Although it’s more than a 12-hour drive from Reno, Nevada down to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the trip will give you more than a few memorable slices of the scenery, culture, and sights of the country’s West/Southwest region. In fact, it would be a waste to blow through this much of the country in a day or two, so allow as much time as you can to take some scenic detours and shake off that driving fatigue.
You’ll wind up making an inverted “J” shape, since (after heading down the western edge of Nevada) you’ll want to drive east into Arizona and turn north so you can approach the Grand Canyon from the south, making a little hook in the last leg of your trip.
The obvious stop along the way is Las Vegas, near the border between the two states. Whether you want to break up your drive with a luxury hotel, put your change into some slot machines along the Strip, enjoy a cold drink in a classy lounge, or take the family to the Adventuredome (the largest indoor theme park in the U.S.), you’ll want time to make the most of it.
When you start out from Reno, though, exploring around Lake Tahoe (a lake that splits between Nevada and California) is an absolute must! The Nevada side has characteristics of a ‘Wild West’ desert, with bizarre places like Silver City and Virginia City, old mines, cemeteries, and ghost towns; the California side has the lush mountains of the Sierras (which, incidentally, trap the moisture from moving east, causing the startling change in scenery as you drive over the border), crystal clear waters, and unbeatable ski areas.
Another potential stop along the way is Death Valley, which is over the Californian border near the bottom of Nevada; it’s the lowest place in North America (Badwater Basin is 282 feet [86 meters] below sea level!) with the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the world (134 degrees Fahrenheit [57 degrees Celsius]). It’s a surreal, unforgettable place that has a beauty all its own.
You’ll probably want to have your Grand Canyon accommodation figured out before you set off from Reno—this way, when you reach your ultimate destination, you won’t be bothered with the hassle of improvising; that’s one more worry you can check off your list as you enjoy one of the all-American road trips!