Insider Tips on How to Avoid the Traffic from Phoenix to Grand Canyon

An Insider-Tip from GrandCanyon.com

Lean in closer…we have a great insider tip for you! Do you want to skip the long line of cars, RVs, buses and motorcycles lined to see the National Park  during the summertime tourist season? You can avoid these tedious lines by doing one of the three options:

East Side Entrance: The majority of the travelers coming from the Phoenix area, take Interstate-17 up to Flagstaff and then take Highway 180 to the little gateway town of Tusayan, located just outside the Grand Canyon National Park entrance. Although this is the most direct route, it can become very congested. An alternate route appears to be much longer but it is generally just as fast and much less tedious. Bypass Flagstaff, taking the Highway 89 to Cameron Trading Post, a postage stamp of a town. Turn left and take route 64 over to Tusayan. You may look at a map and say, “That’s crazy. It’s an hour longer.” And technically it is but not in the summertime with millions of visitors in all kinds of vehicles crowding on the “direct route.”

Sedona Option:  If you have never been Sedona or Oak Creek Canyon, don’t miss this hidden gem in the desert on your way to Grand Canyon and you can also avoid some of the traffic heading up to the South Rim Entrance.  Exit off the major Interstate 17 onto route 179 and travel through the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon before arriving at “red rock country.”  Sedona has some of the most gorgeous scenery in Arizona and is worth the deviation off the main road. From Sedona, you take highway 89 up to Flagstaff. At Flagstaff, we recommend taking Highway 40 heading east and then  Route 64 going north and this will help you avoid some of the 180 traffic. Route 64 eventually merges onto  180 to Tusayan but you have cleverly skipped quite a bit of traffic.

Fly from Phoenix / Scottsdale: If you are in the Phoenix or Scottsdale area, ditch the 3 1/2  hour drive to Grand Canyon South Rim and take a one hour flight instead.  There are day tours that will take you to the rim with a guide. The great thing about a tour bus is that they have already pre-paid the entrance fee so they can bypass the long line of individual tourists waiting to get into the park. Get in, see the Park and get out. Fast and very easy.

4 thoughts on “Insider Tips on How to Avoid the Traffic from Phoenix to Grand Canyon”

  1. I can never find definitive info on where to pre-purchase day passes for cars. Is this not available any longer? And can you only pay at the gate to the park? This would be helpful. I live in the Valley and have visitors several times a year. Thank you.

    1. Rebecca,

      Here is where that information can be found:

      Where can I buy an Entrance Permit ?

      NPS North Rim Entrance Station: checks and credit cards.
      NPS Desert View Entrance Station: checks, credit cards and cash
      NPS South Entrance Station: checks: credit cards and cash.

      Visitors traveling to the South Rim can purchase entrance permits at the following locations prior to entry:

      Flagstaff, AZ – Flagstaff Visitor Center
      1 East Route 66 (928)774-9541

      Williams, AZ – Williams Visitor Center
      200 West Railroad Ave. (928)635-4061
      All permits.

      Valle, AZ – Chevron Travel Stop

      Tusayan, AZ (Just south of the South Entrance to the park)

      Best Western Grand Canyon Squire Inn
      Grand Canyon Trading Post
      R.P.’s Stage Stop
      Red Feather Lodge
      Canyon Plaza Resort
      National Geographic Visitor Center(IMAX)
      IMAX accepts checks and credit cards only.

      Thank You,


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