A dream route for all road trip lovers, Route 66 Las Vegas to Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic and traveled parts of this famous road. In this post, we will provide all the details you need to take into consideration when planning this amazing journey along the historic Route 66 while traveling between the city of Sin, Las Vegas and the spectacular Grand Canyon National Park.
We recommend planning at least two days for this adventure, as Grand Canyon alone will take a better part of the day. Remember, in order to fully enjoy its beauty, one needs to hike at least a short distance into the canyon.
Trip plan for the 2-day itinerary on Route 66 Las Vegas to Grand Canyon
- Las Vegas, NV
- Hoover Dam
- Kingman, AZ
- Cool Springs
- Hackberry museum
- Delgadillos Snow Cap
- Williams, AZ
- Planes of Fame Air Museum
- Grand Canyon
- Las Vegas, NV
Our amazing Route 66 Las Vegas to Grand Canyon will start in Las Vegas, Nevada. While this city is an attraction on its own, I will not focus my attention on it for now and will list all the cool things you can do there at the end of this article. Assuming you will arrive in Las Vegas by airplane, the first thing you’ll need to do is to rent a car.
While all major car hire companies have their offices in McCarran International Airport of Las Vegas, the one we strongly recommend is Alamo/National brand. During our last visit, we used them for our USA west coast road trip and loved their car and service very much! The price for a small car starts from 30$ per day if you are a US resident. For nonresidents, the price starts from around 60$ per day.
Some driving tips for Vegas:
- Try to avoid driving on the Strip, as the traffic may be really slow. Use parallel/side streets instead.
- If you must drive on the Strip, try to not get distracted too much by all the signs and fancy hotels.
- Driving in Las Vegas is generally easy, the lanes are well marked.
- Parking in Vegas is usually easy, many hotels have free valet parking.
Route 66 Las Vegas to Grand Canyon: Hoover Dam
Located on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona in Boulder City, Nevada, Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. Hoover Dam was finished in 1936, its original name was actually Boulder Dam. Today, Hoover Dam feeds with electricity three neighboring states – Nevada, Arizona, and California.
Driving time to Hoover Dam from the Airport of Las Vegas is around 40min (35 miles). You can visit the Dam with a guided tour for 30$. Opening times: 5 AM to 9 PM. Parking garage open 08 AM to 5:15 PM, parking fee: 10$; upper lots on Arizona side are free.
Kingman Route 66
Just 75 miles (1h 15min drive) south of Hoover Dam lies a small town called Kingman. Back in the days, Kingman was a major center for miners and ranchers. Today, it is a fantastic place to learn about the past, breathe in the historic vibe and experience the true Route 66 spirit.
Historic Route 66 Museum
Located in Kingman’s Historic Powerhouse, this small museum tells a story of the 35th parallel, known today as Route 66. Learn about the travel of the early days when settlers were migrating west in the search of a better life, Native American trade routes and much more.
Kingman Railroad Museum
The Kingman Railroad station has lived through many restorations due to frequent fires. The current depot was built in 1907. The museum has a nice miniature train running, so maybe fun for the kids.
Mohave Museum of History and Arts
Get to know about the history of this region, native Americans and local culture in this tiny museum.
Fancy traveling back in time? Well, here is your chance! Oatman used to be another mining town and was destined to become another ghost town, but Route 66 with its tourist traffic saved the day. Today, Oatman is a brilliant example of a living history. Wander down the wooden pavements and enjoy the true Wild West spirit that keeps on living in this town.
Back in the days, around 10000 people lived here. You could find two banks, seven hotels, twenty saloons, and ten stores! Today, its mostly gift shops and restaurants.
Fun fact: There are more wild donkeys than humans in Oatman!
Cool Springs Station
Two words for this amazing place – original Route 66 gas station and the movie “Cars”! Yes, this little gas station, as well as surrounding areas, served as an inspiration for the famous animated movie “Cars”. Make a quick stop to greet friendly owners and take a few fun Route 66 photos!
Hackberry is another mining town named after the hackberry tree found in the nearby areas. One of the most famous buildings in town is the general store. Opened in 1934, the store has many gadgets, signs, mementos, billboards, and artifacts from the old times as well as vintage cars outside
Make a quick stop at this cool restaurant with Route 66 vibe, enjoy the view and the art, vintage cars, and very tasty food. Things to do:
- Try Route 66 soda, they hardly serve it anywhere else. Buy some as souvenirs.
- Sign a car!
- Ring a fertility bell.
Grand Canyon Caverns
Grand Canyon Caverns is located just 40 min drive away from Hackberry (37 miles). This place is a must-stop on your Route 66 Las Vegas to Grand Canyon road trip! Use this chance to see 345 million-year-old Skeletons of sea life hardened into the limestone bedrock!
How about a trip to the center of the Earth? Not exactly that far, but still, 21 stores underground! Take a tour and explore the largest dry caverns in the United States. A wide selection of tours is available here – from short and standard to exploration and wild tours! Ride a cool elevator and explore the amazing rock formations, red-wall limestone, crystals and more.
Seligman is, without doubt, one of the most iconic Route 66 towns and a place for history fans traveling back in time on Route 66. Despite its sad fate similar to other Route 66 towns, Seligman today is a great pit stop for a quick bite and amazing vintage photos. Watch out for callbacks to Pixar’s Radiator Springs in the “Cars” animated film – this town served as a huge inspiration for the movie!
If you get hungry, have a look in the Delgadillos Snow Cap – they offer great burgers and very delicious malt shakes and sweet potato fries. The place has outdoor seating, which is nice! Sit down, relax and enjoy the Route 66 the proper way. Once you are finished, walk to the back of the restaurant and have a look at vintage cars and other nostalgic items, lots of funny signs.
Our final stop for the day would be in Williams, Arizona. The drive from Seligman is around 43 miles. This small town is packed with amazing things to do, such as:
- Riding the Grand Canyon Railway – great way to experience Grand Canyon through a 2-hour train journey to the south Rim. Tickets from 67$
- Exploring historic buildings and shops bursting with memorabilia;
- Taking cool photos with the Gateway to Grand canyon sign.
Where to stay in Wiliams, AZ
We recommend spending the night in Williams, Arizona and continuing the road trip the next day. If you are a budget-minded traveler, you may like the following accommodation options: 9 Arizona Motor Hotel, Motel 6 – Williams West, Celilo Inn. For a bit higher price tag there is Vacation home Fairway Getaway, Ramada by Wyndham Williams/Grand 3* and Grand Canyon Railway Hotel 4*.
Best place for dinner in Williams, AZ
Red Raven Restaurant – Excellent Outpost for quality food in a tourist trap town. Attentive service and delicious meals will make your dinner here unforgettable!
Canyonlands Restaurant at Bearizona – 5 stars for atmosphere and menu selection. The place has interesting decor, reminiscent of Walnut Canyon cliff dwellings.
The Little Chicken Spot – one of the best in town! Great food and price! Avoid the overpriced tourist traps and go to the little chicken spot instead.
Bayou By You – Creole & Cajun Food – If you want a taste of real New Orleans food then this place is a must-visit. A menu featuring classic American Southern & Cajun-style dishes. The place is run by a family.
The best food I had on my last trip was BBQ ribs in Flagstaff – here is the blog post of all the great food we had on our West Coast road trip.
Day 2: Planes of Fame Air Museum
Today we will be spending a long day in one of the most impressive natural parks in the world. During our last visit to Grand Canyon, we noticed some airplanes along the way. Turns out it is a really cool aviation museum halfway between Williams and Grand Canyon. We strongly recommend visiting this place and enjoying part of their 160 airplane collection (the second museum is in Chino, CA). Some of these planes are the last of their kind, many have been restored to fly and participate in air shows or movie shootings.
Route 66 Grand Canyon
Visiting Grand Canyon by small vehicle costs 35$ and includes admittance for all people aboard.
Visitor Center Parking Complex is well organized with 4 separate lots. Small vehicles can use all 4. The parking fee is included in your Grand Canyon park ticket. The best way to explore the park is by traveling within the park by free shuttle bus leaving from the visitor center. This is also a great way to see the canyon along the way. Beware that parking near some trailheads is often limited or not allowed.
What to wear
Depending on the time of the year you are visiting Grand Canyon, you may need to pack different hiking gear and outfits. For instance, when visiting in winter, be prepared for low temperatures and even snow along the trails. Hiking boots with crampons are strongly recommended, as well as hiking poles (which you can rent at the GC visitor center).
We visited Grand Canyon in March and had only light hoodies on. The trail was dry and it was enough to wear sneakers. The visitor center has a good choice of quality hiking gear in case you forget something at home. Always have enough water with you! You can fill your own water containers for free.
South Kaibab Trail – the Best hiking trail
According to various sources, if you only have one day in Grand Canyon, this is the hike you should be doing. The trailhead can only be reached by a free shuttle bus. Start your trip with enough water and enjoy the views while descending to the canyon. The trail can be muddy and there are mules using the same path. Don’t overestimate yourself, as going down may seem misleadingly easy. Consider at least twice as much time for the way up.
We have done this trail until Ooh-Aah Point – the easiest part. It was not that difficult but took us around 2,5 hours to finish. Going up was a challenge! Some additional advice:
- Plan your hike before you start;
- Drink enough water and eat salty snacks;
- Don’t hike past Skeleton Point as a day hike (in summer, the returning point should be Cedar Ridge);
- Go slowly, rest often, stay cool;
- start as early as possible to avoid the hot midday sun.
Where to eat
While the Grand Canyon visitor center has a few restaurants and dining rooms, you might enjoy a better and cheaper dinner at one of the restaurants in Tusayan. During our trip, we stopped at Canyon Star Steakhouse and had delicious burgers with hot chocolate.
Route 66 to Vegas
The fastest route to Las Vegas from Grand Canyon is via Interstate 40. Total driving time is ca 4,5 hours (280 miles). If you still haven’t had a chance to experience Vegas itself, this is a good time to do so. Coming here after the tranquility of GC National Park can be a bit of a shock. With its neon lights that can be seen from space, Las Vegas is truly a mecca for World entertainment. There is something for everyone – casinos, Cirque du Soleil shows, theme parks, etc. If you are a budget traveler, here are some really cool things to do for free:
- Welcome to Las Vegas Sign;
- Fountain shows: Volcano at Mirage, Fountains at Bellagio, Lake of Dreams at Wynn;
- Street performers: Singers, jugglers, stilt walkers, and living statues at The Venetian, Live Runway Shows at Fashion Show Mall, Circus Acts at Circus Circus;
- Fan stores: Coca Cola Store, M&Ms store;
- Fremont Street Experience: the world’s largest video screen, free concerts, and DJs.
Route 66 to Las Vegas – where to stay?
One great budget tip for traveling to Las Vegas is avoiding weekends. As per our findings, hotels tend to lower their prices almost twice for the weekdays. During our visit, we stayed at Fortune Hotel & Suites 3* and walked everywhere. The hotel is located off the Strip, only a couple of blocks from it.
It doesn’t really matter where you are staying, as Uber is fantastic and cheap/fast. Another option is to use your rental car and park in the city side streets or at some multi-level parking garages.
Have you ever traveled on Route 66?