Driving Route 66 Through Arizona
I started on out my trip through Arizona coming across Hoover Dam from Las Vegas. I met up with Route 66 in Kingman, so I missed the first section in Arizona. Note that there isn’t a ton of actual Route 66 you can drive, most of the time you have to stay on Interstate 40. My driving was from west to east, though you could do all the same stops coming from the other direction.
Kingman to Seligman (90 minutes)
Route 66 is still fully drivable heading northeast from Kingman. It is also the largest divergence from Interstate 40. My first stop was the Hackberry General Store with lots of memorabilia and souvenirs.
The rest of the drive takes you through small towns with no services. About half way through you enter the Hualapai Reservation. Due to COVID, all of the roads leading off Route 66 and into the reservation had checkpoints only allowing residents past.
I wanted to stop by Delgadillo’s Snow Cap in Seligman but it was closed due to COVID.
Seligman to Williams (45 minutes)
While you can continue on Route 66 for a bit after Seligman, it parallels I-40 and so I decided to speed on the Interstate to Williams. A Route 66 loop will take you through the town of Williams which is the gateway to the Grand Canyon. It has an old main street along Route 66 including shops, restaurants, hotels and a train depot. Unfortunately the Route 66 museum at Pete’s Gas Station was closed due to COVID.
Williams to Flagstaff (35 minutes)
Route 66 no longer exists between Williams and Flagstaff, so you have to continue on I-40. Flagstaff is a large city with Northern Arizona University. It also has chain hotels, restaurants, and most anything you would need. It’s the biggest city along Route 66 in Arizona.
Flagstaff to Holbrook (90 minutes)
Continuing on I-40, there are some now abandoned sites that you can see just off the highway.
The first is the abandoned Twin Arrows Trading Post (Exit 219). The roadside attraction closed in the 1990s. You can see the two arrows sticking out of the ground from the highway. There are also some broken gas pumps and empty gift shop.
Next stop is Two Guns (Exit 230). This roadside attraction along Canyon Diablo was once real western town, that became a ghost town, before being reinvented as a Western theme park in the 1920s. In the late 1800s it was the site of an Apache massacre by the local Navajo tribe and a hideout for Billy the Kid. You can still see ruins of the gas station, zoo, and other buildings.
Spanning the Canyon is an original Route 66 bridge (actually built prior to Route 66), now abandoned.
Rumor has it that Russell Crowe purchased the property in 2011 for a reboot of Westworld (prior to HBO’s reboot). For more information about Two Guns, this page offers some interesting info and history.
Just three miles past Two Guns is the Meteor Crater (again, closed when I drove through).
Winslow (Exit 252) is another town along Route 66 that is still alive. Near the Amtrak station is the La Posada Hotel. In the center of town is a park dedicated to “Standin’ on the Corner” based on a line in from Take it Easy by The Eagles.
Continue down I-40 to Holbrook (Exit 285). I ended up spending the night in Holbrook. I wanted to stay at the Wigwam Motel, but all the wigwams were booked. You can rent one for the night (the classic cars are permanently parked out front).
Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park
The ruins of Route 66 run directly through Petrified Forest National Park (Exit 311). There are two entrances to the park, I started at the Painted Desert Visitor Center at the northern entrance. You first drive through the orange and red sections of the Painted Desert (including the Painted Dessert Inn). The road then drops south and you cross the former site of Route 66. The park has placed a rusted out 1932 Studebaker at the site of Route 66. Old telephone/power polls still stand that once paralleled Route 66.
Crossing over I-40, you pass by Puerco Pueblo, the ruins of a large indigenous community.
I enjoyed the Blue Mesa hike (only about 1 mile loop, but steep climb down and then back up) where you get close up with the blue section of the Painted Desert and petrified wood.
There are plenty of detours to make off of Route 66 — including the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley which I did on an earlier road trip.
Have you driven Route 66 through Arizona? What was the highlight for you?