Driving Historic Route 66 through Arizona
If you’re not yet a die-hard Route 66 fan, traveling the old route across Arizona is bound to convert you. The high-speed I-40 freeway gives quick access to some of the best surviving stretches of the old road, and these are some of the most captivating parts of Route 66 anywhere. Between the redrock mesas of New Mexico and the arid desert along the Colorado River, the route runs past dozens of remarkable old highway towns along some of the oldest and longest still-drivable stretches of the Mother Road.
East of Flagstaff, the old road is effectively submerged beneath the freeway, which drops down to cross desolate desert, passing through desiccated towns and Petrified Forest National Park. Remnants of numerous old roadside attractions—Native American trading posts, wild animal menageries, and Holbrook’s famous “Sleep in a Teepee” Wigwam Village—all survive in varying degrees of preservation along Arizona’s section of Route 66.
Midway across the state, the route climbs onto the forested (and often snowy) Kaibab Plateau for a look at the mighty Grand Canyon, one of the true wonders of the natural world.
Top Towns and Sights along Historic Route 66 in Arizona
- Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park – Keep an eye out for the animated dinosaurs at Stewart’s Petrified Wood Trading Post
- Meteor Crater – Arizona’s second-most distinctive hole in the ground
- Walnut Canyon National Monument – The most easily accessible of the prehistoric settlements in the Southwest
- Sunset Crater – A better and less crowded approach to the Grand Canyon
- Detour: Grand Canyon National Park – Be sure to get out of the car and beyond the viewpoints
- Williams – The last Route 66 town to be bypassed by I-40 and home to the Grand Canyon Railway
- Sedona and Jerome – A New Age draw amidst an otherworldly landscape and the liveliest and most interesting “ghost town” in Arizona
- Seligman – One of the best places to get a feel for the spirit of old Route 66 in Arizona
- Grand Canyon Caverns – Once one of the prime tourist draws along Route 66
- Kingman – Home to The Powerhouse, a former power plant that’s now a worthwhile Route 66 museum
- Old Route 66: Oatman – A one-time gold mining town that’s an odd mix of ghost town and tourist draw