Route 66 – West of Flagstaff
Lots of history, nostalgic signs, old cars, burger joints and burros take you back to a simpler time.
Will Rogers Highway, the Mother Road or America’s Mainstreet – whatever you call it, Arizona is home to the longest original stretch of Route 66 and we decided to see as much of it as we could on this vacation. We left Sedona and headed north then west, with an overnight in Lake Havasu City. It was pretty cool to travel on the same road I may have as a child, even though most of it is interstate now. We got off the beaten path where we could and we had a great time visiting some of the old towns.
Traveling on Route 66 – West of Flagstaff, we left Sedona quite early in the morning (for vacation) and headed straight up towards Flagstaff to catch I40W. We sagged south of the interstate a bit for our first stop in Williams, the Gateway to the Grand Canyon. Williams was exactly what I was expecting from a small town steeped with so much history – nostalgic signs, old cars and great burger joints. It was a great first stop on our Route 66 trek. About 40 miles past Williams, we took I40 Bus (exit 123) towards Seligman, another great town. Assuming that more fun towns would keep popping up, we kept going on 66 and took a stretch of the old route through Peach Springs.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much in that old town and unless you are a true Route 66 addict, I would skip that part of the trip. That road might be fun on a motorcycle, because there’s not much traffic, but our time would have been better spent in other ways on this leg of the trip. Don’t miss Seligman however, which is just a short drive off the interstate (and the inspiration for Radiator Springs in the movie “Cars”). We had a great lunch at the Route 66 Roadrunner, which offered greaseless fries and cute t-shirts for the grandkids. There were more fun gift shops, but a visit to Seligman is not complete without a stop at Angel’s Barber Shop. There is so much HISTORY of Route 66 at this stop, you should check this out! What a great stop!!
Seligman is hopping the first part of May during the Annual Historic Route 66 Fun Run. “More than 800 vehicles are expected to make the 140-mile journey between Seligman and Topock/Golden Shores for a fun-packed weekend of food, entertainment, and the outstanding collection of show-stopping vehicles. Registration for the Annual Historic Route 66 Fun Run® is open to all street legal vehicles–buses, bikes, RV’s… anything with wheels that runs…” READ MORE
We emerged from the original Mother Road near Kingman and briefly joined I40, only to get back on 66 (West Oatman Road). The road from Kingman to Oatman was a beautiful drive, but not for the faint of heart and definitely not for an inexperienced driver (or if you are in an RV or towing a camper) with switchbacks, dropoffs and narrow road. Oatman is a gold-mining town dating back to the late 1800’s, with wooden sidewalks and mostly original buildings. One thing that made this an enjoyable stop, were the burros that roamed the streets! They were obviously used to tourists and if you weren’t careful, would help themselves to your bag of food (available at most businesses). The town residents and store owners dress in western clothes and do their best to help create the olden days. Several times a day in front of the Oatman Hotel gunfighters perform western shootouts, which we unfortunately missed. Supposedly the Oatman Hotel is where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard honeymooned, or maybe not. So, if you read the Oatman Hotel link above, I’m not sure how much of the “haunted” is true either. We did enjoy some great ice cream there and a burro was trying to make his way in through the window to get some of it, since all the food we fed him was obviously not enough.
We finally made it to Lake Havasu City, a community set on the shores of Lake Havasu, just across the Colorado from California. While making our reservations, we learned that college students love it there for spring break and deposits on hotel rooms skyrocket. Luckily we missed that and we also arrived before the blazing hot summer temps of 125° or more. Since it rarely gets below freezing, it’s very popular in the winter when the snowbirds return. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner (and a margarita, of course) and a walk around the base of the London Bridge, which was bought from the City of London in 1968, disassembled and then reassembled here. It made a beautiful backdrop for pictures and that seemed to be the place to be in the city. In an effort to shorten up the day a bit, we had decided we would stay the night and make the four-hour drive back to Sedona the next morning.
Our Travelodge offered a continental breakfast that included pancakes that rolled from a contraption, like pages from a copy machine. Don’t ya just love modern technology? After a short stop at the beach we took off for Sedona, taking a more scenic drive through Oak Creek Canyon, just north of Sedona. It was absolutely beautiful. Be sure to see it coming from both directions. We were pretty pooped, but not too pooped to shop a bit on our way back through Sedona (I’m sensing another pattern). Tomorrow will be another long day, so we relaxed and retired early.
Route 66 – West of Flagstaff. Just plain fun!
Next Stop: Route 66 – East