There are three routes from Phoenix to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the closest (and most crowded) section of the Grand Canyon. Each way takes about the same amount of time—about 4 hours—so the route you choose depends more on how you want to kick off your adventure.
For 230 miles of straight freeway driving, head north on Interstate 17 towards Flagstaff, then merge onto I-40 West towards Williams. At State Route 64 (Exit 164), go north towards the Tusayan, a one-horse town a mile south of the park entrance. Take advantage of classic Southwestern high-desert landscapes with a detour. From I-40, take Exit 201 onto Highway 89 towards Cameron, then head west onto State Route 64 at the roundabout until you reach the park’s eastern entrance at Desert View.
For a forested route through the mountains, stay north on I-17 through Flagstaff. Hang left on US 180, then right onto SR 64 at Valle towards the park entrance. Highway 180 is at a high enough elevation that it can be ice over when temperatures drop below freezing. If you’re traveling to the Grand Canyon in winter, consider driving one of the other routes to the South Rim.
If you’re headed to the Grand Canyon for serenity, consider skipping the busy South Rim for the under-visited North Rim, a 350-mile, seven-hour drive from Phoenix. The trip starts out heading north on I-17 to Flagstaff, then east on I-40 before taking Exit 201 onto US 89. At Bitter Springs, head left on US 89A to Jacob Lake, then continue on SR 67 to the North Rim.