of Sedona are well worth the detour on the road from Las Vegas to Phoenix.
The rest of your life in Phoenix
Once arrived in the capital of Arizona, the catalogue of the big hotels starts to get really long and interesting. It’s hard to choose a winner, but the Royal Palms Resort & Spa in Scottsdale is a resort that I really enjoyed.
The huge outdoor pool at the Royal Palms Resort, the Jacuzzi, massage and spa services are all first class. You also have access to the in-house restaurant (with an outdoor area next to a fantastic fireplace) and a beautifully decorated lobby in European style.
It is impossible to talk about this hotel without mentioning the incredible garden – in addition to the fountain and the beautiful hiking trails, this area combines palm trees and a nearby camel mountain with a view similar to that of Sedona.
The hotel is quite expensive, especially considering the abundance of budget hotels in Phoenix, but few places in the area can claim to offer service and amenities similar to those at the Royal Palms Resort.
Papago Park, situated between the centre of Phoenix and Scottsdale, is a true oasis in the middle of the desert.
Things to see while driving from Las Vegas to Phoenix
If you’ve ever been on a trip from Las Vegas to Phoenix, chances are you’ll do it again. Here are some of the most obvious stops for you to start planning:
- Sloan Canyon National Reserve – You have one day to explore this area and try to find as many rock paintings as possible.
- Hoover Dam – The incredibly beautiful walk through the dam is a must for any road trip between Nevada and Arizona.
- Williams and Kingman – In these cities parts of the original Route 66 still exist, making them popular with curious (and nostalgic) tourists.
- Grand Canyon National Park is beautiful all year round, it is definitely one of the most beautiful places in all of North America.
- Walnut Canyon National Monument – The inhabitants of Sinagua used the unique shape of Walnut Canyon to build these old houses.
- Flagstaff is a great city and a great place to relax before getting off the road.
- Sedona – With its beautiful red rocks and many attractions, this city is an essential part of any good trip to Arizona.
- Coconino National Forest – This beautiful forest is a great addition to the already wonderful experience of Sedona and offers everything from ponderosa pine trees to epic mountains and canyons.
- Sacred Cross Chapel is a unique chapel that is made even more beautiful by the red cliffs that surround it.
- Montezuma Castle National Monument – These old houses were a massive residential complex for Sinagua and are still in very good condition today.
- Prescott National Forest – With an area of over a million hectares, the greenery and streams of this forest will make you forget that a wilderness area is only a few dozen kilometres away.
- Lake Pleasant is a great place to cool down after a long, hot ride through Arizona.
- Tonto National Forest Tonto National Forest is one of the largest national forests in the United States and combines canyons and desert flora to create a unique natural experience.
- White Tank Mountain Regional Park –, against the backdrop of the incredible White Tank Mountain, this park is filled with trails for both beginners and enthusiasts.
- Mojave National Wildlife Refuge – home to the abandoned town of Kelso, Hole in the Wall canyon and Joshua’s abundance of trees.
- Havasu National Wildlife Refuge – The Colorado River has allowed a variety of species to thrive here.
- Kofa National Wildlife Refuge – Because of the many waterfalls in this sanctuary it is an important stopover in the desert for a variety of birds and other animals.
The National Monument of the ancient castle of Montezuma is one of the many unique places you can see along the panoramic path of Sedona.
Best time to travel Las Vegas – Phoenix
It is sometimes difficult to determine the best time to travel from Las Vegas to Phoenix. The weather in Phoenix is certainly not for everyone, and if you take the scenic route, you have to consider the circumstances at every stop.
To put it bluntly: Although it’s pretty hot in Las Vegas, Phoenix has one advantage even in summer: the aptly named Valley of the Sun is one of the hottest, if not the hottest, major cities in the United States. When the temperature rises above 100 degrees, the city is generally not in operation during the summer.
Most travelers prefer to travel to Phoenix between October/November and April/May. In good years, spring temperatures reach about 90 degrees and you could see the annual baseball training in spring.
In addition, driving during this period should be much more pleasant and the most remarkable places (Grand Canyon and Sedona) develop in spring and winter, largely due to similar (albeit less intense) weather conditions in summer.
As far as the Phoenix itself is concerned, winter is perhaps the best time to visit, as it’s more like a typical early spring – the daytime temperature is around 70 degrees between December and February and rarely falls below 45 degrees.
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