Road Trip from Seattle to Grand Canyon National Park
A road trip from Seattle to the Grand Canyon can seem challenging at first, with many miles ahead of you through green forests and sandy deserts. However, this epic road trip is a worthwhile adventure with incredible landscapes transforming right in front of your eyes.
The 1,355-mile road trip from Seattle to Grand Canyon will take about 21 hours of non-stop driving. Take your time to explore Boise, Twin Falls, Salt Lake City, Provo, Dixie National Forest, Zion National Park and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.
Continue reading for the best tips on the things to see and do, the places to stop along the way, and the best routes to take.
How far is the Grand Canyon from Seattle, and how long will the road trip take?
|Eastern Route||1,355 miles||21 hours|
|Western Route||1,440 miles||24 hours|
The road trip from Seattle to the Grand Canyon is quite an undertaking with a road trip that will take approximately 21 hours of non-stop driving. The 1,355-mile road trip will take you through 5 states and dramatic landscapes of lush forests and desert terrain.
There is an alternative 1,440-mile Western Route, which will take you 24 hours to drive without accounting for any detours or pit stops.
On this incredibly scenic route, you will drive through some of the most beautiful national forests and parks in Washington, Oregon and California before taking you through iconic desert landscapes of Nevada, Utah and finally into Arizona.
The total time depends on the time of year, the detours you choose to make and the route you take. A road trip is better regarded as a marathon rather than a sprint, where the journey is just as much an adventure as the time spent at the final destination.
If you factor in the time to rest, eat, gas up your vehicle, and explore different sites along the way, we suggest taking at least five days for this epic trip on either route to enjoy this unforgettable journey.
Best road trip route from Seattle to the Grand Canyon
When it comes to a road trip of mammoth proportions like this one, the best route will depend on what you want to see and do on the way. Both routes offer amazing scenery that transforms from lush forests into rugged deserts as you approach the Grand Canyon.
The Eastern Route will take you through beautiful sights as well as the urban landscape of Salt Lake City and the natural beauty of Boise.
You will be spending an extra 3 hours on the road if you follow the Western Route, but you will get to admire some of the most stunning landmarks, forests and parks in six states on the way as well as the vibrant city of Portland and charming Lake Tahoe.
Both the Western and Eastern routes will give you the option to visit the glittering city of Las Vegas as a detour if you aren't pressed for time and want to visit this fascinating city.
The Grand Canyon is best seen in the daytime, which will give you fantastic opportunities to take photos. For these reasons, we suggest planning your trip to arrive at the Grand Canyon during the day.
Follow Interstate 90 (I-90) out of Seattle to start your trip, driving past Mt. Rainier National Park. Take Exit 110 as you reach Ellensburg for Interstate 82 (I-82).
Take Exit 82 and cross over the Columbia River, which will take you into Oregon. Take the exit on the left onto Interstate 84 East (I-84 E) and drive through Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests towards Boise as you cross into Idaho.
While visiting Boise, you will have the option to explore Boise National Forest. Keep on the interstate as you leave the city after your visit.
You have the option to make a detour to the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve past the city of Bliss. Take US-26 if making this detour.
If not, keep on the interstate and drive through Twin Falls. You will soon cross from Idaho into Utah. Follow I-84 and merge onto Interstate 15 (I-15) and drive past the Great Salt Lake and into Salt Lake City.
Following I-15 will take you through Provo past Utah Lake. You can take a detour to the Fishlake National Forest as you approach Sulphurdale by taking Interstate 70 (I-70) briefly.
If you have an extra day to add to your trip and plan to visit Las Vegas, follow I-15 past the city of Beaver and the interstate will directly take you into the city.
If not making these detours, keep following I-15 and take Exit 95 for UT-20, which will merge onto US-89. Drive past the stunning Dixie National Forest and Zion National Park.
Cross into Arizona and drive past Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Following I-89 through Kaibab National Forest will take you to your destination, the Grand Canyon National Park.
For the scenic Western Route, take Interstate 5 (I-5) out of Seattle. Mt. Rainier National Park will be on your left side if you are following this route. Drive past Gifford Pinchot National Forest and enter Oregon as you cross over the Columbia River to enter Portland.
After your visit to this iconic city, take Exit 188 towards OR-58 past Eugene, which will merge onto US-97 South.
You will drive through some of the most scenic national forests and parks of Oregon such as Willamette, Umpqua and Fremont-Winema National Forests as well as the Crater Lake National Park.
Follow OR-39 past Klamath Falls by taking Exit 277, which will then turn into CA-139 as you cross the state borders.
You will enter California briefly and drive through Madoc, Shasta-Trinity, Lassen and Plumas National Forests. Turn left onto CA-36 and merge onto US-395 past Susanville. You will soon cross into Nevada and drive through Reno.
Follow Interstate 580 (I-580) out of the city and drive past Lake Tahoe to merge back onto US-395 briefly. Turn left onto NV-208 past Topaz Lake and merge onto US-95 after driving through Yerington.
This highway will take you through the impressive desert terrains of Nevada. You have the option to visit Las Vegas past Tonopah if you wish to do so. Following US-95 will take you to Sin City for an exciting detour.
If not making this detour, turn left onto US-6 past Tonopah and merge onto NV-375. Keep following this route, which will take you on US-93 N and NV-319 E as you cross from Nevada to Utah.
Continue onto UT-56 and briefly get onto I-15 past Hamiltons Fort to drive past Zion National Park. Take Exit 27 for US-89 and enter Arizona. This highway will take you past Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and directly into the Grand Canyon.
Best places to stop between Seattle and the Grand Canyon
With three different routes to take, you can imagine the number of stops you can make along the way to enjoy nature, but we're going to focus on the quickest route. Whether you want to explore or get a good night's rest, here is a compiled list of the best places to stop.
Take in the natural beauty around Boise
Located about 8 hours from Seattle via our Eastern Route, Boise is the first major city along the shortest route to the Grand Canyon. In this city, you can visit the Idaho Botanical Garden, Zoo Boise, and even the Old Idaho Penitentiary Site if you are a history buff.
This city is located on the outskirts of the massive Boise National Forest, which will give you fantastic recreational opportunities. Whether you are an adventurous soul or prefer the tranquil beauty of nature, you will have plenty of activities to choose from hiking to a picnic by the lake.
No one wants to get back on the road after a long day of hiking and sightseeing, so think about booking yourself a room at Hyatt Place Boise/Downtown for the night. This fabulous property has everything you might need to unwind, from a hot tub to an outdoor swimming pool.
Located in the heart of downtown, the Taco Bell Arena, the Idaho State Capitol, and the Boise Centre are all close to the hotel if you prefer to spend your day in the city. Boise Art Museum is also a short walk away from the accommodation.
After a long day out, you will find plenty of options for bars and restaurants downtown for a drink or a meal, or you can choose to head back to the hotel and dine in comfort at the restaurant located on the property.
Admire the unique architecture of Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is located about 8 hours and 20 minutes from the Grand Canyon, if you're taking the Eastern Route, and is a great stop to reenergize before the last leg of your trip. Known for its unique history, architecture and fantastic ski resorts, Salt Lake has something for everyone.
While in Salt Lake City, Temple Square is a must-visit downtown. This square is a revered site for Latter-Day Saints and is home to their main temple as well as the Tabernacle, the Temple Annex, and the Assembly Hall, all of which boast spectacular architecture.
Utah Museum of Fine Arts and Natural History Museum of Utah are also located nearby, which will allow you to explore the city and learn about its history, culture and arts while in the downtown area.
If you are looking to spend some time enjoying winter sports, you have many world-class ski resorts within easy reach of the city, such as Park City, Deer Valley, Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and Sundance.
Grand America Hotel is the perfect base for your adventures with its stellar location downtown, luxurious rooms and unmatched amenities. Boasting a spa, indoor pool and a high-end restaurant, this hotel is only a short drive or walk away from most of the activities and attractions.
Enjoy the cultural scene of Ashland
Home to the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland is about 7 hours away from Seattle (via the Western Route). This picturesque small town is also named one of the "Best Small Art Towns in America", which makes it an exciting overnight stop on this road trip.
Ashland is nestled between the awe-inspiring Siskiyou and Cascade mountains, which will give you plenty of opportunities to admire the beautiful scenery on your day out. The Rogue River and Crater Lake National Park are less than an hour's drive from the town as well.
Located right in the heart of the colorful town center, Winchester Inn is a charming gem of a hotel. You will feel right at home during your stay in the hotel's stylish rooms that reflect the period charm.
The town's famous and stunning Lithia Park, which is a short walk away from the accommodation, houses the Shakespeare Festival. You will find plenty to see and do in this park even if you aren't visiting during the festival, such as a Japanese Garden and beautiful picnic spots.
The North end of the park boasts numerous downtown restaurants and local shops. If you are looking for a romantic experience, you can enjoy some cocktails at the hotel's bar before calling it a night.
Things to see on a road trip from Seattle to the Grand Canyon
The trip from Seattle to the Grand Canyon is a long one, but that only means you have many more things to do and see along the way! While you may not get to all of them, below are some of the top things to see and do on the way.
Depending on your time constraints and which you would like to see more, you can plan your route around these sites. Some people may decide to drive the whole way through, and if you are one of them, then hats off to you!
- Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington - This stunning peak is the most glaciated in the contiguous USA, which is the birthplace of five major rivers with wildflower meadows that surround the icy volcano. You can also enjoy climbing, biking and hiking.
- Umatilla National Forest, Pendleton - Located in southeast Washington and northeast Oregon, this stunning national forest offers some of the most scenic drives as well as opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing and hunting.
- Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Baker City - Whether you are an adventurer, or simply looking for a tranquil family trip, you will find that this forest features walking, hiking and running trails of all difficulties.
- Boise, Idaho - A perfect gateway to Boise National Forest, this city is also home to Idaho Botanical Garden, Zoo Boise, Old Idaho Penitentiary Site, the Taco Bell Arena, the Idaho State Capitol, and the Boise Centre among many other attractions.
- The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds, Boise - This bird conservation center is located on a hilltop and spans 580 acres. If you decide to stop here, you will see raptors from all over the world and the center even offers guided tours to introduce each type of bird.
- Boise National Forest, Idaho - This stunning forest is adjacent to the namesake city and boasts more than 80 developed recreation sites throughout.
- Twin Falls, Idaho - Famous for its Snake Siver Canyon, you can also admire the views of Shoshone Falls, Perrine Bridge and Sawtooth National Forest here.
- Centennial Waterfront Park, Twin Falls - This park features an easy hike behind the famous waterfall. It tends to get crowded during peak seasons, so it is a good idea to plan accordingly.
- Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, Idaho - You will feel like you have been teleported to an unknown planet while visiting this vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush.
- Salt Lake City, Utah - This historic city is known for its Latter-Day Saints heritage and architecture, as well as the famous Temple Square, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Natural History Museum of Utah and the top-notch ski resorts that surround it.
- Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake City - Located in the Temple Square, this religious site boasts the unique architecture of Latter-Day Saints. Visitors are allowed to visit the information center to learn more about this impressive structure and other buildings around it.
- Provo Pioneer Village, Provo - This wonderful gem in Provo will allow you to learn about the historic pioneer heritage of Provo and Utah in general.
- Fishlake National Forest, Richfield - Often referred to as the gem of Utah, this fantastic forest features meadows, open grass fields, and mountains. It is home to the largest natural lake in the mountains, so you should pack your fishing gear as they offer trophy fishing.
- Moqui Cave, Kanab - A natural history museum featuring Native American artifacts and a large collection of dinosaur tracks, Moqui Cave is located right off the highway, which makes it a convenient and exciting stop for visitors.
- Dixie National Forest, Cedar City - This expansive forest spans an impressive area of almost two million acres and is the largest national forest in Utah.
- Wild Waves Theme and Water Park, Tecoma - A popular theme park that is known for its rides and water slides, guests of all ages will find something fun to do here.
- Portland, Oregon - The first major city on the Western Route, Portland is known for its urban culture as well as the stunning landscape that surrounds it. You can visit Pioneer Courthouse Square, Washington Park, Pearl District and Multnomah Falls during your visit.
- Bohemia Gold Mining Museum, Cottage Grove - Learn about the gold mining past of the area in this quirky museum. You can also get to experience the gold rush yourself by trying your hand at finding nuggets in a pan!
- National Forests of Oregon - This impressive row of national forests, which are all worth a detour, includes Willamette, Umpqua, and Fremont-Winema National Forests.
- McCloud Waterfalls, McCloud - Located on the McCloud River in California, these three waterfalls boast gorgeous views each. There is a trail you can follow that will lead you to waterfalls with ease.
- National Forests of California - You will be greeted by the lush greenery of these national forests as you enter California. If you aren't pressed for time, you can visit Madoc, Shasta-Trinity, Lassen and Plumas National Forests.
- National Automobile Museum, Reno - This impressive museum in Reno is home to more than 200 rare, classic, and special-interest vehicles, some of which have been featured in movies and TV shows.
- Fleischmann Planetarium, Reno - Located on the campus of the University of Nevada, you can experience educational exhibits in this planetarium and science center.
- Lake Tahoe, Nevada and California - One of the most famous and picturesque lakes in America, the stunning, cobalt-blue Lake Tahoe is well known for the wide variety of its recreational offerings from swimming and fishing to water sports.
- Ashland, Oregon - Home to the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, this charming town has many other attractions to keep you busy, such as Lithia Park, the downtown shopping district as well as hiking opportunities around the Rogue River.
- Rogue River, Jackson - The town of Rogue River is well-known for its picturesque hikes around the wild and scenic river as well as its mountain biking community and exciting jet boat excursions.
- Crater Lake National Park, Crater Lake - Fed by rain and snow, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the USA and one of the most pristine on Earth. Its wild beauty will inspire and leave you in awe in every season.
- Parowan Gap Petroglyphs, Iron County - The walls of Parowan Gap are covered in ancient petroglyphs thought to belong to several different cultures of Native American Indians.
- Zion National Park, Utah - You can follow the paths of pioneers and native people in this park, which is Utah's first. Experience wilderness in a narrow canyon, which boasts stunning cream, pink, and red colors.
- Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Marble Canyon - A spectacular geological treasure, these stunning cliffs will provide fantastic photography opportunities. Keep in mind that most roads require high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Best time to go on a road trip from Seattle to the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is beautiful no matter the time of year, but the North Rim is only open during the daytime. If this is a must-see spot, we would suggest planning your trip to make it there during the day.
The south rim is open all year and is the most popular spot. While Arizona is not a state that's known for snow, the North and South Rims do see, on average, 10-23 feet of snow per year with temperatures that can fall down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in winter.
Keep in mind that some roads and attractions on both routes might be closed due to snowfall in winter, so it is always a good idea to check the warnings before you set off.
If you aren't a fan of the cold or want to see unobstructed views of the canyon, the late spring and early fall months are your best options. The temperatures will be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit during these months during the day.
The temperatures in summer can reach upwards to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the South Rim and even 100 degrees Fahrenheit at the bottom of the canyon, so outdoor activities might be less pleasurable. This is also when most tourists visit the Grand Canyon.
Whichever season you decide to visit the Grand Canyon, The Skywalk is something you won't want to miss. It's an elevated walkway that protrudes 70 feet from the canyon ridge and features glass floors. Walking on air has never been so achievable!