Saguaro and cholla plants during sunset in the desert near Phoenix

Road trip from Salt Lake City to Phoenix

Published by Dianne Titos on February 7 2024

Arizona is famous for its breathtaking landscapes, and making the road trip from Salt Lake City to Phoenix will take you through some of the nation's most iconic national parks. Along the way, you will get to admire the rugged beauty of Utah's red rock country, as well as Arizona's sprawling deserts and rich history.

The 780-mile road trip from Salt Lake City to Phoenix will take 13 hours 40 minutes to drive. Highlights are Moab, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff, Sedona, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Las Vegas.

This scenic drive from Salt Lake City to Phoenix will stay in your memory for quite some time. Read on below to learn more about our recommended routes, best places to stop, top highlights, and the best seasons to make the journey.

How to drive from Salt Lake City to Phoenix

The map below shows two great route options for your Salt Lake City to Phoenix road trip. Click on the star icons for headline details, and scroll down for much more information below.

* Always remember that drive times can be impacted by traffic, closures, weather and other conditions. It's best to double-check while planning and before starting out on your trip.

Comparison of road trip routes between Salt Lake City and Phoenix
RouteDistanceDriving Time
Grand Canyon Route780 miles13 hours 40 minutes
Las Vegas Route820 miles13 hours 10 minutes

How far is Phoenix from Salt Lake City, and how long will the road trip take?

Driving directly from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, you can cover the 660-mile distance in 10 hours and 20 minutes. However, this would mean bypassing all the epic national parks you could visit on the way.

Alternatively, the Grand Canyon Route is a beautiful drive from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, spanning 780 miles and taking approximately 13 hours and 40 minutes of drive time without detours.

Cityscape during sunset with mountains in the background and full moon in the sky
Phoenix is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and desert views. Did we mention that it is also one of the sunniest cities in the country?

Alternatively, the Las Vegas Route offers a slightly different adventure over 820 miles, with a total driving time of around 13 hours and 10 minutes.

While you could technically drive each route in a day, we suggest setting aside 5-6 days for the journey. This way, you'll get to experience all the amazing highlights along the way.

Best road trip route from Salt Lake City to Phoenix

Both the Grand Canyon Route and the Las Vegas Route offer unforgettable road trip experiences through the American Southwest on this drive from Salt Lake City to Phoenix. Which route you choose will depend on what you want to see the most.

The Grand Canyon Route takes you through the iconic National Parks of the Southwest, featuring breathtaking vistas of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

You'll then see the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, one of the natural wonders of the world. Along this route, the diverse terrain transitions from the rugged canyons to the forested areas of the Kaibab National Forest north of Flagstaff, before ending in the desert landscapes of Arizona.

This route is perfect if you want to experience the majesty of America's national parks and the desert terrains around them.

The Las Vegas Route promises a smoother journey on well-maintained roads, potentially making the trip quicker. This route takes you through a spectrum of landscapes, from the mountain peaks of central Utah to the unique hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, and the vast canyons of Zion National Park, ending in the beautiful deserts of Arizona.

Next to the national parks, the highlight of this route is Las Vegas, providing a dazzling break from the natural world with its rich history, entertainment, and incredible restaurant scene.

This route offers a blend of natural beauty and urban excitement, making it ideal if you want both the tranquility of nature and the buzz of city life.

Keep in mind that some of the national parks on either route might require reservations, and check before traveling to avoid any disappointment.

Grand Canyon Route

Set off from Salt Lake City by heading south on Interstate 15 (I-15). Continue towards Provo, where the Provo Pioneer Village provides a glimpse into the early settler life. As you drive further, consider a detour to the Price Canyon Recreation Area for a stretch and some fresh air.

Continue your journey south on US-191 towards the breathtaking Moab region, where you can use as a base to visit the Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Both parks offer unforgettable hiking and photo opportunities.

The route then takes you through the picturesque town of Bluff and towards Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona border, known for its towering red sandstone buttes and Native American heritage.

The drive proceeds southwest towards Grand Canyon National Park. Here, the South Rim offers spectacular views of the canyon's depths and the Colorado River winding below.

After enjoying the Grand Canyon, head towards Flagstaff, where you can visit the Lowell Observatory. Next, head to Sedona on the Red Rock Scenic Byway (SR-179), famous for its stunning red sandstone formations. Explore the Village of Oak Creek and the surrounding trails that offer breathtaking views.

A little further south on the interstate, consider a stop at the Montezuma Castle National Monument near Camp Verde to marvel at well-preserved cliff dwellings before continuing on to Phoenix.

Milky Way over the canyon
Grand Canyon is also known for its stunning dark skies, so if you would like to admire a tapestry of glittering stars, we highly recommend staying in the area for the night.
Alexey Suloev/

Las Vegas Route

Starting from Salt Lake City, take I-15 and drive through Provo. As you continue, you can visit Meadow Hot Spring provides a unique opportunity to soak in natural hot springs surrounded by nature.

Proceeding further south, the route then leads to the quaint town of Panguitch, a gateway to some of Utah's most stunning natural wonders. Next, you'll make it to the beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park.

From here, merge onto US-89 and then onto the 9 West. Here, you'll get to see Zion National Park, one of North America's most spectacular national parks.

After visiting a few of Utah's famous Mighty 5, the journey takes you to Las Vegas via I-15 South. You'll soon come to the neon lights and casinos of the famous Las Vegas Strip. Just beyond the city, a visit to the Hoover Dam on the border of Arizona and Nevada is well worth it.

Continuing the journey south along US-93, you will drive through Kingman. If you're interested in the nostalgic pull of Route 66, the Arizona Route 66 Museum in Kingman is also well worth it.

As you approach Phoenix, consider a final detour to the World Wildlife Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park, featuring diverse animal species and interactive experiences. From here, continue on to your destination, Phoenix.

Roadside Route 66 attraction with old van and a fast food restaurant in the background
Kingman is located on the legendary Route 66 and you can visit many quirky roadside attractions during your visit on the Las Vegas Route.

Best places to stop between Salt Lake City and Phoenix

On this Salt Lake City to Phoenix road trip, you'll want to take your time to explore all the exciting landmarks this region has to offer. To help you stay rested, we suggest staying at one of the exciting destinations below.

An outdoor lover's dream in Moab

Moab is the perfect pit stop on the Grand Canyon Route from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, 3 hours and 40 minutes into the journey. This town is a gateway to some of the most spectacular red rock landscapes in the American Southwest, notably Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

These parks are a playground for hikers, bikers, and nature lovers looking to explore the unique geological formations and sweeping views.

Dusting of snow on the red rocks of the North Window Arch and Turret Arch in Arches National Park, with a clear blue sky
Spending a couple of days in Moab will allow you to dedicate a day each to explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

After exploring the natural wonders of Moab, we recommend staying at the charming Sunflower Hill Inn, a serene retreat amidst the desert's rugged beauty. This bed and breakfast features rustic, traditional rooms with modern amenities, located just blocks from the heart of Moab.

You can start your day with a delicious breakfast of fresh pastries, then relax by the outdoor fenced swimming pool or unwind on the outdoor terrace, complete with a fireplace for the cooler evenings.

Nearby attractions include the Moab Museum, just a 7-minute walk away, where you can learn about the region's history and culture. For the more adventurous, Moab Cliffs & Canyons, a mere 11-minute walk from the inn.

A lucky roll of dice in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is an essential overnight stop on the Las Vegas Route, situated 8 hours and 30 minutes of driving from Salt Lake City. Staying overnight in this world-famous city not only breaks up the drive but also offers the perfect opportunity to dive into the legendary Vegas nightlife.

Dubbed the 'Entertainment Capital of the World,' Las Vegas lives up to its title with extravagant shows, bustling nightlife, and the glittering casinos that line the famous Las Vegas Strip. It's a city that never sleeps, offering endless entertainment options for every taste and preference.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA with a view of the Main street of Las Vegas (the Strip) in evening time.
You will be bedazzled by the neon lights and endless entertainment options in Sin City.

The Strip is home to some of the world's most iconic hotels, casinos, and entertainment venues. Another must-see is the Fremont Street Experience, a dazzling display of lights and sounds representing old Vegas's heart and soul.

If you're seeking luxury and elegance, the Wynn Las Vegas provides an unparalleled stay on the Las Vegas Strip. Guests can indulge in fine dining across a variety of upscale restaurants, enjoy mesmerizing performances at the Wynn Theater, and relax at the luxury swimming pools, complete with cabanas and a tranquil European Pool in landscaped gardens.

In the vicinity of the Wynn, visitors can explore unique attractions such as the Gondola Rides at the Venetian, offering a taste of Venice just a 12-minute walk away. Another nearby wonder is the Sphere, a state-of-the-art entertainment venue within a 20-minute walk.

Where to stay when you reach Phoenix

Phoenix is famous for being the sunniest city in the USA. It's a haven for outdoor lovers, with endless opportunities for hiking and exploration regardless of the season.

If you're looking for natural beauty when you arrive, don't miss visiting the Desert Botanical Garden. Another must-visit is Camelback Mountain, offering challenging hikes with rewarding cityscape views at the summit.

Colorful artwork with meerkat sculptures among desert plants in the garden in Phoenix
If you are lucky, you might spot an art installation or two at the Desert Botanical Garden during your visit.
Raeann Davies/

When it comes to finding a place to stay, the luxurious and highly-rated Sheraton Phoenix Downtown is a prime choice. This 4-star hotel boasts modern, sophisticated rooms with dark wood furniture, creating an ambiance of elegance and comfort.

You can enjoy on-site dining and drinks with options like the rooftop Breeze Bar, which offers panoramic views of Phoenix and serves craft cocktails, &More by Sheraton, and the Carcara Restaurant. The hotel's terrace pool is a perfect spot to soak up the Phoenix sun.

The hotel is also close to Phoenix's top attractions. Just 5 minutes by car from the hotel is the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chase Field as well as downtown's popular dining scene.

Things to see on a road trip from Salt Lake City to Phoenix

The Salt Lake City to Phoenix road trip is the perfect adventure, dotted with many amazing places to visit. We've listed our favorite destinations below to help you plan your ultimate road trip easier.

Both routes

  1. Museum of Natural Curiosity - An interactive and engaging museum located in Lehi, Utah, offering over 400 hands-on exhibits that ignite curiosity in visitors of all ages about the natural world.
  2. Provo Pioneer Village - This historical village in Provo, Utah, offers a glimpse into the 19th-century pioneer life through restored buildings and live demonstrations.

Grand Canyon Route

  1. Price Canyon Recreation Area - A scenic area near Price, Utah, offering outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing in a beautiful canyon setting.
  2. Moab Giants Dinosaur Park - A unique outdoor museum near Moab, Utah, featuring life-size dinosaur replicas along a desert trail, providing a prehistoric adventure for all ages.
  3. Arches National Park - Famous for its more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, this park near Moab, Utah, offers stunning landscapes and unforgettable hiking trails.
  4. Canyonlands National Park - A vast landscape of canyons, mesas, and buttes carved by the Colorado River, offering breathtaking views and strenuous backcountry adventures.
  5. Monument Valley - Known for its towering sandstone buttes, Monument Valley offers some of the most iconic and photographed landscapes in the American Southwest.
  6. Navajo National Monument - Preserves three intact cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan people, offering insights into ancient Native American culture.
  7. Grand Canyon National Park - One of the world's natural wonders, featuring a vast canyon that offers spectacular vistas, hiking trails, and rafting experiences.
  8. Lowell Observatory - An astronomical observatory where Pluto was discovered, offering educational programs and telescope viewing to the public.
  9. Red Rocks of Sedona - Iconic sandstone formations that glow red at sunrise and sunset, offering hiking, spiritual retreats, and stunning photography opportunities.
  10. Village of Oak Creek - Known for its red rock views, golf courses, and close proximity to Sedona's attractions, offering a peaceful retreat.
  11. Red Rock Scenic Byway - A scenic drive through Sedona's red rock landscape, providing access to hiking trails, picnic areas, and panoramic vistas.
  12. Montezuma Castle National Monument - A well-preserved cliff dwelling that offers a window into the lives of the Sinagua people who inhabited the Verde Valley.
Aa replica of a dinosaur on the famous dinosaur trail on a sunny day
Are you ready to travel back tens of millions of years in time? You will get to walk among dinosaurs at this quirky attraction in Moab Giants Dinosaur Park.

Las Vegas Route

  1. Young Living Mona Lavender Farm & Distillery - A picturesque lavender farm and distillery in Mona, Utah, offering tours and products showcasing essential oils and lavender.
  2. Meadow Hot Spring - Natural hot springs located in a meadow in central Utah, offering a relaxing soak in a rustic setting.
  3. Panguitch - A charming historic town in Utah, serving as a gateway to nearby national parks and outdoor adventures.
  4. Maynard Dixon Legacy Museum - Dedicated to the life and work of American artist Maynard Dixon, the museum in Mount Carmel, Utah, offers a collection of his paintings and sketches.
  5. Bryce Canyon National Park - Known for its unique hoodoo formations and natural amphitheaters, offering spectacular hiking and stargazing opportunities.
  6. Zion National Park - Features towering cliffs, narrow canyons, and beautiful vistas, with opportunities for hiking, climbing, and river adventures.
  7. Springdale, Utah - The gateway to Zion National Park, offering lodging, dining, and access to park shuttle services in a picturesque setting.
  8. Red Cliffs National Conservation Area - A stunning landscape of red sandstone cliffs, canyons, and hiking trails, preserving natural habitats and historical sites.
  9. St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site - A museum showcasing well-preserved dinosaur tracks and fossils, providing insights into the prehistoric world.
  10. Little Jamaica Natural Swimming Hole - A hidden oasis near Littlefield, Arizona, featuring a waterfall and natural pool for a refreshing stop.
  11. Las Vegas Strip - The heart of Las Vegas, known for its dazzling lights, casinos, entertainment shows, and luxury hotels.
  12. Hoover Dam - A marvel of engineering, this concrete dam on the Colorado River offers tours, a museum, and panoramic views of Lake Mead.
  13. Mojave Museum of History and Arts - Located in Kingman, Arizona, this museum offers exhibits on the Mojave Desert's natural history, culture, and arts.
  14. Arizona Route 66 Museum - Dedicated to the history of Route 66, the museum in Kingman, Arizona, features historical exhibits and memorabilia from the famous highway.
  15. World Wildlife Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park - Located in Litchfield Park, Arizona, offering a chance to see a wide variety of animals, aquatic creatures, and safari experiences.
Beautiful hot spring pool photographed during sunset
Meadow Hot Spring is a gem on the Las Vegas Route, and the perfect place to take a relaxing break en route.
Kris Wiktor/

Best time to go on a road trip from Salt Lake City to Phoenix

Driving from Salt Lake City to Phoenix via either the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas Routes is an exciting road trip no matter the season. Phoenix is famously sunny almost year-round, which makes it the perfect destination during all seasons.

If you take the Grand Canyon Route in summer, be prepared for extreme heat in desert areas like Moab and Monument Valley. Also, the Grand Canyon and other national parks see a peak in tourist traffic.

During summer, the Las Vegas Route also experiences intense heat, especially in Las Vegas itself, where temperatures can soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Noteworthy events along this route include the Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally in June and the Moab Music Festival from August to September. Also, Las Vegas' Fourth of July celebration is something not to be missed.

Fall along both routes is more pleasant, with less traffic and cooler temperatures. In the fall, don't miss Las Vegas' iHeartRadio Music Festival in September and the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix from September to October.

Winter may introduce snow at higher elevations, impacting driving conditions, especially between Spanish Fork and Helper and around the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff areas. Also, keep in mind that Grand Canyon's North Rim closes in winter while South Rim remains open.

At your destination, don't miss Devour Phoenix in February for a taste of local culture and cuisine. Also, if you're traveling during the new year, Las Vegas and Phoenix are the places to be for endless celebrations.

Spring is a stunning season along both routes, with wildflower blooms and more greenery in the mountains. This is an especially beautiful time to visit Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon.