Road Trip From Denver To Grand Canyon

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If there is one vacation you must take in your lifetime, it is a road trip from Denver to the Grand Canyon. You could go from Denver to the Grand Canyon multiple times and never see the same thing twice since it is jam-packed with magnificent scenery, incredible activities, and lots of outdoor time.

Road Trip From Denver To Grand Canyon

I’ve driven from Denver to the Grand Canyon several times and would do it again in a heartbeat. Simply put, it never gets boring, and there’s always something interesting to view. As a long-time Denver resident and professional outdoor journalist, I’ve hiked every route between Denver and the Grand Canyon.

If you’re looking for expert advice on the best route from Denver to the Grand Canyon, you’ve come to the right spot. I’ll give you all the juicy insider info on the most significant things to see and do on your way to the Grand Canyon.

About this Denver to the Grand Canyon Road Trip Guide

Inside this unique local guide to Grand Canyon road trips, you’ll find:

  • Information on the best times to visit the Grand Canyon from Denver.
  • Notable pit stops
  • A 14-day program with alternatives for shorter excursions.
  • Additional stops to make on your journey
  • Driving directions from Denver to the Grand Canyon

How Far is it from Denver to the Grand Canyon?

The distance varies depending on which rim you intend to visit. The most direct route from Denver to the South Rim is 11 hours and 1084.7 km, while the most natural way from Denver to the North Rim is 11 hours and 1110.45 km.

Is it Worth Driving to the Grand Canyon?

OMG YES! It would be a pity not to be able to travel from Denver to the Grand Canyon. Overall, the landscape along the route is breathtaking, and there is so much to see.

Worth Driving to the Grand Canyon

With so many stops, you may customize your schedule by adding and removing attractions. You’ll find yourself wishing to return in a year or two to see what else is coming to the Grand Canyon.

When is the Best Time to Road Trip to the Grand Canyon from Denver?

You can travel to the Grand Canyon from Denver any time of year. However, travel is strongly influenced by whether you visit the north or south rims (more on that later).

The most significant time to visit the Grand Canyon from Denver, regardless of which rim you select, is during the spring or fall months. You may not drive into Rocky Mountain National Park in the spring, but the desert sun will be a pleasant sight. Fall is beautiful, especially if you visit the northern rim when the fall colors peak.

Summers are also an option, although they are pretty hot. Monsoon rains exacerbate the dangers of slot canyons. Not to mention that it’s the busiest time of year to visit the Grand Canyon (and anyplace else). Summer may be the best season if you want to drive and don’t want to go somewhere.

Where Should I Stop Between Denver and the Grand Canyon?

As I previously stated, I’ve traveled from Denver to the Grand Canyon several times and seldom saw the same sight twice! There are several spectacular stops between Denver and the Grand Canyon. It takes a lot of work to see them all in one sitting (unless you have a month).

 Denver and the Grand Canyon

If this is your first time visiting the Grand Canyon, there are a few stops you must attend.

Here are a few must-see attractions:

  • Summer is the most fantastic time to explore Rocky Mountain National Park when Trail Ridge Road is accessible. (You can skip this part if you live in Colorado.)
  • Glenwood Springs and Hanging Lake (which may forgotten if you live in Denver)
  • National Monument in Colorado
  • Moab is home to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.
  • The Antelope Canyon
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • National Park of Mesa Verde
  • Monument Valley in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Page, Arizona
  • Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Should I Visit the North Rim, South Rim, or Both?

The first decision you must make is to visit the Grand Canyon’s North or South Rims. You determine what you want to see and do, determining which rim you visit. Of course, you may go to both, but it will take a lot more time.

The North Rim is more than 1,200 feet higher than the South Rim, at 8,297 feet above sea level vs. 7,000 feet in the South. It’s forested and very different from the south rim. As a result, the park is only open from around May 15th to October 15th. They plow the roads regularly throughout the winter to prevent them from closing.

North Rim, South Rim, or Both

However, the North Rim only receives 10% of the traffic that the South Rim does. There are limited views of the Colorado River from the North Rim (the major exception is Toroweap, a separate excursion about 4 hours from the North Rim Park). In a nutshell, there will be fewer people, fewer services, and more prolonged views. From here, you can see how big the canyon is.

The South Rim provides more spectacular vistas, with sheer slopes revealing the mighty Colorado below. The South Rim, on the other hand, feels more like an entertainment park than a national park. There are tour buses everywhere, a lot of people, and a lot of services and conveniences. You’ll have to go below the rim on challenging climbs to acquire a sense of seclusion.

The South Rim is open all year and has fewer winter road closures.

A 4-hour trip separates the two rims, so plan appropriately.

A Local’s Look at the Best Way to Get to the Grand Canyon from Denver

The most excellent option is driving in a circle from Denver to the Grand Canyon. Along the route, you’ll witness many sights and stunning landscapes. This allows you to get the most out of your road trip.

All the sights are taken care of by this schedule. However, you are able to pick the ones you wish to visit. If you are getting bound on time, choose the excursions that appeal most to you.

 Look at the Best Way to Get to the Grand Canyon from Denver

My advice, especially if you live in Denver, is to forego Rocky Mountain National Park and Glenwood Springs, both excellent day excursions. Because this is a quick weekend break in Colorado, you can even stop by the Colorado National Monument.

If you reside in Denver, you may bypass Moab on the way back (unless you’ve never been there) since going to Moab over the weekend is another convenient alternative.

Take note of the minor modifications in the itinerary if you’re visiting the North or South Rims. Both itineraries visit the same places; however, a few days are split up due to driving arrangements.

Denver to Grand Canyon Road Trip Map

Here are maps showing two routes from Denver to the Grand Canyon. One that travels to the South Rim and one that stops at the North Rim to assist you in deciding between the Grand Canyon North and South Rims.

South Rim Route

Here are maps showing two routes from Denver to the Grand Canyon. One that travels to the South Rim and one that stops at the North Rim to assist you in deciding between the Grand Canyon North and South Rims.

South Rim Route

Total Kilometres: 2678 km

Approximate Drive Times: 32 hours

Total Days: 14 – 18

North Rim Route

Glenwood Springs, the Colorado National Monument, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon have also been removed for brevity. Mileage and driving hours may also seen on the itinerary days.

North Rim Route

Total Kilometres: 2760 km

Approximate Drive Times: 32 hours

Full Days: 14 – 18

A Note About Rocky Mountain National Park

The detour through Rocky Mountain National Park is not included on these maps (since the route was cut for the season when I wrote this). This detour, however, adds around 4 hours (with stops) to your first day.

Denver to the Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary

This schedule makes no compromises when viewing sights along the road to the Grand Canyon. It’s a lengthy trip – 14 days, not including time in the Grand Canyon – but you’ll see everything.

I understand you may not have that type of time (le sigh, I’m right? ), so skip the items you don’t want to visit to shorten the trip.

If you want to travel slower or spend more time in a location listed here, consider everything that seems obscure.

Local Tip: You wish extra time. Look for the phrase “must-see Denver to your next stop” at the bottom of each site.

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