A Brief Guide to the Perfect Phoenix to Salt Lake City Road Trip

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  • Phoenix
  • Grand Canyon
  • Las Vegas
  • Salt Lake City
  • Roadside assistance
  • Cheap car insurance
A Phoenix to Salt Lake City road trip will take you through spectacular sights like the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and the one and only Sin City.
You could make the trip in a solid day of driving—but where’s the fun in that? The drive between Phoenix and Salt Lake City has plenty to offer in the way of natural attractions and must-do activities, and it’s an ideal jaunt if you’re looking for a short getaway.
To make sure you hit all the best spots, the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has compiled the perfect itinerary to take you from the Valley of the Sun to SLC.
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Start in Phoenix, AZ

People don’t talk about Phoenix as a destination very often, but it’s a pretty cool city and it’s not hard to have a good time. If you aren’t anxious to get on the road (or if you already live here), take the morning to enjoy Arizona’s capital city.

What to do in Phoenix

The Desert Botanical Garden is nestled in between the red rocks of the Papago Buttes and offers visitors a trip through the surprisingly diverse and vibrant natural flora of the Sonoran Desert. Be ready for towering cacti, stunning wildflowers, and more succulents than you can shake a fist at!

Where to eat in Phoenix

Hit up Pointe in Tyme ($$) for breakfast. It’s a beautiful restaurant with a massive fireplace, hardwood interior, and lots of natural daylight. Their elevated breakfast menu offers both unique dishes and American standards.
A purple Chihuly glass sculpture sits amidst tall grass and barrel cacti in the desert botanical gardens of Phoenix.
Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix

Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

224 miles, 3 hours 25 minutes
In terms of natural beauty, it’s difficult to beat one of the seven natural wonders of the world. As you head towards the Grand Canyon, get off Highway 17 at Stoneman Lake Road and drive through Coconino National Forest to reach Mormon Lake.
The detour only adds a few minutes to your drive and Mormon Lake offers great views of the forest, fields, and nearby mountains. It’s also a good spot to go for a swim if you want to cool off before heading deeper into the desert.

What to do at the Grand Canyon

Once you’re at the Canyon, get out and marvel. Take a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway that runs along a scenic route near the canyon’s southern rim. If you’d rather walk, the South Rim Trail is an easy walking path that takes you by the Yavapai Geology Museum and out to the famous Mather Point.

Where to eat at the Grand Canyon

Just outside the Grand Canyon is a small town called Grand Canyon Junction. It’s a good opportunity to stop and get some lunch before hitting the canyon itself.
There are lots of delicious options for food in Grand Canyon Village—and some of them offer stunning views of the canyon from the dining tables. El Tovar Dining Room ($$$$), located in the historic El Tovar Hotel, is the place to be if you’re looking for fine dining in a beautiful setting.

Where to stay at the Grand Canyon

Stay at Kachina Lodge to wake up to a shocking view of the Grand Canyon. If you don’t feel like paying for the bedroom view, Yavapai Lodge is a more affordable option that blends natural beauty with convenience.
A group of girls wearing flannels embrace while looking into the valleys of Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, NV

253 miles, 4 hours 15 minutes
It might not look like it on the map, but driving through Vegas only adds an hour to your total driving time. And it’s definitely worth the extra hour to break up the desert monotony with Sin City itself.
Along the way, stop in Kingman and hike the Hualapai Peak Trail to take in the vast desert from a high vantage point. It’s about eight miles to the peak and back, so prepare accordingly—the trek will eat up a sizable portion of your day.

What to do in Las Vegas

Vegas was essentially designed with tourists in mind, so you’ll never be short on things to do.
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay offers a walk-through experience through a massive aquarium full of sharks, coral, and tropical fish of all shapes and sizes.
If you’re all about landmarks (or massive feats of civil engineering) the Hoover Dam is sure to please. There are even tours that will pick you up and bring you back to the strip, so you can get comfortable in your hotel beforehand and not worry about driving for the rest of the day.
The High Roller at The Linq is a massive 550-foot-tall ferris wheel that gives you a bird’s eye perspective of Las Vegas. Ride during the day to see the desert landscape or at night to take in the enormity of neon lights underneath.
Pro Tip Upgrade your ticket for the High Roller to include access to an open bar during the 30-minute ride.

Where to eat in Las Vegas

Vegas is a hotspot in the culinary world, so you’ll find plenty of good grub here.
Mizumi ($$$) offers exceptional (and elegant!) sushi and sashimi with signature cocktails. Ask if a floating pagoda table is available for an incredible experience.
If meat is what you’re after, head to Bazaar Meat ($$) in Sahara Las Vegas or Barry’s Downtown Prime ($$) at Circa Resort.

Where to stay in Las Vegas

Choose one of the city’s famous names like Bellagio or Planet Hollywood for the full experience. Most hotels offer a range of room categories, so you’ll find budget-friendly options alongside budget-busting ones.
Geometric floors and ornate ceilings deck out a Renaissance themed hall in The Venetian in Las Vegas
The Venetian, Las Vegas

Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, UT

420 miles, 6 hours
The final day of your journey runs through some huge mountains and straddles the line between desert and a handful of national parks. It’s a long haul, but with plenty to look at during the ride.

What to do along the way

Kanarra Falls is just around 2.5 hours into your drive, just outside of Kanarraville. The falls are located in the iconic twisting red stone tunnels of Zion National Park— definitely something to see.
For a break during the latter part of your drive, stop at Yuba State Park. It features a stunning desert oasis surrounded by mountains and is a great place to take a swim to cool off before hopping back in the car.

What to do in Salt Lake City

Mission accomplished, you’re in Salt Lake City, Utah! While you’re here, explore the crystal blue Great Salt Lake by boat and then head to Salt Lake’s massive Red Butte Garden to admire the local plant life.
The Clark Planetarium features over 10,000 square feet of fascinating exhibits and activities. And you don’t need to be Mormon to visit the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ headquarters at Temple Square. The huge, intricately designed temple stands out as the main distinguishing feature of the city.

Where to eat in Salt Lake City

If you’re hungry, check out Valter’s Osteria ($$$$) for classy Italian, Takashi ($$) for sushi, or Table X ($$) for an upscale, modern dining experience.
The white stone LDS temple of Salt Lake City, surrounded by pink and purple flowers in spring
Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

Why you need roadside assistance

You’ll drive nearly 1,000 miles during this single road trip—meaning you’ll have many chances to pop a tire (or worse). A breakdown can quickly turn a good time into a huge hassle, possibly even adding days to your trip.
Protect yourself with a solid roadside assistance program from Jerry. For just $6.99 a month you’ll get access to free lockout assistance, tire replacement, battery jumps, and much more. Even if you don’t break down this time, you’ll be glad to have the peace of mind.
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Finding affordable car insurance for your trip

You won’t want to head out on your Phoenix to Salt Lake City road trip without good car insurance, either.
If you want to find great deals on insurance fast, get Jerry. A licensed broker that offers end-to-end support, Jerry gathers affordable quotes, helps you switch plans, and will even help you cancel your old policy. It’s free to sign up and the average Jerry user saves $897 per year on car insurance!
Jerry blew my mind, honestly. From start to finish, using the app took me 10 minutes and I ended up with $100 of savings a month. Best of all, customer service answered all my questions about rental car reimbursement and roadside assistance.” ––Savanna R.
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