Route 66 Santa Monica to Holbrook, AZ
Hi there. We have two days and one night to travel from Santa Monica on route 66 into Arizona. I'd like to get as far as Holbrook the first night if possible, because we have to end up in Scottsdale in the early evening the next day and it would be great to wake up in Holbrook and explore a little bit of the painted desert, meteor crator, etc. before heading South.
But I'm wondering if it's realistic to plan on getting to Holbrook on the first day. Does anyone know about how long it would take to travel on route 66 from Santa Monica to Holbrook? Doing a mapquest isn't that helpful since it only gives timing for the major roadways.
It is certainly possible to drive from Santa Monica to Holbrook in one day, but it would be a very long day. If you actually stay on Route 66 and stopped only for fuel it would take at least 10 hours. But, if you are going to drive that route you probably want to check out the views and historical sites and so that would be a killer-long day.
One thing that I don't understand -- why are you driving all the way to Holbrook if you are headed for Scottsdale the next day? Holbook is a couple hundred miles east of where you would normally head south if you were going to Scottsdale.
There is an excellent resource for planning an excursion along route 66 -- Check out the "Virtual Route 66 RoadTrip" on the <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/links/route66.htm">RTA Route 66 page<a/>.
Hope this helps.
Mark, your estimate works better for the interstate I think -- I ran the route on MS Streets and Trips, and allowing for only a MODEST time for stops, following as much of OLD route 66 as you can find (according to my maps), it looks like it would take more like 15 to 16 hours. It worked out to 650 miles of two-lane road! If it was me, I'd stop in the middle for the night somewhere -- or combine stretches of the old road with sections of I-40 to save some time. Doing that, the actual time would likely fall somewhere in between the two. Bob
I was using memory banks
Yes that is probably true -- I was using my off-the-top-memories and I didn't really look up the total mileage. Route 66, although fun, can be a little tedious after 10 hours in the saddle...
Yes, if you plan on following route 66 the entire way, it's going to be one looonng drive. Depending on what time of day, which day, there could be traffic, which will dramatically increase your travel time. Don't forget route 66 is just a large commercial street in many of the areas, so you will be going much slower than if you were on highway. I would say the first 100 miles or so could take you up to 5 hours or more, from Santa Monica to Inland empire in traffic. Once you're out in the desert, 66 and the I40 crisscross in a lot of places. They run parallel and close to each other, so the scenery is pretty much the same on either road. The old 66 is a pretty rough 2 lane road, so to save time you can hop on over to the 40 on nice smooth blacktop, and just cut over to 66 to see some of the sights that you want.
Californa/Arizona Route 66 (mosty) Trip Report
Well, you guys were absolutely right. I don't ever recall having spent so much time covering such a short distance!
We left our Santa Monica hotel at 6 a.m., paid homage to the Will Rogers plaque, had a nice leisurely breakfast at a "Swingers", a local place, and were on the road at 7 a.m.
My first planned stop was the Cajon Summit, after which we planned to visit Dixie Evans at Exotic World, her burlesque museum in Helendale. We did not have a lot of traffic, but there were traffic lights a'plenty. That and the speed limits, I think, probably accounted for the extra hours the trip took. I think it was around noon when we finally reached the Summit Inn for lunch (having made one wrong turn that cost us about half an hour or so.)
Continuing on our route, following the directions in Moore and Cunningham's "Complete Guidebook to Route 66", we made another wrong turn in Victorville. (The book has a lot of great qualities, such as frequent mileage markers, but some of the directions become confusing or vague at times.) We righted ourselves and went barreling merrily on towards Helendale, (we thought!). Turned out we had misread the combined mapquest/guidebook directions somehow and soon found ourselves out in the middle of nowhere, miles out of our way. We finally came upon a trucker at a cement plant who, when I said simply "Barstow", pointed in the opposite directions. Argh!!!!
So back we went the way we had come. By the time we hit the beginning of Oro Grande, it must have been three or four o'clock, and we had to skip our side trip to Dixie's place if we were to get into Arizona before dark.
In general, I found route 66 in California to be somewhat disappointing. I would definitely not opt to drive the Los Angles/city roads section again without an excellent reason. Even on the more remote portions of the route, which I had been very much looking forward to, there turned out to be several towns which didn't look very different from other small commercial towns that I have seen - just with smaller strip malls.
We enjoyed visiting the Bagdad Cafe, which, though it is not the original Cafe that the movie was based on, actually has its own long history, something which is not evident in the guidebooks (I was under the impression that it was a modern recreation) --- I recommend a stop there to anyone driving this route. The service was warm and welcoming, and you definitely had the feeling of being in a little oasis in the middle of (the right) nowhere!
The stretches of the old route through the desert gave ample opportunity for contemplating how on earth anyone had ever crossed the Mojave in jalopies, let alone covered wagons. We stopped at the site of the Amboy crater. We didn't have time to hike out to the crater --- but there was such a feeling of bleakness and quiet in that area. The crater was a powerful, silent presence as we stood marveling at the expanse stretching out on all sides. We definitely want to come back.
By the time we crossed the Colorado river, the sun was setting. I had hoped to get a chance to take my boyfriend to Oatman, the mining town with the wild burrows. I even gamely started the climb from Toppock to the town, but as it grew darker, we decided to turn around and call it a night. We hopped on I40 and stayed that night in Kingman -- reaching it at about 8:30. I had hoped at the very least to make it as far as Peach Springs that first night --- but trips have a mind of their own.
Next day we breakfasted and hit the road at about 8 a.m. We stopped at the Hackberry General Store, which wasn't yet open, but we got out and walked around as it is very charming. This place is clearly run by folks who love the old Route 66 – and it has just the right feel, especially when nobody else is around. We did meet some burrows who were in their pen – though we were a disappointment to them since we were empty-handed. One stayed around for company and petting though.
Next we stopped at the Grand Canyon Caverns. I had not stopped their last time, and had heard that it was a tacky but fun roadside attraction. I must say that I don't think the guidebooks do it justice. Because we were there so early, we missed the impending bus of 100 6th graders, and went down with just a few people. It's a set of cavern chambers 200 or 300 feet below ground – and they are really quite spectacular and worth a stop and the twelve dollar ticket price. I am not a fan of tours, but our guide was great – and unless you are blasé about caves and such, I recommend it as an experience you aren't likely to get many other places.
The highlight of the day, of course, was Seligman. I can't say enough about Seligman. To me it is the greatest place on earth – a place set aside from the rest of the world in an odd way. Although Juan Delgadillo passed away several months ago, his sons, Bob and John, are continuing to carry out his legacy. When people walk out of the SnoCap, they inevitably look happier than when they walked in. The practical jokes and banter that John and Bob play on/with the customers, the outhouse with the television set, and the phone booth with the toilet, and all the other goofy touches that are everywhere, seem to exist for no other reason than for pure laughter and joy.
I spoke to Meerna, Angel Delgadillo's daughter, and asked if the aura of happiness that I perceived was real or put on. She answered that it was real, and that she herself would not be there if it didn't make her happy.
We spent about two hours in Seligman, and then decided it was time to get a move on and head towards Scottsdale, where Richard had to go for business. We stopped briefly in Williams, as I wanted Richard to see that classic Route 66 town, and then headed down Route 17.
Since we still had a little time, I detoured into Sedona so he could see the glorious red mountains there, and then continued on to our Scottsdale hotel.
In Scottsdale, I was on my own, and ended up taking a Hummer tour into the desert the next day. As I mentioned, I am not one for tours, but there were just two other people taking the tour with me, and it was a delight to spend several hours exploring the desert.
On the last day, we had an afternoon flight, but I got up early and drove to Apache Junction to drive as much of the Apache Trail as I could. It was wonderful to go early in the morning as I had the road almost completely to myself and the scenery was spectacular. There is a reconstructed "mining town" early on the trail, which, though closed, looked terribly touristy. Even Tortilla Flat, which I had heard good things about, struck me as just another tourist café/gift shop – though better executed than most. I drove past the paved part of the trail, and expected to find a rough dirt road. The road was actually blacktop, though ungraded, and easier to drive by far than parts of Route 66 had been in California. I don't know whether farther down the trail the road may get rougher, but it was really quite smooth enough for an everyday vehicle.
Overall, it was a worthwhile trip, though I realized that I had bitten off more than I was able to chew in my original plans/expectations – but that in itself is part of what a road trip teaches you. Inevitably, a trip has a mind and personality of its own, and a lot to teach.
Thank you all for your good advice. Looking forward to the next drive.
The Apache Trail is passable by passenger car over its entire length -- but it gets narrow and rough in a few places beyond where you were. Fish Creek Hill, especially, is fairly spectacular and exciting -- two vehicles cannot pass side-by-side in some places, and one would have to back up to a wide spot to let the other around. I would have to say that MOST of that route is not exactly smooth -- it tends to get really wash-boardy between gradings. Like you, I've never been very impressed with Tortilla Flat -- it's OK, but living on its reputation I think. I'm not used to spending that much for a hamburger... :) Glad you had a good trip! Bob
You will notice (maybe) that we don't recommend that guide
Great field report! Makes me want to redouble our efforts to get the RTA "RoadTrip Report" program launched...
It is not an accident that Moore and Cunningham's "Complete Guidebook to Route 66" is not found on the RTA Route 66 Resource Page. It is too bad that you didn't use Guy Randall's excellent site since he provides detailed information for just about every inch of that route. But then again, knowing where you are going isn't always the point.
I am curious what "cement plant" you are referring to though. I know that section of the country extremely well and if you reached Oro Grande -- you were only a few miles from the Exotic World Burlesque Hall of Fame.
Thanks again for the excellent field report!
Timing, West to East, and Route 18
I had sent a reply to Mark's posting, but I must have sent it to him rather than to the board. So here it is for the board:
A road trip report section would be wonderful!
Actually, I had emailed Guy Randall personally, asking for help finding information regarding Route 66 from West to East specifically. He highly recommended the Atlas and Guidebook combination because the guidebook can be read either way. There is very little information out there that you can follow West to East (which is "backwards") on Route 66.
The cement plant was in the opposite direction out on Route 18. Somehow in Victorville, instead of taking D Street, we got onto Route 18 (which as I look at the map, seems to be going east and a little bit south). It was a Mitsubishi cement plant, and we must have gone down Route 18 a good 20-25 miles before we turned back around.
By the time we got back to Oro Grande (where there is a promising-looking antiques place run by some very friendly folks --- We would like to come back and spend more time there), we knew we were near Helendale, but so much of the day had gone by by then, we would not have been able to spend a polite amount of time at Dixie's place and still get into Arizona. We actually owe her a call, card, and maybe some flowers for skipping this stop.
Please let me know if there is anything I might be able to do or contribute to help you with your efforts to get a RoadTrip Report section going!