Airlines & Airports - 7 min read

Best Airport for Grand Canyon (And Travel Tips from Major Cities)

Town and Tourist

Town and Tourist, Updated October 6, 2022

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The Grand Canyon is among the most incredible natural beauties that you can find in the United States. Its location makes it tricky to get there for many travelers that are unfamiliar with the area and want to avoid rookie mistakes. So, what is the best airport for the Grand Canyon?

The best airport for the Grand Canyon is the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport which is 223 miles away. You can get to the Grand Canyon from the airport in Phoenix in 3 ½ hours if you take Highway 180 to Highway 64. Many visitors land in Phoenix, go to Flagstaff and take a shuttle to the Grand Canyon from there because it costs under $40.

The Las Vegas McCarran International Airport is also close to the Grand Canyon, but the drive takes longer. Some travelers fly into the Tucson International Airport to visit the Grand Canyon, but over 100 miles away further than Phoenix. Follow along as we explore the best airport for the Grand Canyon.  

Is Las Vegas or Phoenix Closer to the Grand Canyon?

Phoenix is closer to the Grand Canyon than Las Vegas and it’s the best way to get there if you fly. The best airport for the Grand Canyon is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. This airport is a 3 ½ drive to the Grand Canyon and it’s the most practical to fly into for your trip.

The McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is relatively close to the Grand Canyon but the drive takes longer. You can expect a 4 ½ hour drive from the airport in Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. Both cities offer plenty of excitement, but Phoenix is the best option if you want to be as close as possible to the Grand Canyon.  

Phoenix is the more practical airport, but Las Vegas may add more depth to your trip because of the excitement of the city. The long drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is a deterrent to many visitors, however.

Is Phoenix or Tucson Closer to the Grand Canyon?

Phoenix is closer to the Grand Canyon than Tucson is, but both cities are relatively close. However, Tucson is an hour further away from the Grand Canyon than Phoenix is. Phoenix is located 223 miles away which makes for a reasonable drive and a short flight.

Tucson is 335 miles from the Grand Canyon which makes the drive slightly longer and more arduous. You can drive to the Grand Canyon from the Tucson International Airport, but it will take longer than departing from Phoenix.

Related Read: 40 BEST Things To Do In Arizona

Which Side of the Grand Canyon is Closest to Phoenix?

The South Rim is the closest side of the Grand Canyon to Phoenix, Arizona. Locals and travelers alike agree that the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most breathtaking and gorgeous. That is another reason why Phoenix offers the best airport for the Grand Canyon.

The South Rim offers the most views and ground to cover which is why most visitors prefer it. This is the best option if you want to hike as much as possible and fully experience the vast landscape.

How is the Drive From Phoenix to Grand Canyon?

The drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is moderately long as they are 223 miles apart. You can expect the drive to take between 3 hrs and 25 minutes and 4 hours. The duration ultimately depends on how many stops you make and how bad the traffic is.

Prepare to drive for long stretches on the interstate between the airport in Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. It may sound like a long drive, but the beautiful scenery makes it feel like a miniature journey before you reach the unique final destination.

Related Read: 15 Best Hiking Trails in Phoenix, AZ

Which Airport in Las Vegas is Closest to the Grand Canyon?

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport is the closest to the Grand Canyon in the city. This is the best option if you plan to visit the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is the most popular destination for visitors to the Grand Canyon with tight schedules, and it’s easy to reach when you fly in from McCarran.

The Harry Reid International Airport is also a great option, but it’s not as close to the Grand Canyon as McCarran is. Some travelers fly into the North Las Vegas Airport as well, but it is 274 miles from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. However, this is a great option if you only want to visit the West Rim because it’s only 122 miles away.

Can You Do a Day Trip From Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon?

Yes, you can do a day trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon because of how short the flight is. It only takes 45 minutes to fly from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon under typical flight conditions. Of course, you need to factor in an extra 2-4 hours spent at the airport between your departure and return flight.

This leaves you plenty of time to spend at the Grand Canyon and the surrounding areas. You can also drive to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas for a fun day trip. The drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon typically lasts 2 and ½ hours and is reasonable for a quick visit.

Related Read: 15 BEST Lazy Rivers in Arizona

What is the Closest Major City to the Grand Canyon?

The closest major city to the Grand Canyon is Flagstaff, Arizona. This city’s claim to fame is its proximity to the Grand Canyon and its surrounding beauty. Flagstaff is only 80 miles away from the Grand Canyon and it’s worth stopping to explore the city on the way.

You can even take a shuttle from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon for under $40. Make sure to soak in the gorgeous scenery along Highway 180 on your way to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff. It typically only takes 30 minutes to drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon and the route is scenic along the way.

Related Read: 60 Things To Do in Phoenix, Arizona

How Many Days Do You Need for the Grand Canyon?

You need between 1 and 4 days for the Grand Canyon depending on what you want to experience. For example, you may need as little as 1 day at the Grand Canyon if you only want to visit the West Rim. There is less to explore at the West Rim so you’d only need 1 day if you don’t plan to see the rest.

However, it is ideal to spend at least 2 days at the Grand Canyon if you want to explore as much as possible. You won’t be able to soak in all of the Grand Canyon in a single day, especially if it’s your first visit. The south Rim alone requires 2 days to soak in the environment and see all of the memorable views.

Of course, you’ll want to visit the North Rim as well, especially if you want to enjoy cooler temperatures. There is also less foot traffic at the North Rim so it’s a nice break from the other visitors. The ultimate experience is to visit all of these large areas during your trip, so 2-3 days is the perfect time for the Grand Canyon.

What is the Best Month to Visit the Grand Canyon?

May is the best month to visit the Grand Canyon because of the weather conditions. You won’t have to worry about rain or excessively hot temperatures. April and June offer comfortable temperatures with little rain as well, but it gets quite hot by mid-summer.

The Grand Canyon becomes crowded during July and August when people are more available for vacations. Besides the crowds, mid and late summer are bad times to visit the Grand Canyon because of the extreme heat and frequent rain. Visit the Grand Canyon during April, May, or June, to beat the crowds and avoid uncomfortable weather.

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