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Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon: 4 fun roadside stops

When you plan a family road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, it will be as much about the journey as the destination. From historic sites to animal encounters, you'll love what lies ahead. | By Jeremiah Crossing | October 15, 2021

At just over four hours, the drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon may seem fine to you, but to your kids it may feel like an eternity that (repeatedly) begs the question that so many parents dread: "Are we there yet?" To help you break up the trip — and keep your kids entertained — we've found four fun places for you to stretch your legs and make memories along the way.

  • Historical Hoover Dam: Take a tour or snap keepsake photos of this famous landmark

  • Route 66: Dine on burgers at an iconic diner or learn the history of the road at a museum

  • Animal encounters: Make friends with alpacas or take a safari through an animal sanctuary

Hoover Dam (driving distance: 45 minutes)

As you’re heading out from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, you’ll pass right by the historic Hoover Dam (it's just 30 miles from Vegas). Tickets for a guided tour of the dam are $30 and are only sold on-site. Wait times during peak periods can be long, and the tour is not accessible for visitors with wheelchairs or crutches, but you’ll want to bring a stroller for the younger kids. However, guided power plant tours and self-guided tours of the visitor center are accessible for all. Note: All three tours are included in the price of the guided dam tour but passes for the power plant and the visitor center can be purchased separately. Also, it gets very hot here, so make sure to pack sunscreen, hats and water.

If you'd rather skip the tour and just see the dam, it is best viewed from the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Cars are allowed to cross over the dam, but they’re not allowed to stop. Also, the road does not go through to Arizona, so you will have to turn around to come back to Nevada to continue your road trip.

Route 66

The famous road, Route 66, loosely follows and intersects with I-40 in several locations in Arizona, so families have multiple opportunities to exit the interstate and enjoy some of the sights along the way. In Kingman, Arizona, you'll find gift shops galore where you can pick up a Route 66 passport filled with ideas to help you explore the iconic stretch of highway. And if your crew needs a pick-me-up, the road is dotted with diners, like Mr. D's Route 66 Diner, where you can order burgers, onion rings and homemade root beer.

For a historical look at Route 66, check out the Route 66 Museum and Theater, where you can see reenactments and other performances. If your kids really need to burn off some energy, don't miss the Hualapai Mountain Park, where you can hike, play disc golf and run around the playground. It's also a great place for a picnic, if you have the time.

Alpacas of the Southwest (driving distance: 2 hours)

Just 14 miles east of Kingman, you will see signs for Alpacas of the Southwest. Right off I-40, it's a true desert ranch that is home to about 37 alpacas in a variety of colors.

For $11 per car, your family can watch, feed and pet the alpacas. And the small store offers a variety of products made from alpaca wool, including sweaters, blankets and socks. Keep in mind that the ranch is only open by appointment only, so you’ll need to call in advance.

Keepers of the Wild Wildlife Rescue and Sanctuary (driving distance: 2.5 hours)

Keepers of the Wild Wildlife Rescue and Sanctuary is in the town of Valentine, Arizona, about 30 miles east of Kingman off Route 66. Families can stroll through the nature park or opt to take a guided tour in a big safari bus to view more than 150 animals, including lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, primates and a grizzly bear, as well as birds and wallabies. The sanctuary is open Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesday) and costs $20 for adults ($15 for seniors and military personnel) and $12 for kids ages 3 and older.

Make your Grand Canyon road trip memory

With so many places to stop for photos and fun along the way, your trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon can be just as memorable as the park itself.

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Jeremiah Crossing is always searching for his next travel adventure.

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