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Flagstaff Arizona to Grand Canyon Travel Guide

Flagstaff to Grand Canyon

The Mountain Town of Flagstaff, AZ is the closest major city to the Grand Canyon's South Rim and the largest in Northern Arizona.  Flagstaff rests at 7,000 feet in elevation and enjoys 4 seasons, similar to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.  Home to Northern Arizona University this laidback college town is a great destination in its own right and the best base camp to explore the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas.  Flagstaff got its start from the Logging and the Railroad industries, but modern-day flagstaff runs off tourism and Northern Arizona University. Resting in the heart of Northern AZ, the trip from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon is 2.5 hours closer than Phoenix, making travel to the South Rim much easier.

Surrounded by Coconino National Forest and outdoor adventure, there are many great activities in and out of town. Flagstaff offers an arboretum, museum, amphitheater, observatory, playhouse and all the cultural and educational activities offered by NAU.  Snowbowl is the local mountain for skiers and snowboarders and has some of the best powder around during a good snow year, and it’s on the way to the Grand Canyon. Although not equal to Grand Canyon hikes, the San Francisco Peaks and Mogollon Rim offer some great hiking right outside of town. There are also several small lakes including Lake Mary for fishing, boating and enjoying some water in this desert climate.  Climbing and Bouldering are popular sports in Flagstaff as well and the local crags are world class.  There is also a climbing gym in town for people who still want to get out during one of the rare days in Flagstaff without sunshine.    With the San Francisco Peaks as its backdrop, a lively downtown scene, great cultural activities, and a lot of outdoor adventure, this is the sort of destination many visitors would love to call home, or at least stay for a bit on your way to the canyon. Read the guide below to learn more.     

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Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Travel

Driving Distance from Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon

  • Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon South Rim is 79 miles, a 1.5-hour drive.
  • Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon East Rim is 124 miles, a 2-hour drive.
  • Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon North Rim is 210 miles, a 4-hour drive.
  • Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon West Rim is 216 miles, a 3.5-hour drive.

Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon Car Rentals

Flagstaff has a lot of tour options that include transportation to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, but if you plan on spending more than a day or like to have some freedom to roam on your trip, renting a car is the only way to go. Flagstaff has rental cars in town and at the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, so there are quite a few options for a vehicle to get you to the canyon and other area destinations.

Grand Canyon Tours from Flagstaff

The Grand Canyon's South Rim is only an hour and fifteen minutes from Flagstaff, so there are quite a few tour guides based out of Flagstaff and Grand Canyon tours that include transportation from town. The North Rim is close to 4 hours away, so tours to this part of the park are limited.  Apart from its tours heading to Grand Canyon National Park, there are several nearby parks to check out close to Flagstaff as part of you Grand Canyon trip.  Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are located near Page, AZ a little over 2 hours from Flagstaff.  En route to Lake Powel and about 30 minutes from town are Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments, which offer spectacular ruins, ranger tours, and a great example of Volcanoes that were still active only 1,000 years ago.  East of town is Meteor Crater, Walnut Canyon Ruins, and Petrified Forest National Park.   Only 45 minutes South of Flag is another world-renowned wonder, Sedona Arizona, known for its beautiful red rock formations and world class jeep and mountain bike tours.  There are several Grand Canyon Tour Packages that include side trips to Sedona and other area destinations.

Best Restaurants in Flagstaff and on the drive to Grand Canyon

Because Flagstaff is a college town and tourist destination there are a lot of great restaurants and bars to choose from. From amazing Chilaquiles for breakfast, to Sushi and a cocktail for dinner there are more options than time when it comes to restaurants in Flagstaff and on the way to Grand Canyon National Park.

Best Hotels in Flagstaff near Grand Canyon

Flagstaff has some really cool and unique hotels to stay at before you head to Grand Canyon National Park. Flagstaff is also a place where there are almost always some open rooms, when Grand Canyon South Rim Hotels and Tusayan hotels are booked. From 4-star mountain retreats, to Hostels in downtown Flagstaff, there’s a great lodging option for nearly any Grand Canyon traveler.  

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