Driving Between the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park and the city of Sedona are two of Arizona’s most impressive, most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason. The scale and majesty of the Grand Canyon is unfathomable, and Sedona’s red rock formations and desert landscape is as alluring as it gets. If you have the time and flexibility, and if you plan accordingly, it’s possible to see both in one day.
How Far Apart is the Grand Canyon and Sedona?
Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
First, let’s talk logistics. Sedona is a two hour drive (110 miles) south of the Grand Canyon’s south rim entrance gate. The South Rim is the closest portion of the Grand Canyon to Sedona, so any itinerary including both in the same day will be most successful from the South Rim. The next closest gate, the east entrance, is about the same distance (110) miles but takes a little longer, closer to 2.5 hours. The North Rim and the western part of the Grand Canyon are quite far, over 4 hours away by car. It’s not likely you’ll have time to do both Sedona and these sections of the Grand Canyon in one day.
If you are coming from Sedona or elsewhere and heading into Grand Canyon National Park, you’ll probably need to factor in additional time at the Grand Canyon entrance gate, which can get busy.
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Best Route Between the Grand Canyon and Sedona
Terry Donaghe from Scottsdale, AZ, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sticking to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, the best route from the Grand Canyon to Sedona is taking AZ-64 south toward the small city of Williams, then heading east on I-40 toward Flagstaff. From Flagstaff, you’ll briefly head south on I-17 and then exit by the airport for AZ-89A south. This scenic drive on AZ-89A takes you through the gorgeous Oak Creek Canyon right to Sedona. So you get two canyons in one day!
If you’re coming from Sedona heading to the Grand Canyon, then just do the opposite, heading north on AZ-89A through Oak Creek Canyon toward Flagstaff. You’ll briefly head north on I-17 until you catch I-40 west toward Williams. At Williams, you’ll head north on AZ-64 which dead ends into the South Rim.
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Things to Do in Between
Christophe Krief, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
With a two hour drive in each direction, and plenty to do in both the Grand Canyon and Sedona, you probably aren’t looking for too many detours in between. But, there are some stops on the way that are definitely worth your while, if you choose to extend the day.
The small city of Williams, just an hour south of the Grand Canyon South Rim, is steeped in Route 66 and railroad history. With plenty of restaurants and gift shops, Williams makes for an excellent lunch or dinner stop en route to the Grand Canyon or Sedona. While there, you can also visit Bearizona Wildlife Park, a part drive-thru safari park, part traditional walk-thru zoo featuring North American wildlife such as elk, bison, wolves, and of course bears.
You’ve also got the larger city of Flagstaff in between, with its own historic district and even more options for restaurants. Search deep into the sky at the Lowell Observatory, one of the oldest observatories in the United States. Or explore a land marked by 1,000-year-old lava flows at Sunset Crater National Monument. Only 15 minutes east of the city are the ancient cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people in Walnut Canyon National Monument. And lastly, the city is known for its craft breweries.
Not technically part of Sedona, but well within the greater “Sedona area,” is Oak Creek Canyon. Most of this jaw-dropping canyon falls under the protection of the Coconino National Forest. But you may also want to make a stop at Slide Rock State Park for a natural water slide and play area. If you have kids in tow, Slide Rock might be their favorite stop of the whole trip!
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Doing Grand Canyon and Sedona in One Day
Scotwriter21, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Grand Canyon National Park and Sedona are both destinations that, ideally, you would spend at least a couple days each exploring. But, there are a couple ways you can fit both into a day.
- A day visiting both the Grand Canyon and Sedona is a car-centric day, so make the most of it with our Shaka Guide driving tours. We have three driving tours around the Grand Canyon, and our Sedona driving tour takes you through Oak Creek Canyon, including Slide Rock State Park.
- Limit hikes. There are endless miles of trails here, in Sedona in particular. But, you don’t need to hike much to see incredible desert scenery. Pick one or two short or medium-length trails for the day. Take a look at our hiking guides for Grand Canyon and Sedona for what we think are the best choices.
- Start your day early! Both Grand Canyon and Sedona are very popular destinations that can experience heavy traffic. Make the most of your day by getting started as early as possible.
- Pack a lunch. There are several picnic areas in both Grand Canyon National Park and the greater Sedona area, especially Oak Creek Canyon. Sedona’s restaurants can get swarmed, and they’re not cheap either. So eat a picnic in the scenery you came to admire.
Grand Canyon National Park and Sedona in one day is a long, but rewarding scenic drive through some of Arizona’s most stunning landscapes. With a little preparation, and some realistic expectations, you can enjoy both without being overwhelmed. Enjoy the sunshine, the scenery, and the Shaka Guide experience.
Whether you’re visiting Sedona, Grand Canyon or both, Shaka Guide’s got you covered! Check out the Arizona Tour Collection for seven self-guided driving tours in places like Sedona, Grand Canyon South Rim, and Horseshoe Bend.
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