Need ideas for planning a road trip from Las Vegas to Sedona? Let me help! I’ve traveled all over the southwest, solo, and with my park ranger daughter that lives in Nevada. And this drive is one of my favorites. Las Vegas is the perfect starting point for southwestern road trips because its location in southern Nevada is surrounded by public lands and other interesting places.
And Sedona is one of those places. Not only is Sedona one of the most stunning, and I don’t use that word lightly, destinations I’ve ever visited but it’s conveniently located less than 5 hours from Las Vegas. You can easily to that drive in a day but what’s the fun in that? After all, it’s those unexpected places along the way that make a road trip worthwhile. Let’s go!
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Las Vegas to Sedona
Whether you spend a few day in Las Vegas enjoying the sights or public lands first or you fly into town to take advantage of the prime location for exploring national parks and public lands, this road trip couldn’t be any easier.
First things first, you obviously need a car when driving from Las Vegas to Sedona. Use DiscoverCars.com to compare prices of different rental agencies, with no hidden fees and 24/7 customer service. If you fly in to Las Vegas and just need a place to crash for the night, the Fairfield Inn right by the airport is a good spot.
There are several routes to Sedona from Las Vegas but the one outlined here is a mix of smaller four-lane highways and interstates until you exit I-17 south of Flagstaff onto Highway 89A. If you were to drive it straight through, the shortest route is approximately 279 miles and takes about four and a half hours.
This route is great for a road trip because you can see a few side attractions on your way to Sedona but still get there within a reasonable amount of time. You can even lengthen your trip and include Grand Canyon National Park and some lesser known park units, like Sunset Crater National Monument or Walnut Canyon National Monument near Flagstaff.
Some of this route follows old Route 66, so there are oodles of attractions and quirky stops along the way. It all just depends on your interests and how much time you have. Conveniently, this Las Vegas to Sedona road trip itinerary could be done in as little as a day or stretched out over several days.
It could also be executed backwards, from Sedona to Las Vegas, or in a loop if you want to return to Las Vegas via smaller secondary roads or plan a road trip ending in Phoenix. For practicality, I’m assuming you want to get to Sedona asap, so this guide is designed for a day or two.
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Distance from Las Vegas 37 miles
Leaving Las Vegas, the first stop on your Las Vegas to Sedona road trip is the impressive Hoover Dam. If you’ve never seen the dam properly, now’s your chance. And a morning tour would still put you in Sedona by early evening before it gets dark.
Constructed in the early 1930’s during the Great Depression, Hoover Dam is one of the most amazing engineering feats of our time and was built to harness the power of the Colorado River to prevent downstream flooding and bring water to growing desert cities.
The Bureau of Reclamation (the agency that oversees Hoover Dam) offers 3 tours at the dam. I highly recommend the one that includes the turbine room with access to the visitor center and old exhibit room.
Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Bridge
If you can’t spare the time to visit to the dam, then at least walk across the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Bridge. This bridge is the main route across the Colorado river at the Hoover Dam. When it was constructed, a pedestrian walkway alongside was added. Not only do you get the best views of the dam but you also get bird’s eye of the river below the dam and Lake Mead.
Parking is free and it’s an easy, assessible walk to about halfway across where you get a good, central view of the dam. I’m not going to list it separate but I also suggest a stop in Boulder City to learn about the dam construction at the Boulder City Hoover Dam Museum. This museum is one of my all time favorites. And while you’re in town, don’t miss breakfast or lunch at the Coffee Cup Cafe.
Colorado River Overlook
Distance from Las Vegas 51 miles
Back on the highway, just south of Hoover Dam and still within Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the next stop you should make is listed on Google Maps as Scenic View Rest Area. It’s one of the only places along Highway 93 where you can get a look at the mighty Colorado.
The turnoff is located on the northbound side of the highway so heading towards Sedona, you’ll have to make a U-turn to access it. At the right time of day, you will be rewarded with pretty awesome views of the river and the Willow Beach section of the park.
Distance from Las Vegas 107 miles
Next up is Kingman. Once a highlight along Route 66, Kingman is still one of the most fun stops from Las Vegas to Sedona. Founded in 1882 and named after Lewis Kingman, a civil engineer for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, who helped establish the town as a main transportation hub in the southwest.
The history can be seen in a walkable downtown featuring shops, restaurants and plenty of murals celebrating the iconic Route 66 legacy. There’s even a Route 66 Museum that showcases the iconic highway and significance of the “Mother Road”. And no road trip to Kingman is complete without a photo at the official Route 66 sign.
For those not that into Route 66, Kingman offer alternatives activities like the Mohave Museum of History and Arts. Or stroll through downtown and grab a quick bite BBQ at Floyd & Co Real Pit BBQ or The Grand Canyon Brewing + Distillery as a quick break.
Distance from Las Vegas 180 miles
Seligman is another one of those quirky Route 66 towns along this route. Maybe the quirkiest. Situated just about 10 minutes from I-40, you’ll need to exit and drive the short distance to town. But it’s worth it and in those few minutes, you’ll feel like you’ve gone back 70 years in time.
Full of kitschy gift shops, vintage eateries and drive-in type places, Seligman is a throwback to yesteryear and honestly, kind of a junkpile. But if you are a true Route 66 aficionado, or a lover of old cars, then this is one place you can’t miss on a Las Vegas to Sedona road trip. It’s one of a kind.
Distance from Las Vegas 220 miles
Williams is just one more small, historic railroad town on Route 66 but it’s much different than Seligman. Think more wild west and frontier town than kitsch.
Many people opt to stay in Williams when visiting Grand Canyon National Park because it’s only 55 miles to Tusayan and the south entrance of the park. Plus, it easy to visit other other surrounding attractions like Bearizona Wildlife Park and the Grand Canyon Deer Farm.
It’s also a good addon for a longer Las Vegas to Sedona road trip because it gives you the chance to ditch your car and catch the Grand Canyon Railway to the park. And why not? After driving around the desert, take a break and let someone else show you around.
Distance from Las Vegas 253 miles
Surrounded by the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in North America, Flagstaff is one of those places where you could easily spend a month and still find things to do.
Located conveniently on I-40 and Route 66, It’s the perfect pitstop from Las Vegas to Sedona or the ideal base for exploring more of Arizona. Both Grand Canyon Village and the Desert Watch entrance are less than a two hour drive.
In the middle of the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests, Flagstaff has an elevation of 7000 feet and isn’t really what you expect when you imagine Arizona and the desert. Here you’ll get a chance to smell the trees and enjoy some cooler temps.
While it’s a good stop from Las Vegas to Sedona, I feel like Flagstaff is really a destination on its on, a place to spend a few days but if you are just passing through and want to spend a bit of town outside, plan on visiting Sunset Crater National Monument, Walnut Canyon National Monument and Wupatki National Monument that I mentioned previously.
And don’t miss a chance to get a glimpse of the San Francisco Peaks, including Humphrey’s Peak the highest mountain in Arizona. Weather permitting, there’s a scenic loop to drive if you have time. In town, Flagstaff boasts quite the cafe and coffee culture and Little America Hotel is a destination in itself or a good place to stay if you are breaking up your road trip.
Oak Creek Vista
Distance from Las Vegas 263 miles
Just 17 minutes south of Flagstaff, you’ll come to one of the prettiest views of this entire drive. Oak Creek Vista is your first glimpse of Oak Creek Canyon, a 12 mile long canyon carved from shifting tectonic plates and time. If you haven’t already, you’re sure to fall in love with the ponderosa pines and other trees in the Coconino National Forest.
The overlook is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and offers a small visitor center onsite. Paved and unpaved walking trails crisscross through the trees providing the ideal place to take a break from the ride or have a picnic at the tables on the premises.
In addition to the sweeping views of the canyon, the overlook offers a Native American Artisan Market with handmade arts and crafts, including turquoise jewelry, ornaments, southwestern pottery and sculptures. Weather permitting, the market is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the summer and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the winter months. Go for the views and leave with a souvenir.
Halfway Picnic Area
Distance from Las Vegas 271 miles
The closer you get to your destination, the landscape changes from forest to the red sandstone cliffs that Sedona is so famous for. The opportunities for stopping along the highway are more frequent and there’s no shortage of wayside viewpoints and even short hiking trails right off the highway.
One of my favorite stops on the way from Las Vegas to Sedona is Halfway Picnic Area. This parking area offers tables where you can enjoy a creek side lunch or snack while listening to the sounds of Oak Creek. There are even a couple of places where you can access the water.
Slide Rock State Park
Distance from Las Vegas 272 miles
Oak Creek continues its journey south alongside the Highway 89A almost the entire way to Sedona. Its twists and turns forming a variety of swimming holes and places to cool off. Slide Rock State Park is the prefect spot to access the water and indulge.
What once was a privately owned apple orchard is now Slide Rock State Park public land, managed by the Forest Service, featuring sandstone bluffs and cool pools of water. In fact, you can still visit the orchard. Also, don’t miss the visitor center highlighting the the park’s history.
Note that the park closes at 6pm in summer so if this is something you want to do on your Las Vegas to Sedona road trip, you’ll need to get there early. Also, this park is quite popular so it tends to fill up fast and get busy on weekends and holidays.
Distance from Las Vegas 279 miles
Famous for its red rocks and magical landscapes, it’s no wonder Sedona is one of the best places to visit in the United States. It’s the perfect escape for a relaxing weekend or a week long stay of hiking and discovering more of Arizona.
Sedona provides a huge variety of activities. For those looking for adventure, there’s hiking, fishing and bird watching. For those who prefer a more relaxed pace, the city offers plenty of local art, amazing restaurants, and tranquil spas for unwinding.
Another added bonus are the tour companies in town, so after all that driving, you can sit back and let someone drive you around for a change. A few of the top tours in the area include vortex tours, wine tastings and even helicopter tours.
Las Vegas to Sedona Tips
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Las Vegas to Sedona Final Thoughts
Taking a road trip from Las Vegas to Sedona is not only one of the easiest but fun road trip suitable for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. Also, the moderate distance of this route makes it perfect for road trip newbies.
There’s so much to do, you could easily drive this route again and again and never get bored. So, the next time you’re looking for something to add on to a Vegas vacation, consider Sedona.
See you on the road!