It would be easy to think of Flagstaff, Arizona as a portal to the wonders of the Grand Canyon and the sexy, Instagrammable spirituality of Sedona—and it is. Both places make for the classic road trip from the glitz of Vegas to Arizona’s natural beauty. But Flagstaff is worth a trip on its own from Las Vegas, and it’s a completely manageable distance of 253 miles between the two cities.
Should you decide on the road trip option, you’ll travel through Boulder City and over Hoover Dam, through Williams (home of one of the best-preserved sections of historic Route 66), and you can visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Park and Wupatki National Monument (the preserved ancient pueblos of ancestors of the Pueblo and Hopi people). Although you can make the drive in a half-day, we’d suggest devoting a day to seeing all the sights along the way. Sitting at an elevation of 7,000 feet, Flagstaff itself is the highest point on Route 66, and, nestled in a Ponderosa pine forest, may not even feel like what you thought Arizona would be. Stargazers flock here: because of its low light pollution and studious enforcement of stargazing lighting conditions, it was named the world’s first “International Dark Sky City,” by the International Dark Sky Association—a designation whose value you’ll understand if you visit the world-famous Lowell Observatory.
There are plenty of ways to travel between Las Vegas and Flagstaff. Do keep in mind that many people do use Flagstaff as a base for exploring the Grand Canyon, whose peak travel season is summer, so hotels sell out and the city can tend to get crowded. Making the trip between March and May or September through November will generally give you the most moderate temperatures and easiest hotel booking.
|Car||4 hours one way||253 miles||Exploring on the way on the way|
|Bus||From 5.5 hours one way||From $23 one way||Budget travelers and those who don't want to drive|
|Plane||3.5 hours each way||From $59 each way||Those in a hurry and frequent fliers|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get from Las Vegas to Flagstaff?
For those who don’t mind making a stop or two, taking a bus from Las Vegas to Flagstaff is a budget-friendly and time-saving idea. Greyhound bus rides leave from the Las Vegas Bus Station near the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown, making stops in Bullhead City and Kingman, Ariz., arriving in Flagstaff’s downtown in around 5.5 hours. Trips start from $23 each way and include free Wi-Fi and individual power outlets.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get from Las Vegas to Flagstaff?
Flying from Las Vegas to Flagstaff actually doesn’t save you time, as you might think. Most flights stop in Phoenix or Denver, adding hours to your travel time. If you’re committed to flying commercially between the cities, the shortest flight time is three hours and 30 minutes—stopping in Phoenix—roughly the same amount of time it would take you to drive. You can charter private flights through companies such as Privé (choose from as small an aircraft as a light jet to a jet airliner that will accommodate 477 passengers), though you’ll need to call them for a quote. If you’re feeling splurgy and are traveling with a group, chartering a helicopter flight through Maverick will cost around $7,480 and take 3.5 hours round trip.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Flagstaff?
The best time to travel to Flagstaff is anytime it’s not crowded with Grand Canyon visitors. Generally, that means traveling between March and May (when high temperatures are usually in the high 60s Fahrenheit) and September through November (with daytime high temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the low 60s). Since so many people choose to travel to the Grand Canyon in the middle of the summer and use Flagstaff as a base, you’ll also find gentler hotel prices during off-peak times.
What's the Most Scenic Route to Flagstaff?
Driving will afford you the most scenic trip from Vegas to Flagstaff, particularly if you take side trips to the Hoover Dam, the otherworldly Sunset Crater Volcano National Park, and explore the surprisingly green surrounds of the Ponderosa pine forest that surrounds Flagstaff. If you’re a sucker for the Great American Road Trip, you’ll love this drive.
Heading from Las Vegas on I-93, you’ll reach the Nevada-Arizona border at the Colorado River and take a quick detour for the dam. Following 93, you’ll find Kingman, Arizona, dubbed “the Heart of Historic Route 66,” (and the starting point for a side trip to Lake Havasu City, which contains the old London Bridge—purchased from the British Government). Along the way to Flagstaff, you’ll pass through the wacky-and-wonderful, only-in-America small town of Seligman, a stop for old Route 66 memorabilia (and the unmissable Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In, which has been flipping burgers since the early 1950s). You’ll pass through another Route 66 throwback town in Williams, where one of the best-preserved sections of the historic road passes right through the center of town (and where you can take the Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim).
What Time Is It in Flagstaff?
Las Vegas is on Pacific Standard Time which is one hour behind Flagstaff. When it is noon in Flagstaff it will be 11 a.m. in Las Vegas. As a note, besides towns in the Navajo Nation, Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Saving Time so when you arrive in Flagstaff, it will be Mountain Standard Time all year round.
What Is There to Do in Flagstaff?
With its moderate weather, high elevation, and incredible hiking locations, you’ll find most of Flagstaff’s best attractions outside. The city was built along the railroad track, and the Historic Downtown and Railroad District is a fun area that feels both cool and small-town, since its 1900s-era buildings have been restored and converted to galleries, breweries, and fun restaurants. Because it caters to lots of visitors, you’ll find plenty of live, open-air music in good weather and lots of places to enjoy a drink al fresco. You won’t want to miss the world-famous Lowell Observatory, which has occupied Flagstaff since 1894 and is responsible for some important findings (make a reservation to get a tour with the observatory’s staff at night). The Wupatki National Monument, which is part of a group of national monuments that include Sunset Crater Volcano and the 3,600-acre Walnut Canyon National Monument (incredible for its ancient dwellings carved into cliffs), is a don’t miss. You can walk through the red rocks and see ancient ruins of the people who once lived here.