You can’t visit the Grand Canyon without going to the Hoover Dam.
I mean, they go hand and hand.
One is a marvel of humanity and what the human brain is capable of, inspiring greatness in intellectual and physical perfection and the other is a wonder of nature and what time, weather and geology can do to make one of the seven wonders of the world.
Both amazing in their own right and both are only four hours driving time from each other. There are also many stops along the way to turn this drive into one incredible road trip that you didn’t know you needed.
Can you visit Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam in one day?
Yes, you can. From Hoover Dam to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon is just under two hours drive time. If you want to get a taste of the Grand Canyon and experience the Skywalk and have little time for a road trip, then this is what you should put into your agenda.
However, if you have the time and you want a road trip that has lots of stops that will give you the flavor of Route 66 and its history, opt for the trip from Hoover Dam to Grand Canyon South Rim. This trip will take you 260 miles and as little as 4 hours or as much as a week, but it will take you past some iconic places that are worth a visit.
What will I see on my trip from The Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon?
The Hoover Dam deserves a full day of exploration. From walking the incredible heights of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge to exploring the bowels of the turbine room, the Hoover Dam is a feat of epic proportions that deserves your time.
But, after you see and learn all that there is available at Hoover Dam, you can explore the route all the way to the Grand Canyon and stop at the little towns and interesting roadside attractions that make this trip one worth doing.
When you see Lake Mead for the first time it is breathtaking. The blue waters against the backdrop of the Black Mountains is something that you will never forget.
Stop by the Visitors Center and watch the short video and learn from the exhibits that teach about the geology and history of the area. Then take one of the three easy hikes that will take you to various points above the lake so that you can enjoy being in the outdoors for a while before you continue on. There are also great beaches and campgrounds if you happen to be traveling in an RV and want to stay for a few days.
Arizona Route 66 Museum
After crossing over the Arizona line, you’ll come to the historic town of Kingman. In its heyday, Kingman was the “King” of Route 66 with vacationers, businessmen and workers on their cross country trek, stopping for everything from entertainment to lodging. Hence, the Arizona Route 66 Museum was established.
Stop here and enjoy the museum video that will really help you appreciate what Route 66 meant to the American traveler before the introduction of Interstate 40 changed everything. Highlights include an electric car section and a great little gift shop for all your refrigerator magnet and car decal needs.
Grand Canyon Caverns
From Kingman, if you decide to travel along Route 66 instead of Interstate 40, you will come upon the Grand Canyon Caverns between Peach Springs and Yampai. The caverns are the largest dry limestone caverns in the United States. You can pick from four different tours of the caverns and when you are finished enjoy dinner inside the caverns. If you choose, there are also bunkhouses and a campground to rest your bones at the end of the day.
Alpacas of the Southwest
If you continue on Interstate 40, you have to stop at the only place you can get authentic alpaca socks! You can also feed the friendly beasts who provide the woolly warmth for your metatarsals. Feed and pet the 37 alpacas that live on this ranch and get a selfie with one of these docile animals. This stop will be fun and entertaining and a great place to experience something out of the ordinary.
Considered to be the birthplace of Route 66 Seligman is also thought to be the inspiration behind the town in Pixar’s, “Cars” movie that had my son obsessed when he was young.
Stopping here will transport you back in time when the simple things in life made it all that much sweeter. Highlights of this stop will be a tour of the Return to the 50’s Museum, a greasy burger at the Roadkill Cafe and a jaunt at the Motoporium to check out all the classic cars of the era.
Seligman would also be a great place to spend the night is you find yourself road weary. Stay at the Historic Route 66 Motel and stay in a Route 66 memorabilia themed room.
This is a must stop if you are an animal lover or have kids in the car. Bearizona is a drive -thru experience but also has a walkable tour as well. See animals such as wolves, porcupines, bison, bighorn sheep, bobcats, jaguars and of course, bears! Allow two to four hours for this pit stop before you make the home stretch to the Grand Canyon.
Williams, Arizona, home of Bearizona also makes a good place to stay if visiting the Grand Canyon and you want the amenities of a larger city. Although it is still 60 miles from the South Rim, many people choose to stay here for a better selection of accommodations and restaurants.
Once you’ve reached Tusayan, you have reached the “Door to the Grand Canyon”. At just two miles from the South Rim Entrance Gate, this is also a good place to stay if you aren’t staying inside the park. There are 22 hotels, motels and lodges to stay inside and outside of the park. Restaurant choices are more limited than Williams, but there are a dozen restaurants from fast food to gourmet dinners.
The Grand Canyon
You have made it to your destination and what a wild ride it has been. You’ve learned about the history of Route 66, made some furry friends, and added spelunking to your list of growing skills to brag about.
Now, enjoy one of the seven wonders of the world in all its splendor. Start at the South Rim Visitors Center Plaza and learn about all there is to do at the South Rim. Containing the most activities in the Grand Canyon, you can hike the Bright Angel Trail, visit the dozens of viewpoints by shuttle or car and take in the museums that teeter on the edge of the canyon itself.
At the end of the day experience a magnificent Grand Canyon sunset and watch the walls of the canyon change from orange to red to deep purple, then stay for the Milky Way show before you fall into a slumber.
The trek from the Hoover Dam to The Grand Canyon doesn’t have to be a boring car ride to another amazing stop. In this case the journey can also be your destination.