Sign for Santa Fe atop the historic railway station building, located in the city's downtown area
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Road trip from Las Vegas to Santa Fe

Updated by Pat Dorri on February 28 2024

There is no better time to start planning the ultimate road trip through the heart of the American Southwest from Nevada to New Mexico on a drive from Las Vegas to Santa Fe. This adventure is dotted with iconic national parks, legendary Route 66 stops and stunning landscapes.

The 750-mile road trip from Las Vegas to Santa Fe will take 11 hours and 40 minutes to drive. On the way you can visit Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff, Winslow, Gallup, Albuquerque, Zion National Park and Monument Valley.

You'll have the time of your life traveling through this world-famous region from Las Vegas to Santa Fe. Read on to learn more about our recommended routes, top highlights, places to stay, and the best seasons to make the journey.

How far is Santa Fe from Las Vegas, and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip routes between Las Vegas and Santa Fe
RouteDistanceDriving Time
Grand Canyon Route750 miles11 hours and 40 minutes
Monument Valley Route760 miles12 hours and 40 minutes

The Grand Canyon Route on a road trip from Las Vegas to Santa Fe is a captivating journey spanning around 750 miles and a total drive time of around 11 hours and 40 minutes.

The alternative Monument Valley Route, equally scenic but slightly longer at 760 miles, will take you about 12 hours and 40 minutes without accounting for any other stops you might want to make.

While you can complete both routes within a day or two, the wealth of natural beauty and cultural landmarks along the way means that you'll want at least 3-4 days for the drive. This way you'll get to make the most out of this amazing region.

Merchant display with skulls, peppers and souvenirs in the market
A cornucopia of colors and tastes await you in magical Santa Fe.
jdwfoto/Shutterstock.com

Best road trip route from Las Vegas to Santa Fe

Which route you choose from Las Vegas to Santa Fe depends on what you want to see and experience the most. Although both are full of incredible highlights, they differ greatly from each other in many ways.

The Grand Canyon Route takes you along the historic Route 66, a legendary drive. Therefore, maybe quite unsurprisingly, this route is rich with museums, ghost towns, and Native American sacred and historic sites.

It not only has cities like Albuquerque, with its multicultural metropolitan charm and historic downtown but also major landmarks such as the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon.

The route also passes through picturesque towns like Flagstaff, which is a great base to use while exploring the Grand Canyon and ideal for activities like skiing or stargazing.

On the other hand, the Monument Valley Route takes you through the iconic landscapes of Utah, including the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Zion National Park.

This path offers a deep dive into Navajo history and culture at Oljato-Monument Valley, known for its stunning sandstone buttes, scenic drives, and hiking trails.

As you drive towards Santa Fe, you'll drive through the history and cultural sites of various Native American tribes. You'll also see mesmerizing natural landscapes, including river valleys and red rock formations.

How to drive from Las Vegas to Santa Fe

The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Las Vegas and Santa Fe. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.

Grand Canyon Route

Start the Grand Canyon Route by heading southeast on Interstate 515 (I-515), which merges onto US-93. You'll soon pass by the awe-inspiring Hoover Dam.

Continue through the heart of the Mojave Desert, where you can visit the Mojave Museum of History and Arts in Kingman, Arizona.

From here, proceed eastward on I-40, which parallels the historic Route 66. Along this stretch, you will get to visit the world-famous Grand Canyon National Park.

After seeing this natural marvel, head to Flagstaff. In Flagstaff, nestled within the Coconino National Forest, explore the Museum of Northern Arizona and the nearby Lava River Cave.

Continuing east, a short detour south will take you to the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark, an impressive natural landmark worth seeing.

Resume your journey on the interstate towards Winslow, where you can visit the Homolovi State Park. Further east, Petrified Forest National Park offers a landscape filled with fossilized trees and colorful badlands.

As you approach Gallup, New Mexico, consider a visit to the wonderful Rex Museum. Afterwards, you can take a slight detour south to the El Malpais National Conservation Area, famous for its stunning volcanic features.

The route then leads to the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos, where you can experience the rich Native American heritage of the area. As you approach Albuquerque, you can visit the city's popular Old Town before reaching your final destination, Santa Fe.

Panoramic view of The Grand Canyon
One of the perks of setting on an adventure from Las Vegas to Santa Fe is to visit the magnificent Grand Canyon on the way.
Alexey Suloev/Shutterstock.com

Monument Valley Route

Start the Monument Valley Route by heading northeast on I-15. Your first stop is the Valley of Fire State Park.

Proceed through the stunning Virgin River Gorge, a dramatic canyon carved by the Virgin River, and then make your way to St. George to see Snow Canyon State Park and the Saint George Dinosaur Discovery Site.

Next, head east to the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Then, you'll head directly to Zion National Park, one of Utah's most famous natural wonders.

After exploring Zion, take US-89 east. Further along, stop at the Moqui Cave before reaching Kanab. Continuing south, visit the Little Hollywood Movie Museum in Kanab. Further along, the Toadstool Hoodoos are perfect for hiking.

As you approach Page, Arizona, a must-visit is the Horseshoe Bend, where the Colorado River creates a stunning U-shaped bend. Moving on, Navajo National Monument provides a glimpse into ancient cliff dwellings.

Finally, the route takes you to the iconic Oljato-Monument Valley in Arizona. From here, keep heading southeast through Shiprock, Cuba and Santa Ana Pueblo to reach the beautiful city of Santa Fe.

View of Monument Valley on a sunny day near the border of Arizona and Utah in Navajo Nation Reservation in USA.
You might recognize the magical landscape of Monument Valley from the Thelma and Louise movie poster, but seeing it in person is an entirely different experience.
Javen/Shutterstock.com

Best places to stop between Las Vegas and Santa Fe

There's so much to see and do from Las Vegas to Santa Fe that you'll want to make an overnight stop at one of the destinations below. This way, you'll get to experience the best highlights while staying well rested.

Mountain views and canyon visits in Flagstaff

Flagstaff, located nearly halfway into the Grand Canyon Route, is an ideal stopover on your journey from Las Vegas to Santa Fe. After a drive of about 5 hours and 50 minutes, the city's mountain town vibe provides a refreshing contrast to the desert landscapes you've traveled through.

Renowned for its excellent skiing slopes, the city also has a beautiful downtown filled with restaurants, cafes, and shops set in historic buildings.

Yellow crop, green trees, mountain in the background, pink sky
Admire the views of Humphreys Peak from Flagstaff, which is the perfect gateway to Grand Canyon National Park.
antsdrone/Shutterstock.com

A must-visit in Flagstaff is the Lowell Observatory, one of the oldest in the US, where Pluto was first discovered. A trip to Downtown Flagstaff is equally rewarding, with plenty to see and do.

For your stay in Flagstaff, we recommend the Little America Hotel Flagstaff. This hotel, a short drive from downtown, offers beautifully decorated and comfortable rooms set amidst a serene Ponderosa Pine forest.

It's the perfect blend of luxury and nature. Plus, you'll have amenities such as an excellent fitness center, if you want to keep active during your adventure and stick to your wellness regime.

The hotel also features an outdoor pool, a restaurant and bar serving meals and cocktails, and a lovely forested area for a leisurely walk. You're just three miles from Downtown Flagstaff, making it easy to explore the city.

READ MORE - Click here for more great hotel options

Stunning landscapes and forests in Springdale

Springdale, nestled near Zion National Park, emerges as an idyllic stopover on the Monument Valley Route, just a 2-hour and 30-minute drive from Las Vegas. This beautiful town, located at the gateway to one of Utah's most spectacular natural wonders, is close to breathtaking landscapes and outdoor adventures.

Springdale's primary allure is its role as the perfect base for exploring Zion National Park, famous for its majestic canyons, striking red rock cliffs, and lush vegetation. If you have more time, you could even extend to Dixie National Forest and spend an extra day or two here.

Small town near Zion National Park on a sunny day
Springdale is a charming small town at the entrance of the iconic Zion National Park.
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For a comfortable and luxurious stay, we recommend staying at the Cliffrose Springdale, a part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. This stylish hotel, located a mere 5-minute drive from Zion National Park, combines comfort with breathtaking natural views.

Here, you can gaze out at the garden, the Virgin River, and the park's stunning landscapes right from your beautiful room.

The Cliffrose Springdale caters to relaxation and leisure with its hot tub/jacuzzi, and for those who love the outdoors, there's a terrace, an outdoor picnic area, and barbeque facilities.

For exploring the area, the Zion Canyon Visitor Center is conveniently located just 400 yards from the hotel. Additionally, the center of Springdale, with its Town Park and local attractions, is about half a mile away.

Where to stay when you reach Santa Fe

Santa Fe, a city bursting with color and artistic flair, is known for its blend of Native American, Hispanic, and American cultural influences, as well as its distinctive southwestern Pueblo Revival architecture.

This artistic haven, recognized globally for its creative scene, was honored as a UNESCO Creative City in 2005.

Historic water tower, refurbished in the Railyard District on a sunny day
Santa Fe is famous for its historical landmarks, like the refurbished water tower, and for its beautiful architecture.
Anne Richard/Shutterstock.com

For those eager to explore the city's artistic soul, the Santa Fe Plaza and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum are must-visit destinations. The Plaza, at the heart of the city, is full of history and culture, while the museum celebrates the life and work of one of America's most significant artists.

Nestled in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, the highly-rated Inn of the Governors makes the perfect retreat. The inn's rooms are a delightful blend of comfort and local charm, adorned with d├ęcor inspired by the region's rich cultural heritage.

During your stay, you will love the hearty breakfast and the warm, welcoming treats that you will receive upon arrival.

A standout feature of the Inn of the Governors is its serene outdoor swimming pool area. The heated pool, open year-round, is perfect for relaxing after a day of exploring the city's artistic and historical wonders.

Things to see on a road trip from Las Vegas to Santa Fe

To help you plan your ultimate road trip from Las Vegas to Santa Fe, we've included our favorite destinations below. This way, you'll get to make the most out of your journey through the American Southwest.

Grand Canyon Route

  1. Hoover Dam - This architectural marvel on the border between Arizona and Nevada harnesses the power of the Colorado River, offering tours that highlight its impressive engineering and historical significance.
  2. Mojave Museum of History and Arts - Located in Kingman, Arizona, this museum showcases the cultural and natural history of the Mojave Desert, with exhibits ranging from Native American artifacts to mining and ranching history.
  3. Delgadillo's Snow Cap - A quirky and beloved roadside attraction in Seligman, Arizona, known for its humorous decor and classic American eats, embodying the spirit of historic Route 66.
  4. Grand Canyon National Park - One of the world's most iconic natural wonders, this park in Arizona features breathtaking vistas, hiking trails, and the vast expanse of the colorful canyon carved by the Colorado River.
  5. Lava River Cave - Near Flagstaff, this mile-long lava tube offers a fascinating, cool underground hike, providing a glimpse into the region's volcanic history.
  6. Museum of Northern Arizona - This museum celebrates the natural and cultural history of the Colorado Plateau, with exhibits on geology, biology, and Native American art and artifacts.
  7. Meteor Crater Natural Landmark - Located near Winslow, this well-preserved meteorite impact site is nearly one mile across and offers an interactive visitor center and guided tours.
  8. Homolovi State Park - Near Winslow, Arizona, this park protects ancient Hopi pueblos and offers opportunities to view archaeological sites and artifacts, along with camping and hiking amenities.
  9. Petrified Forest National Park - This park near Holbrook, Arizona, is famous for its vast and colorful deposits of petrified wood, along with the Painted Desert's stunning badlands.
  10. Rex Museum - Situated in Gallup, New Mexico, this museum showcases the area's history, including Native American art, the mining industry, and the development of the railroad.
  11. El Malpais National Conservation Area - A striking landscape of volcanic features near Grants, New Mexico, offering hiking trails, caving opportunities, and scenic vistas.
  12. Acoma Pueblo - Known as "Sky City," this ancient pueblo sits atop a mesa and is renowned for its cultural heritage, traditional pottery, and breathtaking views.
  13. Laguna Pueblo - Situated along the historic Route 66 in New Mexico, this pueblo offers a rich history, cultural heritage, and striking architecture.
  14. Albuquerque Old Town - The historic heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico, featuring centuries-old adobe buildings, charming shops, and cultural landmarks.
  15. Coronado Historic Site - This site near Albuquerque celebrates the history of the ancient Pueblo people and the arrival of Spanish explorers, with ruins and a museum.
Dinosaur skeleton and items at the exhibit around it
Museum of Northern Arizona is a must-visit on the Grand Canyon Route.
Alizada Studios/Shutterstock.com

Monument Valley Route

  1. Valley of Fire State Park - Located in Nevada, this park is famed for its bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops, ancient petroglyphs, and scenic landscapes.
  2. Lost City Museum - In Overton, this museum preserves the history and artifacts of the Ancestral Puebloans, with exhibits on the excavated sites from the nearby Moapa Valley.
  3. Virgin River Gorge - This dramatic canyon in Arizona and Nevada offers a stunning drive along I-15, with towering limestone cliffs and a rushing river.
  4. Snow Canyon State Park - Near St. George, this park offers colorful sandstone cliffs, lava flows, and a variety of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
  5. Saint George Dinosaur Discovery Site - This site in Utah features well-preserved dinosaur tracks and fossils, along with interactive exhibits and a working paleontology lab.
  6. Red Cliffs National Conservation Area - Close to St. George, Utah, this area offers beautiful red sandstone cliffs, hiking trails, and diverse wildlife habitats.
  7. Zion National Park - A Utah treasure, this park is known for its stunning canyons, towering cliffs, and diverse ecosystems, offering hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
  8. Belly of the Dragon - Near Kanab, Utah, this unique tunnel carved under a roadway offers a short but interesting hike with a fantasy-like atmosphere.
  9. Moqui Cave - This natural history museum near Kanab showcases Native American artifacts, dinosaur tracks, and unique fluorescent minerals.
  10. Little Hollywood Movie Museum - Located in Kanab, Utah, this museum celebrates the area's film-making history with set memorabilia and exhibits from classic Western movies.
  11. Toadstool Hoodoos - These unique rock formations near Kanab resemble toadstools and offer a surreal landscape for hiking and photography.
  12. Horseshoe Bend - Near Page, Arizona, this iconic bend in the Colorado River is famed for its stunning panoramic views and is a popular photography spot.
  13. Navajo National Monument - Located in Arizona, this monument preserves ancient cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan people, with visitor centers and guided tours.
  14. Oljato-Monument Valley - A symbol of the American West, this valley features dramatic sandstone buttes and has been the backdrop for many films and commercials.
  15. Ute Mountain Tribal Park Visitor Center - A slight detour in Colorado, this visitor center offers guided tours of ancestral Puebloan sites, rock art, and natural features in the Ute Mountain Tribal Park.
Dark cave with entrance ahead
Belly of the Dragon on the Monument Valley Route looks like it could be straight out of a movie!
Reuben Jolley Photography/Shutterstock.com

Best time to go on a road trip from Las Vegas to Santa Fe

The road trip from Las Vegas to Santa Fe is enchanting year-round. However, each season offers different weather and experiences as you might expect.

In winter, Santa Fe's temperatures can drop to below freezing overnight, with highs around 44 degrees Fahrenheit. This season transforms the city into a winter wonderland.

If you're traveling on the Grand Canyon Route during this time, remember that while the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round, the North Rim is closed. Snowfall is common in higher elevations like Flagstaff and Santa Fe, so winter tires are advisable for safe travel.

On the Monument Valley Route, Oljato-Monument Valley remains accessible, though it's always a good idea to check the weather forecast for potential extreme conditions.

An entryway with a blue door in Santa Fe with Christmas decorations in New Mexico in winter.
Santa Fe is especially charming during the holidays, and the city does get snow, so you can have a White Christmas if you are lucky.
Brent Coulter/Shutterstock.com

Spring in Santa Fe sees temperatures ranging from the 50s to 70s Fahrenheit. The city's gardens and streets bloom with color, and the mild weather is perfect for visiting Santa Fe Plaza or strolling through the city's creative districts.

On both routes, spring brings clear roads and comfortable driving conditions, with festivals in nearby areas like the Kingman Festival of the Arts in May.

Summer in Santa Fe is warm, with temperatures often reaching into the high 80s Fahrenheit. This is a season of fun cultural events, such as the Santa Fe Indian Market in August, where local indigenous artists showcase their work.

Both the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley Routes are dotted with unique summer events like the Grand Canyon Music Festival and the Western Legends Heritage and Music Festival.

Fall sees cooler temperatures in Santa Fe, typically in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit. This is an ideal time for experiencing the Fiestas de Santa Fe in September.

This season is also perfect for exploring nearby natural wonders, with both routes offering stunning fall colors and clear, comfortable driving conditions. If you can, make sure to visit the Page Lake Powell Hot Air Balloon Regatta in November.