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Grand Canyon

North America > United States > Grand Canyon

See: Why rent a car in Grand Canyon ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Grand Canyon?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Grand Canyon?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Grand Canyon car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Grand Canyon with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Grand Canyon? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Grand Canyon, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Naturally, this is really going to depend on how you are planning on getting to the Grand Canyon region in the first place. One of the most popular ways to see the Grand Canyon is to do an excursion from Las Vegas, but this can be in a rental car, it might be by tour bus, and some people also take helicopter trips. A shorter day trip from Vegas would be to visit the West Rim and the Grand Canyon Skywalk – but this is very much a packaged attraction, and it’s quite different to the Grand Canyon National Park itself, which is some four hours’ driving to the east.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Grand Canyon is in car rental price band: 5/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Grand Canyon? 

Sometimes. Economy rental prices are average by global standards.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Grand Canyon between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 4/10

Non car score:10/10

Balance: 1

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


It is also popular to visit the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, and many people also do this in a tour bus or using a rental car.

This Grand Canyon car advice is based on people who are arriving in the Grand Canyon area by plane, by bus or by train, and who therefore don’t already have their own set of wheels available. In terms of flights, it’s worth pointing out that there are actually many different airports which server the Grand Canyon area, and out of these, there are 2 main airports which are actually billed as serving the Grand Canyon with commercial service. The first of these is simply known as the Grand Canyon airport, and this is the closest to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. From here, a short taxi transfer will take you directly to the entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. Although the Grand Canyon airport is mainly used for sightseeing flights, it’s also possible to get a commercial flight here from Phoenix. Grand Canyon West airport mainly serves the Skywalk, and is not considered in our Grand Canyon car rental advice.

Why? Visiting Grand Canyon using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Grand Canyon ?

The major airport serving the Grand Canyon is situated just outside the town of Flagstaff, Arizona, and this airport has scheduled service from Phoenix as well as a very small number of other cities in the South West. However, many visitors to Arizona might well prefer just to fly to Phoenix and then pick up a rental car there – this avoids the expense of the flight up to the Grand Canyon, and is also much greater choice of car hire options in Phoenix.

Why not? Visiting Grand Canyon without a car

Why don't you need a car in Grand Canyon ?

So there’s actually quite a good chance that if you arrive in the Grand Canyon area without a car, you might well become by bus, or arriving by Amtrak train. Amtrak provide Thruway coach service from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon National Park, whereas it is also possible to disembark in Williams, Arizona.

In Williams, you will find the boarding point for the Grand Canyon express heritage rail service, which operates direct to the South Rim entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park. For this reason alone, we recommend to visitors that a rental car here really isn’t necessary, although if you don’t fancy the expense of the Grand Canyon Railway (this is a private service and it isn’t cheap), then the bus service will still get you there.

Ratings: How does Grand Canyon compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Grand Canyon? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Grand Canyon, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Grand Canyon? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Grand Canyon (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Grand Canyon? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Grand Canyon airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Grand Canyon car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 2

2019 - 2

2021 - 1

Average score - 2



Do you need a car to visit the Grand Canyon? This all adds up to giving you very few reasons to hire a car to visit the Grand Canyon, if you don’t already have one with you in the first place. It’s obviously worth pointing out that the Grand Canyon National Park itself is somewhere that has to be explored on foot (or by raft if you prefer, but no car is needed for this either). If you are looking into visiting the American Southwest and travelling around various different locations, then the chances are that you already would have made the decision to get a rental car by the time you reach the Grand Canyon. For example, we can’t really recommend picking up a hire car in the Grand Canyon and then using it to drive over to Monument Valley, when you make so much more sense to pick up rental car in Phoenix, or if your itinerary prefers it, then in Las Vegas, Albuquerque New Mexico or even Denver, Colorado.

Do you need a car in the Grand Canyon? Therefore, our Grand Canyon car advice can only be not to get one!


Do you or don't you need a car in Grand Canyon ?

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