Has the Grand Canyon always been on your bucket list? You are not alone if your answer is "yes", and this mammoth road trip adventure from Detroit, Michigan to Arizona and the Grand Canyon with unparalleled scenic views is perfectly tailored for you.
The 1,940-mile road trip from Detroit to Arizona and The Grand Canyon takes 29 hours to drive via Chicago, Des Moines, Denver, and Moab. Or take the longer route through Indianapolis, St Louis, Santa Fe, Tucson, and Coconino National Forest.
This westward trip takes you from the lakes of Detroit to the grasslands of Amarillo, the desert landscapes of Arizona, the gorgeous mountains of Colorado, and the Red rocks of the Grand Canyon. Read on to discover what routes to take, what things to do, and the best time to go on this unforgettable escapade.
How far is Arizona and the Grand Canyon from Detroit, Michigan, and how long will the road trip take?
|The Colorado Route||1,940 miles||29 hours|
|The New Mexico Route||2,420 miles||36 hours|
The drive to the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, from Detroit, Michigan, via The Colorado Route is 29 hours long and covers 1940 miles, without the detours and stopovers.
Alternatively, you can take a slightly longer New Mexico Route, which covers 2420 miles over 36 hours of driving time, not accounting for any food or gas breaks.
Because this road trip is long and passes through 6-7 states, allow yourself enough time for rest and sightseeing. Whichever route you choose, we suggest you take at least seven to ten days to complete this road trip.
Best road trip route from Detroit, Michigan, to Arizona and the Grand Canyon
During this westward road trip from Detroit Grand Canyon, you will span a mammoth distance and experience some of the most diverse landscapes.
The Colorado Route is the most direct way to reach the Grand Canyon and will pass through iconic cities like Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha, and Denver. Soak in the ever-growing urban landscapes and the city vibes during your trip.
The Colorado Route will also take you through some unforgettable natural scenery. Take some time to enjoy outdoorsy activities like skiing at the famous Breckenridge and Aspen resorts or hiking through the stunning Rocky Mountains, Arches, and Canyonland National Parks.
The alternative route, or The New Mexico Route, is considerably longer but will take you through the bustling city life of Indianapolis, St. Louis, Phoenix, and Tucson. Admire the changing landscapes, from the clear lakes in Detroit to the arid plains of New Mexico to the red rocks of Arizona.
The main attractions on this route include the colorful cities of Santa Fe, detours to the ski valley of Taos, and the incredible beauty surrounding the Grand Canyon and Coconino National Forest.
The Colorado Route
As you leave Detroit, Michigan, hop on to Interstate 96 (I-96) Express Road westward. Pass through the towns of Plymouth and Ann Arbor as the road merges into I-94.
Pass Recreation Areas to your right and enjoy your view of the crystal-clear water as you drive along the edge of Lake Michigan. Drive past Michigan City, Indiana Dunes National Park, and hop onto I-90 toward Chicago.
After exploring the city's architecture and some deep-dish pizza, follow directions to Indiana. The I-88 West will take you through the green suburbs along the Rock River and merge into I-80 as you cross the Mississippi River to enter Iowa.
Pass through Iowa City, Des Moines, Omaha, Lincoln, and Sutherland, and experience landscapes shifting from greenery to grassland as you take I-76 toward Denver.
Cross Denver and drive through the gorgeous forests as you gaze at the gigantic mountains on either side of the I-70. As you leave the plush green surroundings of multiple National Forests, take a southward exit towards Moab. Admire the Arches National Park on the left and Canyonland National Park on the right.
After entering Arizona, continue the last leg of your journey westward towards Cameron and follow the route on AZ-64 to Kaibab National Forest and the Grand Canyon National Park.
The New Mexico Route
Exit Detroit by taking I-75 South along Lake Erie towards Toledo. Drive along the Maumee River and bypass Fort Wayne Town to take I-69 toward Indianapolis.
Experience the city buzz and take the exit for I-70 leading to St Louis. Cross the Mississippi River to enter Missouri and follow the route toward Tulsa. Pass through the towns of Springfields and Tulsa and enter Oklahoma City.
The I-40 will take you straight into the desert landscapes of New Mexico via Amarillo. Take a slight detour to Santa Fe to experience the vibrant city life before continuing Southward along I-25 to arrive at Albuquerque.
Following the route around Cibola National Park and Gila National Forest, take the exit at Hatch on I-10 for Tucson. Drive past the Coronado National Park, Tucson Mountain Park on the left, and pass through the Picacho Peak State Park to reach Phoenix.
Enjoy the rocky terrain view and cactus sightings on I-17 before passing by the stunning red mountains of Prescott valley and Coconino National Forest.
As you leave the Coconino National Forest area, take a right on AZ-64 for the final lap toward the Grand Canyon. Follow the Kaibab National Forest path to reach the Grand Canyon National Park.
Best places to stop between Detroit, Michigan and Arizona, and the Grand Canyon
Whichever route you pick, the drive from Detroit to the Grand Canyon is long and full of buzzing cityscapes and dramatic landscapes. Make your breaks worthwhile by staying at some of our favorite locations.
The eclectic urban life in Denver
About 11 hours away from the Grand Canyon on the Colorado Route, Denver is a perfect overnight stop to recharge your batteries. Irrespective of the season, Denver presents plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions.
Because of its strategic location, it is an ideal base point for day trips to Aspen, the Rocky Mountains, and Breckenridge if you are traveling during the colder months and can't wait to hit the slopes.
Stroll around Larimer Square and explore the neighborhood's breweries, cafes, and eateries or visit the lovely Denver Botanic Garden for a perfect, yet relaxed day out in the
Located at walking distance from the famous Larimer Square, the 16th Street Mall, the Pepsi Center, and Union Station, Kimpton Hotel Born is our choice for your stay in Denver.
Enjoy a breathtaking mountain view from the luxury of a spacious terrace room. Make yourself comfortable in the incredibly chic hotel with a cozy fireplace in the lounge area. The hotel offers private parking, and the upscale on-site restaurant is worth splurging on.
The vibrant city life of Santa Fe
After covering roughly two-thirds of your trip on the New Mexico Route, you'll arrive in the colorful city of Santa Fe. Treat yourself to a cultural melting pot with its unique architecture, lively culture, and fantastic food.
Soak in the rich Native American Culture in this historic city and at the Hotel Santa Fe, one of our top favorites. The hotel is owned by a Native American and is built in the traditional local style.
Relax in their in-house spa, outdoor pool, and hot tub, and learn more about the culture through on-site music, dance performances, and story-telling sessions. Also, enjoy the authentic local cuisine and cocktails the on-site restaurant serves.
The hotel boasts a central location close to the historic Santa Fe and the Plaza. Take a short drive to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, dedicated to her art and American modernism.
On foot, you can also explore the downtown area and visit the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Walk further down Canyon Road and indulge in the finest art, food, museums, galleries, and boutiques.
Where to stay when you reach the Grand Canyon
Once you reach Arizona and the Grand Canyon, you want a convenient and comfortable place to set your base as you explore the majestic monument.
For unwinding after a day full of hiking, trailing, biking, and walking, we suggest you unwind at Little America Hotel Flagstaff in Flagstaff. Relax by the pool covered in the canopy of pines and enjoy poolside cocktails.
You will love how beautifully the hotel's style matches the area's rustic vibes. Not only is it easily accessible via highway, but the scenic Ponderosa Pine Forest also surrounds it. You can also explore hidden gems in Arizona from this spot.
Things to see on a road trip from Detroit, Michigan, to Arizona and the Grand Canyon
The road trip from Detroit to the Grand Canyon is no short of an adventure. The changing landscapes, terrains, and westward travel across more than six states offer some excellent places to see and things to do.
We have shortlisted below a few top recommendations from both routes to help you plan your trip better.
The Colorado Route
- Ann Arbor – Home to the University of Michigan, this town is known as the artists' community. Because of the gorgeous green spaces, Ann Arbor is also known as the ‘Tree Town'.
- Kalamazoo Institute of Arts – It is a superb place to appreciate more than 4700 exhibits at a given site. Enjoy this impressive visual arts collection on your way to the Grand Canyon.
- Chicago – You must visit the noteworthy Cloud Gate at the Chicago Millennium Park. Also, an excellent opportunity to visit Magnificent Miles and the Art Institute.
- Buffalo Bill Museum – Explore this historical museum with Buffalo Bill's artifacts and an exhibit of an old riverboat in LeClaire, Iowa.
- Des Moines – One of the most populated cities in Iowa, it is home to Des Moines Art Center, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, and Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
- Omaha – The largest city in Nebraska, Omaha has a beautiful balance of Midwestern culture and tourist attractions. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a visual treat for the young and the old.
- Denver – Denver has several attractions like Denver Botanic Gardens and Denver Museum of Nature & Science. It is also an ideal base to plan explorations to the surrounding mountains, like the Rocky Mountains.
- Arches National Park – Capture picture-perfect moments in front of the iconic natural rock arches. Be mesmerized by their color and grandeur. You might need to make a reservation for a timed-entry permit while visiting Arches National Park. Please check the national park's website for up-to-date information.
- Canyonlands National Park – The erosions made by the Colorado River have made dramatic buttes leading to fascinating canyons. Get lost amidst these natural wonders.
The New Mexico Route
- Toledo – If you are on a family trip, stop at Toledo to visit their Imagination Station, Toledo Zoo, and Toledo Museum of Art.
- Fort Wayne – Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is a popular tourist spot for kids. The New Mexico Route bypasses Fort Wayne, but if you have time, detour into the city.
- Indianapolis – Drive through this bustling city to taste its urban life. Spend your afternoon rejoicing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and Indianapolis Museum of Art.
- St Louis – St Louis is famous for the Gateway Arch. Make a quick stop at St. Louis Studio and the Busch Stadium as you continue your trip.
- Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium – For a deep dive into aviation and aerospace history and an out-of-this-world experience, visit this fantastic museum and planetarium.
- Oklahoma City – Learn more about the roots of Oklahoma City at the vibrant National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Get moved by the exhibits at Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
- Santa Fe – Soak in the colorful culture and learn about native American history at Santa Fe. Visit the historical cathedrals, museums, and lively streets in the city's heart for a memorable experience.
- Albuquerque – Albuquerque is one of the most populated cities in New Mexico. Often referred to as an oasis in the desert, Petroglyph National Monument and the Natural History Museum are worth a visit.
- Coconino National Forest – A fantastic place to stop over and regale in the beauty, Coconino National Forest has excellent hiking trails.
Best time to go on a road trip from Detroit, Michigan, to Arizona and the Grand Canyon
You can take this trip any time during the year. There are plenty of indoor things to do during winter and outdoor attractions for the rest of the year. During winter, the mountains in Colorado see much snow. Hence, it might affect the routes through the area.
During summer, the temperature averages between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit on the South Rim and 100 degrees at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. So, trekking could become a bit hectic. Carry plenty of water and pack enough sunscreen for a safe trip.
Winters are an incredible sight, and the snow-clad mountains and canyons look out of this world. The temperature in winter averages between 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit and you could experience harsh weather conditions.
Before commencing the trip, check any weather warnings, as road closures could occur. Also, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed from October to May.
The shoulder seasons see many fluctuations in temperature. The Southern Rim sees 35-62 degrees Fahrenheit whereas the other regions are relatively warm. If you visit during spring, you will witness the lovely wildflowers all over the canyon. In the fall, expect to see auburn-colored foliage blanketing the canyon.
If you visit the Grand Canyon in August and September, then catch the Grand Canyon Music Festival near the Southern Rim. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta happens every year in October. So, if you take the New Mexico Route, try to catch this unforgettable view.