By Diana Blidy
The Mother Road through Arizona features some of the longest stretches of Route 66, crossing through stark Badlands, cloud-swept plateaus, as well as a desert painted in spectacular colors. It continues through forests of tall pine trees turned to stone, as well as volcanoes, craters and along the ruins of ancient civilizations. Westbound Route 66 enters the vast Navajo nation before descending south to the Navajo lands in Holbrook. Here are a few of the “must-see” places you’ll find along the Arizona stretch of Route 66:
- The Wigwam Motel: Located in Holbrook and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Wigwam Motel, which is still in use, is one of only three surviving wigwam villages in the United States. Quirky rock shops and cement dinosaurs decorate the main drag of Holbrook and several diners still serve up good-ole “Tex-Mex” meals!
- Petrified Forest and Painted Desert: Also located in Holbrook, this beautiful park of natural petrified trees and grand rocks of many colors was formed over 200 million years ago.
- Meteor Crater: Located near Winslow, the crater, measuring over one mile across, is a result of a collision that occurred approximately 50,000 years ago between an asteroid traveling 26,000 mph and planet Earth. It is the best-preserved meteorite impact site on Earth.
- Jack Rabbit Trading Post: Located in Joseph City, the “Here It Is” sign directing visitors to the trading post is the most famous sign on Rt. 66. A large model jackrabbit stands outside the trading post to welcome travelers.
- Grand Canyon Caverns: These caverns, located in Peach Springs, were used during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis by the U.S. government to store enough food and water rations to support 2,000 people for two weeks. The supplies are still there today. If you are brave enough, you can now stay overnight 22 floors below the ground in a cavern suite!
- Oatman: The black mountains of Mohave County, Arizona, is home to this former mining town where wild donkeys still roam the streets. To get there, you need to navigate 20 miles of steep grades, narrow roads and sharp, hairpin turns.
- Angel and Vilma’s Original Route 66 Gift Shop: Located in Seligman, this gift shop, once barber shop and pool hall, now a visitors’ center, was a favorite rest stop for travelers. Owner Angel Delgadillo dubbed the “guardian angel of Route 66,” is the founder of the historic Route 66 Association of Arizona and has experienced the Dust Bowl of the 30s and the rise and decline of Route 66.
- The Grand Canyon: Although not actually located on Route 66 – it’s one hour from Williams and Kingman – this awe-inspiring canyon draws millions of visitors every year.