Few states are more quintessentially "Route 66" than Arizona. Whether you're touring The Mother Road in search of breath taking natural vistas, hip mountain towns or retro reminders of Route 66's bustling past, Arizona has you covered. While much of Route 66 in the state has been covered by the newer Interstate 40, hundreds of miles of the historic road still remain, and feels more off the beaten path than ever. Discover the best of what Arizona has to offer with this helpful guide and find a few new personal favourites for when you embark on a Route 66 Tour of your own.
Petrified Forest National Park
Only a few hours past the New Mexico border lies Petrified Forest National Park, home to thousands of acres of preserved pre-historic wood. These logs were buried in volcanic ash over 200 million years ago, preserving them and creating their trademark sheen. Stop in the park's Rainbow Forest Museum to learn the incredible science behind petrification and see samples close up.
A few miles off of Interstate 40 on the National Park's northern side lies the Painted Desert Inn, a popular stopping place for travellers back in Route 66's glory days. Today, the inn is a National Historic Landmark run by the Park Service. It functions as a museum dedicated to Route 66, and the region's history in general.
Meteor Crater has to be seen to be believed! This dent in the earth is the result of a space rock colliding with the earth about 50,000 years ago and measures in at nearly a mile wide. This behemoth of a tourist attraction is located just off Interstate 40 near the town of Winslow (as mentioned in the Eagles' hit "Take It Easy"). Prepare to feel small as you journey into the crater's depths on a guided tour.
Route 66 Tours is pleased to offer entry to Meteor Crater as a part of its tour packages.
While so much of the appeal of a Route 66 road trip centres on the way it can be a portal to America's past, Flagstaff is a city that is thriving right now. Located high in mountains, Flagstaff has been attracting tourists and new residents alike with its convenient location in the centre of several natural wonders, including Coconino National Forest and the San Francisco Peaks. Those who think of Arizona as one endless desert are sure to be in for a surprise when they reach Flagstaff. The city is located in the largest continuous stretch of Ponderosa pine forest in the world, a must-see in the Autumn months. Downtown Flagstaff is home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, boutiques and entertainment.
Grand Canyon National Park
While not technically on Route 66, a side trip to the Grand Canyon is well worth the detour. Located a little over an hour's drive from Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon is famous around the world for its unreal size and expansive views. Most visitors begin their adventure on the park's South Rim, which has ample parking near its visitor centre. From there, take a short walk over to Maher Point and prepare to be amazed by what you see.
If you're looking to continue exploring the area, board a shuttle bus to one of several other vistas and historic sites. The Yavapai Geology Museum sits right on the canyon's edge and connects to a few hiking trails. The Tusayan Ruin and Museum offers a look into the past and the way that the native Pueblo people lived around 800 years ago. Educational tours led by a park ranger are held throughout the summer and fall.
Grand Canyon Caverns
Located more than 100 miles west of the National Park bearing the same name, Grand Canyon Caverns represents something else entirely. While the National Park offers expansive outdoor views, a tour of these caverns will take you deep under the earth.
In addition to being the site of a site of geological beauty, the caverns also house a unique history. In the 1960s the US Government turned the area into a nuclear fallout shelter, and many of the supplies of that area remain in the caverns. For the truly adventurous, with an extra night to spare, the Cavern Suite, an underground motel room decorated in the style of the era and located in one of the cavern's deepest chambers, is available for booking. It's been described as the "largest, oldest, deepest, darkest, quietest motel room in the world."
Another great side trip from Route 66, is a visit to the town of Sedona which lies at the heart of Red Rock Country. The landscape here is like little else on earth, filled with massive boulders in earthy hues. In recent years, the town has become a hub for meditation and wellness practises, who see the area's natural beauty as being good for the soul. Whether you want to hit the mountains in one of the area's famed guided jeep tours or treat yourself to an afternoon at the spa, Sedona has something for everyone.
Far past the point where the Route 66 path diverges from Interstate 40, deep in the desert highlands by the Nevada border, lies the town of Oatman. Once a ghost town, Oatman has seen a resurgence in recent years thanks to a spike in tourists, brought in by The Mother Road to marvel at its authentic Old West Main Street. Burrows still roam the street freely and reenactors perform a Wild West Shootout daily.
From Oatman, the Mother Road winds for only a few short miles before crossing the California border to the last stage of your Route 66 adventure. Across almost 400 miles, the Arizona section of Route 66 offers an incredible range of sites and exemplifies exactly what makes this road so special.
For an authentic American road trip, a drive down The Mother Road with Route 66 Tours simply can't be beat. Get in touch with Route 66 Tours today and see how we can make your dreams of adventure a reality.