Guide to Route 66: Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

Route 66 is 3670 kilometres long and connects Chicago to Los Angeles.

However, the most visited portion of this legendary highway, and an integral part of any western USA road trip, is between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

In my opinion, not only is it the most practical part to visit because it nicely fills the drive between these two major destinations, but it is also the most beautiful.

So here is my guide to the Mother Road, one step at a time.
 

#1. Oatman

las vegas route 66
Oatman Highway

Pick up your Las Vegas rental car and let's go! 

On leaving Las Vegas, head south on Route 95 to Oatman (2 hrs 15 mins). This is where your Route 66 road trip begins.

Travellers too often skip Oatman and start directly in Kingman. Big mistake!

It is often said that the Oatman Highway is one of the most beautiful sections of Route 66. This stretch of highway was officially removed from Route 66 in 1953 in favour of the new Interstate 40 between Kingman and Needles, but it is part of the original, historic Route 66.

Oatman is a typical Western ghost town. Its current population is around 130, whereas at the peak of the gold rush it supported more than 10,000.

Between 1904 and 1931, the area's mines produced more than $36 million worth of gold. Then the vein dried up and the prospectors left the region. The re-routing of Route 66 in 1953 sealed Oatman's fate, which became a ghost town in the 1960s.

Today, the town is rising from its ashes and is home to a hotel, restaurants, gift shops and more.

wild burros nevada
Wild burros

There is also a large population of wild burros, descendants of the beasts of burden brought to the area by long-ago miners, which wander freely through the streets of this magnificent ghost town.

As you continue towards Kingman, you will enter the most scenic section of Route 66 with its winding curves and desert scenery.

About 12 kilometres east of Oatman, you will see Ed’s Camp on your left. Ed’s Camp was built in 1920 to serve passing motorists. However, you will not be able to get close to the abandoned site as it is private property. Please do not trespass, and take photos from the road.

cool springs camp arizona
Cool Springs Camp

2 minutes further on, on your right, is Cool Springs Camp, another rest stop where motorists could find gas, a home-cooked meal, and a place to sleep. Abandoned and later rebuilt in 2001, today it is a must-see attraction of Route 66.

Now continue on to Kingman (30 km / 25 minutes).


#2. Kingman

route 66 history
Route 66 Museum

A return to civilization!

In Kingman, you simply must stop at the Route 66 Museum. More than just a museum, the building also houses the official Arizona tourism office.

route 66 from Canyon to Las Vegas
Mr. D'z Route 66 Diner

Did you work up an appetite during your tour of the museum? All you have to do is cross the street to Mr. D’z, an old-fashioned diner from the glory years of Route 66 offering classic American fare and a 1950s decor.

Continue on the 66 towards Hackberry, which is about 45 kilometers away (40 minutes). This is said to be the longest straight section of the Mother Road.

 

#3. Hackberry

route 66 near Grand Canyon
Hackberry General Store

Hackberry General Store is a true icon of not only Route 66 but also driving in the USA itself!

If you ever thought about a road trip in the States, you probably had this scene in mind.

Get your camera ready because Route 66 doesn't get any more authentic than this!

The abandoned cars dotting the landscape give this fascinating spot a certain ghost town feel. It is even said that the store was an inspiration for the creators of Disney's Cars.

Continue to Peach Springs, 40 kilometres away (25 minutes).

 

#4.Peach Springs
 

Make a quick stop in Peach Springs, which has nothing much of interest to see except the American Indian culture of the Hualapai Tribe.

Hualapai Lodge is the best place in the area to spend the night.

Continue to Grand Canyon Caverns, 45 kilometres away (30 minutes).

 

#5. Grand Canyon Caverns

grand canyon cavern
Grand Canyon Caverns

Grand Canyon Caverns are the largest dry caverns in the Unites States, and the third largest in the world. The lack of water in these rare caverns prevents the formation of stalagmites and stalactites.

Here you will find one of the most unique places in the USA to spend the night: a hotel room 80 metres underground! Don't hesitate to take a guided tour.

The site also features an authentic diner, a typical Route 66 gas station and a gift shop.

Keep going to Seligman, 40 kilometres to the east (25 minutes).

 

#6. Seligman

seligman usa route 66
Seligman

Seligman is known as the "Birthplace of Historic Route 66" and the home of its rebirth in the 1980s. It is also a required stop along your pilgrimage to the Mother Road.

Start your visit by picking up a map of the walking tour at Angel’s Gift Shop and Welcome Center, where you can learn all about the town's fascinating history.

Diner route 66 las vegas
Delgadillos Snow Cap Restaurant

Above all, be sure to grab an ice cream cone at Delgadillos Snow Cap. This is my personal favourite along Route 66. Enjoy your ice cream as you wander through the collection of old cars and memorabilia behind the restaurant, a real open-air museum with a good sense of humour.

Continue to Williams, 70 kilometres further east (40 minutes).
 

 

#7. Williams

williams grand canyon
Williams

Founded in 1881, Williams was named after William “Old Bill" Williams, a famous trapper, trader, scout and mountain man.

Don't miss the colourful historic downtown with its authentic small-town atmosphere and history.

You will find several restaurants and shops along the main street. As the interesting section is not very long, it is easily visited on foot. It should take less than an hour.

From here, you can ride in style to the Grand Canyon on a restored historic train. The Grand Canyon Railway offers several Grand Canyon packages that are sure to delight both young and old alike.

If you feel like you've had enough, you can drive directly to the legendary Grand Canyon National Park via la Route 64 (a 1-hour drive). If not, your Route 66 road trip ends in Flagstaff, 55 kilometres away (40 minutes).

 

#8. Flagstaff

flagstaff on route 66
Flagstaff

At an altitude of 2,300 metres, Flagstaff is the highest point of Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles.

When the accommodations near the Grand Canyon are full, which happens very often, visitors come here to spend the night.

Downtown Flagstaff is less charming than Williams, but its historical importance makes it a must for true Route 66 buffs.

You can now head north on Route 180 to the Grand Canyon. It will take you about 90 minutes to get there.  

And there you go!
 

Did I forget any must-see attractions along this iconic stretch of Route 66? Don't hesitate to leave your comments below!

Karolane Lessard

An enthusiast of both our vibrant cities & great oudoors, my life revolves around travel & adventure. It's a no brainer that I have to share the wonders & secrets of my neck of the woods with other travelling souls. Enjoy the journey!

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19 comments

Robin October 13, 2022, 03h11
I’m so glad I came upon this blog! Some years back one of my girlfriends and I took a two-week cross country road trip from Buffalo, NY to Las Vegas and one of my favorite places along the way that we discovered was Williams, Arizona. Next week my husband and I are flying to Vegas, where we’re renting a car to drive Route 66 to Williams. We plan to make the most of our trip, staying at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and taking the train to the Grand Canyon and back. Your blog just made our trip plans so much better, now that we know the great places to stop and see along the way. Thank you!
Answer
Karolane Lessard October 18, 2022, 10h00
Hi Robin,
Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad the blog could facilitate the planning of your trip.
Enjoy the journey :)
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Jacqui September 21, 2022, 20h49
We want to do Route 66 from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon then down to Las Vegas on bikes. I would assume you can reverse this itenary for Grand Canyon to Las Vegas. Would be interested in your view from Los Angeles to los Vegas via grand canyon by motorbik
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Karolane Lessard September 23, 2022, 17h28
Hi Jacqui,
You can definitely reverse the itinerary and I personally believe Route 66 is even better on a bike!
For the Los Angeles - Vegas portion, here is our guide : https://www.authentikusa.com/gb-en/blog/route-66-from-los-ange...
I hope this helps !
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Sue August 27, 2022, 19h05
Hi
This is a great post, Thanks for sharing. We be going to Las Vegas In Oct/Nov , I be renting a car and take the road step by step and staying in Flagstaff for the night and back next day toward Las Vegas.. Would you know what is the best way going to Grand Canyon from Flagstaff? And how long the drive is?
Regards
Sue
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Karolane Lessard September 4, 2022, 12h18
Hi Sue,
You can head north on Route 180 to the Grand Canyon. It will take you about 90 minutes to get there.
Enjoy your road trip !
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Ash June 2, 2022, 03h23
Hey, want to do this as part of the American Dream Trip from this website. Do you have advice on which direction we should travel and why? We will be landing in LA and looping round from there. Thanks in advance.
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Karolane Lessard June 10, 2022, 16h47
Hi Ash,
We could definitely adapt this itinerary to be a loop from L.A.
My advice would be to start with Route 66 towards Barstow and end by the California coast. That way, you would be driving down Highway 1 on the ocean side, which would be the perfect way to end the road trip !
I hope this helps :)
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Stephanie April 6, 2022, 20h50
So glad I happened upon your blog as my husband and I plan our trip to Vegas and the Grand Canyon! We want to take this route and make the most of these stops for sure. Do you recommend we take our time with it and stay the night in one of these towns on the way to the Grand Canyon, and if so where is the best place to stay? Or is there enough time to make these stops without rushing through it and still get to the Grand Canyon for the night?
Answer
Karolane Lessard April 8, 2022, 15h53
Hi Stephanie,
If you leave early in the morning, you should be able to make most of these stops without rushing too much, but it will be a big day.
If you do have time to spend a night somewhere on this stretch, you can do so in either Kingman or Seligman, as they both have a variety of hotels and motels that are very typical of the golden age of Route 66. It does add to the experience!
If you're looking for something a little more out of the ordinary, you can sleep at the Grand Canyon caverns in Peach Springs.
I hope this helps !
Answer