USA Travel

Route 66 via Arizona | America Road Tripping

Road Tripping along America’s Mother Road- Route 66, or along Interstate 40, has been an adventure for me in the last two decades. At times it was a quick drive where I stopped for sleep, a meal and gas. While there were other trips that I took my time and stopped off at the Grand Canyon, the Meteor Crater and took photos on the corner of Winslow, Arizona.

Standin’ on the corner of Winslow, Arizona

Route 66 has been idealized, immortalized and romanticized over the last many decades in popular culture through songs, movies and media. It has been a deep part of our transportation and travel history. It is quirky, kitschy and best of all- it is freedom of the road.

Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926 as one of the original highways in the United States Numbered Highway System. It had served as the primary route for those who were migrating west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. All looking for greener pastures and better weather in the west. Highway 66, quickly became one of the most famous in the United States and ran from Chicago, Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and ending in Santa Monica, California.

Seligman, Arizona

Since many people were travelling this major highway, entrepreneurs became prosperous opening up accomodations, restaurants, gas stations, automotive repair shops and everything a weary traveler could use. Many of these structures are still there today, some have been revitalized, others in their original state, while many have long been closed.

Joe & Aggies (now closed) in Holbrook

After years of realignments and improvements, the United States officially removed it from their original highway system in 1985, and was replaced with Highway 40, as part of the Interstate Highway System. There are still portions of the old Mother Highway that pass through Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Arizona that have been designated as a National Scenic Byway, with the name “Historic Route 66”.

Wigwam Motel in Holbrook

It is not to say that the change in the highway system caused distress, especially to those whose livelihood depended on the business of Route 66. The business along the old highway had fought to keep this highway alive, similar to the Disney Movie ‘Cars’, which is based on Historic Route 66. Today, you can still travel parts of the Mother Road in Arizona by getting off Highway 40 through many of the original towns such as Winslow, Seligman, Kingman and Holbrook.

At the Meteor Crater in Arizona

In this article, I have noted the Arizona cities and attractions, along with my own photos, that I have seen over the last 20 years of driving along Highway 40 and Route 66. Some are now remnants, while others are still alive along America’s Mother Road. I hope this serves as an inspiration as you hit the road and “Get your kicks on Route 66.”

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Kingman, Arizona

Kingman, which has been immortalized in the lyrics of the song ‘Route 66’ -“You’ll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona, don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino”- still embraces its long history of being part of the Mother Road. There is an old desert town retro vibe, with neon signs and occasional classic car events. There is also a Route 66 Museum and Mojave Museum, if you are interested on learning more about the area’s history.

Kingman evolved in the late 1800s as a railroad town, along with mining and ranching. It was a natural stop along Route 66, which created a whole new incarnation to the city with America’s new sense of travel.

My experiences of Kingman have always been as a drive-through city and have only stopped by for gas or having a root beer float at Mr. Dz’s Route 66 Diner, which I strongly recommend. Mr. Dz’s was not original to the Route 66 era, but its prior business was; the former Kingman Café and Kimo Shell Station, which opened in 1939. The root beer floats here are marvelous, as the world famous root beer is made from a special Mr. Dz’s (Roy Dunton) Diner recipe. It is creamy and delicious, and I love stopping to sit at the counter before I head out along the Mother Road or back to Las Vegas.

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Seligman, Arizona

Known as the “Birthplace of Route 66”, Seligman is an entertaining stop to stretch your legs for those who enjoy the quirky and Route 66 memorabilia. The Commercial Historic District of Seligman was placed on the National Historic Places and has a long history beginning as “Prescott Junction, back in the late 1800’s.

More information- Seligman, Arizona | The Birthplace of Route 66

I have stopped in Seligman many times over the past decade, for a meal or an ice cream at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In. It is a humorous restaurant with plenty of wit, having menu names such as “Dead Chicken” or “Cheese burger with cheese”. This place as well as the town adds to the fun of getting those kicks on Route 66.

For my Yelp Review with photos- Read Trixie N.‘s review of Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In on Yelp

Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In

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Williams, Arizona

The town of Williams was founded in 1881, and named after “Old Bill Williams”, who was a famed scout, trapper and all around mountain man. It is also considered the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” and was the the last Route 66 town to be bypassed by the I-40. Williams fought the by-passing with several court battles before surrendering on October 13, 1984.

Today, Williams thrives on tourism with hiking trails leading up Bill Williams Mountain and Sycamore Canyon, seven area fishing lakes, skiing and several outdoor activities. The six-square block Historic Downtown has a combined rich history of both Route 66 and the Old West. The Grand Canyon Railway also departs from Williams, which has been taking visitors to the Grand Canyon, since 1901.

Rod’s Steak House in Williams, Arizona

Rod’s Steak House had been a favorite meal stop for me on several occasions, while traveling through Arizona. It was also a favorite dining stop for many other travelers since 1946, when it first opened its doors along Historic Route 66. Rod’s offered consistency in their menu with steaks, prime rib, beef liver, fried chicken and my favorite steak sandwich.

Rod’s was very popular for decades and was celebrated as one of Arizona’s best restaurants, as well as inducted into the Arizona Restaurant Hall of Fame. The food was always delicious and the atmosphere was a mix of retro, cozy and Western.

As of current, the World Famous Rod’s Steak House with it long rich Route 66 history is closed. According to a Yelp Review from the beginning of 2022, the restaurant was in “pending sale”. Keeping my fingers crossed that the new owners will re-open Rod’s and keep its tradition of fine steaks along the Mother Road.

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Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff has been a natural stopping place for me while driving through Arizona. The city has an old western charm, comfortable accomodations and delicious restaurants. The Historic Downtown and Railroad District has always been worth the visit, with its early 20th century architecture, art galleries, museums and tasty dining. Also, check out the Visitor Center and Train Station to get information on a self-guided walking tour, which is great for all generations.

Present Day Flagstaff was settled in 1876 as a lumber town and later became one of Route 66’s favorite towns for travelers. The Historic District and downtown Flagstaff continued to develop until the late 1960’s. Although the downtown area had fallen into disrepair in the 1970’s through the 1980s, it was greatly revitalized from the 1990s until current. I love the revitalization of Flagstaff, and have experience incredible dining in downtown, from upscale dining to cozy coffee houses.

Lowell Observatory- The Home of Pluto

Pluto was discovered in 1930 from the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff! This astronomical observatory was established in 1894, which places it amongst the oldest observatories in the United States. In 1965 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark, and in 2011 Lowell Observatory was featured as one of the “The World’s Most Important Places” by Time Magazine. With all these impressive accolades, I suggest the visit while in Flagstaff.

The first time I had visited Lowell Observatory with my family was when my daughter was a teen and all of us truly enjoyed it. This is a wonderful place for all generations to learn and discover through exhibitions, telescopes, a museum and an observation deck. Lowell is one of my personal favorite places to visit in Flagstaff, at any time of the day or night.

For more ticketing and information, please visit – Lowell Observatory

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The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of America’s national treasures and is on many people’s Bucket List from around the world. Arizona is the home of this magnificent canyon that was carved out by the Colorado River six million years ago, or sixteen million years ago, whichever study that you agree with. However long it took, the Grand Canyon is an incredible site to visit while road tripping through Arizona.

The Grand Canyon National Park outside of Flagstaff is one of America’s most popular and visited sites with tourists from around the globe. It is a very well maintained park and visitor friendly with shuttle buses, plenty of parking, water stations and a Visitor Center. There is a vehicle entrance fee of $35 (2021 price) and is valid for seven days. I recommend purchasing the America the Beautiful pass for $80 (2021 price), which allows you to enter into all of the National Parks for a full year. I have one and love it!

Information- Grand Canyon National Park – The South Rim vs The West Rim | Exploring Arizona

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Twin Arrows, Arizona

Twin Arrows is one of those locations, which I had mentioned that was flourishing during the Route 66 days, and is now a remant of the past. It is a ghost town of its former self, a trading post (store), diner and gas station. The trademark were the two massive arrows (25 feet tall), which were inspired by the neigboring town of “Two Guns”.

During its time, this landmark was a popular stop for those traveling the Mother Road but after the construction of I-40 there was an obvious decline in customers. Twin Arrows changed several hands before it was closed and abandoned in 1995. The location where it stands is located on reservation land of the Navajo and Hopi’s, but is owned by the Hopi tribe.

I had seen Twin Arrows many times during my drives and on my last drive across Arizona, I pulled off the highway and found a dirt road that lead to the Trading Post. I may have not used my best judgement to photograph Twin Arrows and explore the site, as I was traveling alone. This is an abandoned location that has been vandalized over the years, so use caution if you plan on checking it out.

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Meteor City Trading Post

Home to “World’s Largest Dream Catcher” and “World’s Largest Map of Route 66”, the historic Meteor City Trading Post was one of three roadside attractions along a 30 mile stretch on I-40 between Flagstaff and Winslow, Arizona. The other two being the ghost town of Two Guns and the remains of Twin Arrows Trading Post.

The name Meteor City Trading Post was never meant to take on the name of a city or town. It is located west of the town of Unincorporated Winslow in Coconino County, Arizona and named after the Barringer Crater, the Meteor Crater National Landmark. It originally opened in 1938 as a Texaco station with the name of the Sharber Service Station. In 1941, the station expanded under Jack Newsum, a new owner, with a trading post with groceries and curios. The Mohawk topped geodesic dome was constructed in 1979 and was filled with items such as postcard and Baja sweaters, which I remember hanging throughout the shop on my earlier visits.

Although new owners, Mike and Joann Brown, had purchased the trading post in 2017 in order to restore it, when I had visited in that same year the trading post was in total disrepair. Several of the structures were vandalized and neglected. Even the famous largest dream catcher was falling apart at the seams.

According to the website, Meteor City- Route 66, they are still closed and it looks as if the grounds have been cleaned up. There are T-shirts for sale to help with restoration of this historic Route 66 Landmark.

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Meteor Crater National Landmark

In Winslow, Arizona there is the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark which truly is in the middle of nowhere. I never gave myself the opportunity to stop at the crater within the twenty years that I had driven past it. Then there was one year that I did, I pulled off the road and visited the Meteor Crater.

Meteor Crater Natural Landmark

The crater was created 50,000 years ago by a nickel-iron meteorite about 160 feet (50 meters) across. It was discovered in the 19th century by American settlers, and soon came to the attention of scientists. This meteor crater was given several early names including “Coon Mountain,” “Meteor Mountain” and “Meteor Crater”.

The crater is not protected as a national monument, since it is privately owned by the Barringer family through their Barringer Crater Company. Although in November of 1967, the crater was designated a National Natural Landmark.

Information- Meteor Crater Natural Landmark | Exploring Arizona

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Winslow, Arizona

“Well, I’m a-standing on a corner
In Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord
In a flat-bed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me”

The ever so cherished lyrics from Eagles song ‘Take it Easy’, was for most of us the first time we ever heard of Winslow, Arizona. So when I stood at Standin’ on the Corner Park in Winslow, with the song playing on repeat in the background, I was more than elated. Eagles has been a long time favorite band of mine since my youth, with ‘Take it Easy’ being one of my faves. Being there made me so happy because it combined the music and travel nerd in me, and I was all smiles for the rest of the day.

Corner in Winslow, Arizona

Winslow, Arizona in its heyday was one of Route 66’s most popular cities in Arizona for both those who were driving, as well as those who were taking the train. Winslow was a significant stop on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, as it was a location for adding water and fuel to trains. Locomotive passangers could disembark at Winslow for a meal in town during the extended stop.

Additionally, Winslow was a popular location for old Hollywood with many celebrities staying at the La Posada Hotel, just adjacent to the railway station. In the 1920s, Winslow would hold parades for the many celebrities who moved west and visited the town. The local newspaper often covered these special star events.

La Posada Hotel Winslow, Arizona

The La Posada Hotel is a true historic landmark and is registered on both the National and State Registries of Historic Places. The history of this location spans over 100 years, starting off as one the famous Harvey Houses (restaurants and hotels) that were built along the Santa Fe Railway. La Posada, “the resting place”, was an enoumous endevour as it was to be areas finest hotel. Winslow was chosen as the location since it was a comfortable driving distance to several of Arizona’s best tourist sites.

Many old Hollywood celebrities and famous people were guests at La Posada including- Albert Einstein, John Wayne, Amelia Earhart, Betty Grable, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Shirley Temple.

The hotel was open for only 27 years and in 1957 it was closed to the public. Soon after sections of the building were used as office space for the Santa Fe Railway headquarters. Then in 1994 La Posada was purchased from SF Railway by Allan Affeldt, after learning that the property was on the endangered list of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Affeldt painstakingly worked with local preservationist to restore La Posada into a living museum and working hotel/ restaurant.

I had visited La Posada on one of my trips through Winslow and it was magnificent and tranquil. I stopped in to walk the grounds, have a meal and their signature cocktail, the Turquoise Margarita. The Turquoise Room inside the La Posada has the best menu for casual upscale dining in the area, and is worth the visit for a meal and one of their Turquoise Margaritas.

For more information, please visit – La Posada Hotel

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Ortega Indian City Arts – Houck, Arizona

This Native American arts store is one of my favorites in Arizona and have purchased kachina dolls and hand crafted pottery from here over the years. I recommend a visit for shopping if you are looking for souvenirs from your road trip. Even more so if you enjoy collecting locally made Native American art and crafts, like me! It is a wonderful way to support the local economy and artists.

Location- Allentown Rd Exit 351 & I-40, Houck, AZ 86506

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Geronimo Trading Post – Joseph City, Arizona

Geronimo Trading Post is another great place to purchase local Native American arts and crafts, while traveling along I-40. The outside of the shop has a myriad of interesting eye-catching items that can raise enough curiosity to pull of the highway- a few painted wigwams, a windmill and large chunks of petrified wood.

Location – Geronimo/ Hunt Rd exit along the I-40, Joseph City, Arizona

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Holbrook, Arizona

Holbrook is a small but quirky Route 66 town just outside the Painted Desert and the Petrified National Park. It has just enough roadside America charisma and Route 66 retroness to stop for walk around or to spend the night. There are several accomodations to choose from, including chain hotels, older motels or you can stay where we did- the Wigwam Village Motel.

Wigwam Village Motel – Holbrook, Arizona

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to stay a night at this hotel. I am not sure if I saw it on TV or a magazine, I genuinely do not remember. I just knew it was out there for me to stay in for a night during a road trip along the Mother Road. The curiosity of staying in a wigwam lingered for decades. On one of our Route 66 road trips to the Mid-West, I had landed a reservation. I tried a couple of times on other occasions but they were booked. I read about the history of this motel and knew this location was one of the only Wigwam Villages left, so I was ecstatic to stay here. I also understood when booking the room it was basic and simple, so I did not have luxurious expectations. If booking here, please understand that. The room is clean, simple but comfortable. The only issue I had was the water did not heat up in the shower fast enough; but this is an old place with old plumbing, understood.

History– Route 66 is never short of kitschy places and the Wigwam Hotel is one of those places. Chester E. Lewis had constructed seven Wigwam Villages between 1936 and the 1950s. This village in Holbrook, AZ, was finished in 1950. Since this was the the sixth built, its designation became Wigwam Village #6.

Information- Wigwam Village Motel #6 | A kitschy stay along Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona

Hopi Travel Plaza – Holbrook, Arizona

Hopi Travel Plaza, designated by two dinosaurs that are visible off I-40 is a popular location to gas up while on the road. I have stopped here many times to fill up my tank, even if it was half full. This is a Full-Service travel center: Truck and Commuter islands, full-service restaurant, convenience store, gift shops. Additional Trucker services: Laundry, Showers and TV Room. There are a couple of gift shops inside as well, Tribal Rocks & Knife City. 

Location – 900 Navajo Blvd, Holbrook, Arizona 86025

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Yellowhorse Trading Post – Lupton, Arizona

Located on the border of Arizona and New Mexico, the Yellowhorse Trading Post, which is built butted up against a massive sandstone cliff has been a Navajo family owned trading post since the 1950s. The Yellowhorse family started by selling Navajo rugs and petrified wood from a roadside stand. This grew into a successful business with travelers who were curious to meet the Yellowhorse family and to stretch their legs from their long drive. During the 1960’s a newly constructed trading post was built not far from the the rug stand, with the addition of gas pumps and signage along Route 66.

If you look above the trading post, you will see a variety of animal statuary on the sandstone cliff overlooking the view of Arizona. These playful animals had always caught my eye while on the road, and always gave me a sense of amusement when driving by. It is just the little things while on a long road trip!

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If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way
Take the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66

– Nat King Cole
Yours Truly in the Turquoise Room – Winslow, Arizona

🌎 Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre

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