Route 66

Heading west from Meteor Crater toward Flagstaff, the route climbs swiftly from the hot red desert up into the cool green pines. Old-road fanatics will want to take the time to explore what remains of two old-time tourist traps lining the next 20 miles of highway. Keep your eyes peeled approaching I-40 exit 230: The freeway crosses deep Diablo Canyon, where an old Route 66 bridge still spans the dry wash, and the walls of a half dozen bleached buildings are all that’s left of the Two Guns Trading Post. A roadside attraction par excellence, Two Guns had a zoo full of roadrunners, Gila monsters, and coyotes, and one building still has a sign saying Mountain Lions—all for the entertainment of passing travelers. For a while in the 1970s, Two Guns was a KOA Kampground (with swimming pool!), and according to various reports down the Route 66 grapevine, Two Guns has been on the verge of reopening many times, most recently after reports circulated that the whole shebang had been purchased by Australian actor Russell Crowe so that he could film a remake of the classic Yul Brynner film Westworld. But most of the time Two Guns is dead quiet, with the old access road blocked by a sign reading “No Trespassing by Order of Two Guns Sheriff Department.” Probably a good thing, since the old buildings are all dangerously close to collapse. It’s an evocative site, nonetheless, and photogenic in the right light.

A dozen miles west of Two Guns is another double attraction: Twin Arrows, where a pair of giant and surprisingly well-preserved red and yellow arrows point toward a long-closed café and trading post, last seen alive in the 1990s movie Forrest Gump.

Twin Arrows is also home to the Navajo-owned Twin Arrows Casino Resort (928/856-7200, $127 and up), the largest of the four casinos the Navajo Nation runs. Now if only they’d spend some of that money fixing up Route 66 landmarks, starting with those Twin Arrows…