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Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park Epic Road Trip Itinerary

Welcome to the ultimate journey through the mesmerizing landscapes of the American Southwest! If you’re seeking adventure, natural beauty, and a taste of the great outdoors, then buckle up for an unforgettable road trip from Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park. 

This breathtaking expedition will take you through some of Arizona’s most iconic destinations, showcasing the rugged red rock formations of Sedona and culminating in the awe-inspiring grandeur of the Grand Canyon.

As you embark on this scenic route, be prepared to be immersed in a world of stark contrasts and striking beauty. From the vibrant reds and oranges of Sedona’s sandstone cliffs to the vast, otherworldly chasm that is the Grand Canyon. Each stop along the way will leave you in awe of the forces of nature that have sculpted this region over millions of years.

Throughout this journey, you’ll have the opportunity to explore ancient Native American history, hike through stunning canyons, and witness some of the most breathtaking sunsets you’ve ever seen. 

So, rev up your engine, pack your camera, and get ready to experience the magic of Arizona as we guide you through this Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park epic road trip itinerary.

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How Far Is The Grand Canyon From Sedona

The shortest distance from Sedona to the Grand Canyon is only about 100 miles.

But completing this road trip with worthy detours along the way will amount to more like 215 miles. But I promise the stops from Sedona to the Grand Canyon will be worth it and give you a greater respect for the state of Arizona.

How Long Is The Drive From  Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park

The drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park is easy and can be done in as little as 2 hours to the South Rim. But there are many amazing stops along the way that are worth a visit. 

If you partake in all the stops on this epic road trip from Sedona to Grand Canyon, the drive will take you around 5 hours and 30 minutes (not including leisure time at each stop).

Therefore a scenic drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park is best completed over 2 or 3 days. This will allow you to enjoy the natural beauty the Southwest has to offer and not rush you through the journey.

Map For Sedona to Grand Canyon Road Trip

What To Do In Sedona, Arizona

We are starting this road trip in Sedona, Arizona, which is personally one of Jake’s and my all-time favorite places in, probably the world!

In our opinion, the scenery in Sedona is on par with many of the country’s best National Parks. The colorful mountains and rock formations offer some of the most spectacular views.

Sedona marks the Southernmost point of this road trip, and we will be heading (generally) north from there.

Red Rock Scenic Byway

Jake and Emily holding hands at sunset with Cathedral Rock in the distance
Courthouse Butte Rock via Bell Rock Trail – A popular stop on the Red Rock Scenic Byway

You can’t leave the Sedona Area before driving the Red Rock Scenic Byway. You will be picking your jaw up from the ground as you drive through the stunning Red Rock Landscapes. 

The Red Rock Scenic Byway starts south of town off Hwy 89A and heads south 14.3 miles through the town of Village of Oak Creek toward Hwy 17. The most scenic portion is certain from the town of Sedona to Village of Oak Creek. The second half is less scenic, and many people opt to stop or turn around here.

You will pass by the Chapel of the Holy Cross which is one of the most elegantly stunning churches. Additionally, a scenic pass by of Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte, and Bell Rock. 

The Red Rock Scenic Byway typically only takes about 20 minutes to drive. 

Red Rock State Park

Beautiful Red Rocks at Red Rock State Park Photo by Daniel Powell on Unsplash

Red Rock State Park is a popular stop in Sedona to witness the endless beauty of Red Rock Landscapes. The park covers 286 acres offering an epic place to hike, bike, horseback ride, and even learn about the rich environment. 

Jeep Tour

Pink Jeep Tours is on the top 25 fun things to do in Sedona Arizona
Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona Arizona

Is your trip to Sedona complete without a Jeep Tour? Going off-roading and climbing the rocks is a classic activity when visiting Sedona. If you have your own 4×4 rig, you can choose your own adventure. But if you want to sit back and have a professional guide drive, then there are tons of different tours to choose from. 

You can also choose from many different tour companies in the Sedona Area. Here are our top 5 suggestions.

  • Sedona Outback Trail Jeep Adventure: revel in awe-inspiring vistas of Cathedral Rock, Thunder Mountain, Bear Mountain, and numerous other natural wonders that grace your path.
  • Private Colorado Plateau Jeep Tour from Sedona: highlights include Damnfino Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, and the Mogollon Rim, which marks the edge of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona.
  • Private Red Rock West Jeep Tour from Sedona: an immersive off-road excursion from Sedona that delves into the realm of canyons, offering a chance to connect with the storied past and untamed beauty of the breathtaking Sonoran Desert landscape.
  • Sedona Vortex Tour by Jeep: you’ll visit several Vortex sites around town and learn about their history.
  • Pink Adventure Tours: You will likely see a pink Jeep tour driving around town when you get into Sedona. They offer various different tours from mellow scenic rides to rugged adrenaline tours.

Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon a must-do scenic drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon

One of the most scenic sections on the road trip from Sedona to Grand Canyon is through Oak Creek Canyon. The drive starts north of Sedona and climbs in elevation up toward Flagstaff. 

One of our favorite hikes in Sedona is West Fork Trail which winds through a side canyon of Oak Creek. If you want to get out and stretch your legs, this hike starts off rather cool and hops back and forth over the creek. Keep in mind that this hike requires paid parking which is very limited.

But nonetheless, the drive through the canyon is more than enough of a scenic endeavor to keep you in awe.

You will also not want to miss Slide Rock State Park (more details below).  

Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, AZ
Slide Rock State Park

A popular summer destination right outside Sedona is Slide Rock State Park. It’s a wide ribboned canyon with Oak Creek running through it. And when the temperatures are warmer, you will see many people sliding down the canyon slickrock into a pool of water.

It also serves as a beautiful spot to hike around.

The park is open year-round, and can also be a great destination to just enjoy the beautiful scenery. 

Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory flagstaff - a stop from Sedona to Grand Canyon
Lowell Observatory Flagstaff

A unique experience in Flagstaff is a visit to the Lowell Observatory. You can easily spend a whole day exploring the 128+ years of research found at the observatory. But you can also make it a quick stop if you want to get back on the road.

They offer general admission tickets which give you access to all tours, exhibits, stargazing, and science talks. Or a few other exclusive tours, that give you access to telescope excursions and astronomy courses.

Mother Road Brewery

One of our favorite breweries in Arizona is Mother Road Brewery. Therefore, I thought it was at least worth adding in a stop at the brewery if you are a beer enthusiast. You can always grab a 6-pack to enjoy later. 

Jake and I personally love the Mother Road Tower Station IPA. But they have since added a few other options that we are excited to try! Such as their Daily Driver Juicy Pale Ale or Tower Station infused with mango. 

They also teamed up with Roadside Stove, so you can also grab a bite to eat here too. 

Firecreek Coffee

Firecreek Coffee is also one of my all-time favorite coffee shops. They are a micro-roastery in downtown Flagstaff. Their campfire-roasted blend is so amazing! 

If you pass through Flagstaff in the morning, be sure to pick up a freshly brewed coffee. (They also have a Sedona location in Village of Oak Creek).

Or you can always grab some beans to enjoy later. 

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

aerial view of Sunset Crater National Monument which is a popular stop on a Sedona to grand canyon road trip
Credit: National Parks Gallery via

Sunset Crater National Monument just north of Flagstaff is a captivating geological wonder and a testament to the raw power of nature. This unique monument showcases the remnants of a volcanic eruption that occurred nearly a millennium ago, leaving behind a striking landscape of cinder cones, lava flows, and vibrant plant life.

Visitors to Sunset Crater National Monument can explore a network of well-maintained trails that wind through this unique terrain. Unfortunately, you can’t climb to the top of Sunset Crater anymore, but you can hike the rim of Lenox Crater.

Or you can simply take in the beauty from the road as you pass through.

Grand Falls

Grand Falls at sunset, a unique stop on a sedona to grand canyon road trip
Photo by Calvin Weibel on Unsplash

Grand Falls is not your ordinary waterfall with pristine water flowing over the cliffside. It’s often referred to as Arizona’s Chocolate Waterfall

This stunning waterfall is a sight to behold, plunging a breathtaking 185 feet over a rocky ledge, creating a mesmerizing cascade that’s unlike any other in the region.

What makes Grand Falls particularly unique is its rich, brownish-red water, which gives it the appearance of flowing liquid chocolate. This distinct coloring results from the minerals and sediments carried by the Little Colorado River, which feeds the falls.

Visitors can admire the falls from a viewpoint or venture closer for a refreshing and exhilarating experience.

Grand Falls represents the longest detour on this road trip, taking about an extra 1.5 hours of driving

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument, a popular stop on a sedona to grand canyon national park road trip
Photo by Patrick Boucher on Unsplash

The next stop on your route from Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park is Wupatki National Monument. A captivating testament to the ingenuity and resilience of ancient cultures that thrived in this challenging landscape.

This archaeological wonderland offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich history of the region, where centuries-old stone ruins tell stories of human habitation and connection to the land.

Wupatki National Monument is renowned for its remarkably preserved Pueblo-style dwellings, crafted by the Ancestral Puebloan peoples over a thousand years ago. 

Exploring the monument, you’ll meander through the remnants of these ancient villages, marveling at the craftsmanship and engineering that allowed these communities to thrive in such a harsh high desert environment. 

The centerpiece of the monument is the Wupatki Pueblo, a sprawling complex of 100 rooms, kivas, and courtyards that once buzzed with life and culture. 

Aside from its archaeological treasures, Wupatki National Monument also boasts breathtaking panoramic vistas of the Painted Desert and the San Francisco Peaks in the distance.

This monument can be visited as part of a loop detour including Grand Falls.

Cameron Trading Post

The historic Cameron Trading Post is an all-encompassing establishment that combines shopping, dining, lodging, and an RV park into a single location with historical significance. It’s where the past and present seamlessly merge, offering travelers a unique and immersive experience.

Inside, you’ll discover a treasure trove of Native American art and crafts, from intricately woven Navajo rugs and delicate Hopi pottery to exquisite Zuni jewelry. 

It’s worth a stop-in to witness a piece of history and take in the cultural ambiance.

Little Colorado River Gorge Overlook

The grassland right before getting to the end of the Little Colorado River canyon overlook
The grassland right before getting to the end of the canyon
Photo by Stéphane Paul on Unsplash

Just after you turn onto Hwy 64 from the town of Cameron, you’ll stumble upon a hidden gem known as the Little Colorado River Gorge Overlook. It’s located a mere 10 miles before you reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

It’s owned by the Navajo Tribal Parks and is often overshadowed by, well, the Grand Canyon. There is a small fee to park in the lot.

From the parking lot, you can explore two lookout points overlooking the vast landscape. 

South Rim Of The Grand Canyon

Now you finally made it to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Just overlooking the Grand Canyon rim is simply worth the drive. But there are also some great hikes in the area to give you a more diverse experience. 

But I will mention the depth of the Grand Canyon South Rim to the valley floor stretches nearly 1 mile (about 5,000 feet / 1524 m). And for every foot you descend, you will need to climb back up! So many of the hikes into the canyon are very challenging.

But don’t worry, there are some easier rim trails and lookout points worth a visit.

Desert View Watchtower

After passing the famous Grand Canyon National Park sign, you will encounter the first stunning lookout along the rim of the Grand Canyon. And if you’ve never witnessed a canyon of this magnitude, you are sure to be amazed. 

Mather Point

Just a short hike from the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center is Mather Point. Another astounding lookout point to take in how massive the Grand Canyon truly is. 

Rim Trail

The Grand Canyon Rim Trail is a picturesque pathway that skirts the South Rim, offering an easy and breathtaking stroll along the edge of this iconic natural wonder.

This trail connects numerous viewpoints with sweeping vistas, breathtaking panoramas, and access to different areas of the park. You can make this hike as long or as short as you please.

So for this reason, it’s one of the better easy trails in Grand Canyon National Park.

Bright Angel Trail

A popular hike in the Grand Canyon is Bright Angel Trail. It’s an iconic hiking route that leads fearless adventurers deep into the heart of the Grand Canyon. 

Beginning from the South Rim, it offers a thrilling descent through awe-inspiring rock formations and dramatic landscapes. As you venture further into the canyon, you’ll encounter ancient geological wonders and, if you’re up for the challenge, you can even reach the mighty Colorado River. 

But remember, this trail is not for the faint of heart, as the return hike can be demanding. Nevertheless, the Bright Angel Trail promises an unforgettable journey into the depths of one of the world’s most remarkable natural wonders.

Grand Canyon Guided Tour

Photo by Diego Lozano on Unsplash

If you want a more structured visit to the Grand Canyon, you can opt to take a private tour with an expert guide. 

  • Grand Canyon Signature Hummer Tour with Optional Sunset Views: Travel aboard an open-air Hummer and engage with your guide’s informative commentary as you embark on a tour of the Grand Canyon’s most picturesque viewpoints. At these locations, you have the opportunity to disembark, capture photographs, and venture into the surroundings.
  • Half-Day Private Grand Canyon Guided Hiking Tour: Completely customize your south rim tour. You can choose to go deep into the canyon with a tour guide and learn all the ins and outs about how this National Park came to be. This tour includes complimentary pick up from your hotel, lunch, backpacks, hiking poles, and park entrance fee.
  • 3 Hour Back-Road Safari to Grand Canyon with Entrance Gate By-Pass: In this tour, you get to dodge the traffic and get into the park via a “secret” back entrance. Once you enter the park, you can enjoy a guided walking tour along the South Rim and take in the views from Yavapai Point, Lookout Studio, and Bright Angel Trail Lookout.

Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour

Photo by Reinaldo Simoes

If budget allows, one of the most exquisite ways to experience the true Grandness of the Grand Canyon is by helicopter tour. 

Grand Canyon Railroad Excursion from Sedona (Alternate Route)

Photo by Elizabeth Villalta on Unsplash

A unique alternative option from Sedona to the Grand Canyon is to join a railroad tour. The Grand Canyon Train Ride starts from Sedona, where you will be brought up by car through Oak Creek Canyon, but in Flagstaff, you will head west toward the historic town of Williams. 

Williams is along the historic Route 66 and will make you feel like you have stepped back in time. From here you will hop on the Grand Canyon Railway and head toward Grand Canyon National Park via train.

Book a Grand Canyon Railroad Excursion from Sedona

Getting to the North Rim Of The Grand Canyon

Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

The North Rim is less popular than the South Rim. It’s less developed and has fewer amenities and lodging. Plus access to the North Rim is more remote and is often closed in winter (mid-October through mid-May). 

While you can see the North Rim from the South Rim and vice versa, it’s actually around a 4-hour drive to get from one rim to the other. Therefore, many people just opt to see one rim and not visit both.

A visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is more easily paired with our Zion to Horseshoe Bend Road Trip itinerary. This route can include famous destinations like Zion National Park, The Wave, Paria Rainbow Mountains, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, and more.

But if you want to experience the Grand Canyon with a bit more solitude in summertime, it can be a fantastic adventure. 

Things To Do On The North Rim Of The Grand Canyon

If you choose to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, there are still amazing viewpoints and hikes to explore.

North Kaibab Trail 

Probably one of the most popular trails on the North Rim is the North Kaibab Trail. Which takes you all the way down to the Colorado River if you’re up for the challenge.

Along the way, you’ll traverse diverse ecosystems, from lush forests to arid desert landscapes. Popular stops include Coconino Overlook and Roaring Springs.

Bright Angel Point Trail 

For a shorter but equally rewarding hike, consider the Bright Angel Point Trail. It’s a paved, half-mile trail that leads to an overlook offering breathtaking views of the canyon. 

Cape Royal Trail 

The Cape Royal Trail is a must for panoramic views of the canyon and the Colorado River. A relatively easy hike, it’s less than a mile round trip and takes you to Cape Royal and Angels Window viewpoints. Both of which provide stunning vistas.

Related Posts:

mooney falls on a havasu trip with the cool features of the trail in the shot

Besides simply taking in the Grand Canyon Views from the various lookouts, consider embarking on one of the raddest adventures in the Grand Canyon. Havasupai is a highly sought-after backpacking adventure. But it might honestly be one of the prettiest places on this earth. You can learn all the details about backpacking to Havasupai in our detailed post.

If you plan to hang in Sedona for longer, we have tons of amazing guides, hiking options, and more.

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