It's a beautiful drive from either airport. Long too. LV is 5 hours. PHX is more like 3, and IMO the prettier of the two.
Personally, I'd look at airfares and car rental costs and then decide. And consider the total amount of time that you have for the vacation and the things you want to do in that time. Using LV will add about 4 hours to the initial commute to Flag and back, thereby reducing your vacation activity time.
Las Vegas to Flagstaff is really closer to 4. We can do it in under 4 on a good day and prefer to fly out of Vegas in most cases because traffic is far more predictable now that the Hoover Dam bypass bridge is complete. When flying out of PHX, we have to consider the possibility of an accident on I-17 which happens with unfortunate regularity, backing traffic up for lengthy periods of time.
We plan on a commute of 2.5 hours to/from Sky Harbor (PHX) assuming no traffic issues.
edited to add:
I agree that the drive from PHX to Flagstaff is more scenic, but the opportunities for interesting stops along the way is an advantage of driving in from Las Vegas. There is, of course, Hoover Dam (it will be very hot during the summer, though) and many people who have a fondness for Route 66 lore enjoy getting off the highway in Kingman and/or Seligman for a short drive along the Mother Road.Edited: 24 May 2012, 23:03
If you wish to go to the Grand Canyon, then you need to plan for that as well. It can be done as a day trip from Flagstaff, but is better with an overnight and most of 2 days.
The best drives are on the back roads. From Vegas, via Oatman and Peach Springs on the old Route 66. From Phoenix, up Oak Creek Canyon on 89A. If you had to stick to the interstates though, I would choose I-40 just because it's going to be quite a bit cooler sooner. The drive through Phoenix and I-17 all the way to Camp Verde is oppressively hot in the summer. If that's not a big deal though, then I think it is more scenic. It's very curvy though and people are not shy about speeds, particularly in the summer when the Phoenicians are in a rush to get out of the heat.
We will be doing that this summer. We are flying into Phoenix, renting a car for a week and then flying out of Las Vegas. I found out if you rent from Phoenix to LV there is no drop off fee. For the week it will be a little over $200.
We have a convention in LV and are planning on spending a few days in Sedona. This way we get to see different parts of the country instead of going back over the same route.
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