/ The Baby Boomer Travel Guide

Route 66: Still Kicking in Arizona

historic routes, road trip, route 66

Snowcap Drive-in in Seligman, Arizona.

With the temperatures steadily rising, it’s time to hit the road for another road trip.  In my opinion, to achieve the trifecta of road trip success you need to experience a bit of nostalgia, see amazing scenery and wildlife and eat at diners that serve food just like mom (maybe just a bit better).  If I were you I’d take Ray Charles’ advice and “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.”

I typically enjoy the stretch of Route 66 that goes through Williams and Flagstaff, but it’s important to note that Arizona boasts the longest unbroken stretch of Historic Route 66 in existence.  It begins west of Ash Fork and stretches 158 miles to the California border.  If you’re a purist and prefer to take the unbroken route head out on Interstate 40 west of Ash Fork at Exit 139 and turn onto the highway once known as the Main Street of America.  It’s here that you’ll think that you’ve traveled back in time.  You’ll be struck by the endless Burma-Shave signs, a 1950’s brushless shaving cream famous for its advertising gimmick of posting humorous rhyming poems on small, sequential highway billboard signs.

Seligman – The Heart and Soul of Route 66

Stay at a gorgeous Resort-Style House at foot of Route 66
Sedona , AZ
Rent The Whole House (up to 8 people) from $669/night with iStopOver.com

Make your first stop in Seligman.  In its heyday, Seligman played host to a flourishing business community, then became a ghost town overnight.  Local businesses in the the late 80’s formed an association to lobby the state of Arizona to designate Route 66 a historic highway.  By 1988, the state agreed and organizations popped up all along this American route and the frenzy for Route 66 nostalgia was launched.

As you drive through Seligman, evidence of the glory days are everywhere with the Aztec Motel (map), the famous Snow Cap drive-in (map), and cafes like the Copper Cart (map) and 66 Road Kill Café (map), both with clever tongue and cheek menus.

Route 66 gift shops are full of trinkets and collectibles. To me, Seligman seemed to preserve the best of the fun days of Route 66. To get a better look, I suggest you make the time to explore Seligman on foot.

The Wonder and Surprise of the Hualapai Reservation

Grand Canyon

The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West.

As you continue west on 66, you’ll cross the Hualapai Reservation, a 100 mile stretch along the pine-clad southern side of the Grand Canyon. Whether you simply drive through or plan to stay awhile, this stretch of the trip will fulfill your desire for the outdoors.  If you plan to visit the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West, a unique glass-bottomed cantilever bridge that spans 70 feet over the Grand Canyon’s rim and sits 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, consider staying at the Hualapai Lodge (map) in Peach Springs.  This might also be your chance to take a river-rafting trip or hike the breathtaking Havasu Canyon.

As you continue on your journey, check out the Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in Valentine (map), a non-profit rescue sanctuary for more than 150 exotic animals including tigers, lions, wolves, leopards and monkeys.

Stock up on Route 66 merchandise at the Hackberry General Store (map) where vintage signs and artwork cover the walls.  And you must have your photo taken out front next to the 1957 red and white corvette next to the antique gas pumps.

Route 66 Museum in Kingman
Built in 1907, the Kingman Powerhouse Visitor Center (map) is a must stop.  A real blast from the past, this museum is a treasure for pop-culture junkies.  Make sure that you pick up a mile-by-mile guide of Route 66 from their association.

historic, route 66

Pose next to this 1957 corvette at the Hackberry General Store.

For a break, stop by Beal Street Brews (map) a coffee shop that brews their own and offers free wi-fi located in downtown Kingman.  For some comfort food and homemade root beer, stop by Mr. D’s Route 66 Diner (map) which is across the street from the Kingman Visitor Center.

Brave the Hairpin Turns to Oatman
You’re now heading towards the Black Mountains where you will endure the torturous climb through Sitgreaves Pass. The panoramic views are worth the sweat.

Once you make it, Oatman (map) is a theme park filled with staged gunfights, burros roaming the streets and Model T Fords driving down the main road.  Shopkeepers offer handmade leather goods, handmade Indian jewelry and knives.  One of the more colorful shopkeepers is known as Betty the Bead Lady, who sold beads to the Navajos for their jewelry making.  Check out the Mission Inn (map), some say it’s the best chili they’ve ever had.

You’ve only got 25 miles left on Route 66 from Oatman to the California state line.  But why leave this state, when you can see more of Arizona’’s vast landscapes, learn more of its history and reminisce of its nostalgic past.

Photos from flickr: Hudson Lamp, Skywalk, Hackberry General Store and personal collection.

Related places:
  1. A
    Aztec Motel & Gift Shop
    312 E Chino Ave, Seligman, AZ
    View Details and Book
  2. B
    Delgadillos Snow Cap
    301 E Chino Avenue, Seligman, AZ, United States, 86337
    View Details and Book
  3. C
    Copper Cart Restaurant
    103 W Chino Ave, Seligman, AZ
    View Details and Book
  4. D
    502 Arizona 66
    502 Arizona 66, Seligman, AZ 86337
    View Details and Book
  5. E
    Arizona 66
    Arizona 66, Peach Springs, AZ 86434
    View Details and Book
  6. F
    Keepers of the Wild Inc
    13441 E Hwy 66, Valentine, AZ
    View Details and Book
  7. G
    Hackberry General Store
    11255 E Hwy 66, Hackberry, AZ
    View Details and Book
  8. H
    Powerhouse Tourist Information and Visitor Center
    120 W. Andy Devine Ave., Kingman, AZ , USA
    View Details and Book
  9. I
    Beale Street Brews & Gallery
    418 E Beale St, Kingman, AZ
    View Details and Book
  10. J
  11. K
    Mission Inn & Coffeeshop
    220 Oatman Avenue, Kingman, AZ
    View Details and Book
Tags: car trip, Grand Canyon, road trip, top-feature

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