Road trip from Chicago to the Grand Canyon

Road trip from Chicago to the Grand Canyon

My husband and I camped at the Grand Canyon before we were married.  It was an eye-opening road trip for many reasons and I believe my ten and seven-year-old are at an age they can appreciate the beauty and greatness of nature and the family experience.

Or so I thought.

Since we sat down and mapped out the 20+ hour drive (one way!) and reserved campgrounds, I’m having second thoughts.  I asked some other writers advice, thoughts and details on family road trips.


“Two main things: 1. We always drove overnight to make use of drive time while kids were sleeping. 2. We often tried to make stops at the 12 hour mark (or so) so that we weren’t literally going for 40 straight hours, for instance.”  – Anne

“There will be good and bad moments. At some point, you’ll all hate each other but you should get some really good memories, too.” – Howard

“If you’re going this summer, be sure to secure hotel reservations now. Reservations inside the park fill up usually around 9-12 months in advance, and the hotels outside the park but within reasonable proximity can get full, too, during busy season.” – Shannan (we’ve already learned that lesson looking for campground 8 weeks out – oops.)

“While road tripping is nice and cool, it doesn’t make you relax all the way.” – Annemarie

“Forty+ hours seems way too long. I think flying into Phoenix and driving will be much better. You can stop in Sedona on the way back.” – Joe

“If you stop along the way you’re all good and the journey is half the fun.” – Jayme

“If you have two weeks to do it then do it. We did these as kids and they’re the best memories we have, the fighting and the things that go wrong are more part of family lore than the things that go right. Highly recommend if you have the time, that’s the one thing you need to make it work.” – Jimmy

“We did this in 2013 with four kids. Drove from Chicago to Tucumcari, New Mexico, 18.5 hours, 4:00 am to 10:30 pm the first day. Obviously a super long day, but get through that day and a good chunk of your driving is done. Then Petrified Forest National Park the next day, and on to Phoenix, ten hours of driving that day. I’d much rather do an 18.5-hour day and a 10-hour day than four seven-hour days. Whatever you decide you’ll be glad you did it!” – Brett

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The consensus seems that we should do it.  Although, another option is to go the opposite direction toward the Smoky Mountains and Memphis which is a much shorter drive.

Have you every done a long family road trip?  Have you been to the Grand Canyon? I would love to hear from you. 

You may also want to read about other family experiences: Great America, Bike the Drive and traveling to the same place versus somewhere new.   

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