If you find yourself in LA and you’d like to drive from one beautiful spot to the next, consider taking an LA to Grand Canyon Road Trip.
This road trip itinerary will take you from the sunny beaches of Santa Monica to the stunning red rock canyons of Grand Canyon National Park, with plenty of fun stops in between.
Pack your bags, gas up your car, and let’s hit the road.
LA to Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary
This Los Angeles to Grand Canyon road trip will take anywhere from 4 to 7 days or longer, depending on how long you would like to stay in each location.
This itinerary includes 6 stops including Los Angeles, Cabazon Dinosaurs, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Sedona and the Grand Canyon. I recommend staying overnight for at least one night in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Sedona, and of course, the Grand Canyon.
You may wish to add on additional nights to some of these locations if you’ve never been before. Personally, I think Palm Springs can be enjoyed for at least two nights.
The total driving distance from each of these 6 stops is 616 miles. Your longest drive will be found between Joshua Tree and Sedona.
I also include a hotel recommendation in each destination based on location, price, and how nice it is. I always try to find the nicest hotel I can afford, in the best location. So my hotel recommendations follow those guidelines.
Stop 1: Los Angeles
We’ll start this LA to Grand Canyon road trip off along the sandy beaches of Santa Monica. Here you can enjoy a day sunbathing at the beach, riding a bike down the boardwalk to Venice, or riding the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier.
In the afternoon head west towards Hollywood where you can enjoy some shopping along Melrose and an afternoon hike at Griffith Park.
In the evening, make your way to downtown Los Angeles for dinner and drinks. Some of my favorite restaurants in downtown LA are Bestia, Wurstkucke, and Father’s Office.
After dinner, enjoy drinks in the Arts District at one of the local breweries, or head to Eighty Two to play pinball and 80s classic arcade games.
Where to Stay in Los Angeles:
- The Standard: Trendy hotel located in the heart of the Sunset Strip.
- FreeHand: Trendy hotel with a rooftop tiki bar located in downtown Los Angeles.
- The Chateau Marmont: Upscale hotel on the strip, popular celebrity hangout.
Next Destination: Cabazon Dinosaurs
Distance: 91 miles
Stop 2: Cabazon Dinosaurs
The Cabazon Dinosaurs are a roadside attraction located about half way between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. You’ll see the two massive dinosaurs along the right side of the freeway as you get close to Cabazon.
The two dinosaurs consist of a Tyranosaurus Rex and a Brontosaurus, aptly named Mr. Rex and Dinny the Dinosaur. Mr. Rex stands about 65 feet tall while Dinny the Dinosaur comes in at about 150 feet long.
The Cabazon Dinosaurs were originally created to attract diners to the restaurant next door. However, the former restaurant has since been sold and is now something else. Lucky for us, the dinosaurs remain.
There is no cost to visit the Cabazon Dinosaurs, though there is a museum on site which does charge a few dollars for admission.
Next Stop: Palm Springs
Distance: 17 miles
Stop 3: Palm Springs
If you’re a fan of architecture and pretty desert cities, you are just going to love Palm Springs.
Palm Springs is best known for its midcentury modern architecture, which you can see on display throughout the city. This entire town is photogenic, so have your camera ready.
Palm Springs is also a popular destination for girlfriend getaways. There are tons of fun hotels with courtyard pool parties that play great music and keep the fruity drinks flowing. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, consider staying the the Ace or the Saguaro.
Palm Springs is also known for its trendy restaurants and bars. You’ll find plenty of delicious options for brunch, lunch and dinner. Walk along Palm Canyon Drive if you’re not sure where to start.
In the evenings, there are tons of options for great cocktails. One of my favorites is the Tonga Hut, which serves some of the best tiki themed cocktails you can find.
In between all the food and drinks, leave some time for shopping. Palm Springs is dotted with upscale shopping options and trendy boutiques. You’ll almost always find something cute to take home with you.
Where to Stay in Palm Springs:
- The Saguaro: Hip hotel with colorful courtyard and fun pool parties.
- Ace Hotel: Trendy hotel with upscale design, restaurant, bar, pool and spa. They are also pet friendly.
Next Destination: Joshua Tree
Distance: 34 miles
Stop 4: Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree is a desert town and national park located just a short drive north of Palm Springs. It’s a popular weekend getaway destination for Angelenos during the fall and spring.
Joshua Tree National Park is known for its iconic Joshua Trees, which are bushy and green with branches twisted in all directions. The trees are beautiful to photograph with the sparse desert landscape in the background.
The park is popular for photographers, hikers, and rock climbers but it never really gets all that busy. Try to arrive early in the morning and you may even find you have many stops all to yourself.
Unless you plan to do some hiking or rock climbing, you should be able to make the drive through Joshua Tree in a few hours, stopping to explore and enjoy the view along the way.
AirBnBs in Joshua Tree:
- HareBnB: Rabbit themed mid century modern tiny home in the desert just outside Joshua Tree National Park and a short distance to downtown Joshua Tree.
- Cactus Jax: Spacious cottage with large outdoor patio and fire pit.
Next Destination: Sedona
Distance: 360 miles
Stop 5: Sedona
Sedona is such a unique and fun stop on this LA to Grand Canyon road trip. It’s a small city with stunning red rock formations and quite the eclectic vibe.
Sedona is extremely popular for photographers due to its stunning natural beauty. Believe me, you’ll be snapping tons of pictures too.
Sedona also known as an excellent destination for astral photography due to the low light pollution in and around the area. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to photograph the stars, this is the place to do it.
Even if you’re not into photographing the stars, try to get outside on a clear night. You’ll see so many stars in the sky it will blow your mind. It’s beautiful.
Sedona is also known for its hiking. There are tons of trails that weave back and forth up the various red rock formations in the desert. One of the most popular is Cathedral Rock, which offers stunning views once you reach the top.
You’ll also find an energy vortex at the top, one of many scattered around the desert surrounding Sedona. These energy votexes are believed to be locations where energy radiates either upward, or spiraling downward.
In case you can’t tell, Sedona is known for its alternative healing and spirutual practices, so enjoy this destination with an open mind. You’ll find plenty of yoga and meditations studios here as well.
Where to stay in Sedona:
- L Auberge de Sedona: Upscale resort with spacious rooms, restaurant, and bar in the heart of Sedona.
- Amara Resort and Spa: Midrange hotel in the heart of Sedona with pool and spa.
Next Destination: Grand Canyon National Park
Distance: 114 miles
Stop 6: Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is one of my favorite stops in the Southwestern United States. There’s really no place like it.
If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon before, you’ll want to spend a few hours just enjoying the view from the various lookout points along the South Rim of the canyon. Each lookout offers a unique perspective and another chance to marvel at the beauty that mother nature can create.
You can make a mini Grand Canyon road trip by starting at the easternmost lookout point and driving west to stop at each lookout along the way. The easternmost lookout is Desert View Watchtower which you can easily navigate to with Google Maps.
I recommend heading over to some of the west facing viewpoints about an hour or so before sunset. You do not want to miss a Grand Canyon sunset.
Besides admiring the view, Grand Canyon is also a popular destination for hiking. There is a trail that will even take you all the way from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim. You do need to prepare in advance for this hike, but it is an option if you’re an avid hiker.
Where to stay near the Grand Canyon:
If you don’t want to pay National Park prices, you can stay in the town of Tusayan just south of the park’s entrance. You’ll find plenty of lodging and dining options here.
- The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon: Rustic lodge with a bar, restaurant, and a pool. This is where I stayed during one of my visits, and the hotel is surprisingly nice for being described as a “rustic lodge.” Stay here if you can get a good deal.
- Best Western Permier Grand Canyon Squire: Budget friendly but comfortable.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Ultimate LA to Grand Canyon Road Trip itinerary and that it helps you plan a trip of your own. If you would like to support this blog please consider sharing this post. Thanks for reading.
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Eden FitePart-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds
I help busy people find creative ways to travel more.