Since a landslide closed US 89 in northern Arizona in February 2013, I have received numerous requests for information about alternative roads. At first, a detour route was established between Flagstaff and Page, Arizona, that took travelers 50 miles out of their way adding at least an hour to the trip.
A much shorter alternative existed in Navajo Route 20 which parallels US 89 for 44 miles from The Gap to Page. The problem was that 27 miles of the road was unpaved and slow going at best. So the three government entities involved—Arizona Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Navajo Nation—worked out an agreement to pave Navajo 20 and designate it as Temporary US Route 89.
Ever since the paving was completed in late August of 2013, I have been anxious to drive the new road. A couple of weeks ago, Barbara and I made the drive and I can report that 89T is more than adequate as a bypass to the damaged section of US 89.
The new road begins at The Gap, so called because of a break in the Echo Cliffs that allows for a quick ascent onto the Kaibito Plateau. It is actually a shorter climb that the ascent up the Echo Cliffs where the landslide occurred. Once on the plateau, 89T runs straight and true to Page. The driving time and distance are nearly the same if not a little shorter.
Perhaps the only downside is that I miss the view of Marble Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs from the pull-out on the Echo Cliffs. I also miss stopping there to shop for Indian arts and crafts and talking with the Navajo ladies selling them.
ADOT is ahead of schedule on reconstructing the damaged section of US 89. A plan has been completed along with required environmental studies. A new easement from the Navajo Nation is being negotiated and construction will begin shortly.
The newly paved Navajo 20 may prove to be a better route for some travelers. It is an easier road to navigate for large trucks and for people towing their boats to Lake Powell. I expect both roads will continue to be used once the repairs to US 89 are completed.
If you are planning a trip to Page you can rest assured that there is a good road to get you there. Be sure to check out the Page-Lake Powell Tourism website for a run down on all there is to do there.
US89T is also a good alternative for those traveling to/from Page, AZ, who wish to bypass the craziness that is the “new normal” at Horseshoe Bend!
I am driving from Sedona to Page to go to Antelope Canyon Which is a better route? 89 or 89A, we leave Sedona around 4;30 am. to be on time for 8 am tour, Just want to make sure to take the safer route to Page.
Also , best way from Page to South Rim Grand Canyon?
From Sedona, the most direct route is AZ 89A to Flagstaff. Then take I-40 a short distance east to US 89, then north to Page. To get to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, take US 89 south from Page to AZ Route 64 just south of Cameron. You will have passed that intersection on your way to Page from Sedona. Enjoy the drive.
Eileen, I hope you’re aware that it takes ~3 hours to drive from Sedona, AZ, to Page, then anywhere from 3-4 hours to drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim. I know Google maps gives the drive time from Page-GC as ~2.5 hours, but that’s wheels turning, no stops. That rarely happens because the drive is very scenic and there are many beautiful viewpoints between Desert View Point (the East entrance to Grand Canyon) and Grand Canyon Village. You’ll be stopping to take photos a lot, so, hope you’re planning on spending the night at the Grand Canyon instead of going all the way back to Sedona, AZ, a 2+-hour drive from the South Rim, that same night!
Thanks for your thoughtful comment on Eileen’s question. Cameron might also be a good place to spend the night after the Antelope Canyon hike and exploring Page. The motel at the Trading Post is very nice and the restaurant serves some good dinners. You could then have most of a day to explore the Grand Canyon’s south rim before returning to Sedona.
What is the safest drive from flagstaff to page Arizona? Don’t love the drive down 89a to Sedona..179S to 17N was better. Heading to Page..would like a less treacherous drive. Thank you.
To avoid the climb up the Echo Cliffs on US 89 north of Bitter Springs, turn on to Navajo Route 20 at The Gap. That will get you to Page on a less treacherous road.
Thanks for this info! It’s our first time out west and I’m not one for heights (vertigo issues) but this area seems too gorgeous to miss. I’m assuming you still have the same opinion about this “milder” Navajo route since originally writing this article a few years ago?
To the best of my knowledge, Navajo 20 is the best way to avoid the heights along US 89 north of The Gap. You will enjoy the drive without fear of vertigo.
I wanna go Zion to page and my friend told me Zion to page drive is very scary.can u plz suggest which route we choose.Is Navajo 20 is best option and how we choose this route.I don’t want to miss The page because of the route
From Zion National Park to Page you will be leaving Zion on Utah Route 9 and climbing out of Zion Canyon. The road switchbacks up out of the canyon and through a tunnel. It is a wide, well-traveled road but there are places where it comes close to the edge. Here is a video that shows the drive. There is no way to avoid that road unless you go around by taking Utah 9 to St. George and backtracking to Page. Once you are out of the canyon and on US Route 89, you should be alright. If you are going from Page to Flagstaff, take Navajo 20 as detailed here to avoid going down the slope of the Echo Cliffs.
Thanks for ur information.Can u plz give us a rough map idea for Zion to page avoiding height . Like from Zion We starts from where and where the end in page .If we took route 20 then where we merged for safe route .Thanks
From Zion National Park to Page you will be leaving Zion on Utah Route 9 and climbing out of Zion Canyon. Take a look at the map on the Kanab to Sevier Road Trip Guide. The road switchbacks up out of the canyon and through a tunnel. It is a wide, well-traveled road but there are places where it comes close to the edge. Here is a video that shows the drive. There is no way to avoid that road unless you go around by taking Utah 9 to St. George and backtracking to Page. Once you are out of the canyon and on US Route 89, you should be alright. If you are going from Page to Flagstaff, take Navajo 20 as detailed here to avoid going down the slope of the Echo Cliffs.
We are planning on driving from Las Vegas leaving around 8pm to Page, Az as we will be joining the 6am Antelope Canyon tours. Thinking of taking the route via I-40 as the one via Utah I have read a lot of warning that it is not a safe drive at night.
Will the drive to Page on 89 safe? For sure we’ll get to that road past midnight. You mentioned about avoiding the heights, does it has sign to the Navajo20?
US Route 89 from Flagstaff to Page is as safe as any other highway. It is a two-lane road most of the way, but there are numerous passing lanes if you get stuck behind a slow moving vehicle. Be sure you have enough gas to make it to Page as there are only a couple of gas stations and I’m not sure if they have 24-hour pumps. The intersection of US 89 and Navajo 20 is well marked at The Gap.
Oh Jame’s, do you happen to have video from Hurricane UT to Page AZ?
I watched your video response to Tima…I believe that is a drive from Zion Natl. Park… and not the road from St George-Hurricane-Kanab-Page.
The video that I linked to for Tina is one that I found on the internet. If I understand correctly, you are not going through Zion and are looking for a video of the drive on Utah 59 and Arizona 389 to Fredonia and US 89A to Kanab and US 89 to Page. It is a long and interesting drive but not as spectacular as the drive on Utah 9. Try searching by the highway numbers for videos.
I don’t have a huge fear of heights but am quite uncomfortable on “shelf roads”. Are there guard rails on SR 89 as one travels through Echo Cliffs given that you’re on the outside edge?
There are guard rails and the shoulder between the road and the cliff face is fairly wide. Here is a video that will show you what the drive is like going north. This was made before the road was repaired after the landslide in 2013. That section is wider now. To avoid the Echo Cliffs route, take Navajo 20 (formerly US 89T). There as no exposed areas along that route.
Leaving Flagstaff and going to Page in October. Does one road have open cliffs? I am afraid of heights and do not want any “open cliffs” what is our best route.
You should use Navajo Route 20 as described in this article. Continuing on US 89 past the intersection at The Gap will take you on a route that climbs the Echo Cliffs. I suspect that with you fear of heights, you would not enjoy that although it is a perfectly safe road. All you’ll miss by taking Navajo 20 is a beautiful view of Marble Canyon and the Vermilion Cliffs.
How safe is it to drive from South Rim to Page at night using 89Temp? I plan to leave GC by 6 PM in Aug end so that there is still light, however if I get late is it safe? What are the major things to consider while driving at night?
The road that was temporarily designated as 89 is now back to its original designation as Navajo Route 20. It was significantly upgraded when it was used to bypass a section of US 89 closed by a landslide. It conforms to federal standards for width and shoulders and is fenced on each side to keep livestock off the road. There are no services or much of anything between The Gap and Page and the road is not heavily traveled. Make sure you have gas enough for the 50 mile drive on N20, watch out for wildlife on the road and you will have no problem. It will be a pretty drive late in the day as the sun gets low in the west.
I would love to go on a beautiful motorcycle ride to Page Arizona from Tucson Arizona on state routes highways.give me the most scenic routes.
I am petrified of heights and need to get from Kanab Utah to Flagstaff Arizona which would be my best option
Your best bet is to take US 89 (not US 89A) from Kanab to Page. After you cross the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam, look for N. Lake Powell Blvd on the left. Take that road up through Page until you get to Copper Mine Road. Turn left on Copper Mine which will become Navajo Route 20. Continue on Rt 20 for about 45 miles until it rejoins US 89 at The Gap. That way you will avoid the going down the side of the Echo Cliffs on US 89. You will be fine from there to Flagstaff.
Thank you so much for posting this invaluable information.
I’m taveling to the south Rim from Panguitch Lake Utah and could not decide on Route 89 and driving a 40 foot Coach pulling a jeep – This alternate route is a life saver, thanks!
I had a complete meltdown on 89A yesterday because of my fear of heights. A very nice couple helped me out and the wife drove my car down while I sat on the floor of their motorhome.
89 isn’t good either it hugs a cliff for a few miles.
I am planning to see Upper Antelope from Grand Canyon South Rim this June. I was a bit concerned about the 89″Temp” Route. This post tells me that it will be a good drive for me. Can you pls let me know, what is the realistic drive time for me?
It is about a two and a half hour drive from Grand Canyon Village to Page where you will meet your tour guide for Antelope Canyon. There is some road construction near Cameron, so maybe add a little extra time. Also, the Cameron Trading Post is a great place to stop for a meal and to shop for Native American arts and crafts.
Got it! Thanks a lot again for helnpig me out!
Hi James – I plan on photographing the South rim of the Grand Canyon in late October, then on into Utah for at least a week of the same. Your new Rt 20 is going to help me and my fellow photo buddy just fine.
Our only thought is the number of tourists in the area & of course the weather.
Hopefully the weather will be kind to us.
Late October is a little past the best fall color at Grand Canyon and Zion but you might get lucky if we have a warm fall. The parks will be less crowded. Read my post on finding the current driving conditions to check the weather as you go. Have a great trip.