Many travelers consider driving along Historic Route 66 in Arizona the ultimate road trip in the state. Some even make Route 66 itself the destination. Long stretches of open road, old diners, vintage motels, and retro filling stations dotted along the Arizona portion of the Route show off why it is considered the country’s most iconic road trip.
250 miles of the original road Steinbeck called the Mother Road of the Country cross Arizona. This includes the Route’s longest uninterrupted stretch of original road in the country, which spans 158 miles from Ash Fork to the California state line.
Here are some of the most memorable stops along Arizona’s Historic Route 66, traveling from east to west.
Petrified Forest National Park
The only National Park the historic Route 66 passes through, Petrified Forest National Park commemorates the old highway with plaques and the rusted hull of a historic 1930s vehicle. Here, the road passes through the colorful Painted Desert. Trails through the Crystal Forest pass by giant petrified wood logs and fossilized reptiles ̶ remnants of a prehistoric rainforest.
Besides the natural beauty, travelers can visit Puerco Pueblo, the remains of an ancient Ancestral Puebloan village. The Painted Desert Inn, built in the 1930s, represents more recent history, housing a museum that exhibits Route 66 history.
Once a Wild West town with a sordid reputation as “the town too tough for women and churches,” Holbrook now caters to tourists interested in Arizona’s history, Route 66, and the Navajo Nation. Dating to 1898, well before the Route’s founding, the old County Courthouse still stands and houses the museum of the Navajo County Historical Society, with exhibits highlighting different aspects of the town’s history.
Winslow is a popular Route 66 town that has been immortalized by the Eagles in their hit song “Take it Easy.” Pay tribute with a stop at the Standin’ On The Corner Park in the center of town.
The Old Trails Museum, which features some exhibits on Route 66, is another great stop for motorists on a cruise along Arizona’s stretch of Route 66. The historic Hubbell Trading Post, now the Winslow Visitor Center, offers information about the town and its surroundings.
If you’re looking for a place to stop for the night, you can’t do any better than La Posada Hotel. It was designed by renowned architect Mary Colter in the 1920s and offers luxury accommodations.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, call ahead and book a guided tour of Rock Art Ranch. Brantley Baird has been working this land for more than 75 years. When he’s not running sheep and cattle, he has been developing a steel-framed barn into a museum filled with clay vessels and arrowheads unearthed on the property, as well as other artifacts of Western life handed down through his family. You can also access Chevelon Canyon from the ranch, provided you give Baird a call for permission. This steep-walled, creek-lined canyon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the roughly 3,000 petroglyphs from several different tribes, dating between 6,000 BCE and 1400.
Past Winslow, Highway I-40 replaces Route 66 until it reaches Flagstaff.
The largest town along the historic Route 66 in Arizona, Flagstaff, has preserved a stretch of the original road. This mountain city in the pines takes it a step further by offering a walkable audio tour of Flagstaff’s original portion of Route 66. The Walk-this-Talk tour highlights structures, events, and people related to Route 66 via a toll-free phone number that plays the pre-recorded audio. The tour starts at the visitor center, housed in the historic train depot, covering several historic buildings along the way. One of its highlights is the Mother Myth Mural, depicting the story of Route 66.
Route 66 initially passed through the center of Flagstaff but was rerouted north of the city to Santa Fe Avenue in 1943 to alleviate congestion in the center of the city.
The spirit of Route 66 is strong in Williams, which is also the gateway to the Grand Canyon for those traveling to the park by train. Classic cars line the downtown’s roads, which also feature old-fashioned street lamps, soda fountains, and unique shops filled with Route 66 memorabilia. The atmosphere alone, though, makes this town worth the stop for anyone looking to feel the time warp back to the heyday of the Mother Road.
Leaving I-40, the longest driveable stretch of old Route 66 starts at Ash Fork, a tiny town featuring a Route 66 Museum, with exhibits of frontier life and road trip memorabilia. This stretch between Ash Fork and Oatman is a highlight for those who want to experience the authentic Route 66 trip.
The tiny town of Seligman is well known among Route 66 enthusiasts as the place where the preservation movement for the road started. After Route 66 was decertified in 1987, the town’s barber, Angel Delgadillo, was inspired to found the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, which sparked the establishment of similar Route 66 organizations in other states. Thanks to Angel Delgadillo, the Route isn’t just being preserved; it’s being brought back to life.
His barbershop still stands, now housing a gift shop and visitor center. Nearby, Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In, built by his brother Juan in 1953, still keeps travelers along the road fed and entertained with its wacky sense of humor.
Continuing westward, Route 66 passes through the Hualapai Reservation and its capital, Peach Springs. A worthy stop here is the Hualapai Lodge. It offers an excellent base for a Grand Canyon West adventure, be it a rafting trip with the Hualapai River Runners or a visit to Grand Canyon West, a two-hour drive away.
Hackberry General Store is a must-visit attraction along the Mother Road. Originally dating to 1934, the rustic storefront today offers photo ops of old-time gas pumps, tin-can billboards, and vintage cars. The store is the perfect stop for a cold drink and souvenirs. Since passionate Route 66 preservationists run it, feel free to ask questions or swap stories.
Next on this Arizona road trip itinerary, Kingman is often referred to as “the heart of Route 66”. That’s because the town is home to several iconic landmarks, including Mr D’z Route 66 Diner.
Once Route 66 enthusiasts have filled up on malts and burgers, they can learn more about the town’s history at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts. Its exterior features a mural illustrating the timeline of the historic road. Inside, the museum’s exhibits include art pieces from the region and Native American items.
The Arizona Route 66 Museum showcases old photographs and artifacts celebrating the Mother Road on the next block over. An hour-long movie offers a thorough look at the history of the Route.
Once a mining town that almost turned into a ghost town, Oatman owes its present existence to the nostalgia of Route 66 and to its ability to preserve its Wild West feel. Stroll along the wooden sidewalks, watch the staged shootouts, and browse kitschy shops selling Route 66 memorabilia during your visit. Make sure to keep an eye out for the wild burros that roam the streets! A worthy final stop on any Arizona Route 66 tour is the Oatman Hotel and Saloon, built in 1902. It’s still operating as a pub and houses a small museum.