• Flagstaff, Arizona to the New Mexico State line on Historic Route 66

      162 Miles - Allow 8 hours minimum

      Driving from Flagstaff to Lupton at the Arizona-New Mexico state line is like stepping back in time when trading posts and wigwams were enough to lure the traveler off the road for a stop. Arizona has the longest remaining stretch of Route 66 in the nation - 159 miles - so get ready to drive the 'Mother Road' and be on alert for signs promising cool drinks and souvenirs at Indian trading posts. Dinosaurs, a giant jack rabbit, white wigwams glistening in the high desert sun, and other eye-catching creatures signal refreshment and rest. Leaving the Interstate highway in your dust, it is easy to imagine yourself driving a Model A or even a '50s Corvette through the high desert back in the days when this was the main road between Chicago and Los Angeles.

      Here are a few highlights to look out for along the way:

      Flagstaff (Starting point)
      Start at the visitor center. Turn right on Historic Route 66 and drive down 'Motel Row.' The train tracks will be on your right, and many of the motels on your left are from the Route 66 era. Stay to the right if you want to take a portion of the 1947 alignment of Route 66 to Walnut Canyon National Monument. Or, stay left on Highway 89 and follow the directions to enter Interstate 40 east.

      Walnut Canyon National Monument (Mile 4)
      Established in 1915, Walnut Canyon National Monument has easy access to cliff dwellings. Take the Island Trail (240 stairs) to stand in ruins from the Sinaguan culture and see still others across the canyon. Volcanic activity in the 1100s in the region contributed to a population swell before the canyon was abandoned around A.D. 1400.

      Twin Arrows (Mile 8)
      Take Exit 219 to photograph this unique Route 66 icon. The service station and trading post are closed, but you won’t want to miss these giant arrows. You can drive east to the next stop sign to return to I-40.

      Meteor Crater (Mile 22)
      Take Exit 233 to visit this marvelous natural phenomenon. Meteor Crater, an impact crater formed when a meteor struck, was used for training NASA astronauts. Walk along the rim of the crater and visit the museum. You'll also find restrooms, snacks and gift shops.

      Winslow (Mile 37)
      Take Exit 252 and follow historic Route 66 (Business 40). At Second and Kinsley, you'll find the 'Standin’ on the Corner' park, the Old Trails Museum and Route 66 gift shops. Continuing east a few blocks, you’ll find La Posada, a former Harvey House designed by architect Mary Coulter. La Posada is worth a stop. If time allows, have a meal at the Turquoise Room in the hotel, one of the best restaurants in the Southwest. You can sit out front under immense cottonwoods and watch trains go by on this busy line. If you are taking two days to drive this route, staying at La Posada in Winslow is a unique experience.

      Jack Rabbit Trading Post (Mile 62)
      Exit at #269 for another photo op with a Route 66 icon. Look for the 'Here it is!' signs. Follow them to the trading post. Climb up on the giant jack rabbit for a memorable photo. From here, you can drive east on an old alignment of Route 66. Rejoin I-40 at Exit 274, or you can follow the 'Historic US 66' signs through Joseph City. Cross the interstate at Exit 274 to Main Street. At the end of town, you’ll rejoin I-40.

      Holbrook (Mile 72)
      Exit at the 'Historic Route 66' signs at Exit 285 into Holbrook. Follow Business 40. Look for the Wigwam Motel. You can’t miss the white tee pees grouped around the office with vintage autos parked outside. This is another unique place to stay, though not as luxurious as La Posada in Winslow. The Museum in the Navajo County Courthouse has exhibits of local history plus you can pick up a map for the walking tour.

      Petrified Forest National Park (Mile 91)
      From Route 66 in Holbrook, take Highway 180 to the south entrance. The drive through Petrified Forest National Park takes you through various loops and stops to view petrified wood, historic structures and archeological sites plus the colorful Painted Desert as well. Kids can pick up a Junior Ranger book at the south entrance and turn their completed booklets at the north entrance to get their Jr. Ranger badges. The road ends at Interstate 40, where you continue east.

      Trading posts and old Route 66 (Mile 138 to 162)
      Drive an old alignment of Route 66 from Chambers to New Mexico. Stop at one or more of the several trading posts along the way. At Exit 333, pick up Route 66 north of Interstate 40 and follow it to Saunders. Get on I-40 to Exit 341 at Ortega and you can follow the 1930 alignment of Route 66 (Frontage Road) to the state line. Part of the road is unpaved, but it's fine unless it's wet. Stop at one or more of the trading posts along the way.

      - Look for the trading post in Querino that caters to Navajos after you cross the scenic Querino Canyon Bridge.

      - Houck has a trading post catering to tourists.

      - Allentown Road has two more trading posts. East of Allentown Road, go through one of the double tunnels to the other side of the interstate to a 1950s alignment and continue east.

      - Lupton is the last town in Arizona and has Ortega's Indian Market on the south side of the Interstate. Continue to the left as Frontage Road crosses under I-40 to a group of trading posts on the other side against the red cliffs. As you approach, you'll see an example of roadside kitsch: life-sized plastic animals perched high on the cliffs above the first trading post. The Arizona-New Mexico state line runs through Ft. Yellowhorse.

      Giant Tee Pees awaiting guests
      at the Wig Wam Motel in Holbrook

      Comments 1 Comment
      1. scotishbob's Avatar
        scotishbob -
        Please do not stop with Flagstaff...you have about 20 miles of interstate and then back on old 66 all the way to Needles, California...and this region is much more scenic...includes Oatman, Kingsman, Hackberry, Peach Springs, and Seligman...you will be glad you did!